Twenty-five years ago — before the commercial rise of the internet — job seekers attended career fairs, scanned the classified section of newspapers, or heard about openings through word-of-mouth referrals. Good, old-fashioned networking is still the number one way to land a job, but the way we look for jobs has changed dramatically. Today, it’s all online. This post first appeared on reviews.com on January 25, 2017.
The best place for you to start looking for a job is Glassdoor. In our tests, it had the most new jobs posted every day. It complements that freshness with an in-depth look at the companies posting them. These eye-catching multimedia company profiles are balanced with anonymous feedback from current and former employees on culture, salary, and the CEO — there are even charts to show how a company’s rating has changed over time. Glassdoor gives you both the info you need to find job opportunities and the context to see if it’s a good fit for you too.
When it comes to pure coverage, though, Indeed is the heavy hitter. Its aggregation algorithms were unparalleled in our test, meaning there’s a better chance that jobs posted on other random job boards, sites, and companies across the web will show up here. Plus, it’s one of the only sites from our top picks that lets employers post openings for free, making it a first stop for lots of companies. It’s pretty bare-bones, though, and because it’s such a good aggregator, you often get ping-ponged between job sites, instead of the actual job posting, which leads to a less-than-stellar user experience.
Best for Networking
We can’t not mention LinkedIn. When it comes to job posting, it’s middle of the pack, especially compared to Glassdoor and Indeed. But it’s such a powerful working tool we’d be remiss not to recommend it. LinkedIn’s most powerful feature: It shows job seekers networking pathways to help score introductions, the first step to getting an internal referral.
How We Found the Best Job Sites
A 2015 Pew Research Center report revealed that 79 percent of Americans seeking employment in the previous two years used online resources as part of their job search — more than personal connections or professional contacts, and twice as much as hiring agencies, traditional ads, or job fairs. Nearly one-third of job hunters said the internet was their most important resource. Convinced that finding the best job site is important? We are.
Our goal was to evaluate general-appeal job sites; nothing niche or industry-specific (although we touch on a few below). We had a few priorities.
- We wanted to be able to filter by date. Job sites try to list the most relevant search results first, no matter when they were posted — but we at least wanted the option to sort for fresh posts so we weren’t sifting through the same jobs again and again. Even better: Sites that also let us view only the new posts since our last visit.
- Mobile apps were a major plus. That same Pew study found that of the people who owned a smartphone, 94 percent used it to research job postings, and 50 percent used it to fill out an online job application. Half of those job seekers also reported encountering “challenges navigating the job search on a mobile device” because content wasn’t displaying properly; another third “had trouble entering a large amount of text needed for a job application or had difficulty submitting the files or other supporting documents needed to apply for a job.” Mobile-friendly sites can fix the first problem. Only an app can conquer both.
- And we required the option for daily email alerts. Alerts deliver relevant opportunities straight to your inbox — no searching required. It makes the job of looking for a job one step easier.
We put 13 job sites through a month-long gauntlet to find the best.
First up: We tested pure usability.
Hunting for jobs requires a lot of time staring at a screen, mining job boards for promising postings. Layout inconsistencies from post to post, button overload, and manic pop-ups are particularly frustrating. Worse is confusing messaging. In one search, we were repeatedly asked to refine our location from Los Angeles, California, to “City Terrace Branch County of Los Angeles Public Library.” Huh?
In another, we clicked “Apply” and were congratulated on our successful application — even though we hadn’t uploaded a resume or filled out a single field.
We preferred functional design elements — like “save” and “email” buttons — that were intuitively placed and consistent throughout the site. A clear path to apply, without numerous clicks or re-directs, was also good. Bonus points if a site managed to avoid cheesy stock photography.
Only the best made it through this most basic test. The rest, we dropped from the running.
We tested each remaining site’s search algorithms.
Tejaswi Tenneti, a software engineer at Apple who previously worked for Monster, gave us the low-down on the unique nature of job site search engines compared to, say, Google. “Google can mix and match different queries and is built to cast a wide net,” he explained. “It’s not always clear what you’re searching for, so Google just compiles everything into one place. But with a job search engine, the site knows people are looking for jobs and the algorithm is much more constrained — and users have higher expectations.”
Our expectations were no different than any job seeker’s: the highest number of the most-relevant job posts displayed on the first page of results, with minimal filtering.
“A good search engine should be able to guess what the user is looking for, even with limited information,” Tenneti said. That’s because job site developers are responsible for building “concepts” or “grids” that parse through a job post for key information like education requirements, experience, skills, etc. When a job seeker enters in a query, even a broad one, the site links it to a concept, and serves up results that match.
If the concept isn’t good, the results will be inaccurate — for example, you shouldn’t see a job posting for a truck driver after searching for “software developer” because the education and skills in those concepts aren’t the same. More elaborate, stronger concepts have more information attached to them, and therefore return more nuanced results.
At first we thought search terms and location would matter (maybe one job site would have better results for algebra teachers in rural Kansas than another), but we quickly realized that it was more important to evaluate how well the algorithms worked compared to each other, regardless of the job we wanted or where we lived. So we devised a series of tests to compare each site’s algorithm from different angles: freshness, frequency, overlap, and quality.
Overall freshness came first.
According to a 2014 study conducted by SmartRecruiters, the best day to check job sites for new listings is Tuesday. That’s when companies and hiring agencies post the most. Our findings echoed this: Tuesday was the most popular day for new postings, followed by Friday. Sunday was the slowest day.
We searched the seven remaining sites for “Nurse Practitioner,” “Financial Advisor,” and “Software Engineer” in Dallas, Texas — jobs in three of the fastest-growing industries in one of the nation’s best job markets. We recorded the total number of postings for one day, as well as the oldest and newest postings within the first 50 results. (According to Tenneti: “Most users don’t go past 40 or 50 jobs.”)
We let these first impressions guide us, and quickly ditched both CareerJet and LinkUp. Both had multiple dead links and extremely outdated posts — one job post from 2014 was still kicking around the first 50 results of LinkUp. That left us with seven final contenders: CareerBuilder, Glassdoor, Indeed, JobisJob, LinkedIn, SimplyHired, and ZipRecruiter.
We looked at the frequency of new posts.
Every day for two weeks, we tracked the number of new search results posted for Nurse Practitioner roles. For this test, we were interested in the numbers only: Which sites had the most frequent new job postings?
Glassdoor was the winner here, with an average of 22 new posts a day. The closest contender was LinkedIn with 10, and the worst was CareerBuilder with a measly three.
Then we mapped the overlap from site to site.
“There are two models of job sites,” Tenneti told us. “There are some where people can post openings directly to the site, and there are aggregators that pull from other search engines and company websites. Most job sites try to be both.”
All seven of the job sites we were testing could both host job posts, as well as aggregate from other places on the internet — including each other. In a perfect world, this means you could go to any one site and they’d all have the same postings.
We do not live in a perfect world.
To find which had the best coverage, we tracked postings from each job site to see where else they popped up that same day. Indeed won this round: There were 96 new posts and Indeed had 40 of them. Glassdoor followed close behind with 33. ZipRecruiter was by far the worst, with only 2.
ZipRecruiter also had another odd issue — the search results count didn’t match the actual number of search results. Of the 795 nurse practitioner jobs it claimed, only 268 were real and we could only load the first 383 of the 3,608 software engineer postings it promised.
When we went back to check two weeks later, we saw the same postings pop up across more sites. Turn’s out, one site’s “new” post is another site’s old news.
And assessed email alerts.
We received email alerts for Nurse Practitioner roles in Dallas, Texas, for two weeks, and our guidelines were strict. Without additional filtering, the alert had to match the location, contain the words “Nurse Practitioner” in the title, and actually be related — no spam.
At first, JobisJob was in the lead, but then multiple postings for Dallas, Iowa (about 700 miles away from Dallas, Texas), found their way into our inbox. Then, Uber tricked JobisJob into featuring its posting titled, “Become an Uber Driver Partner — Instead of a Nurse Practitioner.” No good.
JobisJob wasn’t the only site to experience problems. We tried signing up for daily alerts with CareerBuilder twice — we even received a confirmation message — but no alerts showed up in our inbox until 11 days into testing. The alerts we did receive featured the same three jobs four days in a row and didn’t match the title or location we specified. CareerBuilder was already on its last leg, so when it performed the worst in our last test, we officially bid it adieu.
Lastly, we cracked down on quality.
This was our most important test: drilling down into each job posting to see how accurate and useful it was to our search query. What good is a user-friendly, high-performing site if all the postings are for spam jobs or they don’t link to the original job posting?
We spent a day assessing the first 10 postings (not including sponsored or advertised posts) on each site. We looked for five factors:
- The location — Dallas, Texas — was accurate.
- The words “Nurse Practitioner” were in the title.
- The post provided a direct link to the original job posting.
- The date on the job site matched the date of the original posting.
- The application stage was less than three clicks.
Glassdoor and Indeed were once again in the top spots, able to hit 64 percent of our criteria. Yep, that’s right: 64 percent. Even those of us who struggled with statistics in high school know a grade like that can land you in summer school.
So what gives?
Turns out, it’s incredibly difficult to track down original postings. Some sites linked to a general company page — not super helpful, especially if a large company has hundreds of job openings to sort through. But most just linked to other aggregators, like Resume Library and ZipRecruiter, which in turn might link off somewhere else.
And that original posting is important. Aggregators that link to each other create a game of telephone: The more information that passes through multiple parties, the higher the probability for errors. Having access to the original post saves the time and frustration of fact checking if the job is even still open, let alone having to navigate yet another job site.
Come on, job sites. You have one job! And even the best can’t seem to do it very well.
But then we spoke with Steve Dalton.
He’s a program director for Daytime Career Services at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, and the author of The 2-Hour Job Search, and he confirmed our worst suspicions: “It’s the black hole everybody thinks it is. For every one person hired through an online job application program, 12 are hired by an internal referral, according to a 2012 hiring study at the New York Fed.”
So here we were, hours of testing and data behind us, wondering what job sites are even good for if not helping you land a job.
According to Dalton, job sites are the key to finding meta information.
“The literal information you find in online job postings is not that helpful, but the information that the postings suggest is very helpful,” he said. “They can tell you which companies are currently hiring, which companies are looking for people in the cities you’re interested in, and which companies are more time-sensitive. They’re just terrible at getting you interviews.”
What you do with that information could mean the difference between rejection and acceptance.
“Remember that applying online and networking are two separate systems,” Dalton said. “I was doing a talk at a school and heard from a student who applied online for a position at a consulting firm. After he applied, he started networking, did an informational interview, and found an advocate who referred him over to HR. He eventually got an offer. On the same day he got the offer, he also got an email from the company’s automated job-posting system expressing their regret that they chose not to pursue his candidacy any further.”
And that perspective — that it’s more about the context and tools a job site can give you — made us much more confident in naming our top picks.
Our Picks for the Best Job Sites
One of our testers put it best when she said this site has “good vibes.” From seamless usability, to top marks across every one of our tests, to a surplus of valuable intel, Glassdoor makes job hunting more enjoyable and more efficient than any of its competitors.
The home page is colorful without being garish. It has a streamlined focus, with a feel-good call to action: “Get hired. Love your job.”
When you search — which Glassdoor conveniently saves for future visits — open positions pop up in a column to the left, while the job description appears in a preview window to the right. You can scroll and click around without losing your place or opening new tabs. That’s right: no new tabs.
You can search jobs without an account, but it’s free to sign up and worth it to unlock Glassdoor’s best tools — all of which transfer seamlessly to its mobile app.
Glassdoor acts a little like Facebook for brands. Companies have access to multimedia templates to customize their profiles: They can upload logos and cover photos, and organize stats about their size, industry, headquarters, and founding year into one tidy sidebar. A “Why Work for Us?” section accommodates photo slideshows, behind-the-scenes videos, salary info, and reviews by current and former employees. Companies can even respond to reviews, which makes it a lot like Yelp for the job seeker.
Easily digestible graphics break reviews down by topic (think Culture & Values, Work/Life Balance, and Comp & Benefits), and even show how they’ve trended up or down over time. It was enough to make our data-loving hearts go pitter-patter — and resonated deeply with Dalton’s advice about meta information. Reading a robust Glassdoor profile was like hunting for clues about that company.
Glassdoor also blew industry favorites out of the water with its frequency of posts (remember, it averaged 22 posts a day), was only 2 points shy of the quality winner, and was the only site to score among the top three in all six of our tests.
For companies looking to fill open roles, it’s free to create an employer account, build a company profile, respond to reviews, and see who is viewing their page. Companies can also pay for an enhanced account, which includes features like advertising on competitor profiles (tricky!) and featuring specific employee reviews. Glassdoor does require a fee for job postings. That pricing isn’t posted on the site, but after some emails with a rep, we learned: It depends. This was the case with both Glassdoor and LinkedIn — location will affect the price of a job post (a job in New York might cost $349 to post, while the same job would be only $299 in Chicago), prices for company packages can vary. Jamie from Glassdoor told us that prices can range from $99 for one job post per month up to $599 for 10 job posts per month.
We only had two turn-offs.
Unlike our other top picks, none of Glassdoor’s posts were labeled as “sponsored,” even when they were. After some digging, we learned companies are able to pay for better placement. The fact that Glassdoor doesn’t call attention to this is misleading to job hunters, but it didn’t seem to negatively impact the quality of its search results in our testing.
Glassdoor also auto-subscribed us to emails in addition to our requested job alerts. The topics were interesting enough, with subject lines like, “11 Jobs That Are Safer During a Recession,” and, “25 Highest Rated Companies for Vacation & PTO,” but if your inbox is overflowing (we hear you), you have to go through the clicks to unsubscribe.
Overall, these minor annoyances are a small price to pay for a site that does more than just relay job openings. It gives you a better sense of a company’s culture so you can target your cover letter and resume, prepare for interviews, and take a sneak peek into whether or not a company is a good fit for you.
The numbers don’t lie: Indeed had the best overlap and came in a strong second place in frequency of posts. Its straightforward design doesn’t waste time on a multimedia interface — in fact, its looks are borderline boring. Ultimately, though, the no-BS approach won us over. And we’re not the only ones: Indeed garners overwhelming praise from experts, recruiters, and critics alike.
“I think it’s the most comprehensive,” Dalton said. “A few years ago I did a head-to-head analysis with perhaps its best-known competitor, SimplyHired, and it consistently returned a greater number of results.”
“The first thing that comes to mind is breadth of coverage,” agreed Ed Rogan, a recruiter with more than 20 years of experience and the founder and principal consultant of Sqr-2. Tenneti said he prefers LinkedIn, but can see the appeal of Indeed. “It’s the Google of jobs sites. People are attracted to the no-frills layout, especially when applying for jobs.”
Indeed is also the best deal for employers: Jobs are free to post. That’s likely why it is able to beat out more tool-heavy sites when it comes to breadth and overlap. More people are simply posting more jobs on Indeed.
Indeed also hosts sponsored job posts starting at $5 a day, although it can add up quickly — pricing is based on how many times users click on a sponsored post, regardless of whether or not they apply to the role. Sponsored posts sit at the top and bottom of every search query and are tagged with a purple “Sponsored.” Free posts are slotted in between; there are about five sponsored posts for every 10 free posts.
If you have strong feelings about the type of job you’re served up, Indeed has way more filters than Glassdoor, with an advanced search that can filter by salary, job type (internship, full-time, contract, etc.), and experience level. It has a salary calculator that indicates how much you can expect to make based off the responses of different employees.
But its real strength is in numbers — namely, the number of job postings you’ll have access to.
Best for Networking
LinkedIn was in the middle of the pack through all our testing — it was never number one, and never in last place. From a job posting standpoint, it’s not great. But because networking is such a critical component of job hunting, it would be ridiculous not to include LinkedIn as one of the best job sites. Even if you don’t have access to as many job postings as you would with Glassdoor or Indeed, LinkedIn should definitely be part of your job-hunting toolkit.
Need proof? According to Jobvite’s 2015 Recruiter Nation Survey, 92 percent of recruiters polled said they used LinkedIn as part of their hiring process. Fifty-six percent said they find their best candidates through social networks, like LinkedIn.
Rogan is one of those recruiters. “If someone applies for a position, I almost always look them up on LinkedIn. It’s also a great way for young professionals to establish and enhance their local network,” he said. “My best advice is to engage the community. Often people see LinkedIn as a static, web-based resume, but if you get involved with other aspects of the site, it can have a positive, long-term impact.”
Those other aspects include active discussion forums, messaging capabilities, news feeds, and customizable personal profiles. Most importantly, it shows job seekers networking pathways to help score introductions and those coveted internal referrals.
LinkedIn is a valuable tool for job seekers and employers alike. And while a basic profile for job seekers is free, the price for employers can climb pretty high pretty quickly. A Silver Plus Package, for example, which lets you create a customized career page and run targeted ads might run $10,000 per year. Posting jobs with that same package is a whopping $1,500 a pop. You can get away with posting jobs for less without signing up for a package, but like Glassdoor, the final bill will depend on what job you’re posting and in what city. High pricing is very likely the reason LinkedIn’s performance as a job board is a little lacking.
Other Job Sites to Consider
JobisJob. We didn’t want to say goodbye to JobisJob, but couldn’t justify placing it among our top three. It has international reach (great for someone with wanderlust), held its own — and even outperformed in a few categories — against the more well-known sites, and even snagged the top spot in our email alerts tests, even though it ultimately stumbled. JobisJob also has a geographic hot spot tool that shows where the most thriving job markets are. Ultimately though, the site relied too much on other aggregators, which affected the quality of its results. It was also too sporadic in how frequently it was updated. While we can’t wholeheartedly recommend it, it’s worth considering, especially if you’re looking to find work abroad.
We left niche job sites out of our initial list of contenders, but they can be helpful if you have a narrower field of focus. Rogan’s job-posting philosophy definitely targets niche sites. “I’ll post on three or four very general sites, like Indeed,” he told us, “and two or three sites that are specific to the industry.”
Dice is top dog for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) jobs, with a focus on technology, security clearance, financial services, energy, and health care jobs. Corporate giants like HP, Deloitte, and Dell all post here, and its site boasts a career center and insights tab with hundreds of blog posts, studies, and forums centered on getting hired in these fast-growing fields.
MediaBistro is ideal for individuals working in advertising, marketing, public relations, and journalism. It’s a favorite among major news outlets and media powerhouses, and also includes resources for freelancers in its Freelance Marketplace, as well as training courses and career services like resume and LinkedIn profile building.
Snagajob is geared toward part-time gigs and specializes in hourly jobs — perfect for a side-hustle or short-term contracts. It also offers specific advice related to hourly workers, with interview tips, blog posts, and a video series.
Job-Hunting Tips from Our Experts
It’s less about your resume and more about your pedigree.
Think twice before going to the trouble of uploading your resume to job sites. In 2012, The Ladders did a study where it hooked recruiters’ eyes up to eye-scanning software (not painful) and asked them to look at hundreds of resumes (definitely painful) so it could record how long recruiters spent reviewing each resume. Six seconds was the average.
“That’s not surprising; I’ve heard similar stats,” Dalton said. What he did find surprising was the information their eyes were drawn to.
“Eighty percent of what they looked at were things job seekers can’t change: where they worked before, what their job titles were, where they went to school. Essentially, their pedigree,” he said. “It’s looking at very black-and-white information for a very safe hire. If you’re looking to do the same job, but at a different company, maybe that will work for you, but for most people, it’s an exercise in futility and frustration.”
So be proactive, not reactive in your search.
“You can make yourself very busy with a reactive job search because there’s always a posting to apply to,” Dalton said. “But you won’t have much to show for it.” He offers an alternative.
“I liken it to the TV show, The Bachelor. When you chase postings, you’re one of 25 bachelorettes, or, in this case, more like 250 bachelorettes. A better approach is to be the bachelor in your own job search: Juggle many employers simultaneously, but approach them in a relationship-based manner, rather than a posting-based manner.”
He explained, “When you apply for an online job posting, you’re a number. When you apply through a referral it which takes a little longer, but you’ll be treated better and your results will be much different.”
Essentially, one-on-one dates will get you further than any group date. Consider job postings those awkward “just got out of the limo” introductions.
And turn strangers into advocates.
According to Dalton, there are three kinds of people every job hunter can expect to encounter when looking for an advocate within a company: Curmudgeons, Obligates, and Boosters. Curmudgeons may never respond, but Obligates are worse.
“Obligates are motivated by guilt. They want to do just enough to appear helpful, but not actually be helpful,” he said. “They respond very slowly, for example, or set up a meeting and then cancel. Obligates are dangerous because they take up your time and effort and give you nothing in return. Curmudgeons, at least, don’t offer false hope.”
Boosters are the best advocates, but also hard to find.
“When you encounter a Booster, they say things like ‘if you tell me you need help, you automatically get 15 minutes of my time,’” Dalton says. “I’d estimate that they’re about 20 percent of the population. You’ll have to kiss a lot of frogs, but the princes are disproportionately worth it.”
How do you take that first step to landing a Booster? Send an email asking for an informational interview and ask them to talk about themselves and their work.
Lastly, don’t get discouraged.
If it were easy to find a job, there would be no job sites. Stay focused — remember job sites are a tool, not a crutch, and make networking offline a priority.
“Get out and meet people,” Rogan said. “You’ll likely have to push yourself outside of your comfort zone, but that’s how opportunities present themselves. That’s how you find a job.”