Readers speak out about the job boards: It's
a jungle out there!
It's almost as if there's a huge conspiracy, growing larger daily, to put STUFF in between candidates and
the people who can really hire them. Yes, that's not news, but it is maddening. One good network can beat ten job boards, any day.
This Newsletter is normally delivered via e-mail only to subscribers. Because it is part of the special June 17, 2003 Job-Board
Journalism edition which I published online, I am making this available online, too.
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Ask The Headhunter
Playing job hunt with the on-line boards requires very little effort, so it is no wonder that it has a
small -- or no -- return. Researching a company, discovering the hiring managers, and getting an introduction is very hard, but it has
the highest payoff. In my years of being on both sides of the hiring fence, I have yet to see one person fail to get a job when they
had a personal referral.
I was a job hunter who spent a lot of time on the boards. 99.9% of the time there were no real jobs -- only
pseudo-jobs that helped fill the resume files of companies. (I confirmed this through some networking.) In
addition, it helps employers practice age discrimination because you send your resume in without getting any contact information in
exchange. That way they can just throw away those that don't fit their age criteria. When I was looking for a job, I would send two
resumes for the same position, one with my full experience and one with exactly half my experience. The half experienced resume got
calls, the experienced one never did.
I have not had the displeasure of being laid off since 1983. So this is new to me. Now I find
that the job boards are less than worthless. How are we supposed to find jobs unless we hire an employment agency? But what else is
there to do except hand out my resume going door to door? Do not know what else to do, and I know I am not alone. I have heard about
folks that have been out for a year or two. I cannot do that. I need to work. Anyway, what a scam. Thanks for the info.
[Note from Nick: What you can do is outlined in A Good Network is a Circle of
If finding a job is a numbers game, the job seeker is definitely on the wrong side of this equation. I have
heard that employers now get so many resumes from people due to the Internet boards that they don't have time to read them all. They
just pull out the first 50 or so that come in and choose from that group. The Internet boards make it too easy for people to apply
so that we get more job shoppers in the mix than true job seekers needing or willing to make a change.
I do find some value in the job boards as they can make you aware of companies or positions which I did not
know existed. I have also found e-mail addresses and staff names that I can then use for informational interviews or networking. I
also like the quick links to the website of the employer because it is an easy way to get to sites to do research on companies and
industries. [Note from Nick: DirectEmployers.com, mentioned in the article, is a "funnel" to employers' sites, but so is any good business publication that links to the
companies it reports on.]
I have generated a lot of leads from the job boards. It led to my last position. You are right that it can not be the only thing that people do, but to mislead people into thinking that they should
not use it as a reference is wrong. I have 16 years in HR. All sources are important.
My response to job boards? No thank you. No one I know has ever landed a job by using them. That's why I
encourage every young job seeker I meet to focus on building up their network strategically and to seek out mentors in their field.
Word of mouth seems to be the only way to find a job these days. I also direct them to asktheheadhunter.com as I feel it proffers
excellent advice for job seekers (and hiring managers) at any level. I am self-employed and find that the strategies outlined in
asktheheadhunter.com work just as well for finding and securing consulting engagements.
I've been out of work now for seven months, and have not gone to the job boards once. Even when I was a
hiring manager, I used referrals to fill positions. I attended a CEO roundtable discussion paneled by three chief execs, and the
question was raised about how often they rely on job boards to make critical hires. All three said they didn't have time for their
staff to sift through hundreds or even thousands of resumes. Yet, I'm sure they have budgets set aside to run ads on
job boards. Interesting.
My opinion of job boards? Screw 'em. I got tired of factory work, went back to school, and wound up on a
helpdesk for the university while getting my Associate's degree. I got 3 inquiries based on my Monster.com resume -- for jobs I
wasn't even looking for or qualified for. I decided I'd have a better chance in the market with a B.S. degree, went back to school,
and wound up getting an internship through a program that puts local college students (of any age!) in part-time jobs in research
labs. 18 months later, I'm a year from my BS in Physics, and it looks like I'll have at least four job offers prior to graduation
thanks to some presentations I made about my research at local IEEE meetings. Who needs the job boards? Get out there and find the
There have been soooo many occasions where I wanted to scream at HR, the hiring managers, and the CEOs for contradicting their
community relations values when it came to these impersonal and sterile employment screening practices. And to think
"truth journalism" wants anything to do with this. **DISAPPOINTING** and very scary! Musical acts vie for commercial
appeal to attract the mega bucks, but journalism does not have that luxury because it is supposed to deliver balanced
"news". This is just another reason for me not to have much faith in news anyway.
I've only ever gotten 1 response from a job board, and even then it was because I went to the company's website and not thru the
board itself. The rest of my submittals might as well have fallen off into a black hole. I've slowly learned that not all companies
post all jobs on the job boards and, of course, the job boards can be WAY out of date. I love how DICE used to keep sending me
"new jobs". Actually they were the same old ones, just re-submitted.
I have been unemployed since March and every day I search the Monster.com and Net-temps web sites and send out at least 6 resumes
a week and have not gotten any real leads through their sites. The only interviews that I have received have been through personal
referrals. I have to say the job boards have not be kind to me.
I don't think it's the responsibility of the boards to post "placement rates." We never held the newspapers to that
standard. I think it is the responsibility of employers to do the best job they can in advertising and hiring and to be honest about
where they really put their money in order to hire candidates. Yes, online advertising is a lot cheaper, but it appears that the
employers are putting a lot of money into this but not reaping a huge return on their investment. [Note from Nick:
What you leave out of the equation is the job hunter, who trusts the "articles" the newspapers run to induce her to use
their job boards. If no one discloses the truth, the job hunter loses because she's wasting her time.]
Over the last 3 months I have sent out 176 responses to web sites such as Monster.com and Dice.com. To date these efforts have
netted me exactly 1 response.
What a great article, thank you for writing the truth. I am neither an employer or job hunter, I'm an executive coach, and in the
10 years I've been working with executives in their job search, I have never met anyone, not one single person, who got their job
through a job board.
I've had one experience that seems to run counter to your view as far as securing a great opportunity via the job boards.
However, my more recent experience falls right alongside of those so many other people have had, in that neither the job board or
the headhunter got me my current position. It was my own initiative in contacting somebody who was about as casual an acquaintance
as you one can have that got me into my current job; I mean all I knew was his name and that he worked where I wanted to work doing
the same job I wanted to do. He's my team leader now! Thank you for giving those in the job market an honest, insider's view of what
is going on these days.
When I was first unemployed I focused my search through the boards. I actually got 2 interviews as a result of posting my
resume. But, no offers. As time went by, I never again got a response from any of the over 150 postings I applied to. Finally, I was
able to generate some interviews through personal contacts. And, I got my current job through a contact. Bottom line, personal
networking is the only way to go. Do anything you can or have to do to expand and use your personal network.
Are we really supposed to believe that employers and recruiters spend their entire business (day, week, month) carefully poring
over unsolicited resumes? Picture your resume as a snowflake. Picture your snowflake in a blizzard. Picture someone trying to reach
out in that blizzard and grab your snowflake. Got the picture?
While I am no fan of either Monster or CareerBuilder, slamming the entire industry is wrong. There are tons of sites that either
focus on a specific niche or city that have valuable information. The fact that there are more job seekers than jobs is simply a
result of a bad economy, not poor website metrics. Smart job seekers see job sites for what they are: gateways of information, that,
used properly, can be helpful and even responsible for getting your next job. I know this for a fact as I found my job off of a
I am a Senior Director of Supply Chain Management. In total I have 36 years of experience with two companies. I have an
outstanding resume and have posted it on every major job board you mentioned in your article. I have been unemployed for the first
time in my career at the age of 57 and have had only two phone interviews in eight months from posting my resume on the job boards.
In all of the years I hired people I only hired two out of hundreds of people from job boards. My daughter has been unemployed for
almost 11 months and only had one interview as a result of posting her resume on the job boards. She has finally landed a position
and it came through networking and the job was not even posted. I agree with you that the job boards should divulge how many people have been hired as a result of job and resume postings. I do
not know if the job boards will ever be real successful because they are too impersonal and like a black hole where once things go
into it you never hear anything again. Thanks for letting me provide you with my frustrations on job boards.
Thank you for your enlightening article. I knew the numbers were low as compared to networking, but not that low. I had always
believed that the job board results where higher than the newspapers. How wrong I was. The scary thing is that the job board facade
is kept alive by the searchers themselves, and has become a self-sustaining urban legend. I only wish I knew this 18 months ago. So
do the people with whom I share this information. Thank you again for the enlightenment.
I was recently a job hunter. My main experience with the job boards was frustration. I'm working 2 jobs now. One I got through
people I knew at church; one I found out about from a bulletin board at city hall.
Way to go, Nick!!! Even the lotteries disclose your chances of 'winning.'
Thanks again to everyone who wrote me about this article and shared comments, suggestions and advice. I tried to include a
representative sampling from the submissions, including some that made positive comments about job boards. The bottom line is, think
before you invest your time and look critically at any job-hunting tool. There are a lot of rackets out there -- and some of
them are run by seemingly credible sources. Use your judgment!