The Demise of Job Boards and the Rise of People Searching

We’re all familiar with the term “job board.” In fact, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of job boards in existence.  Some you may know about and others you may never know about.  You’ve obviously heard of, and Yahoo! Hotjobs because they are large brands, with large news distribution partners (Careerbuilder has CNN and Monster has the New York Times for example).  These sites have been around forever and contain millions of resumes combined, with thousands of “job openings” each day.  Then there are vertical job search engines that locate and aggregate jobs from job boards, such as  Finally, there are niche job boards for various industries and professions, such as for marketing professionals.

Right now, if you’re unemployed, you are spending hours on job boards desperately searching for a job in your industry or one that will help you pay the bills this month.  The unemployment rate is now 8.9% in the US, which means we’re inching closer to one in every ten Americans being jobless.  Since there are millions of job seekers, job boards are home to piles of resumes that will never even be looked at.  I believe job boards will cease to exist in the future because there models are outdated and because social technologies have transformed the recruitment process forever.   As the joker says in The Dark Knight movie “there’s no going back.”

The research tells all

Many of you might be in HR related fields or have deemed job boards as sacred sites that have helped you for a decade or two. You might have even gotten your previous job from a job board.  After reading an article about a woman who sent her resume to 1,700 jobs, with only 13 interviews and no job offers, I felt the need to dig up some research to illustrate my prediction more clearly to you.  First, let’s start with a quote from a very well-known author in the career field, Richard Bolles.

“For every 1,470 resumes, there’s 1 job offer made and accepted” – Richard Bolles, bestselling author, What Color is Your Parachute?

Clearly, resumes aren’t the sole factor in the recruitment process anymore, like they were decades ago.  A good resume is no longer enough and job boards aren’t great places to submit your resume either, especially with the amount of job seekers using them now.  Next, announced that it was shutting down, which was their job board dedicated to entry-level jobs and internships, which I had even used during college (and had no success!).  Also, you might have heard that the large job boards, just like most companies now, are laying off a good percentage of their staff because companies aren’t hiring, which means they aren’t posting jobs.

In 2008, only 12% of jobs came from job boards. When I give presentations, I typically state that 88% of jobs aren’t sourced through job boards because it seems like a bigger number.  The fact is that job boards will rarely work in your favor because people hire people and not resumes.

The fall of job searching and the rise of people searching

So far, I’ve stated that job boards won’t exist and I’ve backed up my claims with research and indicators that are telling of the entire recruitment industry.  Now, I’m going to tell you that job searching is “old school” terminology that refers to applying for jobs that are listed somewhere, such as a job board or corporate website.  The new way to look at a job search is a “people search,” which I’ve stated a few times in the past.  A “people search” means that you name the top companies you want to work for and find people who are employed at those companies.  Then, you network with them, form a strong relationship and they perform the job search for you.  Social networking sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc) put everyone on the same plane and give you access to employees that can get you jobs.

Remember that employees have access to internal job boards, which tell them who the hiring manager is and if the job is actually available.  Companies give employees access to internal job boards because they want to retain them and give them opportunities at various levels and departments in the company (saves them money too).  If you have a relationship with an employee, they can tap this job board, email or call the hiring manager and connect you directly or at least send them your resume.  In fact, this means that there’s no reason for you to go on a job board or corporate site looking for a job ever again (if you’re smart).

What you need to do right now if you’re looking for a job

1.  Discover your brand

Don’t be stuck in your career by neglecting your personal brand.  Instead, work as hard as you can to figure out what you want to do in life.  Think about what you want to be known for and how you will position yourself online and offline in order to achieve your goals and dreams.  Ask yourself “what niche do I want to own”?  By discovering your brand, you have a much better chance of landing in a job that will make you happy.

2.  Build up your brand presence

If you’re searching for a job and don’t have a brand presence, then it will be very hard to stand out.  You can start with a blog, or profiles on social networks or both.  You should claim your Google profile also.  The key here is to have a consistent online identity that reflects the brand you discovered in step 1.  The outcome will be more places where you can advertise your brand and direct recruiters or members of your network to more information about what you have to offer.

3.  Name the top 3-5 companies you want to work for

Many of you are asking “but what if I don’t know what type of company I want to work for.”  My answer is that you better start thinking about it right now or you’ll waste your time.  Most companies are concerned about you fitting into their corporate culture, not just if you have a stellar resume.  By choosing the top companies you want to work for, you’ll be able to come off more genuinely in interviews with hiring managers and you’ll be able to put in the necessary work to actually get a job there (passion rules).

4.  Conduct a people search to find employees who work at those companies

Once you’ve selected the companies you actually want to work for, use social networks (industry networks, vertical networks and the top social networks) in order to locate employees that can help you.  When finding the right employees, look for their status in the company (job title), how many years they’ve worked there for and what type of job they’re in.  Use an excel spreadsheet to take note of their name, email address, social network profiles, etc.

5.  Interact with their content and become part of their community

Don’t rush in and become their spam, as easy as it might appear.  Remember that the economy is really poor, so employees are used to receiving resumes all over the place.  To stand out you need to be seen as someone who gives value (related to your expertise) and someone who cares enough to comment on their blog, retweet something on Twitter, etc.  Become part of their community for a few weeks or even a few months first before begging for a job.

6.  Make direct contact with them

Once they know who you are, you can try and talk to them directly.  Don’t get discouraged!  For instance, on Twitter, if they follow you back, you can direct message them (DM for short), which allows you to be more personal.  On Facebook, you can message them or send them an email.  If they don’t respond to you after a week, send a follow-up message.  If that doesn’t work, then find someone else in the company and repeat this process.

7.  Participate in an informational interview

Now that you made initial contact with them, it’s time to start a conversation that will hopefully lead to an interview and a brand new job!  A lot of career counselors back in college told me about “information interviews” and today I think it’s a requirement if you’re serious about working for a company.  When you tell a manager that you’re interested in the company and what they do there, they get to talk about themselves, which they enjoy.  In response, many of them will give you time on the phone or in person, depending on where you live, and tell you everything you need to know to make a better decision.  If you impress them, they may go out of their way to help you get a job there.

8.  Ask to see if there are any current openings in your field

After the interview interview, follow-up with them with a nice note thanking them for their time, and summarizing what you learned about the company.  Then, ask them if they can see if there are any job openings in your field.  Again, if they like you and think you can add a lot to their company, they will probably help you.  It could be because they want to or because they get money from referrals (part of the company policy).

9.  Submit your resume

They may ask you for your resume or you might have to send them your resume, depending on how the conversation flows. Your resume shouldn’t be an ordinary resume if you want to be taken seriously and distinguish yourself from others.  What you should do is to use one or two URL’s and put them on your resume.  One could be your blog and the other could be your video resume with a custom address (  Also, you’ll want to add some design elements in your resume and move all your experience and results to the top because people have short attention spans.

10.  Repeat this process

Never give up.  People will ignore your emails.  Instead of getting caught up in “rejection,” you should just try and connect to the next employee, until you break through.  This dedication will help you cross the bridge from job searcher to employee over time.

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