The Least Effective Approach to Finding a Career? – Online Job Postings

The Least Effective Approach to Finding a Career? – Online Job Postings

That’s just how you find jobs in the technology age, right?

It’s incredible to me that even four or five years ago job searching was still accomplished by walking into a building, asking for an application and then submitting what you had in person. This is how I found jobs in high school, but the world has changed drastically. In the last few years walk-ins and phone calls to find jobs is becoming less common. Most people, particularly millennials, sit at home behind the comfort of their computer screen and scroll through craigslist and company websites to find what jobs are posted and how to submit their online application and/or e-mail their resume. The world is a different place.

The truth about online job postings

Up until two weeks ago I would have agreed that the easiest and most practical place to start your job search is online. Unless you know someone who knows someone, what other way is there? Recently I spent a week in Abilene, Texas for  a required residency as a part of my masters program. The focus of our time together was very practical; How do you get a job with this degree? I was pleased by how useful the information was but SHOCKED when our speaker, Donald Asher, told us that the worst thing we could do when looking for a job was sit at home submitting our resumes to as many online job postings as we could. He suggests 10% of our job search should be online, at the most. Here are a few reasons why this is the worst way to look for a job:

  • Most posted jobs are created for a specific person (they met a person, thought they would be a great addition to the company and then wrote up the description with that individual in mind). 
  • Job postings are often a formality or company policy even when the intention is to hire from within.
  • Online job postings arrive at the tail-end of a company’s hiring process, therefore they’ve been actively looking for a while and chances are you’ll be up against hundreds of applicants just as qualified if not more so than you are.
  • 55-80% of jobs in the U.S. are given to people without any type of online posting (Statistic per Donald Asher)

Have you been on a job hunt, submitted what seems like hundreds of resumes only to not get any kind of response from the vast majority? The reason is probably because they were never looking for you in the first place.

What do you do with the other 90% of your time?

1. The first place to start when looking for a job is deciding what market you want to be in.

There are times when we just need to put food on the table and money in the bank, and in those moments taking an entry-level job in customer service is fine. We are never against getting a job that’s ‘below’ you – it’s irresponsible to put your financial health and family in jeopardy.

Hopefully, however, this post is speaking to those individuals who are already in those entry-level positions and are looking to transition toward building a career. If you don’t know what type of career you want you’ll spread yourself too thin in the job search and will have a more difficult time tracking and maintaining leads.

2. After creating a goal, research within your network.

Use a tool like LinkedIn and type in the name of a few companies you would like to work for, see what connections you have to that company.  Chances are you’ll have some connection that works there or a friend-of-a-friend.

The best phrase to use as you network in person “Do you know anyone who would know something about (fill in the blank)?” Don’t limit them by saying “Do you know someone who works in this specific department at this school?” You want any connection you can get – and you never know if the connection they actually have is better than the one you envision.

I would say “Do you know anyone who would know something about Residence Life?”

3. Get into the channel of the type of job you’re looking for. A channel is the network of people and companies that comprise your desired industry. I would like to build a career in higher education. To enter into this ‘channel’ I can

  • Research the people and institutions I’m close to or familiar with
  • Make my desire to work in this field known to those institutions, even without a posted opening.
  • Ask for informational interviews with professionals in my desired field:

I might ask to meet with the head of a department I’m interested in. “I would like to find a time to meet with you and talk about working in Residence Life. I’m in no hurry to get a job, but I’m really looking for the right fit for my skills and education, do you have any advice for me?” You’re now in someone’s mind and perhaps the next time a job in your field opens up, your name will come up as a potential candidate – thereby getting you an ‘in’ before the online job posting.

4. Understand how new jobs are created

Manager Job Creation

The bottom section shows your odds of getting the job at each stage of the hiring process.

In this (very basic) image, you can see that dissatisfied managers will come to their own conclusion to hire someone, but it doesn’t happen overnight. While the manager is in this process, it’s in your best interest to find a way in before they create the job description. Before that time, your odds are at worst 1 in 6, and compared to the 200 or more you’ll be up against once it’s posted online, it’s worth the effort to try and present yourself as a solution to the company’s problems before they even realize what they’re looking for (Idea used in MBA programs, presented by Donald Asher).

5. The best way to get an ‘in’ is to find people in or connected to your desired industry and have them introduce you to the hiring powers of a company.

As an administrative assistant, I know there tend to be ‘key players’ in any office that while not in charge, have access to those in charge and are in the know for behind-the-scenes plans to hire. Admins are just one option, others might be accountants, lawyers, and other professionals who work with a wide variety of companies and have insight as to whether a company is looking to expand.

*Word to the wise – Receptionists and Administrative Assistants can make or break your potential if they’re the front line to your desired interview/job- be nice to them.

 Online job searching has softened us to the reality of the economy: it’s harder than it looks

As a product of the technology generation I know how challenging it is for my peers to face the fact that not everything can or should be done online.

Finding the career of your dreams is possible, even in a terrible economy. Those who will succeed have discovered exactly what direction they’re headed, put themselves out there with professionals in the industry and found strategies to be thought of before and during a company’s hiring process. They have acknowledged that getting a job will not be EASY or COMFORTABLE like sitting at home at 2 a.m. and submitting resumes can be – people get jobs by talking to other people and making things happen, not talking to computers.

If you want more tips and tricks, go check out Asher’s book Cracking the Hidden Job Market, How to find opportunity in any economy. It’s full of ideas, I’ve just barely scratched the surface of what he has to offer. This image is an affiliate link.

What are the best ways you have found in the job hunt? Anyone going to put some of these strategies to use?


  1. I’m not looking for a job but one thing I found to work is just using my network. Most of the people I know are in the same industry as I am. Most of the jobs never get posted and even if they do having a friend or someone at the company can help a great deal if the company respects that person. Being friendly to the gate keeper is a must. Also if you were hire by an agency or headhunter be nice to them and make sure you did a great job for the position they found you. They are the easiest to reach back out to if you are looking for another job.

    • says:

      I agree Thomas, it’s just a matter of asking around and being competent enough to put yourself in the minds of the right people. Being kind cannot be underestimated, however, we’ve been down to hiring in my office before and the kindness of the candidates made the final decision. Competence is key but kindness can make it or break it for you.