When job searching, if you prioritize a list of all the information you’d like to have before you apply, it might go like this:
#1 – Who is the company? (Wouldn’t it be nice to find out enough about them to decide you’d like to work for them before applying?)
#2 - Who is the hiring manager? (Wouldn’t it be great to speak to the hiring manager before applying?)
#3 – What due diligence can you do to find out if the company will be around tomorrow? (What is the company’s product or Service? What’s their financial status? What’s their competitive position in their industry? What’s in the news about them, good and bad press? How are they organized? Who are their principles? What locations are they in?) There are financial websites that provide most of this information. And there is your personal network as well as LinkedIn to get some information. Those two tactics plus plain old cold-calling should definitely be utilized.
Is pursuing on-line postings an effective job search tactic?
It is not to be ignored, but it is not to be relied upon as the sole search tactic.
“On-line” can mean jobs posted on job boards, on company websites or on recruiting firms’ websites.
Some postings are not real jobs, some are already filled but not removed, and some are real, current and available to you and some are real and current, but an inside candidate is probably going to get the job. It’s difficult to determine which postings are in what category, even when you’re on company or recruiter websites.
However, if you’re on a company website/career page you at least know who the company is and can do due diligence before you waste time applying to ‘red herrings’.
Not the case with recruiters who post jobs on their own website. (If they post on job boards and don’t identify themselves you know nothing; it’s just like any other blind ad.) In the recruiter case, you’re not dealing directly with the hiring company and you’re not likely to find out who the hiring company is until late in the game. That’s not necessarily bad if the recruiter is good. Good recruiters offer many benefits you don’t get by yourself, including having done all the due diligence. All you have to do is find a good recruiter. Sound easy? It isn’t! (But that’s a different subject).
If you don’t know who the company is you can’t do due diligence yourself and you’re headed for frustration. If you don’t do due diligence and get the job, you will have no confidence that you won’t soon be out job searching again. If you do it, you can learn a lot. There are ways you can find out who the hiring manager is and speak to him/her before you ever submit paperwork (but that's still another subject). What could be better than to have a hiring manager ask you to send in your resume?
On-line job postings can be a good starting point in a job search if you make yourself aware of the pros and cons and allocate your time appropriately. Use it to start the due diligence process, just don’t bank on it as your only search tactic.