should you post your resume on online job boards?

A reader writes:

I have a job I really enjoy, but with a few critical caveats. My boss is a little . . . recession-conscious (salary in bottom 5-7% of salary range for my industry and area), and also a tad nutty. Ok, very nutty. (Cameras installed throughout the office so he can monitor conversation, etc. while traveling; he also occasionally remotely accesses our browser history and any personal files employees save on their desktops. Oh, and a few weeks ago he “surprised” us by going in over the weekend and moving us all into different offices, going through all of our drawers and commenting on the contents when we came in Monday morning. Really.)

However, the work is awesome, but turnover is still very high. We’re constantly hiring as people cycle out–mostly through school job sites, but also largely through one particular recruiter, though she’s become less responsive as the turnover has stayed so high. I’m learning a ton so I want to stay awhile longer. However, mine is a really burgeoning field, so I’d also love to keep my ears open for other opportunities.

How does it work from the manager side when people post resumes on Careerbuilder and similar websites? I want to post my resume so I can be visible to recruiters and bigger firms, but I’m a nervous wreck my boss would stumble across it. My field is growing, but growth is starting with partner hiring (3-5 years out). With just one year of experience, I’m still too junior to make the right move, so as much as I’d like to move up, I can’t afford to be fired (or to quit). Do you recommend that passive job seekers post resumes on job search sites? Is “passive” job seeking a figment of my imagination? People get recruited away from my firm *all the time*. I just want to make sure to jump on every opportunity to make sure I can be recruited next!

I’m not a fan of posting your resume online, for a few reasons:

1. It can make you look a little stale or like you’re not being choosy. And hiring managers tend to love candidates who are being choosy. If you look like you’ve posted your resume all over the Internet, you risk turning off some employers — and there IS a school of thought among some hiring managers that only desperate or unfocused candidates post their resume on job sites, because if you were great at what you do, you wouldn’t need to. (You can dispute that logic if you want, but the mindset very much exists.)

2. You risk what’s known as a recruiter clusterfudge. If a recruiter spots your resume online and submits it for an opening, that recruiter now has the “rights” to your candidacy whether you know it or not, meaning that if that company hired you, they’d need to pay the recruiter’s fee. But if that company doesn’t use outside recruiters (and many don’t), they may automatically remove you from the pool of candidates to avoid that charge.

3. You’ll get a ton of spam. A ton.

But there is a more accepted way to post your resume online — LinkedIn. And it has the advantage of not broadcasting your search to your employer, too.

But I’d rather see you conduct a carefully targeted job search anyway, rather than passively waiting for employers to find you. That allows you to be choosy about where you apply, to write a customized cover letter that will strengthen your chances far more than a standalone resume, and to avoid the issues above.

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