Winning the job board lottery

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Last Wednesday night, a very lucky Iowa resident won an astounding $202 million playing the Powerball lottery.  While it isn’t the biggest lottery prize ever, it’s an astounding reward given the very little effort that went into winning it.

What’s even more astounding are the odds of winning, in this case 1 in 175,223,510 to be exact, which means the chances of almost anything happening in your life are greater than your chances of winning Powerball: You have a better chance of growing a third ear, digging out a spoonful of gold in your breakfast cereal, and finding Jimmy Hoffa buried under your driveway.

Typically, the bigger the prize the more popular the contest, and with popularity comes more competition, which in turn decreases your odds of winning. Like lotteries and sports, job searches are highly competitive. In order to be successful job seekers need to find ways to either stand out from the crowd, reduce the amount of competition they face, or both.

With the massive number of jobs advertised on large job boards, job seekers are often fooled into thinking that job boards provide them with a greater chance of finding a job than they actually do.  The truth is the exact opposite of what most believe; the job board lottery attracts a huge number of job seekers and they are the most competitive of all approaches.

Some stats:

- is most visited job site in the United States. With 60 million unique visitors each month it’s the reigning king of job boards, having taken the crown from in 2010.
– According to a recent study by Millennial Branding and, job boards are the top resources for job seekers of all generations; 87% of Baby Boomers, 82% of Gen X and 77% of Gen Y job seekers choose job boards as the resource they turn to first in a job search.

While job boards should be part of every job seeker’s job search campaign, they should be viewed for what they are – huge, impersonal, transactional and horribly competitive.

At the other end of the job search spectrum is the hidden job market: It has no job board, no postings, and nothing is publicly advertised.  To uncover opportunities that are hidden here you need to start building relationships with people in the companies and industries you want to to work in. While it takes more time and effort than submitting job applications on job boards, unlike the job board lottery there is far less competition, a greater opportunity to stand out, and the opportunity to build relationships that will benefit you throughout your career.

While job boards remain an important part of the job search process, and they may be the easiest way to look for work, they they are by no means the easiest way to actually find find a job.

For some help in tackling the hidden job market, take a look at the article, Job search like a salesperson to get a job that doesn’t exist – yet.


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