Why You Can’t Rely on Job Boards and Advertised Openings

When I talk to job seekers who have been unemployed for a long time and ask about their job search strategies, I’m rarely surprised by their responses. I hear things like, “I go on job boards every day and apply for jobs online.”

When I say that there are other, more effective approaches, job seekers sometimes say something like, “Oh, you mean looking at the employer’s websites for the postings?”

If you recognize any of your own thinking in these examples, it’s time to re-examine your job search strategy. It’s fine to search for and apply for jobs on job boards and employer websites, but it shouldn’t be taking up all your job search time.

3 reasons you can’t rely on advertised job openings

1. The job might already be filled or almost filled.

Companies often keep a job posting up after for a while, even after they have a finalist, and sometimes even after the position is filled.

Even if the hiring manager has chosen the finalist, it’s not a done deal until the finalist accepts the offer, the employer does a background check and employment verification, and the employee starts work.

This process can take weeks, and the employer may keep the job posted as a sort of “insurance policy” in case things don’t work out with the finalist.

Also, some recruiting firms and employers like to get their money’s worth out of paid job postings and continue collecting resumes for their database for the full 30 days or 60 days included in the fee they paid to the job board–even if they filled the job in the first two weeks.

2. The job might be “filled” before they’ve even posted it.

Hiring managers (eg., department/division heads) sometimes know from the start who they want to hire for a job (perhaps a networking contact, former colleague, or enterprising job seeker who cold called them effectively). However, many companies have requirements that all jobs need to be posted no matter what.

So you apply, but you never really have a chance–and there’s no way to know that.

3. The competition for the job will probably be fierce.

Even though the job description might seem like it was written just for you, there could be 150 other people reading that job description thinking the same thing.

There are more candidates than jobs right now, and advertised job postings on the internet attract hundreds of candidates. A posting can draw 100, 200, or even 500+ applicants. Even a free Craigslist posting in a small market can attract dozens of applicants.

I’ve had many clients get selected for interviews out of large applicant pools, so it is possible to make the cut (especially with a strong resume), but nevertheless, the odds aren’t in your favor when you have hundreds of competitors.

The bottom line

I’m not saying you shouldn’t apply for advertised openings. Do apply for the ones that are a good fit. But the reasons above (and I just listed a few!) should compel you to not RELY on advertised openings as your primary job search strategy.

You have the best chance of getting results quickly if you use multiple methods for job searching, including networking and/or cold calling.  In other words, don’t put all your eggs in one basket!