Professionals can use many different job-search resources; each serves a different customer and comes with its own set of challenges. Job boards, internal and external recruiters, career fairs, resume writers and networking events are all part of the modern job-search landscape. In this article, I share the challenges that come with each resource and how you can use each effectively.
The Problems with Job Boards
Placing an online advertisement via a job board is the last step in opening a role. At this point, many hiring managers have identified at least one internal candidate and two or three strong referrals. Most top candidates do not come through a cold job application. So, when you’re looking for your next great role, applying online will feel like progress and “throwing your hat into the ring”, but it’s generally a waste of time. (The key exception to not cold-applying is for those of you with specialized, in-demand, technical skills. You’ll know this is true for your skillset if you get an offer within 10 days of starting your search.)
Many recruiters and some internal hiring managers place advertisements on job boards that are not tied to real, open opportunities. They do this to build their candidate database and to gauge market salaries for their existing employees and clients. Openings on an organization's web site are usually real opportunities, although some have to be posted to meet a legal requirement even though the candidate has been chosen, so don't necessarily reflect jobs that are available.
It’s important to know that scammers love third-party job boards (i.e. not the hiring companies’ own career sites); they are the most active respondents. Be hyper-aware of who and how you’re communicating with someone you met through a job board – including reviewing LinkedIn profiles, email domains, and time/date stamps of messages. Scammers are heavily targeting early career professionals now.
A third-party job board’s customer is usually the corporate HR team. Explicitly, the job board “sells” candidate applications to the advertising company. The volume of applicants is this vendor's goal. With a goal of volume, lots of communication from job boards toward jobseekers is designed to incite panic ("open for 3 more weeks"), FOMO ("10 people have applied"), or unreasonable hope ("your profile matches this role!") to induce you to apply cold via the job board link.
How to Use Job Boards Effectively
Job boards are a great place to research which organizations are hiring, how many industry/field/function roles are open, and what knowledge, skills, education, and abilities a company, department, and team value. In addition to researching your targeted roles, we also recommend researching open roles on adjacent teams before interviewing or having a research conversation. Some job descriptions provide clues and information about an organization’s goals, strategies and weaknesses.
Actively monitoring job boards is also how you’ll know when your company is advertising (stealthily) for roles on your team, or when an industry competitor is hiring.
Resume Writers, Templates and Online Tools
The Problem with Resume Writers, Templates, and Online Tools
The myth is if you have the perfect resume, you’ll be hired into the perfect job. Not only is there no perfect resume, but a resume alone is not how you’ll land fulfilling work. And you don’t need one resume – you need a comprehensive written, spoken, and social messaging strategy that you update based on your goals for each targeted role and with your new achievements.
Generally, if you do hire a resume writer, you’ll find that after paying a lot for your resume to be updated, it reads as if someone else wrote it, the specific industry and functional language you need is missing – and you still need to land a job.
What to Do Instead
We recommend you write your own social profile, resume, and cover letter (we do offer support and expert guidance) after you know exactly what role you’re targeting. Then, solicit feedback from several people doing the exact work you want to do, or hiring for your targeted role
The only times we recommend going to a career fair is when you’re representing an organization or employer, or when you are personally invited to a single employer’s virtual career fair. Very few, if any, professionals are hired after meeting a recruiter at a multi-employer career fair. Word on the employer street is that most companies attend university, alumni, or regional career fairs only as branding opportunities.
Recruiters, both internal and external are key gatekeepers to open positions and companies. Understanding their roles and their end clients will make your time with them efficient. A recruiter’s client is sometimes a hiring manager, or sometimes the head (VP/C-level executive) of the hiring group. A job seeker is not the recruiter’s client and a recruiter does not work in a job-seekers best interest; although of course a job seeker’s interest can (and should eventually) align with a hiring team’s interest.
The Problem With External Recruiters
Having a conversation with a recruiter who is positive and encouraging will raise your hopes. Understand that being nice is a key skill set for a recruiter. However, a pleasant conversation is meaningless for your chances of landing your target role. Recruiters want to talk to you to see if you’re an “A candidate. Almost no career pivoters are recruiters’ A candidates. Hot candidates are hired in an average of 10 days. If you’ve been looking for longer after a recruiting conversation, then it’s likely a recruiter doesn’t consider you to be an A candidate.
External recruiters don’t have an opportunity to offer if they don’t share one in the first conversation. When they have a role you like, they may present your resume with 3-4 other candidates—one of whom they spotlight as the top candidate to the hiring manager. They will not necessarily share when you're not the top candidate because they need to present a slate of options to the hiring manager. They are paid by the hiring company and represent the company’s best interest, not the candidates.
How to Successfully Work with an External Recruiter
External recruiters are a good source of information for market compensation ranges, so when you know the exact, common, title you’re pursuing, ask them for a range. They are very excited to get you hired fast – into the same level and type of role you’re already doing. Understand that recruiters earn an insignificant amount more money when you’re able to negotiate a much higher level of compensation, so they'll prioritize speed of hire over your total compensation. Great recruiters place three candidates a month and talk to clients and candidates for nine hours a day. You should understand that your 30-minute conversation with them only places you in the hiring line-up if they think you’re one of 4 resumes they’ll submit for an active role.
Some external recruiters fancy themselves as “career coaches” – which generally means they give you feedback on your resume or cold applying based on the volume of resumes and candidates they see. Take their feedback for the valuable comparative analysis it is, while understanding that they are not directly hiring for your targeted role and don't know your qualifications. Listen carefully to the emotional words they use; a soft-let down from a recruiter is a strong signal that you’re not positioned as a top candidate for that kind of role.
The Problem with Internal Recruiters
Internal recruiters are generally gatekeepers that are filling 60 open roles at a time. They often have hundreds, or even thousands, of applicants for each role. The internal recruiting team's main function is “weeding out” applicants, first with an automated system (ATS) then in scanning your resume (spending an average of 6 seconds per resume!), and then in screening conversation.
Internal recruiters are often looking for a reason to say no to you. Your conversation with an internal recruiter should come after research conversations with people on your targeted team. A first conversation will frequently end in rejection, even for great candidates, so we don’t recommend connecting with or targeting recruiters in your networking efforts. The internal recruiter primarily represents the company and secondarily represents the hiring manager. They are not advocates for a jobseeker’s top interests as they are balancing company priorities with efficient recruiting processes and a shifting personal workload.
You can work effectively with the internal recruiter by being very responsive to emails and scheduling. An internal recruiter is an ideal source for information about benefits, size of the team, and onboarding logistics. An internal recruiter can often share a hiring timeline and knows how urgently the team needs to hire for any open role.
How to Make the Most of Networking Events
Events are supplemental to your main search. Yes! Attend and enjoy – especially if you’re an extrovert. But plan to meet people that you’ll get to know later. Do not, under any circumstances, attend any event with the “I need to find a job” speech ready for anyone you meet. In fact, until your messaging is completely ready, meeting people at a professional networking event should be just a hello and casual conversation.
Find and attend events where your peers or near peers are socializing and learning. Building relationships with interesting professionals in your area is always a good idea. You can help and support them - investing in long-term, fulfilling, and reciprocal relationships that don’t feel shallow or transactional. As you do so, you'll create strong connections to use thorough your career.
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Published on 2/15/2022