Pay job sites – should you spend money to find a job?

From the start of job boards in the mid 1990s until now, the vast
majority of job and career sites have worked on a simple economic
model: job seekers don’t pay, employers do. In fact, the concept of
free access to a job site’s listings was so ingrained that TheLadders
actually garnered quite a bit of publicity by requiring job seekers to
pay when it launched in 2004. Although still uncommon, ‘pay’ sites have
gathered some momentum during the last 2 years of recession – a result
of seekers desperate to gain any kind of advantage in the job market.
The question remains, though: are ‘pay’ sites worth it?

A good place to start is by asking this question: Are you getting
something unique and useful from the ‘pay’ site that you can’t get from
a free site? In other words, will you find that perfect job on FlexJobs
(a ‘pay’ site for telecommuters) – a job you would never see on Monster
or CareerBuilder? Unfortunately, the only way you’ll find out is by
trying both and comparing results. As a past user of FlexJobs, for
example, I can attest that they were successful in locating telecommute
jobs I was unable to find via other means. You should also talk to your
friends and professional colleagues – they may have gone through the
same process and have good advice on which sites work and which don’t.

Some sites such as TheLadders claim to offer more than just access to
unique jobs – they also claim to put your resume in front of thousands
of recruiters. This may be a benefit if there are plenty of openings in
your profession that recruiters are battling to fill. However, if jobs
are hard to come by in your field, this feature may be meaningless –
recruiters don’t peruse resumes for the fun of it. They want to fill
their open job orders.

Other sites such as EmploymentCrossing simply claim to have the most
comprehensive list of jobs available. Thus, instead of spending hours
going from one job board to another, reviewing company sites, and
checking classifieds, you can save time by having the listings in one
place. But is it believable? Do your homework on or because the Internet is virtually unregulated.

There is another path: do it yourself. In essence, you mimic what the
paid sites claim to do. How? First, identify the job boards and company
career sites that best fit your needs. Next, set up ‘job alerts’ (most
job boards and many career sites have these). When a job is posted that
matches your criteria, a job alert is emailed to you. You can also use
Google alerts to track keywords and companies (for example,
“copywriting jobs” or “Dell Computers”). Some enterprising job seekers
utilize search tools such as Copernic
(the personal version is free) – these comb the internet looking for
your particular keywords, much as the pay sites themselves do when
identifying ‘unseen’ jobs. Of course, there is a cost when you do it
yourself – your time.

In the end, the real question is, what is your time worth? Most job
seekers will opt for free job sites out of simple economic necessity.
But if you have more money than time and are willing to take some
chances, you may find a pay site that’s right for you and gives you an
edge in your job hunt. Just proceed with caution and look before you


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