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Avoid the Online Job Search Vortex While Still Landing a Job

Hannah Morgan

It seems logical to head to the job boards if you're looking for a new job -- they're where employers post all their jobs, right? Wrong. Companies use different strategies to source new employees, and job boards play a small part in hiring. For you to land an interview and get hired, you'll want to invest your time in activities that employers say produce the greatest number of hires.

One way to learn where companies have had luck sourcing new employees is SilkRoad's annual survey. This report analyzed data from companies using SilkRoad's OpenHire applicant tracking system. It sheds some light on successful sourcing methods with data from 1,140 companies ranging in size from as few as 100 employees to ones with a much larger staff.

According to SilkRoad, internal sources (company recruiters, company career sites and employee referrals/current employees) produced more hires (59 percent), compared to external sources (job search engines, job boards, print advertising, TV/Radio advertising, job fairs, campus recruiting and agencies) with slightly less hires (41 percent).

Spend more than 60 percent of your time doing these things. Focus your activities and actions on the high-yield internal sources by using some of these tips to help you get found and stand out.

-- Connect with company recruiters on LinkedIn to get on their radar.

-- Use the right key words on your résumé and online profiles.

-- Identify potential employers and monitor their company career sites.

-- Contact people who work inside companies to keep abreast of potential opportunities.

-- Before you apply, reach out to employees inside the hiring company and ask for a referral.

Invest your time wisely online. If you haven't already, you can radically reduce the amount of time you spend attending job fairs and looking for jobs in newspapers and trade publications. These are low-yield sources for employers. Employers have the most success hiring new hires online: SilkRoad reports online outlets account for 73 percent of jobs filled.

Which online sites are worth your attention? Indeed and CareerBuilder produce the greatest number of new hires. Indeed is clearly the top performer, with 23 percent of hires, versus CareerBuilder at 9 percent. Go ahead, cover your bases and use both sites to search for jobs and post your résumé.

Be smart about what you post and share. Here are some precautions:

-- Never share your Social Security number or other personal information to unknown entities.

-- Remove your mailing address from your résumé when you post online. Include the city and state or metro area instead.

-- You may want to create a separate, professional email address for your job search communication.

-- If you're on social networks, treat every status update as if it could be the headlines in a major newspaper.

-- Use long or complex passwords for online accounts and don't use the same one for every site.

A word about applicant tracking systems. Before you fill out any online application, thoroughly review the job posting so you understand the scope of requirements.

Next, take your time completing each application to ensure you've listed the required skills, education and details about your work history. The purpose of an ATS is to filter out unqualified candidates and make it easier for human resources to develop a short-list of the most qualified. Spelling, punctuation and grammar are important too. As the saying goes, garbage in, garbage out.

Read and follow the directions carefully. For example, don't submit at PDF version of your résumé if the directions request a Microsoft Word version. Candidates who don't follow directions run the risk of being rejected.

Online resources are only part of solution. It's easy to get lured into the vortex. Job boards can be valuable, but if you really want to stand out, you'll want to nurture relationships in-person. Instead of hiding behind your computer, reach out and talk with people face-to-face. You can try some of these tips:

-- Invite one or more of your past colleagues for a mini-reunion over coffee or after-hours drinks.

-- Check in with a past manager to see what's new.

-- Celebrate with people in your network who have changed jobs or have work anniversaries. Just monitor your LinkedIn home feed for news and updates.

-- Invite people in your network to attend professional association meetings or other networking events.

Hannah Morgan is a speaker and author providing no-nonsense career advice; she guides job seekers and helps them navigate today's treacherous job search terrain. Hannah shares information about the latest trends, such as reputation management, social networking strategies, and other effective search techniques on her blog, Career Sherpa.

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