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How to Use Job Aggregator Websites for Your Job Search

As part of a new series of articles for job hunters, Frugal Guidance 2 will present our frugal list of job aggregation sites for job hunters. First, however, we will discuss what job aggregators are and how they can fit into your job hunting campaign.

What are Job Aggregators?

By definition, these online services collect (or “aggregate”) job listings from many places. Although they may have some job listings unique to their site, more are collected from job boards around the web, newspapers and other media, and from corporate websites.

Some of the largest of these sites are Indeed, SimplyHired, Monster and, newest, LinkedIn, but there are others. Most of them are general purpose job sites, for a wide variety of careers, usually for full-time or contract positions. Only a few specialize in temp and part-time jobs.

Not all online job websites are job aggregation sites. Many are niche sites serving specific constituencies or specific locations. Some companies only advertise on their own website or through social media and don’t want to deal with the rush of résumés that come from listing a job on a popular job site.

To make things more confusing, many of these job aggregators encourage bloggers and other website owners to host focused job listings based on their proprietary tools. Thus, many specialized job banks may be showing the same openings as Indeed, SimplyHired, Monster and others.

Do I Have to Pay for These Services?

In general, you should not have to pay to search or apply for jobs. Most make their money from employers and from ads.

There are a few sites that do ask job hunters to pay to use their site. Usually these are specialized sites for a specific job sector or for executive level jobs. If they are collecting jobs from around the web, however, the same info is available elsewhere, usually for free. Although a a few of these services might save you time and help you find jobs, be skeptical before paying cash. Check reviews and do your research.

The Problems With Job Aggregators

Many Job Listings + More Competition = The Job Application Black Hole

The jobs advertised on most of these sites were gathered from other locations. Thus, there is considerable duplication between the different collectors. This wider distribution results in more people applying for the same jobs. Often the competition can be intense, with hundreds of applications for a single job.

As a result of this competition, HR people reviewing résumés may be spending only a few seconds on each during the opening round of review — and their primary task is to eliminate candidates quickly. If your résumé doesn’t exactly match the skill sets they advertise, and doesn’t show those skills in the opening third of the first page, you probably will be eliminated early in the screening process.

A Buyer’s Market = Harder Negotiations

Since there may be many candidates to choose from, applicants may find themselves in a worse position for negotiations. Many of these employers are less likely to pay relocation costs if the applicant needs to move to a new city.

The Hidden Job Market

Today, many businesses use recommendations from current employees or quiet searches on social media (especially LinkedIn) to find job candidates. Some target people who are already working (perhaps for competitors). Some employers use their own in-house recruiters, others use independent recruiters. In all these cases, they are less likely to announce a job opening. This is the hidden job market.

According to many HR pros, two-thirds (or more) of the best job openings are never advertised. The aggregator job sites won’t help you find those jobs. As more employers use these techniques, competition for the advertised jobs becomes even worse.

Bad Listings, and Worse

Occasionally, the jobs listed on these sites are not real openings. Companies may be trying to harvest résumés, conducting interviews to find out what competitors are paying for similar positions, or simply seeing if there are potential local employees if they decide to expand their business.

A few people may pose as hiring managers to collect personal data for marketing schemes, scams or identity theft.

The Advantages of Job Aggregators

In spite of all these problems, there are still several advantages to using job aggregation websites.

  • Most of them are very good at scouring the Internet for genuine job openings. You may find an opening that was only advertised in the company’s local paper or on their website. No job hunter can match these sites’ search algorithms and web crawlers.
  • You can search for local jobs or jobs in other states, regions or countries. Some of the larger sites list jobs in many countries.
  • People DO find job openings, apply, interview and get job offers using these websites in spite of the competition. Somebody wins.
  • You can get daily leads of jobs that match your specific search terms. It would be foolish to just ignore these listings.
  • The leading sites are ready to work with employers to offer services and expand the number of advertised jobs on their sites. They are also expanding the number of job hunters providing profiles or résumés on their sites for employers to search. At the same time, they reach out to job hunters by offering mobile tools and using social media. Some of them offer tools to help the job hunter find inside connections from their own network on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Jobs signWhat are some Strategies for Using These Sites?

First, do not base your entire job search effort on job aggregators.

Know what kind of job you are looking for and the keywords employers use to describe those jobs. Experiment with search terms until you find the type of jobs you are looking for.

One trick is to collect several job descriptions for jobs you believe you would be perfect for. The more, the better. Put them all into one text file, and then run the results through a word cloud service, such as Wordle or Tag Crowd. The result is a display of the most important key words for your perfect job. Use these key words as the basis of your search. Then experiment with these search terms to focus on those jobs that match your skills closely.

Be sure to use these same terms in your LinkedIn profile to help talent acquisition managers find you.

If you are open to more than one type of job, do a sharply focused search for each job rather than one generalized search that results in a lot of unusable openings. Most job sites allow you to save several searches and get daily or weekly email notices of new jobs for each one. Today, they almost all have apps or mobile friendly websites to view job openings on your phone or tablet.

Also, choose which locations you would consider working in. Most job sites will allow you to search within so many miles of a specific zip code (in the U.S.). You can also search by state.

If looking for local jobs, decide how far you are willing to commute. You may need to decide whether a longer commute will require a higher salary for gas, maintenance and wear and tear on your car and on you.

Don’t ignore networking, online and off, to find those hidden jobs. If you’re spending entire days or weeks online looking for jobs, you need to stop, get out of the house, and network and talk with people.

Do your research on each company you apply to. If you have never heard of the company, confirm that it is a real business before sending your confidential information. Watch out for scams and identity thieves.

If a job aggregator site asks you to upload a public résumé, prepare a special one with no contact info except a special email address just for your job search. See our recent Frugal Guidance 2 article on stealth job searches for more info on preparing public résumés that will still preserve your privacy.
Next: Frugal Guidance 2’s list of the best job aggregation sites.


Job Hunting Collage by the author, from screen shots from LinkedIn, Indeed, Simply Hired, Monster, Idealist, Careerbuilder, and Snagajob.

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