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Most Job Seekers Still Rely Heavily on Job Boards, Study Shows

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Using job boards to find a job

A new report‘s out today from Millennial Branding and Beyond.com, one those companies say is the first to compare how people from different generations — Gen Y, Gen X and Baby Boomers — look for a job.

Most of the findings are what you’d expect: all of those groups now focus their searches online, and Gen Y and Gen X turn first to Google (and Google+), while Boomers focus more heavily on LinkedIn. Oh, and all generations say the job hunt is stressful and frustrating — something job-seeking Brazenites can certainly attest to.

But what editors here at Brazen found most interesting about this survey is that all generations reported job boards as their top resource.

Job boards?! Really?

Job boards are fabulous for learning what types of openings are popping up in your industry and what skills you need to qualify for those jobs. They’re NOT fabulous for actually landing jobs.

Why? Because so many people apply that way. And if you do just that, without finding another “in” at the company — through a professional contact, by making new connections on social media or through some sort of unique, attention-attracting stunt — your resume and cover letter might not even get read.

So what should you do instead?

Here’s what’s more effective than applying via job boards: networking. Going to Meetups. Interacting on Twitter. Building a brand for yourself — so a job will come to you, rather than the other way around. All of these brazen techniques are much more likely to help you stand out than responding to an online ad.

And today’s study gives you even more reason to go the brazen route, rather than browsing job boards: because it’s different than what most everyone else is doing. If you’re different, you’re more likely to stand out in a sea of job seekers.

On this same note, guess which online tool survey respondents said they use the least for their job search? Twitter. Only 8 percent of Gen Y, 6 percent of Gen X and 4 percent of Boomers are using Twitter strategically to find a job they love. Which is absolutely NUTS. Because of all the social networks, Twitter is arguably the one that’s most effective for connecting with people you don’t already know, for broadening your network to include new contacts. And that’s what’s important in a job search.

Here are two more interesting findings from the survey of nearly 5,270 job seekers:

  • When it comes to qualities each generation values most in a potential employer, location came out on top for Gen Y at 59 percent, followed by meaningful work and job security. Sixty-five percent of Gen X ranked job security highest, and not far behind fell employee benefits like healthcare and location. For Boomers, 60 percent said meaningful work, which was followed by location and both employee benefits and job security. Gen Y valued both salary and workplace flexibility more than Gen X and Boomers.
  • Each generation prepares differently for job interviews. Boomers are more likely to review the company’s website and get up-to-date on news that affects the company or industry, while Gen Y spends more time practicing interview questions and interacting with the company on social media. Gen Y also puts more effort into customizing resumes and cover letters, a smart move.

Oh, and one final note: if you absolutely MUST use job boards, at least make them niche boards that cater to your industry. That means the pool of applicants is smaller (although perhaps more qualified), and shows you know where to look online for industry-specific information.

What do you think? Is this study right on?

Alexis Grant is managing editor of Brazen Life.

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=317752194950479 Alison Elissa Coaching

    Yes, the point about job boards and the advice to network are spot on!

    I think people get sucked into job boards because applying jobs in this manner provides an immediate feeling of productivity. ‘See, I applied for five jobs today.’

    Networking, on the other hand, is a more open ended endeavor. It is way, way more effective though.

    I’ve seen similar statistics and information in the book ‘What Color Is Your Parachute? Guide To Job-Hunting Online’. It notes, “In fact, for most people, the success rate for this method (applying to jobs on job boards) is between 4% and 10%.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=644194371 Laura Levine Labovich

    Great article, Alexis! And, yes, the study is right on! What’s so interesting is that, in my experience, job seekers are on to the fact that job boards should not make up the lion share of their search, but they don’t know how to replace the time they’ll have without it. Arguably, folks can spend their time ‘networking’ with the wrong people. They have to figure out first what companies they want to target (generally 40 is a good start), and then focus their efforts chugging away at that smaller audience, aiming to get meeting at those companies with people 1-2 levels above them. And, yes, you are so right, twitter is a no barrier way to identify those people and interact with them!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1946024 Guy Davis

    It amazes me that job seekers are still using totally ineffective methods like huge job boards (Monster.com) to job search. Its about how you brand yourself and networking.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=841365594 Heather Huhman

    Personal branding is definitely an important element if you want employers to be able to find you, as opposed to hunting down employers. Making yourself visible and credible on the Web can mean many things, such as building clean social media profiles, creating an up-to-date online resume, posting on a personal blog, creating an online portfolio or YouTube channel, and ensuring your Google search results are clean and representative of your expertise.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=271703022904314 Careerleaf

    Alexis, your point about niche job boards is especially important. Niche job boards can sometimes get overlooked because job seekers don’t know where to find them or how to start. But niche job boards are often where they can find valuable communities, which allows job seekers to network as well as apply for positions not usually listed on major job boards. Job seekers who find postings on niche job boards are usually a better fit, as they already possess the skill set required. And like you said, they are also part of a much smaller applicant pool. If you don’t know the niche boards in your community, contact industry professionals in your network and ask for suggestions. They can point you in the right direction.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=337780849916 Powerful Women International

    Very informative article if you’re looking for a Job.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=204401779632778 Susan Rae Ross

      Many people are looking on social channels and networks for jobs.

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  • Anton L

    People like job boards for a good reason. They’re basically a new version of classified ads and employers often use them when they need to fill a job fast. I know from experience, both as a desperate jobseekers and as a hiring manager. I’m particularly partial to Ivory Standard (http://ivorystandard.com) because they give you so many options for controlling the search process.

  • Paul

    I am in Boston. The hig tech job market here is such that applying your guts out online is the fastest path to a job. The job market is so tough, you quickly run through all the networking most people’s professional networks can provide. you need more, and that more can only come from the computer. Building your brand online is good advice; but that won’t be enough, and networking is overrated, particularly in boston. Many people you end up working with are too mean and worried about their own job situation to help in a really meaningful way. Online application generate interviews galore for me: very efficient, much more so than wasting time “Networking”.and “Getting away from the job boards”. They are called job boards because they have jobs posted.