Back in the day, looking at a newspaper's classified section was the main way to find a job. While you can still find a job in the classifieds, searching for work has become a far more sophisticated activity - with a wealth of websites serving as the vehicle.
Three of the biggest sites are Careerbuilder.com, Maynard-based Monster.com, and HotJobs.Yahoo.com. Those general sites are joined in the space by a collection that focuses on specific areas such as higher education, health professions, and nonprofits.
The sites are free to use, and the large ones allow job seekers to post their resumes and use those resumes to apply for advertised jobs. It is easy to upload an existing resume, but a pain on Careerbuilder, which leads you down a confusing road where you are confronted with pay options for other resume services. Monster and
Searching for work is an entirely different story. Yahoo can be distracting. Take a search for clerical and administrative jobs in the Boston area, for example. The result was cluttered with a couple of dozen of the same ad - for a job matching service - that dropped in the names of different towns in each ad.
Careerbuilder, with the same search, delivered a result that would give a job searcher something to sink their teeth into. The result also allows a user to re-order the results by distance from the specified search location.
Monster, which powers a recruitment site for the Globe's website, also has an easy-to-use interface. Monster also allows users to subdivide categories, with the ability to remove an area that isn't of interest - "property manager," for example - from the administrative category.
Our expert, Susan Hunt, who runs job-hunt.org from Marlborough, said that it is more likely for you to find a job with a well done resume posted on a job site and have an human resource person find you than for you to apply directly for a job.
"What people tend to do is they focus on the job search and really what ultimately is more productive for most people is to have their resume be found in the resume database," she said.
Hunt said there is little difference among the big sites. But Monster, Hunt said, has a slight edge on its competitors due to its recognizable brand and more big employers using it.
But if you do want to do a search, you can consider Craigslist.org, which has the least attractive page but in the Boston area attracts a lot of postings from employers. But, beware, Hunt warns, it also attracts a lot scam ads, particularly on its other Massachusetts lists, which don't charge employers to post ads.
Hunt's site is worth a look if you're a serious job seeker. It has links to the career sites of lots of major employers that you can narrow by state and type of business.
Also consider Indeed.com and SimplyHired.com. These aggregators draw listings from a variety of sites including employers, specialized job boards, and even megasites such as Monster.com. Using them is more like using a search engine.
Drawing down even deeper are sites that allow users to focus only on specific industries. They also allow employers to avoid having their ads lost amid the clutter of employment agency postings and junk ads, such as the one that muddied our search on Yahoo.
Pros: It's easy to use, allows a great deal of specificity within each job category, and offers enough sorting options to really give a job hunter some control over the results. Posting a resume was painless.
Cons: Results from a preset search can be confounding, finding things far beyond the scope of interest.
The final word: Its recognizable brand is attractive to employers and that's good for you.
Pros: Also, a generally uncomplicated site. An added plus, as a teaser to a paid resume service, you can get a free general resume critique.
Cons: Posting your resume can get a bit tangled up in offers for a paid resume service.
The final word: It's easy to use and, in large part, due to its relationship with newspapers from coast-to-coast, has the most total listings.
Pros: No problem at all posting your resume. It's a very simple site to use. Just type in a keyword and an area and you're good to go.
Cons: While all sites get blasted with employment agency and other junk ads, this one had so many in our test it overwhelmed our search results.
The final word: It's OK, but the weakest of the three.
WHERE YOU COULD BE LOOKING
Consider biospace.com for jobs in biotech and science and Idealist.org for nonprofit work. Hunt also recommends Massachusetts-based Workforce50.com, which only carries positions aimed at workers 50 and over. You can find loads of company and other tailored search sites on job-hunt.org.