Job boards are the low hanging fruit of job search, but attract extremely high amounts of competition. While job boards aren’t the best way to apply for jobs, they can be invaluable for some little known ways to discover the hidden job market.
Job seekers apply through job boards because they are visible, they appear to be the easiest way to understand a company’s job openings, and because a company’s HR department requests this type of application. On the negative side, job openings represented by job boards are much more competitive than what’s called the “hidden job market” – therefore, job board applications aren’t in the candidate’s best interest if they can develop a more direct path.
I think most candidates would focus on the less competitive hidden job market, if they only knew how. However, most job seekers weren’t trained to search for a job in times of job shortages – they were trained to search for a job when there was much low hanging fruit. Successful methods during job shortages are very different than job hunting when jobs are plentiful. The use of job boards is a great example – Most candidates were taught to use job boards in ways that work for strong job markets.
How candidates were taught to use job boards:
- Write a generic resume & post it on a couple of job boards
- Apply to a number of jobs using your generic resume, including jobs that have requirements that you don’t currently have but could learn (“stretch” jobs)
- If you want more results, increase the number of resumes you send. The law of averages will provide more opportunities to a scattershot approach
These methods worked in strong markets like 1998-99 and 2005-06. Company hiring needs were so plentiful that a scattershot method, powered by a generic resume, allowed candidates to randomly stumble across enough opportunities to find a job in a reasonable amount of time given enough effort. This worked because of an abundance of low handing fruit – an oversupply of jobs. But today, we have a different reality – an under supply of jobs.
Today’s successful job search campaigns recognize the lack of low hanging fruit. Instead, today’s successful job search campaigns use laser-targeted focus, information, and personalized marketing strategies (resumes, social networking, blogs, portfolios, face-to-face networking) to gain notice over hundreds of other competitive candidates. Today’s successful job search campaigns use these tactics to get ahead of advertised job market by exploring the hidden job market – represented in unsolved employer problems and jobs that are in the pre-approval stage.
Today’s market demands more research than just which job board to use of the 50 thousand job boards in existence (http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/02/top-30-job-boards-for-2010.html).
One might think that job boards would be of little use in such a competitive market, just a direct path to the black hole of resumes. This may be true in the way that most candidates use job boards. However, the most successful candidates use job boards in these 3 ways to find the hidden job market in the same ways recruiters work hidden opportunities:
3 Ways To Use Job Boards To Find Hidden Jobs:
- Information: In today’s highly competitive market, it’s far more valuable to know which companies are hiring, rather than which companies are advertising for your specific job title. Companies that advertise for more than just a single position often have needs that haven’t been advertised yet. These can be targets for your search, to contact hiring managers and start a conversation to understand their problems, needs, and goals. Problems, needs and goals need solutions – solutions need people.
This is the hidden job market – you can get ahead of the curve by discussing hidden needs before the actual jobs are advertised (and before your competition explodes). Job boards can help you identify where the odds are best to look, because companies with hiring budgets advertise. (see: http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/03/would-you-stop-looking-for-job-already.html).
- Specific Job Title: If you are looking for the companies that are advertising for your job, you choose to enter into the most competitive market where your odds of success are lowest. But what about the hiring company’s competitors, vendors, or related industry companies? The odds are good that if one company is hiring, other companies in the same industry will have similar plans or react with increased hires. These competitive or related companies can be good targets with increased odds of finding hidden jobs, prior to those companies releasing advertisements.
- Skills desired: What companies actually hire for skills that you have? For instance, if you are an accounting manager who has SAP experience, aren’t your highest odds with a company that runs SAP? If you knew all the companies in your market that ran SAP, why would you look at companies that ran different software?
Job boards are a great source to discover this market information. Rather than search for accounting jobs, why not first search for SAP to find the companies in your market who run SAP. These are companies that you’ll want to include on your target list, even if they aren’t currently looking for an accounting manager. By starting discussions with hiring managers now, you are more likely to uncover needs that you can solve, creating your own position … or be front of mind when a new position opens.
Other in-demand examples can include Twitter/Facebook/Social Media for marketing professionals, Photoshop for Design professionals, Ruby or PHP for programmers, Lean/Six Sigma for production managers, Epic or McKesson for health care administration. Many job boards publish the most in demand skills for those looking to increase current skills to match current market demands (see: http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/01/indeeds-2009-top-trends-in-jobs.html).
Using job board information to understand the hidden job market is a basic tool of recruiters. Why do you think recruiters have a better pulse on the hidden job market than candidates have? It all boils down to a single word – information. Candidates have access to this same information, but lack the basic training how to best use this information to uncover hidden opportunities.
How can you use job boards to find hidden opportunities?-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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