If you only visit online job boards when you are actively searching for a job or after a bad week at work — those times when you think to yourself, “There has to be something better than this” — then you might miss out on much of the value they can provide your career management efforts.
Job Boards as Research Tools
Most people think only about the immediate and obvious function of a job board. It will let you search current openings when you are looking for a new position. You can build a profile and post your resume, making it searchable so employers can find you. You can also save or apply to postings that intrigue you.
But job boards offer much more. Think of job boards as research tools. Specifically, using job boards as a tool can help you:
- Strategically manage your network.
- Understand the skills and experience you need to progress.
- Identify companies that may be a good fit for you regardless of current openings.
When you do decide you want to transition jobs, it will help to have a strong network to call on for advice, insights into what roles and companies are like, and recommendations and referrals. The essential rule of a strong network is to build it before you need it. Job boards can help and here’s how:
- Regularly conduct category and/or geography searches on job boards for those areas you are interested in.
- For those positions that are returned in the search, evaluate whether you have a network contact that you would feel comfortable reaching out to for insight regarding the company that is hiring.
- Based on the examples of postings for which you are not able to identify a contact you are comfortable soliciting information from, identify other networking targets to meet or relationships to build on.
Job boards help you grow your understanding of the skills and experience you will need to progress along your desired career path. How can you accomplish this?
- Regularly review positions that have the same functions and title as your current job, and save searches for the roles to which you aspire to as well as those you currently occupy.
- When you receive alerts for these postings, analyze where your skills and experience are lacking and where they overlap.
- Map out a strategy for developing the required skills, gaining the requisite experience, and positioning yourself for an eventual transition.
Job boards, especially those of the specialty or niche variety, can tell you about companies in your field of interest as well. By providing role descriptions from multiple companies side-by-side, job boards offer a window into the cultures and structures of these firms. This can help you determine what you value when it comes to your work environment.
Instead of just targeting roles, you might target specific employers. Set up searches on job boards to alert you to all postings from a particular firm. Viewing openings from across the company — even those that aren’t of interest to you — gives insight into how various sectors of the company work together, how consistent firm culture is across the organization, and whether that culture fits with your values. Not only will this help you determine if an employer is a good fit, it will provide you with information and avenues of inquiry to apply during a potential interview.
This article was originally published on Enterprising Investor on 23 November 2016.
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