How effective are online job searches?

"Online job searches are very effective at what they are designed to do," notes Andrea Doven, a leading HR expert. "Unfortunately, most people do not understand what online job searches are designed to do, and assume that they are getting the full picture when, in fact, they may only be seeing part of the landscape." Doven goes on to explain that online job boards tend to take a "broad brush" approach to various industries. Companies that advertise on job boards may have someone in mind for the job but are required to post the job online. They may also be looking for a large pool of candidates from which to narrow their hiring search.
"Most online job postings receive hundreds or thousands of applications," notes Doven. "The chance of yours standing out in the crowd is slim." In order to make use of online job boards, Doven suggests using them as a starting point to identify potential employers. Once you have a list of companies, begin sending your resume and cover letter to specific, targeted people in those companies.