How to Use Job Boards in Your Encore Career Search

Steven Joiner


By Steven Joiner

With so many job boards out there, it is understandable that encore career seekers don’t know where to start.

  • How many positions are filled through job boards? Is it worth my time to respond?
  • Do these boards scavenge from one another, leading to old jobs appearing as “recent,” even though they were filled months ago?
  • How can I make my resume stand out and include keywords so that it survives screening by automated scanners?

Job-board searching and other online job-hunting tools should be part of your encore career search. But follow the 1:3 rule, spending one part of your time online to every three parts offline. To put it another way: Get online to get offline.

How job hunters use job boards

You may be thinking that the best way to land a job is to fire resumes off as many resumes as possible.

This approach is passive, lazy and ineffective. Hirers can sniff out a “shotgun” job hunter application quickly. After all, that is the bulk of the applications they see from job-board postings. In order to stand out, your outreach needs to be focused, targeted and intentional.

Big boards vs. specialized job boards

Monster, CareerBuilder, HotJobs, Craigslist, and search-engine job boards like Indeed and SimplyHired all have tons of jobs. You can search by keyword, interest area, salary range and geographic location, but you are still casting a wide net.

Specialized job boards, especially those with more connectivity features like forums, regional events and industry-specific advice, will get you past the layers of generality faster than any advanced search on a big board. Encore.org lists those specializing in nonprofit positions on its Job Listings page. Another, which is a favorite haunt for writer types, is Mediabistro.com.

Head over to Job Board Reviews as well as AARP’s Job Search Tools and Websites for Older Workers to do other targeted searches.

When it comes to job postings, bigger is not necessarily better. True, the specialized approach necessitates familiarity with niche job boards and requires visiting regularly. But, in the long run, you will save time by not having to sort through all sorts of irrelevant results.

How career developers use job boards

My favorite career development tool actually relies on job boards. It is a vital first step for what I call “career developers”: people who create their own jobs by identifying unmet needs and cultivating opportunities. Try the Career Tracks Exercise. It’s amazing.

Encore career developers also track organizations that interest them and learn where these organizations regularly post online, such as the websites of organizations. They pay attention to social events, networking opportunities and public appearances where they can run into someone from these organizations. And they understand nonprofit organizations hiring practices.

Start seeing job boards as a research tool, not just a list of jobs. Look past what’s available now, and you’ll see that job boards are actually more useful for intentional relationship building, for focusing your offline efforts and for connecting you with people who can see you as more than a cover letter and a resume.

Steven Joiner is trainer, speaker and writer whose social-impact career is helping people fully live up to their potential. As a career transitions expert, he works with professionals of all ages to help them intentionally transition to new meaningful professional experiences. Steven is the former director of the Career Transitions Program at Idealist.org. He has contributed to The New York Times, NPR’s Marketplace and a range of local media. He is the author of The Idealist Guide to Nonprofit Careers for Sector Switchers and a founder of the 21st Century Worklife project.