Written by August Cohen
Monday, 17 August 2009

The allure of online job boards is undeniable. From the comfort and privacy of your home, you can search thousands of positions without ever leaving your chair. However, are they the most effective way for jobseekers to find new, full-time positions? The short answer is no.

According to CareerXroads 8th Annual Source of Hire Study: What Happened in 2008 and What it Means for 2009, CareerBuilder is accountable for 3.95% of external hires, Monster 3.14%, and HotJobs a paltry 1.35%. Numerous other surveys report even lower numbers, especially for 2009. Additional evidence of the decline is the rapidly decreasing ad and “pay to post” sales of all major job boards, and their aggressive search for new revenue streams and additional services to replace lost income.

While the ineffectiveness of job boards is common knowledge in the career industry, many jobseekers aren’t aware of the low hit ratio. The major boards still heavily advertise on the TV, radio, and Internet, often supported with glowing success stories. Many job boards partner with media organizations by offering articles and services, and are often featured prominently in newspaper career sections. As this is a source of income for media outlets, some are reluctant to write revealing articles about this trend for fear of offending their partners, and risk jeopardizing much needed advertising dollars.

Should jobseekers avoid job boards all together? No. Even if the success rate is low, it is still meaningful for the individual who obtains a new position through this medium. Just balance your online search activity with a much higher percentage of time on networking, which continues to be the number one source for securing new positions by a large margin.

Here are several suggestions to improve your online search efforts:
* Make sure your resume is uploaded in the exact format requested, e.g., .doc or .txt. Note that .docx is not widely accepted.
* Refresh your resume every week or two so it looks like a new submission and doesn’t get stale. Just as you search by date of position posted, sourcers search by date of resume posted.
* Use job board aggregators like Indeed.ca or SimplyHired.com. These sites are great time savers as they provide an easily searchable database for thousands of boards in one location.
* Take advantage of industry association and niche job sites. And, don’t forget LinkedIn’s exclusive job postings.
* Apply directly to the company career board if possible. LinkUp.com is a nice website that features jobs aggregated exclusively from more than 22,000 company job boards.
* Create a resume that is rich with keywords that are reflected in the position description. This means you have to modify your resume for each specific position, every time.
* Label your resume document as “lastnamefirstname,” or “lastnamefirstname_position” to make it easier for the recipient to identify and remember you.
* Don’t put a date on your resume file (“resume_05-08”), as you don’t want to accentuate how long you may have been looking.

Now that you are armed with tips to make your online search more productive, push away from the computer and get out there and network. That’s where you’ll get the biggest return on investment.

August Cohen is a distinguished Raleigh-based resume writer and career consultant that holds the prestigious Certified Advanced Resume Writer (CARW), Nationally Certified Resume Writer (NCRW), and Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) credentials. August leverages the talents she acquired in her successful corporate career to assist professionals with high-impact resumes, confident interviews, and effective job search strategies.