There was a discussion recently posted in a career expert group I belong to on LinkedIn.com, entitled “The 100 best job board web sites.” I intentionally will not be sharing that list with you because it’s NOT where you should be looking!
I suppose job boards can be somewhat effective if (a) you desperately need to find a job (i.e. you will not be able to pay your bills unless you find work ASAP) and (b) if you are not very selective about what you want to do. However, if you want to get your DREAM job, then stop relying on job board web sites!
There are 2 main problems with job boards:
1. It is very hard to differentiate yourself when you apply to a job posted online since you are lumped in with everyone else who applies.
2. When you use a job board, you are limited to what is posted online. In other words, you are only going after “publicized” jobs, instead of seeking out “hidden” job openings that may be more appealing to you.
So, what should you do instead of using job boards? The #1 way to get your dream job is to determine what your dream job is and then to connect (by phone, online, or in-person) with successful people who work in your desired industry, regardless of whether or not they do hiring for their company. Establishing relationships with these influencers will enable you to get referred to decision-makers when jobs become available, and it will also let you know about jobs that never get posted on job boards.
I know this works because I did it myself! When I was a senior at Johns Hopkins University, I decided my dream job was to work in sales and marketing for a pro sports team. Despite not being able to find any relevant job openings online, and despite being told by friends, family, professors, and sports marketing “experts” that I lacked the relevant work experience, I persisted in my quest.
Ultimately, I met a senior executive for Fila at a networking event 2 months before graduation. Impressed by my professionalism and enthusiasm, he referred me to several of his colleagues who were also major players in the sports industry. One of those individuals took a liking to me as well, and he then referred me to the Director of Sales for the Washington Wizards. Next thing I knew, I had an interview for a full-time sales position, and several weeks later, I was hired!
There are 3 important takeaways here from my story:
1. Both the executive I met at a networking event, and the executive who referred me to the Washington Wizards were people I spoke to in-person for a combined 60 seconds! (Most of our communication happened over the phone.) In other words, you don’t need to have a referral from your uncle or your father’s best friend to get your foot in the door somewhere; referrals can come from casual professional acquaintances!
2. Successful people want to help students and young professionals because they were once in your position. Your youth is an advantage that makes people want to help you, so ask for help!
3. My dream job was not posted online. In other words, I would never even have found out about it if I relied on job boards alone in my search. Instead, I might have ended up selling textbooks after college (a job one of my professors recommended!)
In summary, job boards should only be used if you are desperate for work. In this economy, that may very well be the case. However, if you want to get your DREAM job, then focus on establishing and building relationships now AND throughout your career. Relationships are the #1 way to get your dream job and achieve career success!
Thanks for reading!
Gen Y Career Expert and Speaker
President of Idealize Enterprises, LLC
President of BetterFitness BetterHealth, LLC