Should You Use a Job Board to Find Your Next Web Design Gig, Yes or No?

Nearly every freelance web designer knows that the best jobs are those you find yourself through networking and marketing your web design business. The best jobs are never advertised.

However, networking and marketing can take a lot of time. It can take months, or even years, before your efforts pay off and results in new business. What’s a web designer to do in the meantime?

The truth is that most freelance web designers, like many other freelancers, start out looking for freelance work on the job boards. A job board is an online site dedicated to listing freelance and sometimes full-time openings.

Job boards aren’t always the best place to find work, but they are an obvious place to start looking for work and a search there can sometimes yield quick results. Some freelancers enjoy quite a bit of success in finding work through a job board. Others prefer not to use them at all.

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In this post, I’ll list some positives of jobs boards and some things you should watch out for. I’ll also provide some tips for getting the most from your freelance job hunt on the job boards.

If you liked this post, you may be interested in our list of 23 Design and Development Job Boards.


What’s Good About Job Boards

Job boards make finding work seem easy. All of the jobs are neatly listed and it seems like all you have to do is browse through them and apply to the ones you’re interested in. Once you get the gig, some job sites even bill the client for you.

The important thing to remember is that not all job boards are the same. There are many different types of job boards including:

  • Professional society job boards. Many professional societies have a job board as a service to their members. The jobs found on this type of job board are often of a higher quality. Also, the pool of candidates is limited to the members of the society. If you belong to a professional society, check to see if they offer a job board.
  • Career services for alumni of your college. It’s easy to forget about college job boards, but many colleges offer job listings and placement services to their graduates. While some of these jobs are geared towards the entry-level professional, others are fairly high in quality. Check to find out whether your alma mater has job listings.
  • Micro job boards. A micro job is a small task that can be done very quickly, usually for a relatively small amount of money. These simple tasks are often done online. There are whole job boards devoted just to matching those who have micro job tasks to be done with those who are willing to do them.
  • Bidding sites. Bidding sites list available freelancing gigs to a pool of available freelancers. Freelancers are encouraged to “bid” on each gig. The person who listed the job gets to choose which freelancer he or she will use for the gig. Selections are occasionally based largely on which freelancer has the lowest bid.
  • Niche job boards. A niche job board primarily lists jobs in a specific field. Once in a while, such boards also include jobs in related fields. For example, a job board geared to web developers might occasionally have programming jobs.
  • General job sites. General job sites are open to anyone and anyone can post a job on the board. Usually, the employer pays to advertise their job. Jobs advertised on this type of job board can range from manual labor to highly professional positions and anything in between.

The very fact that there are a lot of job boards out there is a good thing. It means you have access to more potential gigs. To find opportunities, be sure to select the job board that is right for you and your needs.

What to Watch Out for on Job Boards

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Job boards often get a bad rap, and sometimes deservedly so. On some job boards, the pay for the gigs listed is so low that you wonder how anyone could possibly afford to take the work. Others have a bad reputation for not providing good support to freelancers.

Here are some questions to ask when choosing a job board:

  • Does the job board take a percentage of the payment?
  • Is there a cost to sign up for the job board?
  • Does the job board pit applicants against each other on the basis of cost?
  • What type of support can you expect from the job board?
  • Does the job board have a good reputation with other freelancers?

The answers to these questions will help you to rule out job boards where you might not have a good experience.

Tips for Job Board Success

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If you decide to look for work on a job board, the following seven tips will help you find work:

  1. Read the Terms of Service. Make sure that you understand how each job board operates. Read the fine print, including the Terms of Service and any other instructions the board may have.
  2. Look for fees. While some job boards charge the person employing the applicant, other job boards charge the applicant. Knowing about any fees upfront avoids unpleasant surprises later.
  3. Polish your resume and portfolio. Even though using a job board might seem like an easy way to find web design work, you still need to put your best face forward.
  4. Pay attention to your profile. Many job boards require you to fill out a profile. It’s important that your profile is thorough and professional. Your profile is the first impression of you for future clients.
  5. Have a set price you will not go below. This is a good rule any time you look for freelance work, but it’s especially true on job boards where you might face pressure to lower your rate.
  6. Read the each job description thoroughly. Many applicants do not read or follow the employer’s instructions. That’s a sure way to make a bad impression and it usually means they don’t get an offer.
  7. Expect to apply for a lot of jobs. Since job boards are such an obvious place to find freelance work, the competition for gigs on job boards can be quite fierce.

Your Turn

What do you think? Should you use a job board to find your next web design gig?

Do you use job boards to find web design gigs? What tips would you add?

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