Finding jobs has seemingly never been easier. Today, job hunters can browse thousands of openings on tons of online job boards and search engines. But while having so many opportunities is great, sorting through them all isn’t.
To cut out some of that work, you need to utilize online job boards the right way—and that includes not solely relying on them. That way, you’ll not only ensure that your job search is successful, but also that employers actually notice you when you apply.
1. Choose Sites Carefully
The more focused you are in your job search, the better your results will be—especially when using job boards. Niche job boards allow you to browse listings that apply just to your career specialty or interests.
Examples of niche job boards include:
- For tech: Dice
- For nonprofits: Idealist
- For marketing and communications: Mediabistro
- For internships: Internships.com
If you're not already aware of sites for your industry, don't worry—they're easy to find. Just type "[your industry] job board" or "[your industry] job listings" into a regular search engine, and see what comes up.
By definition, niche job boards are narrow. That means some opportunities will slip past their searches. So, it’s smart to supplement these with aggregate search engines. No single site will list every position available, but an aggregate site will come pretty close.
Examples of aggregate search engines include:
2. Refine Your Search And Set Alerts
When setting your job targets, be specific. That way, you'll be sure the results match your needs. Most job boards let you search jobs not only by keyword but also by industry and location. Take advantage of these options, and be detailed in your searches.
For instance, use various terms that relate to the job you want—not just the title itself. So, if you want a social media job, don't search only for "social media." Instead, look for "marketing," "writing," and other keywords.
Once you set these parameters, create email alerts to notify you of matching jobs. Not every job you receive will match 100%—especially from aggregate search engines. Fortunately, it only takes a few moments to browse through your results to see if a job is really applicable to you.
3. Customize Your Application
You may find a bunch of interesting jobs on the same board, but that doesn’t mean you should treat them all the same way. Standard job application rules apply: With each résumé or application, send a tailored résumé and a custom cover letter.
To capture the employer's attention, show them how you meet the specific needs listed in the job description you found. This will set you apart from other applicants. As part of your letter, you can also mention the job board where you found their posting.
Don’t forget to format your job application for an automated tracking system (ATS). After all, the employer is probably using technology to simplify their search as well.
4. Track Your Work
Many job boards make it incredibly easy to apply for jobs. If you've previously uploaded your résumé/filled out a profile, you might just need to click a button. This seemingly simplifies things, but that may not always be good.
You don’t want to lose track of which positions you've applied for. You never know when an employer might contact you, so you need good records of what you submitted. You don't want to blow your chance by seeming flustered or surprised on that initial call. Set up a spreadsheet or other system to track your progress.
5. Don't Rely Solely On Job Boards
Job boards make it easier for everyone to find open positions, not just you. Indeed has received more than 200 million unique visitors ... in a month! As a result, positions listed in job search engines receive hundreds of applications.
That means competition for these jobs is fierce, and HR departments get tons of applications to go through. The ATS helps them, but it’s not perfect. So, your best bet is to cover all your bases by using other job search strategies—especially building your professional network.
If your college or university offers a career center, take advantage of it. They may offer not only job-hunting advice, but also their own job listings. These listings may come directly from the school's alumni, which is a great connection to help you get a foot in your door (or get your résumé seen).
In addition, conduct informational interviews at companies where you wish to work. Use LinkedIn to set up these meetings, or simply to gain more contacts. That way, if you find a job that interests you, you’ll have a better chance of knowing someone at the company. And that is a much more effective way to get an interview than applying via a job search engine alone.