Why job boards are a waste of your time

Posting a resume and replying to ads posted on job boards is a typical job-search strategy. Unfortunately, if you’re looking to start a new career in the pharmaceutical industry, it’s also a tremendous waste of time. Worse, it can put your privacy at risk and make you vulnerable to unscrupulous people who take advantage of the unemployed and desperate. To understand why your efforts aren’t worthwhile, you need to put yourself into the mindset of the employer — and then learn what the boards can do to help move your search forward.

Using sites like Monster, Workopolis, Biospace or Medzilla is free for job-seekers, but employers and recruiters pay a lot for access. When a hiring manager or a recruiter posts an advertisement, or searches for resumes on these sites to fill an open position, they are doing so in a particular frame of mind. In this perspective, the resumes of under-qualified people are simply chaff to be sorted through; an annoyance that delays their effort. When they’ve invested a lot of money in their search, they aren’t looking for someone with the potential to do the job, they’re looking for someone who has already done it, and your resume, no matter how well-written, attractively formatted and indicative of your enthusiasm, simply won’t make the cut if you don’t closely meet the posted qualifications. Don’t believe it? From ask.metafilter, Here’s what one hiring manager wrote about her experience:

I recently filled a position on Monster, and it was a miserable experience. Between the constant “resume blaster” spam I was getting at my contact address and the 75% of respondents who had listed salary requirements double or more what we were paying, most of whom did not read the qualifications, and the crappy formatting of Monster’s attached resmes, I was deleting applications for the smallest transgressions. Gear your resume and communications toward people who have chronic headaches and don’t give them any excuses to be crankier.

But simply having your resume posted on these sites can’t hurt, can it? Well, actually, it can. Just last month, Monster.com reported that its security had been breached, and personal information belonging to millions of account holders had been stolen (and it’s not the first time!). In 2003, the San Diego-based Privacy Rights Clearinghouse published a report on resume database security and jobseeker privacy, detailing the theft of thousands of resumes from Medzilla and other biotech job boards. When you consider the kinds of information that are included in a job board profile, you begin to realize just how significant the attendant risks of identity theft could be.

Responding to job posts or posting your resume online can also make you vulnerable to scams. Many job-seekers have been taken advantage of after applying for clinical research jobs with legitimate-sounding companies or recruitment agencies. They are contacted and told that their application is very strong, but that they lack experience, and are given a referral to an training course. Of course the job never existed, and they find that the expensive course doesn’t really help them at all.

Ask the Headhunter‘s Nick Corcodilos will also tell you that job boards are a waste of  your time. In fact, he argues that they’re a waste of time for employers as well!

In 2002 we began to learn the answer. CareerXroads, publisher of the popular directory that reviews online job sites, released the study I’d been waiting for3. Finally, someone was looking at the bottom line — hiring success rates. Employers were asked what percentage of their new hires came from the four leading online career sites. The percentage of hires made through Monster: a whopping 1.4%. Hotjobs: .39%. CareerBuilder: .29%. Headhunter.net: .27%. (Yes, those decimal points are in the right places.) Suddenly, the cat was out of the bag.

I think one of the worst things about these sites is that it gives job seekers the false impression that they’re accomplishing something.  It can take a lot of time to post a carefully formatted resume and profile to one of these sites, or to submit an application to a posted job.  Submit two or three applications in an evening after finishing classes or getting home from your ‘survival’ job and you’re exhausted. Using these sites is hard work, so it feels active, even though it’s actually a very passive – and therefore very ineffective – strategy.

So, is there any way to get some value out of job boards?  Well, maybe a little. Job boards can be useful as a research tool to find the names of companies doing work that interests you.  There are a lot of small biotech companies and CROs out there, and it’s possible you might find out about one you didn’t know before. But once you know they’re out there, you need to short-circuit the typical job application process, which is very likely to land your entry-level CV in electronic purgatory or a virtual trashcan. Instead of filling out an application, put your research and networking skills to work and find the names of people who work there. Picking up a phone and making a personal connection is scary — but it’s active, and it’s far more likely to move your job search ahead.  We’ll talk more about how to turn a phone call into an informational interview in a future article.

Posted: February 17th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Resumes & CVs | Tags: , , | No Comments »

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