Advertising yourself online: Good idea or desperate act?

I check the ecology listserv Ecolog on a daily basis. For those of you unfamiliar with the database, Ecolog is primarily a job board; however, it is also an open forum to discuss (and sometimes fight about) all things ecology. Something I am noticing more and more is the self advertisement of recent graduates. This had lead me to wonder, is this a good idea?

I guess that one could argue both sides of the argument. Positions in ecology, especially graduate student and postdoc positions, are at a premium right now. More individuals are graduating from undergraduate and graduate programs than there are available positions. Also, it is becoming more and more common for individuals to have an online presence, usually containing their CV and complete professional background. So, in theory, if someone posts their information to a board like Ecolog, advertising themselves for available positions, it might not be a bad idea.

But, I think it’s a bad idea. I have 6-7 job boards that I check on a daily basis. I still have lots of time left in my current position so I primarily just check out of habit. In all my browsing, I come across numerous positions at all levels. If I can find all these positions and I’m not even on the market, why can’t those who are just throwing out self advertisements do the same?

I can’t say that I have a stance one way or the other, but I guarantee that is not the case with many potential employers. Self-advertisement may be viewed as laziness, with the view “why are you not searching all these different databases like other candidates”? On the other hand, maybe potential employers search databases like Ecolog to find candidates the same way that candidates search to find employers. The question is though, do you want to take that chance?

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