Whoosh! That’s the sound of your resume zipping off into cyberspace, never to be seen again.
There’s nothing more demoralizing on the job hunt than radio silence. You write your cover letter, update your resume, and send off your materials. Then weeks pass without a response, and your email inbox remains empty, no matter how many times you hit refresh.
This is the problem a lot of job applicants face when they apply to jobs through big job boards, like Monster and Indeed. Although a job board is a useful resource, it also has some major drawbacks.
If you’re using big job boards and struggling to get hired, the problems below might be the reason why.
1. You’re just another anonymous applicant
When it comes to the number of users and job postings, big job boards can’t be beaten. Indeed has over 200 million monthly visitors in 60 countries around the world. Monster has 7,900 jobs searched every single minute.
But this kind of reach isn’t always a good thing. Sure, you see tons of opportunities. But for each posting, you could be competing with hundreds, if not thousands, of other applicants.
“There are too many applications per job,” said career coach Scott Bradley. “People go to these big job boards and blindly apply for any and all jobs — even if they aren’t qualified. This makes recruiters’ jobs much harder because they have to sift through all of the ‘junk’ applications to get to the serious ones.”
Further, your resume might never even make it into the pile. Career counselor Sasha Korobov said your resume could be eliminated if it doesn’t contain the right keywords.
“What people are unaware of is how many of these big sites use robots to automatically weed out resumes that don’t contain matches to certain keywords,” said Korobov.
With so many applicants applying for the same jobs, you need a strategy for getting in front of a prospective employer.
If you’re serious about a job, don’t stop after submitting your resume. Take additional steps to communicate with the hiring manager or someone in the organization. By making a personal connection, you demonstrate your enthusiasm for the position. At the very least, you’re much more likely to get an actual response.
2. You can’t customize your search very much
Big job boards gather their strength from numbers, but they’re weak when it comes to personalization. Apart from general filters like location and a few keywords, you’re limited in terms of customizing your search. You might waste time reading through lots of job descriptions that don’t match your skill set.
Plus, the job descriptions you find on a job board might not be very specific about what kind of candidate they’re seeking. They sometimes use general descriptions, so you’re not sure what the job really entails.
“Oftentimes with big job boards like Monster and Indeed, job descriptions are vague and don’t provide the most accurate information about the job,” said Scott Wesper, hiring manager at outsourcing company Arch Resources Group. “A lot of jobs are posted by anonymous recruiters, which can leave a job seeker in the dark about where they stand.”
This might not be a problem if you’re casting a wide net. But if you have a specialized skill set, you might have better luck with a recruiting site like Vettery or Hired. These organizations review your qualifications before letting you sign up. If you get in, they get to work matching you with the right company and job.
If you’re looking for a specific, high-level role, you might want to avoid a big job board.
3. That job board posting might have been filled 3 months ago
Another problem with the sheer size of some job boards is that outdated postings — and sometimes scams — slip through the cracks. Some postings seem to stay up indefinitely, even when they’re no longer available.
In that case, you’re wasting valuable time and energy applying to a position that no longer exists. To prevent this from happening, try searching for the opening on the company’s website. Confirm the organization is actively hiring before you put effort into applying.
You only have so much bandwidth when you’re searching for your next job. Make sure you’re using your time and energy strategically. It’s no fun getting your hopes up about a job that’s already been filled.
4. You won’t gain much by sending off a generic resume
Big job boards make it easy to apply for jobs with a click of a button. All you have to do is upload your cover letter and resume, and then you can apply to job after job without breaking a sweat. But this kind of passive job seeking is unlikely to get you hired.
“Job seekers often start to go into autopilot mode and not tailor their application materials to the position and company,” said Karyn Mullins, general manager and EVP of JobsInSports.
“[They] become tempted to adopt bad job search habits by using a ‘one-click apply’ option,” she added. “Sure, you can send out hundreds of applications each week, but you aren’t following a strategy that allows you to fully evaluate the opportunity you’re pursuing.”
When it comes to applying, the best practice is to tailor your resume and cover letter for each and every position. You want to highlight your most relevant experience. Plus, you should reflect the specific job description in your application materials.
If you’re sending a generic resume, you’re probably less likely to get a hiring manager’s attention. And since you might be competing with lots of other candidates, your chances of standing out get even slimmer.
5. You miss out on the power of networking
If you use all your energy scouring a job board, you’ll miss out on one of the most effective ways to get hired: networking. Studies have shown that networking is the single most effective approach for scoring an interview and getting a job.
“You’re not making the most of your professional network when you use big job boards,” said Mullins. “This is crucial, considering our [JobsInSports] survey also found that 60 percent of employers say they give referred candidates more attention and consideration than other candidates.”
Plus, some job openings never make it to a job board. Hiring managers might use word of mouth or social media to source candidates.
Instead of limiting yourself to roles on big job boards, try to harness the power of networking. You might come across hidden opportunities, plus you could boost your chances of scoring an interview.
Take extra steps to stand out from other job board applicants
Job boards have some benefits along with their drawbacks. They make it easy to learn about and apply to opportunities around the globe.
But if you’re actively hunting for a job, you might need to go above and beyond job boards. Connect with others in your industry, and reach out to companies to show your interest.
By taking proactive steps to stand out, you’ll be more likely to get the hiring manager’s attention and score an interview.
And once you do, you can dazzle them with your answers to these common job interview questions.
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