How to Get the Most Out of Job Boards

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Using job boards to find your next position can be a useful strategy in your search arsenal — but you have to find the ones that are right for you first. Not all job boards are created equal, and with so many out there to choose from, it’s imperative to find the ones that work for you so you don’t get into a black hole of wasted time and energy in your job hunt.

The best way to accomplish this, says Sara Sutton Fell, CEO and Founder of FlexJobs, is to first have a clear picture of what you’re looking for. What types of positions do you want? What locations do you want to work in? What are your target industries? What level are you in your career? By answering these questions, you can find the best job boards that either cater exclusively to those areas of interest or more general sites that have the types of listings you’re looking for.

Once you’ve identified the job boards that look promising, spend some time perusing a sample of their listings, and set up email alerts so you can get the jobs you’re looking for sent directly to your inbox. This will give you an idea of the diversity of companies and jobs available on the site, the freshness of the postings, and whether or not the site regularly has listings available for your industry and career level.

“It’s about trying to find a fit,” said Sutton Fell. “Finding the perfect job for you is a needle in a haystack, so you want to pick your haystacks wisely — and take the hay out of the haystack as best you can — by identifying sites that work for you. Find the ones that have the higher quality jobs in line with what you’re looking for.”

You found a great job board…now what?

Finding job boards that meet your needs is just the first hurdle to your search strategy. The following tips from Sutton Fell will help you get the most out of the time you spend on them.

Beware of scams. Unfortunately, some boards are littered with ads from companies dedicated to taking advantage of job seekers. With this in mind, always be careful about who you’re sending your information to — and avoid those who ask for your social security number or any financial information. Some red flags to look for include listings that do not include the name of a company, ads that ask applicants to send their resume to an anonymous email address not associated with the business, and listings that don’t mention any skills or qualifications needed for a position. Although some legitimate companies may be guilty of these faux pas, they are also tactics often used in job scams.

Sutton Fell notes that one way you can avoid sites that attract a lot of scammers is to find out their search engine reputation before perusing their ads. By downloading a toolbar widget for your browser, you can find out the value of the site you’re visiting and whether or not it has a history of low-quality content and job board spam.

Take advantage of advanced search tools. Although the general search of a job board will give you lots of options, using advanced search tools will save you time because it weeds out the jobs that really don’t apply to you.

Research repeat offenders. Sometimes when you see the same position listed over and over again by the same company, it may be a red flag. If you want to get an idea of what it’s like to work for a specific organization, log on to Glassdoor.com, which includes information on an organization’s culture, management, and general compensation and benefits.

Use keywords in your application. Many organizations use resume management systems that scan applications before a hiring manager even gets the chance to look at them. In order to avoid getting weeded out during this process, be sure to use key words from the job advertisement in your cover letter and resume.

Strive for quality over quantity. Although email has made it easy for us to send a large number of applications out every day, that doesn’t mean they will be effective in getting the attention of hiring managers, says Sutton Fell. In fact, this can actually sabotage your candidacy because sometimes if the same company sees an applicant applying for multiple jobs with the same cover letter and resume, it comes off as desperate or sloppy.

A better strategy is to focus on the quality of each application you put out there. Spend time doing research on the company, so you can craft a cover letter that addresses the key concerns of the organization and the specific qualifications for the position. In addition, be sure to tailor your resume as well. You want to be sure that your objectives match those in the job posting and that your resume highlights the specific industry expertise you bring to the table. You cannot accomplish all of this with a one-size-fits-all cover letter and resume.

Kenya McCullum is a freelance writer based in California. She writes about careers and education for several websites, including Schools.com.

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