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Contractor guide to using specialist job boards

Contractors are benefiting in an increasing number of ways from using specialist online job boards, which offer networking opportunities, free resources and targeted recommendations.

“There is now far more to job boards than simply browsing and applying for jobs,” explains Mark Cherry, Operations Manager at GoToJobBoard, which specialises in placing IT and finance contractors within non-medical NHS roles.

“There are a growing amount of niche markets developing, for which specialist job boards are cropping up. Many of these will now provide various additional services available to and targeted towards contractors working in those very sectors.”

How do specialist job boards differ from major job boards?

Because specialist job boards operate within niche markets, they reach a more focused target audience. For example, they may target contractors within a specific industry or discipline, or even a particular geographical region. Cherry explains that contractors have a lot to gain from entering niche talent pools.

“Your generic job boards will target anybody and everybody, and it can often be very difficult for a contractor to find what they are looking for amongst all the noise.

“With a specialist job board, contractors will receive more suitable responses that are better tailored to their experience and interests. It’s the same for advertisers as well. They receive more relevant applications because it’s all geared around the same sort of industry.”

Managing a much smaller volume of candidates also allows specialist job boards to be more proactive and engaging with contractors through offering value-added services. Cherry highlights that tapping into a smaller talent pool has enabled GoToJobBoard to provide a team of candidate managers who proactively look to match registered candidates with available, suitable roles.

How can contractors best utilise specialist job boards?

Rather than simply browsing jobs, contractors can increase their chances of finding contracts by using other tools. Many job boards have begun to diversify and now offer online resources to candidates, such as guides and regular news and blog content.

“Obviously, contractors are encouraged to register and look for jobs. But they are now also encouraged to browse and share content, look at infographics, and perhaps learn things about their industry that they possibly previously didn’t know,” adds Cherry.

Contractors can also use specialist job boards and associated social media pages as a means of networking with other contractors and organisations. Cherry highlights that more and more contractors are beginning to integrate their CV’s with social media profiles – namely LinkedIn – to create a more complete personal profile that can help to secure new contracts.

Job board partners offer further benefits to contractors

Specialist job boards are also seeing an increasing amount of engagement from business partners, who often share a stake in the same market. As Cherry explains, the reciprocal benefits of these working relationships also extend over to contractors:

“Something we’ve learned over the past couple of years is that there’s a huge network of job board partners who are eager to work alongside them to support aspects of the job board’s growth.

“These partners will typically provide services that will be of interest to the job board’s candidates. For example, our partners include a contractor accountancy firm and a recruitment technology business.

“In exchange for advertising their business on site, partners will offer tools and services, such as free CV reviews and online guides. All of which are easily accessible for registered candidates of the job board.”

Tailoring a contractor CV for a specialist job board

Whilst prior experience of working for leading companies in a particular sector is important to contractor recruiters, an even more critical aspect concerns the contractor’s specialist experience.

As Cherry points out, adopting the ‘jack-of-all-trades’ persona can have adverse effects on a contractor’s application: “Realistically speaking, if a contractor were to focus on becoming a fully-fledged expert in two or three particular skillsets - as opposed to attempting to cover every base - it would prove to be extremely beneficial to them.

“Companies are always on the lookout for contractors who have specific skills nailed down and can hit the ground running. The NHS, for example, is very focused on identifying people with specialist experience.

“Because an environment such as the NHS can be quite integrated with a lot of its processes and technology, contractors will need to be familiar with working in that environment if they are going to have a real impact quite quickly.”

Contractors urged to explore new opportunities

“Over recent years, the way we look for work has been turned on its head,” notes Cherry. “Applying for work is a far more well-rounded process and there is a lot more assistance available. Plus, with the emergence of more specialist job boards, contractors are finding an increasing amount of opportunities available to them.”

Cherry cites GoToJobBoard’s niche as an example. Non-medical jobs comprise 49% of all roles within the NHS, which happens to be the largest employer in the UK.

He concludes: “These are opportunities that are beginning to gain more traction and interest from the contract sector, particularly in areas such as IT and finance, but there are plenty more opportunities waiting to be discovered.”

Published: 07 April 2016

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