In the October 16, 2012 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a job hunter asks about those pesky automated “get a job” tools online:
I’ve been reading your new columns on the PBS NewsHour website, in particular your advice about on-line job applications (the video segment) and your suggestion to approach job hunting as if you’re starting a business. Two questions:
Are online job applications as ineffective as job boards?
Also, I have a hard time getting replies from people I’ve met with about starting a business. They express interest, even excitement, about my plans. I give them the time, space, and money requirements to get the business started, as they requested. But then all I get is silence. What to do?
If by online applications you’re referring to a company’s own job listings on its own website, that’s a more productive channel than third-party job boards. The same surveys that show Monster and CareerBuilder deliver no more than 2%-5% of hires suggest that employers’ own sites are a better bet.
Nonetheless, using any automated job application method is a fool’s errand: They all dump you into a database, and good luck getting in front of a hiring manager!
Employers do tend to keep job listings on their own websites clean and up to date, and they usually turn to those first. None of the surveys address it, but I’d guess there’s less competition on a company’s own jobs pages simply because most job hunters prefer to apply for hundreds of jobs at once on the big boards. Ironic, isn’t it? They want an edge, so they compete with more job hunters on the boards!
If you find a job on a company’s own website, I suggest tracking down the manager and sending a personal e-mail. Don’t just reiterate your interest — there’s nothing useful in that. Instead, ask a good question about the job and the manager’s department. Get the manager talking about the work. It’ll set you apart.
In How Can I Change Careers?, there’s a section titled “A Good Network Is A Circle of Friends.” It shows how to triangulate to meet people peripheral to a manager, so you can get a personal introduction to meet.
For what it’s worth, the only job search engine I know that sources all its results from employers’ own websites is LinkUp.com. They don’t “aggregate” listings from other job boards, like Indeed and SimplyHired do. (There’s a big difference between job boards and a job search engine. A board charges employers to list their jobs. A job search engine searches employers’ websites for jobs that meet your search criteria.)
Now let’s talk about why people who express an interest in your business concept don’t follow up with you. It’s almost always because they’re too busy, or because while they are sincerely interested, they’re not in a position to help you.
Try this: Talk to lots of folks about your idea, but then focus on just those who can really be helpful. Plan how you will follow up with them. When they express interest, outline your follow-up plan. Be frank: Ask them how exactly they think they can help, and what further information they need to do it.
But then, it’s up to you to check off the boxes on the “to do list” you discussed with them. Keep in mind that virtually no one will follow through with you. That’s just the nature of starting a business. All you need is one key supporter. And it’s up to you to figure out who that might be. It’s no different than carefully picking the employers you think you can help.
Are employers’ own online job application forms any better than using the job boards? More important, what methods do you use to meet hiring managers?