Where Are the Jobs? Finding Open Positions

After I wrote about using Pinboard to organize job applications, my friend Anna emailed me with a great question:

How you find out about jobs in the first place? Are there certain sites that are good to start with? Does it depend on industry?

Here is what I’ve been doing to find available jobs.

Talk to People


In relentless pursuit of the perfect job…

My incredible career counselor has told me that 80% of available jobs are never advertised anywhere. I’m not sure where that statistic came from or how accurate it is, but it’s a great motivator not to focus exclusively on online listings. You have to talk to people. 

Define the kind of work you’re looking for, and don’t be shy about letting people know you’re looking. (This can be intimidating, especially if it’s not your personality to be that open with people or if you feel ashamed to be out of work.) Few people — almost no one, in fact —will have a job to give you, though you might be surprised. Instead focus on whether they know anyone who does the kind of work you want. (Thank you, Drew Dinkelacker, for this tip!) This will help your networking, and it will also help you with the next point.

Get to Know the Neighborhood

Depending on the industry and the kind of organization (e.g. big corporation, small business, nonprofit, government), openings will be advertised in different places. Definitely search the big sites like Indeed, Monster, CareerBuilder, LinkedIn, etc., but look for industry-specific job boards, too.

Many industries have some kind of professional association or job listing site with jobs that may not be advertised anywhere else. Use your networking to find out about these. A friend of mine who has worked for a number of churches clued me in to ChurchStaffing. You should also read blogs or follow Twitter accounts from your target industries. That’s how I learned about the 37signals Job Board for web developers and designers.

Go Local

Don’t neglect local organizations, either. For example, our local chapter of the Public Relations Society of America has an online Job Bank, as does ArtsWave, our local arts funding organization. These smaller job boards may not be updated that frequently, and it’s likely that they will include older openings that have already been filled. You don’t need to spend a ton of time on sites like this — bookmark them (with Pinboard!) and check them once a week or so just to see if anything new has been added.

I’ve found that certain types of employers — nonprofits, especially — don’t do a great job of publicizing open positions. (I expect it has something to do with the rest of the staff being so busy!) Others, like universities and government agencies, do a great job of posting openings on their own website, but don’t post them anywhere except on their own website. This is one place where networking can do wonders. You can also bookmark their sites and check every week or two for new openings.

Bonus Tip: On some websites, especially large university or government sites, it can be difficult to find the employment listings. To speed things up, use a site-specific search in Google. For example, to search Northern Kentucky University’s website, type the following in the Google search box:

site:nku.edu employment

Boom. You may need to try a few different terms. I searched NKU’s site for “careers” and “positions” before landing on the magic word.

Enlist a Motivated Partner

Ok, time for my deep dark secret. I have a beautiful personal assistant who finds me dozens of job listings each week — my wife Elizabeth. She, of course, wants me to find a job quickly, and this is an easy way for her to contribute to my efforts. It’s a huge help, too. Here’s my workflow for these emails:

  1. Receive job emails from Elizabeth.
  2. If I have time, review the positions and use Pinboard to bookmark the ones I want to follow up with later.
  3. If I don’t have time, I move her emails to a Jobs folder for later review. I also have a daily tickler in Things reminding me to check that folder.

Maybe you have a spouse, parent, or child who can help in this way. Or maybe you have a huge network of friends and family. Just be sure that you and they have an understanding: you won’t mind if they send you 100 emails a day, so long as they won’t mind if you ignore 90% of them. After all, only you can know which jobs are worth pursuing.

Those are my suggestions. What are yours?

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