When Using Job Boards, It Pays to Go Niche

Why industry-specific sites are more useful than larger job boards.

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"In time, I'm hoping this would be one of the first resources that people in this kind of field go to," says Blackman, whose blog scores about 3,000 unique visitors each month. "A lot of the smaller projects or initiatives or companies want to make sure they go after people who are like-minded."

For job seekers, that's yet another benefit of the niche job board. Simply applying via a niche site can show that you know the industry, says Ford Myers, a career coach and author of Get the Job You Want Even When No One's Hiring. "[It says] you're a member of our club," Myers says. "You wouldn't even know about our job board unless you were in our club ... You know the secret handshake."

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Like many career coaches, Myers advises his clients not to put much stock into job boards because they offer so little return. "It's OK to use the job board as a research tool, to find out more about a company, to find out which companies are expanding," he says. "Then to go around to the back door and get in through networking.

Even when applying through job boards, the cardinal rule of job-hunting—network, network, network—still stands. If you don't already have a connection at the company where you'd like to work, make one. Figure out who the hiring manager is through Google, LinkedIn, or the company website, and CC that person when you email your cover letter. Use social media to your advantage: Look on LinkedIn or Facebook to see whether anyone in your extended network works at the company, and use Twitter to learn what the organization wants in employees. Figure out where company employees hang out—either online or at in-person professional events—and make an appearance.

"[By using niche sites,] you up your chances that you're going to find the jobs you're looking for," Dickey-Chasins says. "That doesn't mean you can't find those kinds of jobs on big job boards—you just have to look a little harder."

What's your favorite niche job board? Leave it in the comments so other job seekers can check it out.

agrant@usnews.com