Stop Spending All Your Time on Job Boards! Do This Instead

Stop Spending All Your Time on Job Boards! Do This Instead

Yesterday, I had two conversations – one with a former client and one with a prospective client – about how unsuccessful their job search attempts have been thus far.

“I’m not even getting nibbles on the jobs I’m fully qualified for,” vented my former client. “I just don’t know what I’m doing wrong.”

The prospective client said pretty much the same thing.

Here is the advice I gave them:


  1. Spend no more than 20% of your total job search time on job boards.

Reason: They don’t work. Here’s why: job boards (or advertised positions in general) only represent about 25% of all available positions, and they are the ones with the most competition.

The rest of those jobs (75%) are filled through the “hidden” job market, which more accurately could be called the unadvertised job market.

Small employers don’t get around to posting the position; large employers want to engage their personal network or offer employees an incentive to recommend candidates.

And NOBODY wants to deal with the deluge of resumes that come as a result of a public posting, especially when (as is so often the case) the majority of the applicants are minimally qualified or completely unqualified.

Do the math: If you are job searching full-time (let’s say 30 hours per week), then no more than six hours a week should be devoted to on-line application methods, including job boards and employer online applications.


  1. When you DO apply online, engage in some professional stalking.

Here’s what I’m talking about: utilize your network to advocate for you on your behalf. Use LinkedIn to find the decision-maker at the company you’ve applied to, and see who in your network knows that person.

Then, ask someone you know who knows that person (also known as a second-level connection in LinkedIn) to make an email introduction, pick up the phone and call the decision-maker, or even arrange an in-face meeting on your behalf.

Another method of professional stalking: figure out where the decision-maker is going to be (e.g. a Chamber meeting, Rotary meeting, conference) and BE THERE.


  1. Arrange face-time with decision-makers at your target employers, not because they have a position open for which you are qualified, but because you are a perfect fit for the organization…and the organization is a perfect fit for you.

Jim Collins, author of “Good to Great,” calls this getting the right people on the bus, and great leaders do this on a regular basis. They know they can teach someone the specifics of the job, but what they CAN’T teach is motivation, leadership, dedication.

There are at least two upsides of this approach to job searching: You’re a candidate pool of one, and any deficiencies you might have in your candidacy will fall away as the decision-maker gets to know you and sees your fit for the organization.

Back to my former client. He is trying to get back into the upscale resort business after years in industrial food services. He thinks that perhaps employers are looking at his experience, and in the absence of recent work at an upscale resort, they are categorizing him as more of a “get the job done” food and beverage director, rather than one who can deliver a dining “experience.”

By having a face-to-face with the decision-maker, he can demonstrate through his examples and his persona that he can, and will, deliver an exceptional dining experience in an upscale environment.

Problem solved.

Bottom line: Use job boards sparing, if at all, and always supplement with some professional stalking. The majority of your job search efforts should be around networking, with the goal of gaining face-time with the decision-makers at your target employers.

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