What Makes a Good Job Search Site, and Why Some Are Bad

Using job search websites is not the best way to find a job.

No online service can equal the results that are possible for a well-conducted networking campaign. But in today’s wired world, no job search should proceed without them. They keep your resume in circulation 24/7. They publish a tremendous amount data, and offer a certain amount of guidance and support. The trick is knowing how to use them effectively.

The best job search websites can save you time and keep you focused. Others are shameless marketers just pushing products and cashing in on Internet traffic.

It’s important to learn how to use the good sites and avoid the bad ones. Here’s a quick guide to get you started. The good sites generally reflect a sizable investment of time, creative energy and money. The people who have put them together are obviously serious about what they’re doing, and while they are just as eager to make a buck as anyone else, they offer value for the money they receive.

You should prefer sites that offer something of real value before you give them anything…including your email address. This could be a free report, a self-administered career assessment or list of sample job descriptions. Take a look at what they offer. If you like what you see, sign up for their email newsletter or register as a client. Usually, you can tell a bad job search website in seconds. If the pages are “link farms”–with little or no content and masses of links to other sites or product offerings–don’t waste your time. Don’t waste your money, and above all else, never trust a site like this with your personal and/or financial information!

At the very least, you can use the better sites to educate yourself on what jobs are available, where they are and what they’re paying. Companies may read your resume, and you may even get that long-awaited phone call asking you to come in for an interview.

A job search website cannot, of course, guarantee you a job–not even a paid subscription service like TheLadders, but they may help you get your foot into the door. Think of them as your back-up plan, and spend the majority of energy on the important building blocks of the career search process: career assessment, career research, and mapping out an effective job search.

It depends. Some job search websites–even some of the best ones–don’t cost a penny. Others, particularly those serving an upper-level, executive clientele, charge a user fee or subscription. TheLadders.com, for example, requires you to pay for access to their high-end salary listings, and in this case, considering the types of opportunities the site publicizes, it’s probably worth it.

Answer: when it’s an aggregator.

Indeed.com and SimplyHired.com don’t offer their own content. Instead they pull listings from all the major job search websites, company websites and newspapers, and display them in a page of search results. This can be very helpful. In seconds you can get a good idea of your options and what’s available. Just don’t expect a site like this to offer any kind of personalized service. It’s not what they do.

Monster.com is arguably the best global platform for job seekers. It comes loaded with advice for the job hunter. Great content on the site includes a “how to” on putting together a resume that rocks the world, well-written job descriptions, interviewing tips, and lots of salary information.

One of the nice things about Monster is that you can search jobs using as many as eight different criteria including location, salary, education level, job category, years of experience, and job duration. Whether you are just starting out or are making a mid-career transition, a massive site like Monster is a good place to start.

Of course, you cannot forget about CareerBuilder. CareerBuilder, which has been around since 1995, is the granddaddy of job search websites. It’s powerful job search engine allows you to use up to seven criteria to gain access to its massive database of available jobs. You can post your resume, sign up for alerts to jobs that match your keywords, and get a heads up about upcoming career fairs.

A mega job finder may just simply be too overwhelming. If you are already in management and earning $100K+, you’re not in the same pool as a fresh graduate. So there’s no need to waste time sifting through all the thousands of jobs listed on the Monster or CareerBuilder. You’ll want a more focused and targeted search.

TheLadders.com is one such service that caters to the management-level career searcher. The site charges $30 a month to provide pre-screened and hand-picked jobs. It winnows through more than 90,000 jobs to find the 5,000 that meet their cut. Whatever job search site you use, be sure to supplement your online efforts with face-to-face interaction as well. Because our personal contacts are still often our best, and face-to-face time provides you with the opportunity to articulate your strengths verbally, which will help immensely when you get an interview!