In today’s world, job seekers and employers connect through online job boards and networks. Job boards and online job networks overlap but are not the same thing, and a proactive (as opposed to sit-around-and-hope) approach to job hunting requires understanding the difference and the relationship. Let’s break that down.
Start with Job Boards
Online job boards include sites like Monster.com, Jobs.com, ZipRecruiter.com, and CareerBuilder.com. Each of these resources has an intuitive interface for searching for jobs based on your location, your desired position, and other criteria including salary ranges.
When you select a job, you’ll be prompted to submit your resume (which the job board will keep on file).
Other job boards are focused on jobs for specific fields (like designers) or types of employment (full-time, part-time, or freelance). Job aggregators like Indeed collect and connect you with job postings from other job boards.
Your school may have advice on the best job boards to use. Recruiters tend to search (or get search results from) many job boards, so listing yourself at any of the largest ones is a good place to start. You can avail yourself of online resources that list and review a wide range of job boards aimed at specific skill sets at join.com.
But Job Boards are Not Enough
Research shows that 70% of all jobs are not published publicly on jobs sites and as much as 80% of jobs are filled through personal and professional connections.
So while job boards are critical in finding jobs, they are not enough to seal the deal.
- It’s difficult to stand out in search results that are shared with recruiters. Those search results are generated by algorithms that scrub millions of postings.
- Simply sharing your resume at a job board does not allow you to develop a deepening understanding of exactly what recruiters are looking for, or to customize and craft your posting to match their needs.
- Job boards do not open the door to making actual connections with people who hire.
- Job boards do not provide access to insider reviews of company culture that make it possible to refine and strengthen your portfolio and resume.
- Job boards do not provide resources and tools to build your resume, enhance your set of recommendations, strengthen your online portfolio, or reach out directly to peers and potential employers.
But online job networks do provide all that. They allow you to communicate with and learn from others seeking jobs in your field. They allow you to compare your profile and portfolio with others looking for similar work. They provide direct access to peers and prospective connections and employers. And they help you prepare for those all-important job interviews that are the final step in landing a job.
LinkedIn and Glassdoor—a One-Two Combination
While there are many online job networks, as someone entering the job market, you can start with two: LinkedIn and Glassdoor.
LinkedIn is the first place many employers look to find out about a potential employee. They may find you using tools provided by job boards, but they will learn about you from your LinkedIn profile. While LinkedIn has many useful tools to enhance your ability to find and connect with employers, the most potent reason to focus on your LinkedIn profile (including your resume and a link to your portfolio) is that this is your public face.
Glassdoor works in the other direction. As its name implies, it provides a look into a company through reviews written by current or former employees. These candid and credible reviews can provide the kind of detailed job requirements that you can then integrate into your LinkedIn portfolio. And Glassdoor includes reviews of companies’ interview processes, so when that all-important interview opportunity comes, you can show up prepared for the questions you will be asked.
A Four-Part Networking Plan
As you confront the ocean of online job hunting opportunities, a good way to get started is this four-point approach:
- Get listed on LinkedIn.
- Sign up at Glassdoor.
- Develop a routine of searching job boards: Monster.com, Jobs.com, or CareerBuilder.com, and a job posting aggregator like Indeed.
- Search job boards specific to your field. You’ll find indexes of specialized job boards here.
Start with LinkedIn
As we noted, once you connect with a potential employer (either because you showed up in their search results or because you found another way to connect with them and get them your resume), the next thing that typically happens is that your potential employer will look up your LinkedIn profile.
Once you sign up at LinkedIn, you’ll be guided through the process of defining your profile here.
Here’s what you need to establish a meaningful and positive profile at LinkedIn:
- A thoughtfully selected photo that projects a professional image.
- Your Industry and Location
- Customize your LinkedIn URL to make the most professional impact when you add it to your resume.
- An introduction—a quick description of yourself and your skills.
- A detailed list of your work experience (this can include part-time and volunteer work), skills, and education
- Search for contacts and, as you get started, connect with as many people as possible.
- Turn ON "Let recruiters know you're open"
LinkedIn provides specific and helpful advice on how to compose your introduction and present your background at How Do I Create a Good LinkedIn Profile? Study the advice and, especially when you first venture into the job-hunting world, stick closely to the provided models.
Getting the Most Out of LinkedIn
Because LinkedIn is such a critical factor in your transition into the workforce, it is worth studying some model postings and articles on how to put your best foot forward.
The How Do I Create a Good LinkedIn Profile? This page walks you through the best way to compose your photo; make your headline stand out, add relevant skills, procure recommendations, and run your profile through LinkedIn’s tool for evaluating your profile.
Study the 10 LinkedIn Tips for Students & New Grads at LinkedIn. This page includes specific “first time” advice for creating professional profile elements ranging from avoiding creepy photos to vetting your experiences.
Study profiles from people in the field you aim to enter by searching for your job title.
One of the most valuable features of LinkedIn is the ability to make connections with others in your field. These connections allow you to message people directly.
A few tips:
- Connect with as many people as possible.
- Study the profiles of people you connect with to learn about them and learn from their profiles.
- Introduce yourself to people with whom you apply to connect, explaining what it is about their profile that makes you interested in following them and learning from them.
- Reach out to connections for advice, especially specific questions.
- Respond to prompts to congratulate connections on work anniversaries, new jobs, and other news, and not just with boilerplate content but with some thoughtful notes of your own.
- Don’t abuse connections by bombarding them with requests to hire you.
Valuable Features in LinkedIn Premium
There are different versions of LinkedIn Premium, and they offer very valuable (and fairly pricey) features. The version that is most useful to job hunters is Premium Career.
Premium Career includes private browsing that lets you review other people’s profiles without being identified to them; reports who viewed your profile; and unlimited looks at other profiles.
The competitive analysis included in Premium Career is particularly valuable as it helps you size-up your skill set (and figure out how to improve it) compared to other applications to jobs you are interested in.
Also valuable is unlimited access to LinkedIn Learning , a series of almost unlimited courses, allowing you to build your skill set as you job hunt.
LinkedIn Premium Career is a good value. A subscription cost of hundreds of dollars a year, but you might get more than your money’s worth out of a subscription for a few months while applying for jobs. The LinkedIn Premium Career subscription helps get your profile highlighted when applying for jobs, and you get valuable insights into who is looking at your profile.
At a minimum, the one-month free trial is a must. True, trial subscriptions to LinkedIn Premium Career end after a month (or more specifically reverts to a paid subscription if you don’t cancel it). But if you use Premium Career intensely every day, you can get a good start in taking helpful classes, reaching out through messaging, and having your applications evaluated.
- Start by setting up a LinkedIn profile. Expect to put in some time (days, not hours) carefully configuring your profile to be effective.
- Search for jobs on job boards regularly, including both boards that list all kinds of jobs, and ones that focus on your field.
- Research a job at Glassdoor before deciding how much bandwidth to dedicate to pursuing it.
- Avail yourself of features in LinkedIn to reach out to potential connections, strengthen your skill set and get feedback and evaluation on your profile and your competitive standing in your field.