There are few things as exhilarating, frustrating and labor intensive as looking for a job, especially when it’s your first position. Not so long ago, people sat at their kitchen table, coffee in hand, circling ads in the “Help Wanted” section of the newspaper and mailing off their resumes.

Today, we still have the coffee (can’t live without caffeine!) but many more options exist in terms of where to look for your dream job. However, some things never change, and any number of people will tell you that the only way to get a job is through networking. They might even say that nobody gets a job from the want ads (or the job boards).

As a job seeker, you are left to wonder…is there any point at applying to jobs posted online on job boards? Does anyone really get hired from these postings?

Rest assured, the answer is a resounding yes. Networking never hurts - see #4 on our list - but recruiters often use job boards to fill open positions. However, there are some things you should understand as a job seeker that will increase your chances of getting noticed, interviewed, and eventually hired from an online job posting.

1. Looks matter (for your resume)
Job board postings get a huge volume of resumes in response. Don’t despair! The company has a legitimate hiring need and if you have the skills and experience then your only real hurdle is getting the recruiter’s attention. Make sure your resume is the best possible visual representation of your professionalism, attention to detail, and creativity. If a recruiter has 100 resumes to go through in fifteen minutes, they will start with the ones that look professional, attractive, and easy to read.

2. Keywords matter
In many instances, both the recruiter and the applicant tracking system will scan through resumes in the first round by picking out certain words in your resume that correspond to the position requirements. Make sure your resume SEO is up to snuff. If the job listing calls for a project analyst with a degree in mathematics or engineering, experience analyzing information systems, as well as a preference for excellent competency with SAP, and if you have all of these requirements, then use the same language on your resume. Tailor your resume to match the requirements and keywords of the position you want.

3. Cover Letters
Some job boards require cover letters and some make it optional. Make it your personal mission to always include a personalized cover letter that specifically references the needs of the position and how you meet these needs. Do your best to find out who the hiring manager is so you can address it directly to them.

4. Show your research skills (in and out of the classroom)
Differentiate yourself by researching the organization’s background and the position’s needs and drop it into your cover letter. Based on your research, include information about why you want to work for this particular company. Don’t forget to include traditional research projects that you presented in class or at a conference that might be of interest to the company.

5. Who you know can help
“They” are not wrong when they say it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. When you have found a job you are really excited about, it never hurts to check out how you are connected to the company or hiring managers on LinkedIn. This can be a great way to either find out more about the company and its culture, or even get help with an introduction. As with all networking, be reciprocal in your approach.

Peruse the job boards. There wouldn’t be so many if they didn’t work. Some recruiters fill as much as 70% of openings through job boards and online postings on sites like ours. Someone is going to get hired, so change up the odds to make it you!


Adapted from a post by Carrie Maldonado on