Go back to Job Search Prep Syllabus.
This lesson is either going to bore you to tears, or it’s going to change your life. This lesson isn’t important because it’s inspirational, motivating, or mentally challenging. It’s important because I’m about to teach you specific skills that you are going to use every single day for the rest of your life. They’ll help when you’re looking for the best deal on a digital camera, trying to find a job posting that you saw last week but can’t find now, and spying on your younger siblings. These skills will also translate directly to nearly any job that you may end up in, because you will be able to find in-depth information about almost anything.
If something can be found online, I can usually find it. Not only does this make me stand out among friends, family, and co-workers, it also gives me a certain sense of empowerment. Since empowerment is something that most people are lacking in the job search, it’s time for you to learn how I use technology to do all of the research that I do for One Day, One Job and One Day, One Internship.
There are two tools that I use for about 90% of my online research: Google and RSS. If I want to actively find information, I go to Google. If I want information to come to me as it’s produced, I use RSS. With these two tools, you’re going to be well on the way to extraordinary research skills.
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication (which was formerly RDF Site Summary, which was formerly Rich Site Summary). 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. 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 often orange and white, but they can come in any color.
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.
This is one of the best tutorials that we’ve found on how to use RSS.
The reason that RSS is so useful is that it allows you to create a news stream that fits your interests. While you’re job searching, you can subscribe to RSS feeds from: Job Search Engines, Job Boards, Corporate Job Sites, Google Blog Search results (we’ll have more on that later in this lesson), Blogs, News Sites, and much more.
RSS is the best way to have information pushed to you online. It’s that simple. Once you get a handle on RSS, you’ll be much more efficient in your online activities. You’ll have created a constant flow of incoming information, which is exactly what you need to find and learn more about companies and their stories.
Google is an information finding powerhouse. I’m sure that you’ve realized, but I’d bet a lot of money that you haven’t fully tapped the power of Google for your job search.
Here are some tricks that will hep you become an expert researcher.
If you put a ~ (tilde) in front of a search term, it will search for the term you type as well as similar search terms. So if you want to search for: Connecticut jobs, you can type in: Connecticut ~jobs and it will give you results with Connecticut jobs, careers, employment and other like terms.
A job posting from 1999 isn’t going to do you any good. Usually Google does a great job of giving you relevant, up-to-date results, but occasionally you want to find results from a specific range of dates. This is a pretty high level search modifier, so you can’t just type it into the Google search box – you need to edit the actual URL that Google gives you after you search. So let’s say that your URL looks like this:
Each piece of the url after an & has a different meaning. One example is q= is what your query was. Well, by adding &as_qdr=d3 at the end of the URL, you can limit your search to results from the past 3 days. You can edit this modifier to change the date restriction, but it should always begin with &as_qdr=. It should be followed by a letter and number combination. The letter can be d (days), w (weeks), or y (years). The number is how many days, weeks or years you want to look back. So &as_qdr=w2 looks for results from the past 2 weeks, and &as_qdr=y1 searches for the past year. This is a little complicated, but it can be really valuable.
Now let’s combine what we learned about RSS with what we learned about Google.
One last thing that I should emphasize is that you’re not going to be the only person who knows these tricks. Recruiters tend to stay up on this stuff. That means that if there’s information about you on the web, they’re going to find it. That can be good or bad. You obviously want to make sure that they don’t come across anything bad, but you should also make your best effort to make sure that they come across some stuff that highlights your talents, interests, and skills. We’ll talk about how you can do that in the next lesson.
Go play! Try out all of the new things that you just learned. You don’t even need to focus it on your job search. Just enjoy your newly found geekiness.
After you’ve had some fun, start Googling yourself. See how much you can find, and report back if there are any interesting results.
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Learn about interesting employers with awesome jobs.
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Great tips Willy! I never thought of doing an RSS feed for a Google blog search. BTW, you have the site operator video posted twice, once instead of the negative operator one.
Thanks Samantha. Fixed it!
this is the best summary of doing research I have ever seen. Sia
i set up google alerts for “museum education” and the grad schools i’m applying to. it is surprising how much is out there that i didn’t even know about.