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Make the Most of Online Job Boards

online job boardsIf you are looking for a job, the days of simply posting your resume online are over. Using just one technique isn’t enough. A 2012 study from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) found that “employers cite Internet job postings as the most effective technical application” for locating and recruiting new graduates.

Of the 242 employers surveyed for this annual project, “more than 85% said they use Internet postings on campus websites, postings on their company’s own website, and applicant tracking systems.” In addition, almost half of the respondents reported using commercial job posting sites.

While this may seem counter to the big push we are seeing toward social media, it’s not – more than 60% of employers said they are actively recruiting via social networking. The fact is, they are using multiple avenues to fill their open positions, and if you are looking for a job, you should consider a similar approach.

Monitor the Sites

There’s no telling how many websites out there include job listings, but it’s safe to say there are too many for you to monitor them all. From company websites to centralized job boards, these online resources should be part of your overall job search strategy, but you can manage your time and effort with these tips:

  • Target specific sites: Not all job sites will be relevant to you. Find options that are used by companies you are interested in working for and recruiters in your industry. Look for both general boards that cover a wide range of positions (e.g., CareerBuilder, and niche boards that cater specifically to your field (e.g., Dice for tech jobs, ChefJobs for culinary positions). You may also find sites targeting your geographic area or employers in your local community.
  • Explore your current network: Many professional associations also feature job search information and postings that are specific to that career field. The American Society for Cell Biology and American Marketing Association offer examples of what you will find. Your school’s career center may also feature a job board exclusively for students and alumni. Take a look at how The University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business is connecting students and hiring companies with an online system.
  • Register an account: You’ll have the opportunity with most sites to set up your own account. This is optional and free to do (be wary of websites that charge a fee to search for jobs). Taking the time to set up a profile allows you to save your previous searches, sign up for newsletters, and participate in other aspects of the site’s community, such as networking forums. Just make sure any details you include are consistent with your resume and other online profiles.
  • Use job search agents: One of the benefits of registering with a job site is the opportunity to set up a search agent. These tools allow you to enter and save your search parameters (i.e., salary range, location, keywords), then receive periodic email notification with lists of recent postings that match your criteria. This saves you from having to go back to the site and repeat your search to see what has been added.
  • Keep a record of your submissions: Different employers use different procedures even if they advertise their openings in the same system. Create a document or spreadsheet to track your submissions that notes when you submitted, how (i.e., through the online system, by email with attachments), and any contact information provided for the company, so that you know where you’ve applied and can follow-up at a later date.

Prepare Your Response

Once you begin monitoring online postings, you’ll start to find specific jobs that match your qualifications and preferences. Here’s a list of items to prepare in advance, so that when an opportunity is identified, you can take quick action.

  • Resume(s): Create your own resume templates that can be quickly tweaked to meet the needs of each application. It’s best to target each resume you send out and you may be looking in different industries, so draft a version for each possibility.
  • Cover Letter(s): Not all online job announcements will request or even allow for the submission of a cover letter, but if they do, prepare to submit yours. Just as with your resume, you’ll want to target your message, so develop a couple of draft versions that can be easily modified to send as directed in an email attachment, in the body of an email message, or copied into an online form.
  • Application information: Some job boards will require you to submit an online application into an automated system. These applications usually require more detailed information about each position you list in your work history. Create a document, an extended version of your resume, that includes things like employment start and end dates (month, day, year), starting and ending salary, supervisor’s name and contact information, address of employer, and reason for leaving. It may take a while to collect all of these details, but having them in one place will save a lot of time with each submission.

Don’t rely solely on online job boards to find your next position, but add them to your ongoing career development and job search efforts. They have the potential, along with active networking and social media use, to help you connect with companies that are hiring.

Image credit: andjohan, Flickr, CC:BY

April 1st, 2013 written by Staff Writers

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