If it’s been a while since you’ve looked for a job, you may think that applying through a job board is your first and only step to success. While job boards can be useful for applying, they offer other uses as well. Let’s briefly discuss how you can use a job board.

Job Boards: Job boards such as USAJOBS, Indeed, LinkedIn, Idealist, DICE, etc., absolutely have their place; they can be quite useful for research and job search.

Research: Conducting research online fuels the career planning and decision-making process for many jobseekers. Job boards can help you identify organizations and companies that are hiring in certain sectors and locations, find the top recommended employers via reviews, discover in-demand jobs and skills, identify different titles that match your skills, and explore growing industries. Job boards can also lead
to uncovering more career-related ideas/ possibilities and identify a broader range of opportunities where you can apply your unique combination of skills and experience to solve problems in an organization. You can then gather data to strategize your job hunt; e.g., building up a network, using social media, researching company websites, or seeking other means such as volunteerism, committee work, or referrals to get your foot in the door. You can also find salary reviews for certain roles to see pay scales, which can help in the negotiation process.

Job search: You can, of course, apply for positions through job boards. Almost all private sector positions applied for through job boards use Applicant Tracking Software (ATS); you’ll want to make sure that your resume is ATS-friendly in terms of formatting and content. Customize each application. USAJOBS is not an ATS but customizing your resume for each application is still the way to maximize your opportunities for success.

If you are applying for jobs through job boards, you should set up alerts—parameters for jobs of interest so your inbox is not flooded with positions that don’t meet your criteria. Search criteria could include job titles, industry, geographical radius, and salary range, so you may need to tweak these until the algorithm is aligned with your target roles. Almost all job boards offer this option.

Don’t forget to set up a personal system for tracking your applications so you can stay organized in your search.

Other online tools: New tools to help jobseekers are being introduced all the time; many (but not all) are free. It is worth your time to research job search tools, interview prep, networking opportunities, and the like as you undertake your job search. Some sites combine job boards with other services. As with any online service, be careful about sharing your personal information.

As a job seeker, you have lots of tools at your disposal; identify the ones that are most useful to you and use them. Online tools can be great but don’t forget about the pall important personal connection—networking—which is at the center of many successful job searches.

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Nancy Segal is a federal human resources training and job search expert. Following her own 30-year federal HR career (much of it at the senior level), she founded Solutions for the Workplace LLC in 2003 to provide an HR management perspective to both federal managers and astute applicants to U.S. government positions. Nancy has unmatched federal career management insight, high standards, and respect for people’s time, and her clients use this to their advantage.