Making Sense out of Job Boards

Reading job advertisements isn't something many people do for fun, but it can be informative. A lot of job sites have hundreds of ads listed for each category. The usual category breakdown is that there are more administrative and typical office jobs listed than other types. But these categories also provide some useful clues which can help you pin down your own line of work a lot more easily.

The numbers of jobs indicate two things. One is that your search could contain thousands of responses. The other is that there is or there isn't a demand for your type of job on that job board. These are raw figures indicating the state of the job market in your line of work.

That's much more useful information than it seems. If you're looking for work, you need to know what employers want. A bit more searching will tell you that the jobs in demand break down into specific job types in your field. These jobs will have lists of criteria which will show you job openings.

In marketing, 'demand' equates to types of products. In the job market the products are skills. So you're looking for skills in demand. The job criteria are the demand, and they're also the best way to find what you need.

Getting the information you need, in the form you need it

Job boards need some coaxing to be useful. The trouble with categorizing anything is that some things are inevitably in the wrong categories, or misplaced on the basis of a word like 'administration,' which could be any job, anywhere.

You have to work on specific skills to get any sense out of the job boards. You need to search for specific terms to get you the best results. This can help a lot, and save you hours of time, because you can save your searches and get fresh results with a click.

There are a few ways of finding these skills:

  • Add a specific word to your search to clean out the unwanted materials and find the jobs you want.

For example:

Say your experience is in retail administration. This is actually a specialized admin role, but it'll be lumped in administration somewhere. If you search administration+retail, you'll definitely cut down the search to something more manageable.

  • Do a Boolean search (the search with the double quotes around the words), and you'll probably get a few nil responses, but the ones you do get will be 100 percent relevant.

For example:

'Retail accounts administration' will get you exact matches. These are the jobs you need to see to check out demand for your skills.

  • Just use specific job tasks, and you'll definitely get closer to the information you need. Do a search on something like 'bank reconciliation' and you avoid the extra materials.

Skills searches show you exactly what's in demand, and define what employers want. This is always current information, and always relevant. You may need to do some panel beating on your CV, but it'll be worth it.