top of page
  • Writer's pictureSteph

Tame the job boards with these 3 tips

Updated: Jun 7

Photo of surfer.

Surf the job search wave with strength

As an athlete, I take an action-oriented, holistic approach to finding work. It’s a full-court press, including self-reflection, strengths assessment, developing a championship mindset, resume & cover letter review, LinkedIn strategy, applying to opportunities, networking, interview preparation, salary negotiation, and evaluating job offers – powered by ongoing self-care.

The job boards are one part of a broader process even though they get most of the attention.

Think for a second: what role, and what percentage of your time, do the job boards hold for you?

Every athlete has a game plan; as a job seeker, you deserve the same expert treatment.

I want you to find meaningful work. Here are a few of my best tips for taming the job boards.

1) Apply to closely-matching jobs.

Searching online is a valid piece of any job search; but, the job boards can also be a source of discouragement, if you’re not careful.

My top recommendation is to apply to closely-matching jobs, in which you meet at least 90% of the criteria requested. Normally, I might offer a lower percentage. Given the pandemic and rise in candidates, 90% or higher of a match benefits your energy preservation and time management. This means focusing your attention on job opportunities that interest you and in which you possess almost everything the job posting is asking.

Most clients are liberated by this strategy instead of feeling like they should apply to ‘everything’. With new awareness, you can focus your attention on finding quality opportunities that meet you where you are, with exactly the skills and experiences you have. In turn, it’s easier to customize your resume and cover letter. Confidence grows and you increase your chances of receiving callbacks. And, that feels GREAT.

If you see a job that you feel you ‘could do’ or find yourself thinking, ‘wow, that would be cool’; but, in truth, you do not have the core qualifications, you can make a mindful choice. You can apply, managing your expectations that you may not receive a response. Or, you can assess the timing and needs of your search, and move onto other closer-fitting opportunities.

Better still, own your story.

I used to believe that my role, as a job seeker, was to fit myself into the job market; I was supposed to be a chameleon, ready to shape-shift into any job that may or may not fit my interests and talents. Now, after more years of being in the working world and more life experience, I think –and advocate – the opposite: be you. Get to know what makes you shine in the working world; then find congruent work in an organization alongside people who share your values.

Ultimately, looking for closely-matching roles is a win-win: it’s about finding or creating a mutually-beneficial working partnership between you and a potential employer.

2) Be adaptable.

What about the pandemic? You might ask, Shouldn’t I be more flexible? Yes, being adaptable is a strength and an important consideration in the current job market. Expanding your range of acceptable options gives you versatility, growth opportunities, and possibly speed (albeit, a relative term right now) while ensuring you meet the qualifications.

Here are some ways to leverage your skills & experience while expanding your options:

  • Look for similar roles in different industries.

  • When networking and catching up with people, be curious and ask what other types of jobs and industries fit your skills. There might be some new options to consider.

  • Look in a different location. Much of the workforce is still WFH, so geographically distant opportunities may be viable.

  • Use the ‘remote work’ search filter on job boards.

  • Search by job function rather than title. For example, a ‘specialist’ or ‘analyst’ role may be similar to a ‘manager’.

  • Be open to public, nonprofit, and private sectors rather than limiting yourself to only one. Smaller companies and startups are also great options.

  • Switch to a new set of employment websites. If you normally focus on job boards, turn to company websites, and vice versa. State/regional online resources are another tool, with job listings you may not have seen, helpful information, and free/low-cost professional enrichment/training opportunities, depending where you live.

  • When looking at internal job boards at your current employer, consider adjacent division(s) that leverage your current skills while building new ones.

3) Limit your time on the job boards.

I love the movie, Toy Story. Do you remember those cute, alien toys and their preoccupation with the “Claw”, in the token-operated vending machine, at Pizza Planet? When so much of job searching feels out of our control, scrolling through online listings feels like something we can ‘do’. We check and re-check until the job boards become a claw-like homing beacon with an almost addictive quality that keeps us coming back for more.

I can empathize with this powerful pull, especially when happiness and financial livelihood are on the line. In actuality, job boards are a tool for you to determine their usage: how, when, and how often you integrate them into your search strategy.

The job boards can be a great resource but not at the expense of your health and wellbeing.

Everyone’s situation is unique. My general recommendation is to check the job boards 2-3 times per week for about15-20 minutes. If you are consistent, and looking for closely-matching opportunities, this is usually enough time to see what’s going on. I also encourage taking breaks and monitoring your mood. If, at any time, you start to feel upset, close your web browser/app and go do something else. Job searching is challenging. Be kind to yourself.

As far as timing, it’s best to look on the job boards during daylight hours, preferably when you’re feeling optimistic, well-rested, and nourished. At minimum, don’t job search on an empty stomach, if you’re exhausted, or after an already hard day. Go back to your self-care routine and revisit the job boards, later.

Similarly, I discourage checking the job boards right before bed. If you are time-strapped, give yourself at least one hour of separation between job searching/applying and sleep. Or, visit the job boards and do your applying on the weekend. You will be more productive in identifying, and applying to, opportunities at a time/day when you are relaxed and alert.

If, when you look, you don’t see anything; it’s not a problem. You’re in control of your search efforts. Turn your attention to another job search activity or self-care exercise and check back, tomorrow.

The big picture

You will find a job.

This is a challenging time. You are not alone, and you are strong. Each week is filled with new opportunities and networking conversations. All it takes is one job. Focus your energy and attention on what you can control.

Most importantly, go easy on yourself. You are doing the best you can. There are so many facets of a successful job search. Too often, we look to the job boards for a rescue or over-focus on this one component. Instead, view yourself as the hero in your own story.

Take positive action, persevere, rest, and repeat.

Just like a superhero, an athlete, and a resilient, future new employee.

© 2021 WORK DOT DOT. All rights reserved.


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page