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Getting the most out of Online Job Boards

Do Online Job Boards Really Work?

The short answer is Yes, they do work.

Even though job boards are a new technology that have been around for just a few years, there are already many signs that they are a significantly more effective recruiting technology than what had been used before (mainly newspaper classified ads). Trying to gauge the effectiveness of job boards is sort of like trying to figure out how fast you're going in a jet airplane. At 40,000 feet, you don't realize how fast the plane was moving you until you get to your destination.

In 2003, Monster.com earned about $423 million dollars from employers who paid to find candidates on their job site. And Monster is only one of the top job boards. Nationwide, employers spend over a billion dollars a year to recruit candidates from job sites.

How likely you are to find your next job through the Internet depends on a number of factors. One of them is the profession you're in. Some studies have suggested nearly 50% or even more of IT jobs are found online. For less tech-savvy positions, the chance of finding your next job online are generally lower. If most job seekers in your field are not tech-savvy, employers will probably not bother looking online for those types of candidates. For example, employers generally do not search the Internet for low-wage job candidates like home health aides and cashiers. The feeling is many of these people don't have computers and aren't on the job sites.

In other professions, there is a quickly changing dynamic. When job boards first became popular, most higher-level managers still had their secretaries do most of their work. It was not uncommon in 1997 for a CEO to spend little or no time on the computer since it was seen as an administrative tool. By 2000, that had started to change with many executives and other high level managers starting to see e-mail and the web as a necessity for doing their jobs and staying in touch with employees and customers. Whereas recruiters had originally thought executives would never look for jobs online, by 2002, a study by outplacement firm Drake Beam Morrin reported 6% of management-level jobs were found through the Internet in the prior year. This statistic is continually increasing with more and more management jobs being found online.

Even with the impressive growth of job boards, the top source for finding a new job is still by word of mouth in most professions. The 2002 Drake Beam Morrin study found 61% of management-level jobs were found through networking. The percentage tends to vary depending on the profession but usually anywhere between 40% and 70% of positions are filled by word of mouth. About 5% of jobs are still filled through newspaper ads. Overall, across all professions, job boards account for about 10-15% of all jobs found.

Here are some tips to get the most out of using job boards:

1. When you post your resume on a job site, make sure the salary you're asking for is in line with what other people with your background are looking for. Think about it from the employer's perspective: if you got a list of 50 resumes, and 45 of them are asking for a salary you think is reasonable and 5 of them are asking for a salary that seems high, which ones will you look at first? How do you know what a reasonable salary is? One way is to look at job listings for your profession in your local area and make sure what you're asking for is within the range of what employers are willing to pay.

2. Make sure recruiters can reach you easily at the contact information you provide. The email address you put down on the job boards should be one that you check frequently. Keep in mind that with free email services like Yahoo and Hotmail, you have to check them at least every few days if you're getting a decent amount of email so they won't fill up. If a recruiter tries to email you and their message bounces back because your mailbox was full, chances are they'll just move on to the next person on their list. Same goes for phone numbers. You should provide a work or cell phone number so recruiters can reach you during the day, as well as an evening phone number just in case they're working late (as many recruiters do) or they brought some resumes home with them. You should have an answering machine or voice mail, and make sure it works properly. If you have a fax machine on the same line, make sure it's set not to answer the phone.

3. Make sure your resume is compelling. Your resume is your representative. Would you hire someone to represent you if they didn't look at least as professional as you yourself? Probably not. Same goes for resumes. Make sure your resume is free of spelling and grammatical errors (use the spelling and grammar check in Microsoft Word). Make sure your resume is easy to read and can be understood by a layman. If a busy recruiter has 50 resumes to look through on a job board and they can't understand within the first 30 seconds of looking at your resume how you can help their company, they'll just skip on to the next resume. No one wants to work any harder than they have to.

4. Keep in mind there are many job boards used by recruiters. Don't put all your eggs in one basket and rely on just one job board. Post your resume on several sites. You can use a service like PutMyResumeOnline.com which will do this for you. PutMyResumeOnline.com will let you enter your resume once and will then post it on over 90 job sites including Monster, HotJobs, CareerBuilder and many more.

5. In the best case, you could have a 50% chance of finding a job through a job board. In the worst case it could be as low as 10% or so. Knowing this, it makes sense to spend no more than 50% of the time you're allotting for job searching on using job sites. Just like when you invest in the stock market, you should diversify your portfolio and use several different job searching methods. Talk to people and attend events, for one thing. Word of mouth is the #1 way to find a job.

6. Don't think of job leads you get from job boards as just potential jobs. Think of them also as Networking Leads. When you get asked in for an interview after posting your resume or responding to a job ad, go there with a networking mindset. Regardless of whether you're meeting with a third party recruiter or a direct employer, your approach should be to think of opportunities to create a long-term relationship with the company or individual. If you are looking for ways to help them long-term -- whether it's referring friends to them or other potential business -- they will start thinking of ways to help you long term. They will also be more receptive to referring you to someone else if they don't think the position is the right fit for you.

7. Update your resume regularly on the most popular sites. Most job sites receive less than 1,000 resumes per day, which spread out across the thousands of counties in the U.S. does not amount to an inordinate number. However, the top 3 job boards - Monster, HotJobs and CareerBuilder - each receive 15,000 or more resumes per day. On these three sites, your resume will start appearing lower in the search results recruiters see after a couple weeks. Therefore, we recommend logging in to each of these 3 sites about twice a month and changing one or two words in the resume so it will appear as if it's updated.

8. Get Noticed. If you see a position on a job board that you feel is a good fit for you, make a conspicuous note of that in the email you send with your resume. Consider coming up with a headline for the message subject or the top of the email that will get the recruiter's attention, like "LPN NURSE WITH 6 YEARS EXPERIENCE WORKING IN HOSPITALS LIKE YOURS." A recruiter may get 100 responses or more to a job ad. They're more likely to look at a resume if there's a personal note relevant to the specific position. You can also consider faxing the resume with a service like FaxMyResume.com to bypass the recruiter's inbox. One caveat here: don't invest a lot of time with ALL the job ads you see - just the best ones.

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