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Maximize your search: Tips from 4 top job sites

Sep. 4, 2012 - 11:03AM   |   Last Updated: Sep. 4, 2012 - 11:03AM  |  
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Vet-friendly job boards

Vetjobs.com
Launched: 1999
Active employers: 2,400
Job seekers: More than 220,000 a month
RecruitMilitary.com
Launched: 2001
Active employers: 2,400
Job seekers: More than 530,000 registered users
TAOnline.com
Launched: 1996
Active employers: Nearly 20,000
Job seekers: 70,000 active users
CorporateGray.com
Launched: 1997
Jobs listed: About 25,000 jobs listed
Job seekers: Nearly 50,000 active users

Veterans looking online for career opportunities need not limit the search to Monster and CareerBuilder. These mega-sites list lots of jobs, but veterans may be able to go one better with job boards tailored to their specific experiences. Dozens of veteran-specific job sites are out there, where employers post their openings in the hope of attracting those who have served.

How to make the best of these opportunities? We checked in with representatives of four of the leading veteran-oriented sites.

Research the resource

Faced with page after page of job prospects, it may be tempting to start firing off résumés left and right. But the sheer volume of opportunities on a job board can be a trap, said Ted Daywalt, president of VetJobs.com.

"Do a little bit of research before you go out there," Daywalt said. He means researching the site itself. To find the best possible matches, it makes sense to try a few test searches, pulling up jobs and employers according to various criteria to see which queries give you the best results.

"Generally, you can search by keyword, search by location, search by country or category. You've got to practice a little bit to find out what words bring back the kinds of jobs you want," he said.

In addition to responding to individual listings, most sites will let users post their résumés for employers to browse. To make the most of that opportunity, take down the résumé, make changes and repost periodically.

"If you put your résumé out there and it has been out there for three months or four months or five months, many employers won't look at those résumés. They figure if you were really good and hot, you wouldn't still be on the market," Daywalt said.

Complete the profile

Tedious as it may seem, especially by the time you've visited half a dozen or more sites, it's still imperative that you complete the profile. Rank, military occupational specialty, work experience, security clearance: It all matters.

"As a job seeker, you may get tired of inputting things," said Mike Francomb, senior vice president and partner at RecruitMilitary.com. "But if you don't complete the profile, the message you send to employers is that you're not really serious about getting a job."

Francomb also encourages job seekers to pay extra attention to the boards that offer more than just job listings. Some sites sponsor or cooperate with the producers of military job fairs. Some offer social media connections, job-seeking tips and other resources.

"There may be other ways besides being on the job boards that will allow you to potentially connect with employers," Francomb said.

Tailor your résumé

Employers think the jobs they offer are unique and special. Applicants who shoot off a "one-size-fits-all" résumé for every potential position they see on the board likely will not get far.

"People take the shotgun approach," said Ron Rutherford, business development manager for TAOnline.com. "They get on a job board and they apply to all the jobs they see, using the same résumé for every single application. They're not necessarily looking at the full details of what the job is about, and employers will recognize that.

"The flip side to that is the job seeker who takes a passive approach," Rutherford added. "They put their information out there and wait to see who bites. Looking for a job is a full-time job."

To that end, it sometimes makes sense to look beyond the veterans boards.

"You're never going to be hurt if you also put your information on Indeed, Simply Hired, Monster — the more multifaceted boards," he said.

Use personal connections

The job board can be not only a search platform but also a jumping-off point for wider efforts.

"Use the back door and the front door," said Carl Savino, president of CorporateGray.com. "Identify positions of interest on these sites, then go to LinkedIn. If you find a job that appears appropriate based on your skills and background, plug it into LinkedIn, see who you are connected to within that company, and use that individual to connect internally."

It also helps to start out broad, letting the job board's search engine return the widest possible array of openings, before adding terms that will limit the search. As Savino describes it: If you want a job making widgets, start with widget-making, then add Virginia, then add security clearance.

"The more knowledge you have of which companies are looking for widget makers, the better. If a company has opportunities in another state, they may also have an opportunity in Virginia that isn't necessary listed. Now you can see who you know in that company to steer you toward that opportunity."

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