Whether you are a job hunter, a recruiter, or a hiring manager, there’s a good chance that you don’t like job boards. 

If you’re a job hunter, they are mind-numbing and seduce you into believing – falsely – that you are engaging in an active, effective job search. As a recruiter, job boards give you a mechanism for maintaining your company brand, and advertise for hard-to-fill roles. At the same time, they will eat your budget and overwhelm you with unqualified applicants. And hiring managers simply have a strong, and well-founded, preference for the known quantity of someone they know or someone who comes with the referral of someone they trust.

Based on all that, our rejection of job boards as a nemesis in the process is completely understandable.

If you are looking for a new job, job boards can serve a very good purpose – it’s just not what you think!


But, there is a great use for job boards most people don’t think of: RESEARCH. 

Job boards can provide insights and information that will help you build a target employer list, one of the keys to networking and a successful job search.  Here are three things you can learn by looking at job boards differently:

  1. Who is hiring. There is a very good chance that if a company is advertising for one role, it is hiring for others as well. Perhaps a job posting says, “The leader of this new effort will be …responsible for building a team.” Or maybe they have several jobs posted, just not the right one for you. Add that company to your list of employers, and check their website for openings that may not be advertised.
  2. The company culture. Companies reveal a lot by what they say and don’t say in a job posting. How do they describe the organization? What do they seem to prioritize? What kind of language do they use? Some postings may draw you in, and others may make you uncomfortable. Pay attention, look at the company’s whole website (not just the “Careers” page), read how they represent themselves. It can tell you a lot about whether there might be a fit.
  3. Potential connections. A true differentiator on LinkedIn’s job board is the “Connections” icon included in every job posting. It tells you two things – your 1st degree connections at the company and alumni from your alma mater who work or have worked there. The gold is in the alumni information. You can look at those folks, focus on near-peers, or people in roles similar to what you’re seeking and reach out to them. Always use the alumni reference in your initial communication for the best results.

When you begin to use job boards as a resource in this way, they can be a game changer for you.


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