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The rise of online job boards has brought about a major change in the way that people find out about job openings. In the recent past, job openings were advertised in the local newspaper or tacked onto cork boards in a job search centre or EI office. Back then, a missed edition of a newspaper or an inability to travel downtown might have resulted in lost opportunity. An entire career could hinge on whether your newspaper carrier remembered to deliver your local paper. It was an inherently inefficient system.

In the digital age there are thousands of job boards that can be viewed and searched at the convenience of the job seeker. One can peruse job boards that focus on one company or thousands. We can look at job openings for the company around the corner from us or half-way around the world. There are niche job boards that focus on one occupation or sector. There are so many job boards that it can pose a problem to a job-seeker who wants to make sure they don’t miss opportunities, but who only has so many hours of their job search day to dedicate to this activity. It is an inherently inefficient system.

A job-hunter who is staring at a screen full of recent job postings can be compared to a miner who is standing at the entrance of a gold mine rich in veins. It might seem that job boards represent abundance, but it’s not until we scratch the surface a bit do we realize that many of the job postings are fool’s gold. Some popular boards are full of job opportunities from anonymous employers. Some of these jobs are real and some are not. Other job boards leave job postings up long after the job has been filled or entice you to post your resume with them so it can be “searched” by employers. What happens to your resume after it is posted on such a site ? How secure is your data ? The answers to those questions remain unclear.

Because online boards represent so much opportunity but also come with some baggage, I will use the next few columns to give readers a guided tour of the most popular ones. I’ll give some advice on which job boards are worth your time and which ones can be safely ignored as you mine job postings on the way to your next job. I’ll also provide you with my advice as to how much time I think you should spend every day looking at job boards. That unit of time is probably much less than you might guess.