Job Search Tools–Waste of Time or Worthwhile?

It makes good sense to keep an eye out for new job search tools that could help you manage your job search–even your ongoing career–more effectively. In other words, tools that save you time, effort, frustration, and so on. We live in a technology age, so it stands to reason technology in one form or another should offer you very useful tools for your job search, right? Maybe…maybe not.

Job Search Tools that Fail to Fulfill Potential

Numerous companies have come up with and/or promoted the use of certain services as having an exciting role in job searching–whether to employers who will pay to use them to source candidates or to job seekers who hope the services will give them a leg-up on the competition. However, as you might expect if you think seriously about it, the likelihood that all of them or even most of them will actually prove valuable to many job seekers is not guaranteed great. What’s sad is, if you put too much faith in these and spend a lot of time and energy trying to use them to jump-start your job search, you might not only be disappointed at the results (or lack thereof) but also have cost yourself valuable time you could have spent more productively.

I just read a “roundup” item on by John Zappe and Todd Raphael, called “Not Just a Spanking but a Hard Spanking,” that references a post on Talent HQ by Jason Buss, titled “The Top 7 Recruit Fails of 2012.” Zappe and Raphael questioned a couple of Buss’s choices for failed recruiting methods, but presumably not the others. Here’s the list, in brief, with the worst “failure” in #1 position:

  1. Facebook
  2. BranchOut
  3. Talent Communities
  4. Social Recruiting
  5. Taleo Acquisition
  6. Mobile Recruiting
  7. Recruiting with Pinterest

Of course, this was put together from the perspective of employers/recruiters, but it’s one of those topics that should still interest you as a job seeker or potential job seeker. The more you know about what’s working for employers and what’s not, the better armed you are to conduct a well-thought-out job search campaign.

What is a Worthwhile Job Search Tool?

If you’re looking for tools that will do most of the work for you in a job search, you’re probably wasting time. I have yet to see any of the promoted tools ranked high enough to do that. Any that provide verifiable benefits seem to expect you to do some actual work yourself! If the tools and techniques you’ve been using recently aren’t producing good results, maybe it’s time to reexamine what you’re using and check out others that you haven’t gotten to yet. Just don’t jump on the bandwagon and ride it happily along without evaluating the time you spend on the tool against the payoff you receive from it.

Researching companies, making a case for your value even where there are no advertised openings, becoming visibly active in your field/industry, establishing a strong and professional online presence…these are the kinds of tools that so far have been widely acknowledged as a worthwhile investment of your time and energy.

So What About LinkedIn?

While I have some concerns about the course LinkedIn seems to be taking lately (I’m still not a fan of the new “Endorsements” provision, for example), I still believe it’s a potentially valuable online networking and job search tool, if you use it wisely. For example, establish some real relationships with key people in your LinkedIn network, rather than just making it a numbers game. (“I have 500 connections.” “Well, I can beat your 500–I have 1,000!”) I don’t believe LinkedIn is going away any time soon, which I do think is a good thing. The trick will be to find out how to make it work well for you.

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