Job boards are one of the worst ways to get clients. They’re great for entry-level gigs, but if you want to thrive, then you need to figure out how to move beyond that. The best way to get a job is to not even apply.
Because responding to job boards and Request for Proposals (RFPs) is like playing poker with a weak hand. You’re already at a disadvantage before you begin. And you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Here’s why you should avoid job boards, and what you should do instead.
Why You Should Ignore Job Boards (And Request for Proposals)
Job boards serve a great purpose. They provide an effective marketplace for both freelancers and companies to meet their goals. There’s always a steady stream of jobs available… and that’s exactly the problem.
Job boards might be one of the easiest ways to get a job or client, but they’re not the best. Here’s why.
- You’re Automatically a Commodity. Responding to a job board already makes you one of a hundred others. What’s the only objective thing that separates your proposal from everyone else? Your price. But you can’t compete on price. Being the low cost provider isn’t a competitive advantage anymore.
- Price Sensitive People are Not Loyal: People advertising on job boards are inherently price sensitive. Otherwise they would find the best in that niche, and hire them immediately.That’s fine… we all have a budget. But the biggest problem with price sensitive people is that they won’t be loyal to you… they’re loyal to price. So the minute they can find someone else for cheaper, you’re gone.
- They have unrealistic expectations. Scan any job on the board, and you’ll quickly realize that most descriptions are completely unrealistic. The scope is outlandish, they expect everything ASAP, and they are only offering minimum wage. By spending a lot of time and energy on difficult, low paying jobs, you’re sacrificing time that could be spent on rewarding, high paying jobs.
- The person looking for candidates is usually from HR. The biggest problem with HR is that they do their job well.They are extremely by-the-book, and are only looking for people who fit their checklist of requirements exactly. If you don’t match up with their list, then they’re on to the next person.
- It Has a Low ROI. Responding to job boards is like telemarketing. You spend so much time and energy on such low-paying jobs, that even if you do break even, it probably isn’t worth your time. So they may work at first in the beginning, but it’s not sustainable because it’s hard to grow.
Here’s what you should do instead.
Why You Should Never Have to Apply for Another Job Again
Instead of wasting hours on low ROI activities like responding to job boards, there are a few activities you should be doing instead. Stop thinking like an individual freelancer, and start thinking of yourself as a brand.
If you can master these next 5 steps, then you’ll never have to apply for another job again.
- Focus on Business Development: If you want to succeed in (any) form of business, then you have to learn how to market yourself and sell your services. Focus on brand-building activities and business development. Start attending industry events to get to know other successful or influential people in your niche.Make a name for yourself by writing guest articles and columns for influential websites in your niche. Start speaking around your local community, and work your way up to larger industry events.Invest time in activities like these that that raises your visibility within your industry.
- Create a USP: What can you do better than everyone else? You need to come up with a unique offer that differentiates yourself from everyone else. Create a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) that defines (a) what you do, (b) how you do it, and (c) who you do it for.
- Build a Steady Stream of Demand: Your marketing goal should be to build a pipeline of business. You want people to consistently visit your website or call you about a job. You could even use advertising to fuel the top of the funnel. The most important part is to focus on consistently creating more demand for your services. Instead of ad-hoc marketing and applying to job boards, you should be focusing your time on lead generation activities.
- Begin Using Inbound Marketing: Inbound marketing is all about making people find you. So start creating content to display your expertise, use social media to connect with other important people, and read over an SEO tutorial to understand how to get people to find you.
- Start Practicing “Takeaway Selling”: In the book No BS Sales, Dan Kennedy coined the concept Takeaway Selling. The whole premise is that instead of telemarketing and other low value tactics, make people come to you. In economics, when you limit supply (availability), then demand (price) for that good or service increases. So make yourself more exclusive! Stop taking low-paying jobs with bad clients, and start turning jobs down that aren’t perfect for you. Don’t be so eager to cater to clients. And don’t negotiate on price.
These are smart strategies to build a lot of business. But there’s only one problem with them. They won’t work for everyone.
Only a few will succeed. Here’s why.
Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You
Those brand-building activities aren’t easy. They take a ton of time and are risky. But that’s exactly the point.
If you’re good and you want it enough, then you’ll make it. And you can charge whatever you want. Acting like the best can only take you so far. You can’t fake it.
In his autobiography, Steve Martin said the key to success is:
Be so good they can’t ignore you.
So look at yourself in the mirror. Maybe you’re not good enough yet… and that’s okay!
Until you’re ready, start here:
- Get a job from a job board to pay the bills.
- Define a niche you can dominate.
- Research, study and practice so you can get better.
- Spend your limited time on brand-building activities.
- Proactively look for good opportunities and seize them when you have the chance.
It may take some time. Even years of practice. But once you’re ready, you’ll be able to land new jobs, charge what you’re worth, and have more clients than you know what to do with.