Job Hunt Toy Box: Monsters, Builders, and Dice

job_boardsMy father keeps telling me that if I want to find a job I need to go into every business and demand to talk to the hiring manager. I try to explain to my dad that that’s not how it’s done anymore, and then I tell him all about the “joy” of Internet job-hunting. Usually, he tells me that he understands what I’m saying and that I seem to have a handle on things, but he says that with a tone of concern.

I too am concerned.

Yes – in today’s technological age, we have dozens of websites and apps to help us find employment. Unfortunately, tools are only as good as the people who use them. If you don’t know how to use all of these technological job hunting tools, the likelihood of you finding employment is pretty bleak.

As an avid job hunter and finder, I thought I might take the time to discuss one of the most important tools you will need to know about: job boards. There are thousands of boards out there, though, so I’m going to share some key strategies for finding the best boards for your purposes. Finally, I’m going to put a spotlight on a job board that has proven itself surprisingly impressive.

Before I begin, please realize that I use these strategies for finding regular positions and contract positions. Not everyone wants contract work, so some of these strategies may not apply to you.

Job Board 101

For the most part, help wanted ads have become obsolete. Nowadays, people use job boards. A job board is very similar to the classified section of newspapers, in that it provides an online listing of available jobs.

Not all job boards are created equal. Some only provide a listing of available jobs by date. Most offer some search tools, such as keyword searches. If you know a specific job title or employer, a keyword search may help you dig through the endless pages of possibilities.

The majority of job boards allow you to limit your search by different criteria. For example, if you only want to look at jobs that were posted within the past seven days, some job boards offer this option. Other commonly used search criteria include type of employment (full-time, part-time, seasonal, temporary), location, level of education, salary, and experience.

There are several different types of job boards, including the following:

  • General job board
  • Industry-specific job board
  • Employer job board
  • Staffing agency job board
  • Hybrid job board

General job boards are usually just a posting place for job advertisements. Newspapers or other media conglomerates often have general job boards for specific geographical regions. Craigslist is one of the most commonly used general job board.  Craigslist has multiple categories for jobs, and people can find employment all over the country.

Pros and Cons: General Job Boards

For one thing, many of them do not charge employers to post advertisements, or they charge very low rates, so you really get a broad range of employers posting. However, since anyone can purchase advertisement space, or simply post a job advertisement, there is no verification process. In other words, the legitimacy of certain “employers” is dodgy at best. While general job boards are a good tool, be careful of the information you submit to these potential employers, and always do a little bit of research to verify that the employer is real.

Bulletin_BoardIndustry-specific job boards offer a more focused approach to job hunting. Mediabistro.com, for example, offers a plethora of job opportunities for people in journalism, media, and communications. You can find job boards for nearly every major industry. If you do a Google search for your specific industry and include the words “job board,” you will most likely get links to job boards related to your industry, or you will find pre-assembled lists of job boards in your industry.

Pros and Cons: Industry-Specific Job Boards

These boards will save you time, since they only focus on job openings in your specific industry. Furthermore, many of these boards let you create free profiles, which give you access to job updates, industry newsletters, and community discussion boards. Some boards will let you look at job postings, but they will not let you apply unless you have a paid membership, which I am personally against. Depending on your industry, some boards may only update their information once a week, and as I have stated in a previous article, if you don’t respond to an Internet job posting within three days of its original posting, you most likely won’t get a response.

Employer job boards are a way for businesses to save some money. Instead of paying to post job advertisements, employers will instead use their own websites for posting job openings. To find these job boards, go to the homepage of any organization and look for one of the following phrases:

  • Careers
  • Career opportunities
  • Employment
  • Jobs
  • Job opportunities

If you don’t see any of these hyperlinked-words on the homepage, go to the “about us” section of the website. A lot of organizations place links to their job boards in this section.

Pros and Cons: Employer Job Boards

For people who want to work at a specific company, going directly to the company’s job board is the best way to find an opportunity. Furthermore, since you are already on the employer’s website, you can do research about the organization to use in your cover letter. Like a lot of websites, though, not all employers update their information regularly. In addition, while some departments may post job openings on the employer job board, not all departments may follow suit. Therefore, even if you watch the employer job board religiously, the opportunity you’re looking for may never be posted there.

Staffing agency job boards are for those people interested in temporary work or temp-to-permanent work. To access these boards, you will need to join a staffing agency, which has become a speedy process online for most agencies.

Even if you don’t want to be a temp, you should know about  the major hiring trend in large metropolitan areas, such as the San Francisco Bay Area. Larger organizations are using staffing agencies exclusively to find employees. To put it simply, instead of utilizing their own HR departments, larger businesses, such as Google and Facebook, are paying staffing agencies to hire workers for them.

Signing up with staffing agencies is a fairly quick and easy process. After you sign up with them and create a profile, you have access to their staffing agency job boards. The opportunities posted on these boards are immediate openings available to any person with an active profile. All you do is open a job opportunity link and follow the application directions. Depending on the staffing agency, their recruiters may also approach you with possible openings.

Pros and Cons: Staffing Agency Job Boards

When you sign on with a staffing agency, you know that they have a vested interest in trying to place you with one of their clients, since they get paid when they place workers successfully. Staffing agencies are also actively trying to find more job opportunities, so they are doing some leg work for you. There are some downsides, though. Most agencies don’t post all available job opportunities, so you may only see a small handful of potential positions on the boards. In metropolitan areas, many people sign up with staffing agencies, so you may have significant competition within your own agency. Finally, even if your staffing agency gets you an interview with a potential employer, it doesn’t mean you have the job. You still have to impress the client during the interview.

Hybrid job boards are a result of today’s technology mixing the best features of all the different types of boards and putting those features into one place. For example, you can set up your profile, upload resumes and other documents, and save other pertinent information. After you set up your profile, you will have access to job alerts, newsletters, and information about job fairs and conventions. One of the best features about hybrid job boards, though, is that these boards cater to both job seekers and recruiters. For paid memberships, recruiters can access all the information saved onto these boards, so they can search through profiles to find job candidates like you.

Hybrid Spotlight: Dice.com

logoTo be honest, I found Dice.com by accident. I was job hunting on other sites and found a link to an open position. That link took me to the open position that was listed on Dice. To apply to the position, I had to set up a profile on Dice – par for the course for active job hunters. Little did I know how active this site would be.

Within the first two weeks of having a profile, I had at least five different recruiters call or email me about possible positions. The first person who contacted me was from an organization I had never heard of, so I knew I didn’t apply to his organization directly. During our conversation, I asked the recruiter how he came across my resume, to which he responded he found me on Dice. Most of the other recruiters immediately acknowledged that they came across my profile in the same way.

Even though Dice describes itself as a place for technology professionals, (which I am not), it’s more of a place where technology-based companies post open positions, and many of those open positions are not technical. If anything, my experience with Dice has taught me that some of the smaller hybrid boards might be a better option, in terms of less competition. I have also learned not to dismiss job boards just because they appear to be outside of my industry. If an industry-specific job board has enough relevant job openings available on a frequent basis, why wouldn’t I pursue that board wholeheartedly? The worst thing that could happen is that no one calls back, and every other outcome plays in my favor.

Pros and Cons: Hybrid Job Boards

In many ways, hybrid job boards provide all the benefits of the other board types. There are general hybrid boards, such as Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com, but there are also industry-specific hybrid job boards as well (e.g., Dice.com). Since recruiters have to pay to view profiles on these sites, it stands to reason that they might be more motivated to find candidates. Also, recruiters paying to review these boards are not only staffing agency recruiters. HR recruiters at businesses and nonprofits utilize hybrid job boards as well.

While these boards have many bonuses, they are not perfect. They do not always update their information in a timely fashion. Many of the larger boards have thousands if not millions of profiles, so you will face heavy competition when recruiters do profile searches. Plus, recruiters are often more focused on your skill level and experience, so they may not pay attention to where you live in relationship to the available job opportunity – I’ve had three recruiters this week asking if I was interested in job opportunities three time zones away, to which I’ve had to respond politely that I wasn’t able to relocate at this time.

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