A recent survey of 200 large employers in the US identified the top two ways they recruited new employees. Number one was by referrals; number two was through job boards. Those two sources alone accounted for over half of the people the organizations hired in 2010. While the findings are helpful, they also raise two important questions: First, how do you find out which job boards employers are using and second, how do you make referrals work for you?
Over 100,000 job boards are now operating on the Worldwide Web. Collectively, they post over two million job openings each and every day. That’s a lot of opportunity, but it can also be a bit overwhelming. How do you figure out which job boards will work best for you?
Most of us know the largest and most famous employment sites – Monster and CareerBuilder. They provide access to job openings in virtually every profession, craft and trade, and in every location on the planet. Other sites such as Indeed and SimplyHired aggregate job postings from a number of sites and then link you back to them for the details and application process. And finally, tens of thousands of small, niche sites specialize in a particular occupation, industry, geographic location or affinity. They range from AllRetailJobs.com to VetJobs.com, a site for military personnel transitioning into the private sector.
All of these sites post job ads, but no one site can connect you with all of the employers posting jobs or to all the employment opportunities being posted online. For that reason, you have to use a number of sites to optimize your access to the openings employers are trying to fill. I suggest using an approach I call the 5:1 Method, with a formula that looks like this: 2GP+3N = 1GJ.
2GP stands for two general-purpose sites. They give you the broadest possible access to job openings posted on the Web. Those sites could be [CraigsList and SnagaJob] or any of the dozens of other major sites that feature recruitment ads from a wide cross-section of career fields, industries and locations.
3N stands for three niche or specialized websites, which will provide the deepest possible access to job postings of particular interest to you. Pick one site that specializes in your career field, one that focuses on your industry, and one that serves the geographic area where you live or want to work.
If you choose your websites well, the results will add up to 1GJ – one great job. By picking the right five sites and visiting them regularly, you will dramatically increase your chances of finding the one great job for you.
How can you determine which sites to use? Check with friends and colleagues to see which sites they’ve found work best. If you can, talk to a recruiter or hiring manager in your field or industry and get their recommendations. If you’re feeling adventurous, use Google, Yahoo! or Bing to do your own research online. And finally, of course, you can tap into the research that’s already been done and published in books and other references, including WEDDLE’s 2011/12 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet.
The Application Two-Step
Once you’ve found the five best sites for your job search, the next step is to use them effectively. Unfortunately, most jobseekers think that you use a job board today the same way you did before the recession. You don’t. Our slow-moving recovery has meant that a job posting now generates dozens, sometimes hundreds and occasionally even a thousand or more applications. If all you do is hit the ‘Apply’ button, therefore, chances are high that you will be lost in the herd, even if you are well qualified for the opening.
What’s the alternative? Practice the ‘application two-step.’
Step 1: First, prove to the employer that you care enough to invest some time in your application. Never submit a generic resume, but instead, always tailor your resume to the specific requirements of the opening. Second, prove that you can follow directions. Submit your resume exactly as instructed in the job posting. If the ad says to attach it, don’t embed it in an email message. If it says to embed the document, don’t attach it. Recruiters are typically juggling fifteen or more openings at any one time, so they have no time or patience for anyone who ‘colors outside the lines.’
Step 2: Since your application will inevitably be one of many, immediately begin networking to find one of two kinds of people who have a very specific attribute: They are someone you know or someone with whom you share an affinity (e.g., you both are members of the same professional association or graduated from the same college) and they work at the organization with the opening. Reach out to them and ask if they will walk your resume into the HR Department and refer you to the recruiter who’s working on it. That referral will virtually guarantee that your resume will be reviewed and your candidacy seriously considered.
In today’s job market, the key to success is optimizing what you do and how you do it. You want to maximize your effectiveness while minimizing any inefficiencies in the process. Or, to put it another way, you should use the two best ways to find a job all in one.