Looking for jobs to apply to can be overwhelming. There are so many job postings out there right now and they have a lot of details or jargon that lack meaning to most people. Here is what you need to know to find the right jobs for you.
Start in the Right Place
The first step to finding the right jobs to apply to is to make sure that you are beginning in the right place. There are a lot of places to apply for jobs online. There are company careers pages, job boards, and job aggregators. The differences between these can make a huge difference in what you find and how effective you are in your application efforts.
A company careers page is self-explanatory. This is the website page where the company has directly posted the job to external candidates. These company job boards contain only the jobs for that particular company and they feed directly into that company's applicant tracking system (ATS). So, applying directly through this page enables you to set up your candidate profile and to opt-in for notices of future openings. However, you have to know which company you want to apply to in order to find these career pages.
Job boards are websites where companies advertise a specific open job. This includes job boards like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Monster, Career Builder, etc. This category also includes job boards on social media like LinkedIn and FaceBook. In each case, the employer is posting a job to that site and there are many jobs on the site from multiple employers. Employers typically do this through their applicant tracking systems that are integrated with the job boards. But, employers or recruiting firms can also go out to these sites and publish the job for external candidates.
Job aggregators are websites that collect or push out job postings to other websites. These websites can have a job board on them where employers or recruiters can post jobs. But, they may just pull jobs from other websites. Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn are all examples of job aggregators with a job board. In each case, the job aggregator is pulling jobs in to post for job seekers to find. But, they aren't pulling them down. So, you will find a lot of jobs on these sites, but they may not all be active open jobs.
The best place to start is always going direct to the company job board. You should use the job boards and job aggregators to find additional jobs to apply to. But, you should then go directly to that company's career page to apply whenever possible. To do your research as effectively as possible on the job boards and job aggregators, use the following to make sure that you are finding all of the right jobs for you.
All career pages, job boards, and job aggregators are run by job titles. So, the best way to start the search to find the right open positions for you is to come up with a list of job titles that fit the types of jobs that you want. Remember, not all companies call the same position the same thing. So, you will want a list of multiple titles to use in your job search - even if your job search is relatively focused.
To start building your list, you can use the job titles that you have held in the past. You can also use the recommended searches from the job boards to find additional or similar titles to use in your search. Make sure that you are using broad phrases for your job title instead of the more specific titles that you may have held in the past (i.e. account executive v. Target account executive). You can also use boolean searches on most job boards to find the right types of jobs. Meaning that you can use quotations or phrases AND, OR, NOT to limit broaden or refine the search to find the right job titles for your search.
Keywords are Equally Important
Job titles are a great place to start when running searches online to find jobs to apply to. But, the keywords in those postings can be equally important. This is because job titles don't always capture the full picture. In the same way that employers use keywords to filter resumes, you should use keywords to filter job postings. This will enable you to cast a wider net while also filtering out the wrong types of postings. These keyword phrases will vary depending on your skills and current search goals. You could use industries, software, or any other important concept to your career to sort through the postings.
A few examples of some broader keywords to search for include:
- MBA (or any other degree)
- PMP (or any other certification)
- Key accounts
- Diversity or Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI)
- Social Justice
- Climate Change
- Rapid growth
Run these keyword searches first to pull a broader list of positions. Then, add in the job titles to run a combined job title + keyword phrase search. This will enable you to sort through the postings more effectively when there are larger lists. Keep track of the keywords that work for you and always add more keywords to this list as your search progresses. Note that different job boards and job aggregators can have varying results with the same keywords. So, be prepared to differentiate your keyword strategy across the different sites that you use to find positions.
Use the Filters
The next step in your search should be to filter the lists of positions that you pulled based on job titles and/or keywords. The filters on each job board or job aggregator can vary. Make sure that you are using the right combination of filters to remove the jobs that simply aren't a fit for you. Important filters to use in varied combinations include:
- Location. This would be the physical location of the job and/or remote. There aren't filters for hybrid jobs yet, but most job boards or job aggregators are allowing people to filter by remote now.
- Job Type. This would cover temporary, full-time, part-time, and contract. Pick the right options for your priorities now.
- Salary. Use the option to filter out the lowest level that you would be willing to accept. Stop wasting your time sorting through jobs that are below the compensation that you need. But, make sure to use the insights about the job title gained from the ranges in the market based on the drop-downs provided.
- Level. Use this filter to look at jobs at your level and those below your level. People posting the jobs don't always put the positions at the level that you may think is right. So make sure to compare the positions between the levels of experience.
- Employer. This filter allows you to sort through the list based on the company that posted the job. You can also use this filter to remove the listings from a particular employer that is not of interest.
Build a Strategy
Does this seem like a lot of work to do each week? It is. But, you can make the process faster if you build a strategy and keep track of what you are doing. First, build a spreadsheet with all of these concepts in different columns. This will enable you to track your searches each week and continuously improve the types of searches that you are running. You should refine this sheet each week to make sure that you are optimizing your job search efforts.
From there, you can set up notifications to receive emails with the right types of jobs. But, remember that the job board email alerts are based on the positions that they have posted, the AI, and the promoted/paid advertisements. So, the email alerts aren't always an accurate reflection of what you can and should be applying to.
And, make sure that you are setting up alerts for new postings directly from companies where you want to work. If you know that you are interested in a particular company and you have applied directly, then you can set up alerts for new jobs from that company. These alerts often come days before the same postings on the commercial job boards because of the way that those alerts are built. So, definitely prioritize the listings in the email alerts directly from the employers.
The key to any good strategy is to put it to the test. Make sure that you are not only running the searches but that you are also applying to the jobs that you find. This is really the only way to find out if you are on the right track. If you have a strong message with an ATS optimized resume, you should start to see interviews with a month of aggressive applications. If you don't, then it may be time to re-evaluate your search strategy, your message, or a combination of things.
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