Searching job boards by skills

  • Why?
  • An agile strategy
  • Record your findings

Although job boards are typically used when applying for jobs, you can also use them for career exploration. Searching job boards by skills can give you career inspiration and broaden your horizons. We use a cross-platform approach and provide examples of how to use this strategy.

For this strategy, an assumption is made that you have a LinkedIn account. Whilst it is possible to use the strategy without LinkedIn, it is even more powerful if you have an account. For more information about creating a LinkedIn profile, check out our comprehensive resources here.

Why search by skills?

Most people search job boards using job titles, organisations or sectors. This is fine if you're ready to apply and you're clear on what you're looking for.

However, if you're less clear, this type of search can limit you. Also, it doesn't allow you to find a match between your strengths/skills and the jobs being advertised.

On the other hand, when you search by skills, new possibilities can open up. Searching job boards based on the skills you most like to use, can lead to jobs that are more suited to you. These could even be in areas that you have never considered before. This could stimulate further research into new careers.

You can search by technical skills, transferable skills or combinations of the two. The more terms you put in, the more tailored your search becomes.

Take a look at the Reflect section to help you understand which skills are particularly relevant for you. Perhaps you have already made a skills inventory, or you could consider making one.

The Prosper portal has several resources dedicated to skills, including those most in-demand by employers now and in the future. You could also look at skills frameworks and reports to translate what you have been doing as a postdoc into transferable skills. Examples include:

These frameworks can improve your vocabulary of transferable skills. You can see which ones resonate with you the most and use them as search terms.

A cross-platform agile searching strategy

Three of the major job boards used in the UK are LinkedIn Jobs, Indeed and Glassdoor. For career exploration, these can be used in combination, switching between platforms to identify new jobs, organisations and people.

This strategy was developed by Tina Persson, an academic turned career coach, entrepreneur and author.

This first video gives an overview of the strategy for searching job boards by skills. You can download a summary of the strategy here.

In the following two videos, Tina discusses the strategy in more detail and takes us through some example searches and how to move between the platforms. Tina also talks about connecting with people on LinkedIn. More tips on how to do this effectively can be found in the videos on Personal branding and positioning using LinkedIn.

Recording your findings

As you use this strategy, keep notes of people and organisations of interest to you. If you find an organisation that particularly stands out for you, why not expand your knowledge of that organisation and similar ones. Or if you connect with more people as a result of using this strategy, add them to your network map.

You may wish to structure your thoughts in a table, log or spreadsheet. You can include things like role, location, connections and any notes specific to conversations you may have had. You could use this editable template to record your findings.

A note about job titles

Don't obsess about them! They often change and mean different things in different organisations. However, when you're searching job boards by skills, if some job titles appear frequently, it is worth making a note of them.

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Next steps

Searching jobs by skills, 'mapping your warm network' and 'expanding your knowledge of organisations' all converge at the same point - to reach out to others for more insight.

Speaking to people with knowledge of an organisation or sector is the most effective way to find out more about a career. It also builds your network and could lead to unanticipated job opportunities.

Networking in this way has immediate value, but it's also important to futureproof your career. Find out more about the power of networking and overcoming barriers to networking.

Meeting a person with the intention of discussing their career is also known as conducting an informational interview. We provide more guidance on how to do them here.

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