Whether you’re feeling age-insecure at your current job, planning a reinvention or trying to get back into the workforce, Dave Perlman, an executive recruiter and career coach, put together a getting started guide that is specifically targeted to a seasoned worker. In this installment, Dave talks about how to make the best use of online job boards.
Job boards are by far the easiest way to get many leads quickly. In a manic one-hour coffee-fueled search, a job-hunter can easily scan scores of job postings and actually apply to dozens, using Ye Olde Cut and Paste.
This can be deceptive, though. You get the illusion of progress, but…
Job board submissions are usually reviewed either by a very junior person who is simply instructed to match acronyms in your resume against those in the job description, or by a software program which scans your resume and does the same thing even better and cheaper.
Clearly you won’t get a good thoughtful read in any either case. Subtleties will be lost. The unconventional candidate is doomed. Quality will not rise to the top.
In fact, most of the time you will never hear back at all. And that is depressing. I have real job hunt logs from early in my career with disheartening numbers like
Submitted = 152
Rejected = 2
Silence = 150
That’s a tough way to find a new gig. It can make you hate the whole thing.
And if you apply online and later get contacted by a recruiter working that job independently, it’s dollars to donuts that the recruiter won’t be able to present you, since you’ve already “contacted” the hiring company, even though they ignored you. This will probably damage your chances of getting the interview by 30-300%. Recruiter-submitted candidates get more mindshare, and I’ll delve into that phenomenon in my next post.
I do think, though, that there is value on job boards for intelligence gathering.
First, make sure you select the right boards. Each one has a unique tilt toward particular industries, regions, company sizes, roles and/or seniority levels. Simply Google job boards and you’ll be overwhelmed: Monster, LinkedIn, Indeed and many more. Qualify your search by region or discipline and you should be able to zero on the ones that tilt your way.
Check them weekly, or at most twice a week. Daily checks may feel better, but they’re usually a waste of time you could be investing in a more productive job hunt task. Or just relaxing– just because your job hunt feels like a job in and of itself doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take time for yourself to rest and recharge.
The right boards (and I think a group of perhaps four or five is about right) will help you to answer a few very key questions:
Who is hiring?
When you know who’s hiring, you can likely suss out a better way to approach them than via the cold dark job board submission process itself. By far the best path is a warm introduction from someone who knows your work, and is willing to add a gentle but critical endorsement at submission time. If this person has a positive, respectful relationship with the hiring manager or the human resources manager, this can be a huge advantage. It won’t get you the gig but it may get you a shot at it.
If you can’t contrive a better way to reach the hiring entity, then do apply online, but keep your hopes under control. The odds and the Force are not with you.
What are they looking for ?
When you know what they are looking for (although job descriptions are notoriously incomplete and misleading) you can:
- Avoid the ones where you are a total non-fit thus saving tons of time, bandwidth, and patience.
- Hone your resume to zoom in tight on the ones where you are a strong maybe.
How many jobs are there in your target zone?
Target zone includes location, seniority, domain, specialty, and whatever other criteria is important to you.
If there aren’t enough jobs that you like the look of, and think you have a realistic shot to land, you need to widen your target zone. Right away. Aiming at too narrow a target window is perhaps the quickest way to sabotage your entire search effort.
Next time I’ll talk about the role recruiters can play in your job hunt– what they can and can’t do for you, their strengths and limitations, and which ones to avoid.
Dave Perlman has reinvented himself many times. He’s been a software developer, a motel desk clerk, a historian, a forklift driver, a CTO and a few other things.
Currently he runs his own high-performing executive recruiting firm from his home outside Boston. He handles career coaching and resume polishing as adjuncts to that business.
Photo credit: energepic.com