In the time before computers were a household appliance, if you wanted a new job, you had to find a ‘help wanted’ ad in a newspaper or receive a direct reference to interview for the role. Weary job seekers would walk around their cities responding to ‘Hiring’ signs or cold calling their neighborhood businesses for open positions. Some job seekers would even call upon their local jobs placement office for assistance. Job searching before the internet was an exhausting process that allowed for miscommunication and misalignment at every stage of the search.
Lucky for us, the internet was born with a promise to make our lives simpler, quicker and smarter. Nowadays there are a million and one ways to apply for a new job. While today’s standard application process is definitely different than it was years ago, the jury is still out on whether it’s actually as simple, quick, and smart as it could be. Today, 85% of all job applications are submitted online with less than 1% of those applications leading to a match. Candidates are still hitting the virtual pavement and wasting weeks randomly applying to out of date and inaccurate job listings on job boards with vintage user experiences.
The world has seen a major shift in the last few decades. Job searching doesn’t have to still be such a grind. With a million and one ways to apply for jobs today, it's important as ever to understand how each job source could impact your job search.
Facilitating almost 50% of all applications, job boards are currently the number one way candidates find jobs. Some of the most well-known job boards (Monster, Indeed, Dice) are visited by millions of candidates a month. The mechanics of a job board are simple: employers pay a fee in exchange for listing their open roles on the job board. The job board then collects candidate applications and sells the employer access to them. Employers receive more visibility for their job search and candidates have a warehouse of job listings to apply to. Job boards are basically the modern day equivalent of job searchers thumbing through newspaper classified ads looking for a role that fits their needs.
Depending on the job searcher’s goal, job boards have a clear purpose. They afford everyone from new graduates to more experienced candidates the ability to simply see what's out there. Candidates can spend as little or as much time as they want scrolling through hundreds of job listings. While many job boards collect postings across many industries, some job boards focus on a specific industry or niche. This means people gathering information on the financial services industry, for example, can survey job boards specific to that niche and walk away with a fairly accurate idea of which roles are available.
At the same time, less than 1% of applications on a job board actually result in a hire. Because job boards allow employers to cast an internet-wide net, it's almost impossible to stand out amongst the crowds. Niche job boards make it a little easier to narrow the search, but the process still requires hours of work from already exhausted job searchers. While these sites are great for new graduates and candidates trying to collect information, most candidates are better off leaving the job boards for more streamlined platforms.
While job search engines function similarly to job boards, they have a few key differences. A job search engine works like a Google search, pulling in job listings from company websites across the internet. These sites have complex algorithms that search different sources and display those listings for candidates to explore. Unlike job boards, job search engines typically link back to the company website where candidates are expected to continue with the application process. Some of the most well known job search engines include Getwork, SimplyHired and Indeed (which is both a job board and a job search engine). Job search engines make money either by selling advertising directly on the site or by charging employers a fee to be featured on the site.
Much like job boards, job search engines can be a great platform for gathering information on the general job market. Candidates can search for specific companies or view open roles across an entire industry. This is great for candidates switching industries or job searches focused on a specific company.
Unfortunately, because many of these sites link back to company websites that run resumes through sorting algorithms, up to 75% of resumes received are immediately rejected. Additionally, the quality of these listings can be lower than on job boards. Because job search engines indiscriminately collect job listings across the internet, these sites can be overrun with out of date listings and inaccurate job descriptions.
Almost 80% of all job searchers use social media to find and apply for jobs. The most popular social media platform for job searchers is by far LinkedIn with 90% of recruiters using the tool to source candidates. Facebook and Instagram are also gaining popularity with more than half of surveyed recruiters naming the platforms as candidate sourcing tools. Companies use social media to share company culture, company updates and open roles. LinkedIn also functions as a job board with employers paying a fee to have their open roles featured on the site.
Social networking platforms offer the added benefit of surfacing colleagues and friends in a candidate’s network that could serve as a reference. Since 85% of all jobs are filled through networking, social networking sites can make a large difference in any job search. Conversely when it comes to the actual application process, these sites can function similarly to job boards and job search engines. Candidates are tasked with spending hours scouring through hundreds of open roles, submitting dozens of applications, reaching out to hiring managers and colleagues at target companies, and possibly still being met with radio silence.
Social media can also be a tricky place to job search if a candidate is currently employed. All of the things that make candidates more desirable on social networking sites, are also a huge tip off to their employer that they are currently looking. Many mid-career candidates would prefer not to risk the security of their current role to reach out to recruiters and colleagues to expedite the job search. This lack of privacy can make social networking sites a less than optimal platform for a job search.
Hiring marketplaces, sometimes referred to as reverse job boards, are a fairly new addition to the job search ecosystem. While each one functions a little differently, the most common marker of a hiring marketplace is any platform that connects job searchers directly with decision makers at companies. Some hiring marketplaces charge companies a fee to communicate with job searchers on the platform. Others, like Underdog.io, only accept companies that meet high standards of conduct. These marketplaces focus on improving the application process for both candidates and hiring managers by removing the barriers to communication.
Taking a look at the biggest challenges faced by job seekers, the overwhelming majority cite lack of communication from employers (40%) and creating a resume (21%) just to be ignored (21%) as their biggest issues with the standard application process. Unlike job boards, job search engines, and social networking sites, hiring marketplaces put the onus on the employer to do the digging. Featured candidates can take a breather while hiring managers and recruiters are tasked with reaching out to and communicating with the candidates that match their qualifications. Hiring marketplaces also allow for discrete job searching, with candidate profiles hidden from current or past employers.
Some hiring marketplaces focus on quality over quantity, so both featured candidates and companies are carefully curated to create a job search that is intentional and focused. Because of this high bar, these marketplaces are best for mid-career candidates with multiple years of career history. These marketplaces are ideal for candidates that have a clear picture of the role they want and why.
The global pandemic reminded everyone of the importance of processes that put people first. The job market has been flipped on its head and job seekers now have the power to demand more thoughtful interview processes, more direct application processes, and better communication from employers. Whether the goal is to gather information about a particular industry, earn a referral through networking, or connect directly to hiring managers, candidates are more empowered than ever to job search with clarity. By taking full advantage of all available job searching channels, job searchers can now create a custom process that meets their needs.