Career Solutions: Playing the Job Board Game

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Are job boards your winning move? Learn the rules and strategies you'll need to score your dream job on the web.

When David Walker looks for logistics consulting projects, he doesn't pound the pavement. Instead he pounds the keyboard. For the past 10 years, Walker, an independent contractor, has found virtual job-exchange sites invaluable when searching for work.

Walker uses online job boards three ways: he posts his resume in a resume database, scans the listings for jobs that might be a fit, and performs searches for specific types of work and companies. Currently he uses three different job boards to cover a broad cross-section of industries and companies.

While job boards aren't the only tool Walker uses to find work, they do play an important role.

"Job boards make up 75 percent of my job search; networking the other 25 percent," he says. "Often I'll get a phone call from someone I've worked for in the past who sees my post on the board."

Walker is among a growing number of logistics professionals who are putting job boards to work. Since job boards were created about 10 years ago, they have worked their way into the mainstream of job seekers. The weekly scan of the Sunday newspaper career pages has evolved into the daily log-on to a job board web site.

"Almost every job seeker goes to the Internet," says Don Firth, president and CEO of Aventura, Fla.-based JobsInLogistics.com. "Both professionals and hourly workers search the job sites, and most recruiters and employers use them, too."

Finding Your Way

But with some 40,000 job boards available on the Internet, negotiating your way around isn't always easy. There are the "big boards"—including Monster.com and Headhunter.com—and niche sites, several of which are geared to the logistics industry. Industry trade organizations also offer job boards. Both the Warehousing Education and Research Council and the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, for example, have their own boards. And, the American Society of Transportation and Logistics recently teamed up with JobsInLogistics.com on a job search service.

If you are hunting for a new position in transportation or logistics, you have to whittle down the available sites to determine which are of value. Then you need to decide just how you will use them. In the end, you need to strike the right balance between traditional job hunting methods such as networking and responding to classified ads, and using the job boards to post your resume and scan available jobs.

Big Boards vs. Niche Boards

Because they have advertised heavily for some time, the big boards such as Monster.com and similar sites are well-known, and generate large volumes of traffic from job seekers, employers, and recruiters.

While the volume of activity on the big boards is impressive, they may not be the best sites for targeting logistics or transportation careers. Enter the niche boards—smaller sites that target specific industries.

Sites that specialize in a specific career field or industry are favored by 78 percent of corporate employment specialists, according to a study published in The Herman Trend Alert, a recruiting newsletter. The same study reveals that only 17 percent of respondents favor the big boards.

"The trend in online job searches is moving toward specialization versus one-size-fits-all," says Jeff Griggs, CEO of onlytransportationjobs.com.

Recognizing the market for niche job boards serving the logistics industry, sites such as JobsInLogistics.com, onlytransportationjobs.com, and LogJobs.com have sprung up. Each caters specifically to the logistics and transportation industry, listing opportunities only in that field.

JobsinLogistics.com was one of the first logistics niche boards to enter the market, claims Don Firth. It's also among the largest, with more than 250,000 active and passive candidate visitors per month, and more than 11,000 registered employers and recruiters.

What are the advantages to posting jobs on a niche board vs. a big board?

"We differ from other sites because 99 percent of our postings are logistics-related," says Firth.

Posting on niche boards not only targets jobs specific to the seeker's interests, but it can save money as well.

"Finding or filling a position online is cost effective," Firth says. "JobsinLogistics.com, for example, lists jobs in 50 specific categories to help users zero in on exactly what they need, so they don't spend money on ineffective searches."

A niche board works similarly to the general boards, charging employers and recruiters a fee for posting jobs online. These same users can also pay to access resume databases where active job seekers post their qualifications.

"Employers can find candidates in one of three ways," says Griggs. "A candidate will respond to an ad; they can do a resume search; or they can set up search 'agents' that automatically alert them whenever a person meeting particular criteria enters their resume into the database."

Public or Private

For job candidates, the niche boards are usually free; sometimes a nominal fee is charged for posting a resume in the database.

Candidates can search the jobs posted or try the search agents to receive alerts whenever a job is posted that matches their criteria. They can also post resumes "in public"—with their names and contact information attached—or confidentially, so current employers and others don't know they are searching.

Navesink Logistics, a supply chain consulting company based in Middletown, N.J., has expanded to include the niche board LogJobs.com. The site, which focuses exclusively on logistics, aims to match all levels of logistics job seekers and project consultants with employers who are looking to fill positions requiring logistics expertise.

"We began our job board initially to serve the needs of Navesink," says Tom McKenna, president, Navesink Logistics. "But it evolved into a commercial job board for logistics."

Similar to other logistics job sites, LogJobs.com has high visibility in the logistics industry, and is effectively linked to all the major Internet search engines, including Google and Yahoo. McKenna says his background in logistics enables him to run the site in a way that leads to effective matches.

"Because of the profound and rapid changes within the industry, locating the right person for a logistics job requires considerable reach that goes beyond old-fashioned networking," he says.

Employers and Recruiters

If you post a resume on a job board, or use it to search for a new position, you want to know that the right employers and recruiters are using it as well. How do they decide which sites to use and how much value do they place on job boards?

Larry Wiseman, CEO of New York-based Airtrace Corp., regularly recruits from job boards. The company, which provides in-transit RFID tracking services, is a startup, and outsources much of its labor on a project basis. By using LogJobs.com, Airtrace has been able to find good matches for its available positions, Wiseman says.

"We needed more than just a matching service," he says. "By using a niche job board, we get a value-add.LogJobs.com takes the time to learn about our company so it can be proactive in helping us find the right employees."

This is especially helpful because his company isn't doing "mass hiring," Wiseman explains. Airtrace, for example, is currently reviewing three candidates from the job board for specific projects. In addition to finding qualified people, using job boards can make the hiring process more convenient.

"We don't have to conduct as many interviews or conference calls as we would through traditional recruiting methods," Wiseman says. "Instead, we can comb through the database and find qualified people."

Recruiters also use job boards to varying degrees. Recruiting firm LogiPros, Lincoln Park, N.J., uses job boards on a limited basis. "We don't use the big boards because we want sites that will find candidates specifically qualified for our available positions," says Don Jacobson, president, LogiPros. "We use the niche boards as a tool, but they are not the main way we recruit."

Jacobson says he taps into the niche boards' resume databases to build on his own information, but doesn't search the databases to find someone specific to an open position. He also refrains from posting jobs on the boards.

"If we used job boards to post available positions, why would a client need us?" he asks. "The job boards are necessary, but just another part of the search process. Job seekers always should take a multi-layered approach."

Recruiter Keri Wissell, vice president of Internet research at recruiting firm SearchLogix, Atlanta, relies more heavily on the job boards than Jacobson. Her firm posts job openings on the boards and screens responding applicants for its clients. The company currently posts available positions on five different boards, and maintains its own in-house board as well.

"We use the job boards for every search we conduct," Wissell says. "We track the applicants we find on the boards; we sourced about one-third of our candidates through the boards last year." Wissell is selective about which boards she will use, and insists that they pay for themselves.

"The specialty boards work well for us, but so do the big ones," she says. "The great thing about any of the boards is that you can find a totally different set of candidates for a job each day."

When it comes to choosing a job board, so many options are available that it is important to have criteria to help whittle down your choices. Finding the niche boards that serve your specific industry is key, says consultant Ravi Sarvepalli, an ardent user and fan of job boards. "Finding a site that focused on logistics helped me the most," he says.

It's also important to find a board with an effective, fast search engine, Walker recommends.

"The board should target your expertise so that you will be matched with jobs that fit your qualifications well," he says. "That way you don't spend time weeding through jobs you're not interested in."

In addition, Walker looks for boards that offer a variety of free tools, such as sending resumes to recruiters.

Be a Standout

Make sure your resume stands out if you post it on a job board.

"Make sure it is well-formatted, succinct, and includes key words to help you find the right matches," Walker says. "The resume should focus on your achievements more than your responsibilities."

Well-written resumes help employers focus on the right candidates faster. "In this point-and-click age, employers may spend a lot of time filtering through responses from candidates who don't qualify for their positions," says Griggs.

The same holds true for employers, he notes. "If employers take the time up front to write a good ad that details the required qualifications, job seekers can make informed decisions about applying for positions.

The bottom line when it comes to job boards? Job seekers must look at them as only one of several avenues for pursuing the right job.

"Use recruiters, use networking, use the job boards," says Jacobson. "It's a combination of all that makes the most sense."

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