Search Smart: How to Personalize Your Hunt for Jobs Online

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Updated October 11, 2021 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Job seekers today have a plethora of online career placement services from which to choose. From niche offerings for specific industries or career levels, to sites providing access to countless positions across the globe, it's easy to feel overwhelmed when trying to narrow down all the ads to the appropriate level. In the guide below, profiles of common types of professionals are provided, with questions to help guide job seekers - from entry-level to executive - find the website that will be of most help to them.

Profiles of Online Career Searchers

Recent Graduate

Fresh out of school and newly minted degree in hand, the Recent Graduate is ready to hit the ground running. For the beginning job seeker, possibilities seem limitless, but it's important to remember the goals of a first job: to gain real-world experience, to put those just-earned skills to work, and to build a supportive network of colleagues and mentors to help their careers really take off.

  1. Did you graduate college within the last year?
  2. Do you have two years or less professional experience in your field?
  3. Are you looking for an internship or volunteer opportunity?
  4. Do you need to gain real-world experience in your field for experience and to boost your resume?



Tried and true, Craigslist remains the number one online classified site for job seekers. Recent graduates will usually find a wealth of entry-level job opportunities, and may wish to apply to several even as an exercise in the process.


Though not a site most may consider when job searching, local Facebook job boards have become an increasingly popular option. Job seekers will find it beneficial to join multiple local boards and keep an eye on new postings that may be relevant to them. Some groups will allow members to post "for hire" ads in which they may post their qualifications and what they're looking for in employment.


Built specifically to link recruiters with recent grads, CollegeRecruiter offers users tips, tricks and expert help, in addition to job listings. Recent graduates will not only find entry-level positions in their fields listed, but numerous internship opportunities that can help them bolster their resumes as well.

Internships are a great way to gain relevant and needed experience before jumping headfirst into the work force, and can also build a foundation for the ever-important professional network. Grads may choose to look to to find opportunities in their field that will allow them to get their feet wet and build their skills - and resumes.

Career Changer

Having spent a number of years in their field, the Career Changer has likely reached the highest position available with their current degree. After undertaking a new venture - and possibly earning a new degree along the way - the Career Changer is now ready to apply for jobs not previously available to them.

  1. Have you reached the pinnacle of your current position?
  2. Are you ready for a new professional challenge?
  3. Have you identified skills gained in your current position that are transferable?
  4. Are you willing to undertake further education if necessary?



Operating as a professional social network, LinkedIn appeals to applicants by offering key resources to aid in the job hunt. While Career Changers likely have connections within their current industry, LinkedIn is a great tool for expanding professional networks.


Offering one of the largest databases of jobs, Career Changers considering different industries will find the wide range of categories a great place to start understanding what various fields have to offer.


A popular job hunting website for those with college degrees, CareerBuilder caters to Career Changers by weeding out jobs not applicable to their current professional needs, such as those appealing to teenagers, temporary job seekers or recent graduates.


For Career Changers who have spent many years in the for-profit world, a career focused on a socially minded mission may be appealing. Idealist is the perfect stop, offering the largest aggregation of jobs and volunteer opportunities in the non-profit arena.


The Executive likely has 15 to 30 years of work under their belt, with experiences ranging from managing mid-level staff to overseeing entire departments. In addition to leadership qualities, Executives have likely honed their skills in other areas, including budgetary management and strategic planning. In addition to researching opportunities, the Executive may also be head- hunted by recruiting agencies.

  1. Do you have multiple years of experience managing people or operations?
  2. Do you hold at least a bachelor's degree?
  3. Are you involved in the strategic planning of your current organization?
  4. Do your skills extend into areas such as budgetary management or high-level decision making?



LinkedIn caters to every career level, including executive. It is also used widely by recruiters in a spectrum of fields, making it a great resource for visibility. Executives can research profiles of prospective companies and their employees, providing a sense of the organizational culture as well.

Link Up

By providing direct access to employers, Link Up removes the frustration often associated with recruitment agencies. In addition to a resourceful mobile app, the search engine allows job hunters to search specific industries and find postings relevant to experience and career levels.


A division of CareerBuilder, HeadHunter focuses exclusively on executive and managerial level positions, helping eliminate irrelevant postings for professionals seeking advanced career options. Career seekers can search jobs by a variety of categories, including industry, company, city and salary.


After a successful career in the private sector, some Executives may choose to pursue high-ranking positions at the Federal level. USAJobs is the official website for this branch of the government, providing a wide variety of positions available across the nation.

Mid-level Professional

With an average of 10 to 20 years of experience under their belt, the Mid-level Professional knows how to manage people and direct operations. While usually holding at least a bachelor's degree, some may also have a master's. With skills honed at the managerial level, experienced Mid-level Professionals are primed to apply for their first executive-level position.

  1. Do you hold at least a bachelor's degree?
  2. Does your current level of experience include managing staff?
  3. Have you been in a mid-level position for at least two years?
  4. Can you articulate how your current level of experience has prepared you to move to a higher position?


The Ladders

With a focus on career mobility, The Ladders is a reputable website for Mid-level Professionals looking to move their careers up to the next rung. Companies and recruiters use the site, providing applicants with a wider basin of opportunities to consider.


When looking to progress their careers, applicants often want to know as much as possible about both the types of positions they should be applying for, and the potential organizations doing the hiring. Glassdoor is a treasure trove of data, allowing candidates to feel confident in their knowledge and skills when looking to take the next step professionally.


In addition to allowing applicants to search for jobs by category, company, city, degree level, salary and employment type, CareerBuilder also divides jobs by levels of experience. With the ability to narrow their options to mid-level positions, job seekers can avoid wading through roles unsuitable for their current level of experience.


While it may sound like a website devoted exclusively to executive roles, HeadHunter also caters to professionals seeking managerial positions. By serving a niche market, job seekers know that only relevant positions will be shown.

Veterans Looking for Civilian Work

According to, Veterans Looking for Civilian Work often experience difficulty for two reasons: they aren't sure how their military experience translates to a business setting, and employers don't fully understand what veterans have to offer. When applying for their first job after active service, Veterans' resumes should emphasize transferable skills, as often employers won't be aware of experience gained through active service.

  1. Have you recently completed active service and are now looking to move into a non-military position?
  2. Do you have prior civilian job experience?
  3. Are you looking to use the skills gained in the military in a new occupation?
  4. Do you want to continue working for the U.S. Government?



After a career with the military, transitioning veterans may not have a clear idea of the type of work they'll find fulfilling. Indeed is a great resource, offering a number of contract, summer, remote and volunteer opportunities for dipping a toe in before committing to a specific role or industry.


For veterans who decided to forego postsecondary education to serve their country, Monster provides a large database of jobs that don't require college education. Some of these positions may also offer on-the-job training or professional development opportunities after being with the company for a certain amount of time.


With a military career coming to a close, some veterans may want to continue serving their country in a different capacity. USAJobs is the Federal government's official job website, providing thousands of roles across a variety of fields and experience levels. Some of the jobs available may also be complimentary to their existing skill sets.


In addition to providing transitioning veterans with a free 1-year premium account, LinkedIn also offers a Veteran Mentor Network (VNM) group to help those leaving active service understand their options, and craft resumes that best showcase their talents.

Recently Unemployed

No matter the reason, the Recently Unemployed may not be at their highest level of confidence during this time. Whether laid off or otherwise, the Recently Unemployed may be worried about explaining their current job status to potential employers. It's important to refocus the conversation, highlighting transferable skills gained from previous positions and showcasing their knowledge about any positions to which they may apply.

  1. Are you unsure how to proceed after being recently unemployed?
  2. Do you have an existing professional network that you can reach out to for job leads?
  3. Are you interested in using this time to gain extra skills or knowledge?



Craigslist is a good resource for finding local opportunities, including seasonal or temporary jobs to tide job seekers over while searching for the perfect role. While there are fewer high-level positions available, it is helpful for applicants who have been out of the job market and want to familiarize themselves with professional opportunities in the area.


Operating as one of the largest job listing aggregators, Indeed provides a massive database of opportunities which can be searched by categories such as industry, location and salary. The site caters to all job levels, helping seekers get a better sense of the type of job matched to their qualifications.

Simply Hired

In addition to aggregating jobs available in 24 countries, Simply Hired offers a variety of services helpful to the recently unemployed, such as information on local areas, email alerts, a mobile app and advice on conducting job searches.


While Idealist is largest online career website for non-profit organizations, the site also hosts thousands of volunteer opportunities. Volunteering is an excellent way for recently unemployed professionals to learn about different types of organizations and gain new skills, not to mention the potential for buoying their spirits by helping others

Recently Relocated

Whether thanks to a lifestyle choice or career change, the Recently Relocated often possesses an adventurous spirit and is unafraid to go after what they want. While their pool of networking contacts may not be as large at first, moving to a new city presents myriad options, especially for those with prior work experience. Recently Relocated professionals should take advantage of professional networking organizations now available in most cities.

  1. Are you looking for the challenges and rewards provided by a new city?
  2. Do you have any professional contacts in prospective cities that can be leveraged?
  3. If looking to stay in a similar field, are there companies similar to your current one that you can reach out to?


Facebook Groups

It can often be overwhelming to conduct a job search while also trying to settle into new surroundings and routines. Even before relocating, job seekers can get plugged in to local Facebook groups to get the lay of the (professional) land.


Craigslist is a valuable resource for relocating professionals, providing individual websites for hundreds of cities across the world. In addition to providing current job listings, the website can also provide a larger sense of the types of jobs available in the area.


Much like Facebook's "Mutual Friends" feature, LinkedIn users can see if they have any mutual connections to potential contacts in a new city. By leveraging an existing professional relationship, developing a network in a new city can be made much easier.

Local Chambers of Commerce

For applicants who may not be familiar with local employers, many Chamber of Commerce websites offer job boards utilized by nearby organizations. This type of website is also helpful for cutting down on scams, as companies frequently must be members to list available positions.

Tips, Tricks and Next Steps for a Successful Job Search

Job Hunting 101: Smart Search Basics

After identifying the best sites for finding a new position, job seekers may be wondering how to ensure they land a new role matched to their career aspirations. Keep reading for a few tips on how to make the most your job search.

Treat your job search like an actual job

When looking for a new job, it's important to devote ample time to search efforts. If pursuing a position within a new industry, job seekers should familiarize themselves with common practices and terminology to ensure they sound knowledgeable once landing an interview. It is often valuable to reach out to professional contacts within the field to pick their brains. It is also important to research new opportunities frequently, as some employers review applications on a rolling basis, meaning candidates who move swiftly are at an advantage for being hired. For those who may be unsure about next steps, volunteering, joining a professional networking group, or taking a class can help broaden awareness of opportunities available. Internships are also particularly valuable for recent college graduates or those without postsecondary education as they provide real-world experience that can sometimes translate into a job offer.

Join career websites and create engaging, professional profiles

While sharing a resume in the traditional format is still a valid exercise when pursuing a job, today's digital advances provide job seekers with additional platforms for attracting employers. U.S. News highlights the benefits of career profiles on websites such as LinkedIn, noting that the social nature allows job seekers to showcase personalities more so than on a resume. Professional profiles also allow users to share more about themselves outside the confines of the one to two pages of a standard resume. Many job seekers have profiles on multiple career websites as organizations and recruiters may not share postings across all platforms.

Take advantage of career website features to maximize your search

Many of the leading career websites offer features to make the search for a job easier. Websites like Indeed and CareerBuilder allow users to set notifications when jobs matching set criteria are posted, while LinkedIn is known for allowing users to ask for recommendations and receive skill endorsements from their connections. Facebook is a great resource for joining groups, allowing job seekers to get an inside scoop on a particular industry or organization. While some features are part of premium packages, many can be used with free profiles.

Set goals when applying

Whether it's identifying a list of companies that would be ideal to work for or committing to apply for a certain number of jobs per week, job seekers should set goals to keep their motivation and inspiration high throughout their search. It's also important to set realistic goals: while a job in public speaking may sound appealing in the moment, if this isn't already a strength then it's probably best for job seekers to set their sights on a different type of position.

Make sure your online presence doesn't fail you

The ever-increasing world of social media means that it's not just professional profiles employers and recruiters can see. Before beginning their search, job seekers should comb through all of their social media platforms to ensure there is nothing that could be construed as unprofessional lurking on their pages. While it may seem difficult to give up an email address that's been in use for a number of years, this is one of the first things an employer will see, so it needs to be professional. An inside joke may have seemed like a good idea for an email address 10 years ago, but it won't translate well in the job market.

Put Job Sites to Work for You

In addition to the general tips and tricks shared above, many career websites have specific features job seekers can apply to their advantage while looking for the perfect position. Learn how to use a few of these websites to their fullest potential.

For those who want to keep their personal lives removed from professional endeavors, setting up a separate account for job searching is a great idea. Job seekers can join groups relating to specific industries or organizations, both to get a better sense of the day-to-day responsibilities and to have access to job postings. In addition to groups catering to professionals throughout the country, many local groups are also available. If unsure whether an organization has a Facebook page, a quick visit to their website will likely provide a direct link to any Facebook presence.

While it's easy to lapse into chat speak on social media platforms, maintaining a professional tone is crucial. It's also important not to share any personal information on a public forum. If seeking further clarification or interest in a posted job, it's best to private message the poster to learn more rather than giving out contact details.

Smart Online Job Searching

When searching online for jobs, many seekers may worry about the potential for internet scams or personal information being used irresponsibly. With so many job sites offering their services, this is a valid concern that should be taken seriously. In the section below, helpful tips are provided on how to avoid illegitimate career placement services.

Identify real opportunities vs. scams

While it may make sense to assume that a job posted on a major career site is genuine, applicants should be aware that the majority of these sites do not review postings prior to being listed. Before applying, it's important to research all companies to ensure they are above board. For job postings where a company email address is not given, consider contacting the organization directly to confirm the position being advertised is actually available.

Keep personal information safe

When applying for positions, job seekers may easily send out hundreds of resumes during their search. Given that most resumes have the applicant's address, email and/or phone number listed, it's important to screen any job or organization before sharing this information. A quick call to the company will significantly minimize the chances of personal information slipping into the wrong hands. It is also important to shield this information when creating professional profiles online. Many jobsites have a private messaging function, eliminating the need for any contact information to be shared. Job seekers should never, under any circumstance, provide information such as social security numbers or bank routing details before interviewing with an organization in person and being formally offered a job.

Specific things to avoid in online job searches

Again, the general rule for online job searches is that if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Roles offering salaries far above the industry standard or requiring only a few hours of work per week are often the most common tricks of scammers. Other telltale signs include offering a job without an interview, advanced positions offering on-the-job training, or recruiters creating a sense of urgency in taking a job quickly.

Understand the differences between free and premium services

In addition to free profiles, a number of job placement websites offer premium services costing a monthly or annual fee. Typically, these include greater access to data such as profiles viewers, services such as resume review, or higher placement in recruiter's search results. While premium memberships may be valuable to job seekers using niche or industry-specific job boards, most free memberships provide adequate tools and resources for identifying potential jobs. Applicants should be weary of any sites offering to find jobs in exchange for payment, or those requiring any credit or debit card information before allowing access to job listings.

Become Team
Become Team
Contributing Writer is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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