Overcoming Job Board Addiction: Part II

Posted on August 12, 2014. Filed under: Consulting/Contracting, Executive Job Search, International Job Seekers, Job Market Trends, Job Search Tips |

job boardOK, so in Part I of this series I might have ruffled a few feathers by referring to what I see as a “job board addiction.”

Listen. If job boards are working for you, you have so many hot opportunities lined up and your pick of good positions with great salaries, then that’s awesome! You are one of the lucky ones then.

But that’s my point: With an effectiveness rate of only 1-7%, more people lose than win.

In the whole job search picture, job boards and online postings are not all that effective; yet candidates put the bulk of their efforts into them.

The reason for their ineffectiveness is there is a lot going on behind these postings that you can’t anticipate. For one thing, some jobs are posted but really are already filled, but for various reasons, the company still posts for the position and goes through the motion of interviewing candidates. A large percentage of organizations now dump all entries into an automated Applicant Tracking System (ATS) that tries to weed through applicant resumes to sift out the best qualified ones. Of course, if applicants don’t guess the parameters used by the company’s specific ATS, their resume could be tossed out without any human every laying eyes on it. Furthermore, if all of that isn’t enough to discourage the average job seeker, the average number of submissions to these online postings is running in the hundreds these days, which means you are effectively being dumped in with the masses.

So even if you are the perfect candidate, first you have to differentiate from the masses, then you have to make it through a complex and mysterious human-less process called the ATS, and finally even if you succeed through all of that and get called in for an interview, you still have to hope the job really is “open” and you aren’t just fulfilling some internal company regulation that says every position must be posted and external candidates must be interviewed before the internal candidate can be promoted. (But, hey, miracles do happen….1-7% of the time!).

There’s even job board addiction among my fellow resume writers.

I spent several days at a conference earlier this year where writer after writer was desperately seeking the “key” to unlocking the ATS “code” companies use. (There isn’t one, by the way, as each company uses different parameters and different systems, and neither you nor the resume writer is told what those are ahead of time, but this wasn’t deterring my resume-writing friends. How else would their candidates find jobs, they cried! How else indeed.) They were even unveiling the “latest” in resume design, attempting to “play the odds” at beating most ATS. Of course, no one can be sure of that, but did that dissuade them? No.

Again, this is all for a job search method that is only 1-7% effective! In all this frenzy of discussion on resume formatting and ATS issues, no one stopped to question why they were spending so much time worrying about such an ineffective job search method.

(Instead, we could have been more focused on how to help our clients find success in a more productive way and steer them toward more effective options while using resumes that are actually pleasant and more logical to review. After all, wouldn’t that ultimately benefit our industry and increase demand for our services? I’m not sure how leading candidates down the ATS rabbit hole accomplishes that exactly.)

Shifting our mindset is not easy to do.

My overall philosophy when it comes to a job search is that in today’s market where you are likely to switch jobs every 3 to 4 years, candidates should create career-long pipelines that put them in a position for opportunities to be brought to them instead of trying your luck with the masses. I call it networking with positioning, and it is more along the lines of what an entrepreneur or small business owner has to do to create business development and stay solvent. Although it takes a shift in mindset and it requires some preparation, it is much more effective and logical than trying to unlock some secret job posting code that really has very little logic behind it.

But, hey, since when has a job search ever been a logical proposition?

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