Despite the fact that many college kids say that they live in a bubble, they still deal with an information overload on a daily basis. Today you might read 7 Facebook messages, 23 e-mails, 142 IMs, 14 text messages, 97 pages of assigned reading, 3 course announcements, 12 web pages, 8 blog posts, and 6 articles in your campus daily. Shoot, you might do that before noon. It’s easy to deal with the information when it’s delivered to you. E-mail makes your computer ding. Facebook sends you e-mails. You have a ringtone for text messages. IMs make an icon on your screen bounce. Your campus daily is delivered in front of your favorite coffee shop every morning. It’s when you have to seek out information that it becomes far more difficult to manage.
This is certainly the case in your job search. Say your search is focused on two dozen companies, 6 cities, and 5 different fields. You could spend a couple hours a day checking each company, city, and field of interest for new job openings. Or you could take the easy way out…
There is a free tool that you can start using immediately to simplify how you manage the never ending flow of information. It’s called RSS, and we’re going to tell you how to use it to put your job search (and maybe some other aspects of your life) on auto-pilot.
You thought you were ahead of the curve, being a cool college student and all. Well you missed something that may not be as sexy as being one of the first Facebook or iPod users, but it’s arguably way more useful (if you already know what RSS is and how to use it, skip to the section of this article entitled “So How Does This Apply to My Job Search?”).
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication (which was formerly RDF Site Summary, which was formerly Rich Site Summary – if you’re really interested in all the technical stuff, read the Wikipedia entry). It is not a particularly new technology, but it’s finally hitting the mainstream. Put really simply, it’s a way that web sites let you know when they’ve been updated, kind of like Facebook’s mini-feed (where do you think they got the idea?). When a website tells you about their feed or asks you to subscribe, they are typically talking about RSS. If you see a logo like the one above, you’re looking at the universal symbol for RSS feeds – they’re usually orange and white, but we thought black and red fit our color scheme a little better.
Once you know what it is and how it works, you’ll realize how many of the websites that you visit every day are already using RSS to deliver information in an easily digested format.
We think that learning how to use RSS is as important as knowing how to use e-mail. Some forward looking companies have already established the use of RSS feeds for gathering information from both internal and external sources. If you’re not already RSS literate when you get hired by one of these companies, you’ll be playing catch up. On the other hand, most companies are ignorant to the wonders of RSS feeds. If you end up working at one of these companies, not only will you look really smart and productive, but you’ll also have the opportunity to impress your superiors by teaching them how to use RSS.
Let’s put this in perspective for college students. Imagine that your Professors started using RSS to deliver important information to you. You’re taking a mid-level Economics course and the Professor offers two RSS feeds, one for important announcements and required assignments and another for commentary and optional reading assignments. Clearly you’d only subscribe to the first one. Just kidding. The feed would give you daily assignments with the pages to read, a link directly to an online document, or an essay question. The prof could also tell you that class is cancelled, moving to another classroom, or that you’ll be having a guest speaker. With integration into a course management system like Blackboard, it could even notify you of your grades as soon as they’re posted. Instead of having to seek out this information, it would come to you as it becomes available. While you could still use your syllabus to get ahead, the RSS feed would remind you of what’s due tomorrow or next week.
RSS can be a huge time saver (or time waster if you get addicted and subscribe to too many feeds). Beyond your job search (don’t worry, we’re going to tell you about that soon), you can use RSS to monitor your significant other’s Amazon Wishlist, your friends’ Facebook status, your college’s sports teams’ results, the news, or pretty much any blog on the Internet.
It’s likely that your web browser or e-mail client can already do RSS for you. The newest versions of Safari, Firefox, and Internet Explorer all have RSS functionality, and web-based services like Bloglines and Google Reader allow you to subscribe to RSS feeds and access them from any web browser on any computer.
Paul Stamatiou has done a great job of describing how to use RSS (and he did it over 2 years ago, look how late you are to the party), so we’re not going to rehash what has already been said.
First, if you haven’t already, subscribe to the One Day, One Job RSS Feed. Not only will you get our daily case studies on companies and their entry-level jobs, but you’ll also get more articles like this one. Why do you think we wrote this article? We want to increase our subscriber numbers… we mean… help you find a job.
Job Search Engines like Indeed and SimplyHired do what Google does, but only for jobs. They “scrape” the Internet for relevant results, and then allow you to search those results to find what you’re looking for. You can search by company name, job title, location, or any other keyword. You can then subscribe to an RSS feed for the search, so that when new jobs are found that match your criteria, you’ll be notified. Make sure that you use the Indeed Search Box in our sidebar to do all your searches – by supporting our sponsors, you support One Day, One Job.
Job boards like Monster.com (not that we recommend using them) also have some RSS functionality. For instance, Monster lets you subscribe to their most popular job searches, but doesn’t give you the full functionality that Indeed and SimlyHired do. Since these job search engines index Monster.com and other job boards, we don’t see any reason to use this functionality, but we thought we’d tell you about it just in case.
Some companies have gone the extra mile to add RSS functionality to their Applicant Tracking Systems. One example is Iconoculture’s Jobs RSS Feed. If you subscribe, you will be notified through your feed reader every time they post a new job,. It’s that easy. We hope more companies start doing this.
For ideas on what searches you should subscribe to, read our article How to Use Google to Find a Job.
Blogs are quickly becoming one of the best ways to gather information. The great news is that almost all blogs have RSS feeds. We’re a blog and we have an RSS feed. Tons of companies are also blogging. Some with recruiting as a specific topic. Zillow.com, Redfin, and RehabCare have all impressed us with their blogs. Whether you’re looking for career advice, specific jobs, or just researching a company, subscribing to blogs’ RSS feeds is a surefire way to get quality information as it’s published.
If you’ve paid attention to what we’ve just written, you should be able to put your job search on auto-pilot. You’ll no longer have to go website to website, filling in search boxes. Do it once. Subscribe. Get search results as soon as they become available. Since you’ll be saving so much time, take a few minutes and tell your friends about this article. So click that little green ShareThis button below. It will allow you to automatically post this article on Facebook, save it to your Del.icio.us account, or e-mail it to a friend.
And don’t forget that RSS can also help you improve your relationship with your girlfriend, manage your classes, and monitor your friends’ lives on Facebook. Even people who already have jobs lined up for next year deserve to know what RSS is – it’s your responsibility to tell them.
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