Job seekers receive a lot of conflicting messages about how to look for opportunities. Many focus on applying via job boards as a main strategy, while career coaches often encourage them to use networking (or social networking) in lieu of job boards.
However, as Chris Havrilla, a talent acquisition/recruiting consultant who focuses on corporate recruiting strategy, process, and technology, says, it’s a good idea to incorporate searching for and applying for opportunities online as part of a well-rounded approach. “You wouldn't build a house with just a hammer,” she says, “and you should approach a job search the same way. Some tools will be more valuable and effective than others, but the whole ‘house’ will get built faster and more efficiently if you use a toolkit instead of just one tool.”
For job seekers who want to benefit from every online opportunity, Chris provides valuable insights from a recruiter’s perspective. Here are a few excerpts from our conversation:
How should job seekers approach job boards? What don't job seekers know about how recruiters use job boards that could help them?
There is a lot of talk about job boards being dead—and a lot of people advising both recruiters and candidates not to use them. I look at job boards as just another tool in your toolkit. Should it be the only one? Certainly not. Some of the strongest recruiters and sourcers I know can find gold in resume databases—whether they identify active candidates, already motivated to make a job change, or passive candidates who opted to leave their resumes online from past job searches.
Whether you are passively looking or in the heat of an active search, job boards can be a great resource to see who is hiring now. When you are unemployed, time is usually of the essence —go ahead and apply via whatever means you are comfortable. Then, tap your network for contacts in those companies to follow up and move things forward.
Once you identify open opportunities, conduct additional research and focus on a methodical targeted job search: find potential employers, leads, and unadvertised opportunities. Structure your day around managing your active job leads/interview processes, doing follow up, working your network, continuing research, and making new contacts.
Is it effective to find jobs via job boards and then look for other ways to apply?
There are many mixed opinions on this issue. When a candidate applies from a job board, there are some recruiters who are thrilled to see their investment posting the job was spent wisely. There are those who believe candidates who apply via job boards may be desperate for a job. It is important to remember, passive candidates (those not actively looking) are not the only quality candidates. Good recruiters and hiring managers know not to judge the applicant - they know their companies, teams, and jobs well enough to determine a quality candidate, no matter the source of the applicant.
I would look at each method of application on a case-by-case basis. If you know someone in an organization, contact him or her directly to see if you may be able to be referred, and ask, what’s the best process to apply as a referral? If you do not have a contact, decide which way you are most comfortable applying, through the board or directly at the company website. Just be sure to follow up, using your network and research (with tools like LinkedIn) to find people within the organization.
What’s appropriate follow up for a job seeker submitting to a job board? What’s fair to expect from the recruiter?
If you are truly qualified for the role, I would follow up within a 24-48 hours to reiterate your interest in the role. Most candidates do not take this second step; this will help you stand out, ensure your credentials are reviewed in a timely manner, and demonstrate your enthusiasm for the position and the company. My goal as a recruiter is to follow up with an applicant within 24-48 hours. Remember, many recruiters carry requisition loads making that kind of turnaround impossible; I would say a week is still reasonable. As a candidate, remember to follow up within reason, put yourself in a recruiter's shoes and recognize everyone is doing their best.
Can you give any clues to mastering the applicant tracking system (ATS) that screens resumes electronically? How can job seekers make sure (if they’re qualified) they get through the process? Any generic do or don'ts?
Most ATS's use logic to help prioritize the resumes from strongest fit and relevance. Whether you have a resume on your own personal website, in a company's ATS, an external resume database, or a social or professional networking site, make it easy for recruiters and sourcers seeking your kind of talent to find you. Based on the type of jobs you seek, identify key words or titles they use to find you and incorporate them in your materials.
Other suggestions to consider:
• Do apply to jobs for which you are reasonably qualified.
• Do review the job description and tailor your resume to the job using those keywords.
• Do also tailor your resume to show accomplishments demonstrating how your experience and results relate to the company’s needs.
• Do follow up via email and/or phone call (I prefer a call myself) as described above.
• Do not stalk the recruiter or hiring Manager. Be respectful of their time as well.
What myths can you bust about job boards and how recruiters use them?
Make no mistake about it, job boards are not dead; plenty of candidates, recruiters, and companies use them. Recruiters rely less on them because there are many other tools at their fingertips. This is healthy; recruiters and candidates alike have many options to find each other. I believe, like candidates, not all recruiters use job boards the same way. Some use them to post and market jobs, some to source active candidates (who recently applied) for current open positions, some to do deep sourcing or "database mining" for candidates fitting profiles they seek, and some use a combination of approaches. Effective recruiters do not just post a job and pray for results as their only method, and effective candidates should also avoid the post-and-pray approach.
What steps do you take when you have a position to fill?
A position opens and I posted it internally and externally (via the career site, job boards, as well as my network, often with the help of the social tools I use). Then, I run a search of my database(s)/pipeline, emailing those appropriate with a call to action to check out the new job and apply if interested. Many recruiters do not have the luxury of time to fill their positions. These actions are a quick way to capture the attention of internal and active candidates, who are interested in your company and may already be motivated to make a change.
Applicants come to me via the application process, and with those wheels in motion, I start the more methodical candidate search: finding potential candidates, leads, and passive candidates from research and my network. Much of my day would then center around managing my active, qualified candidates coming in or already in process, working my network, sourcing and wooing passive candidates, and continuing to make new contacts, etc.
It’s always useful having a perspective from the hiring side. In my book, I highlight how to look for and use job boards well and offer a variety of resources to help identify jobs online. Follow Chris’ advice: incorporate job boards into your strategy, but don’t put all of your job hunting eggs in one basket if you want achieve your goals quickly and efficiently.
Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Career Success. Miriam teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to incorporate social media tools along with traditional strategies to empower their success. Connect with her via Twitter @Keppie_Careers.