For many job seekers, trying to navigate the internet for a job is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. This is especially true when searching using simple keywords, such as “engineer” or “software developer.” The result is a return of thousands of results, many of which are completely irrelevant to the job opportunities you are seeking. There is a better way!
Using job boards effectively goes beyond exhaustive searches. You should be viewing job boards as another networking resource to find and be found. Knowing how to successfully search and navigate job boards will not only maximize your time, but enhance your results. Start by following some basic best practices for your job search efforts, and then utilize the advanced job search technique used by recruiters!
Aggregate … don’t aggravate
One of the easiest ways to start your online search is to use a job aggregator. These websites will scan through various job boards — such as employer sites, small industry boards and newspaper classifieds — and will return results based on your search criteria. An aggregator can help you save time during the job search and may direct you to a position you wouldn’t have found using a traditional job board.
Another benefit of using an aggregator (and some job boards) is the ability to create saved search alerts, which will send appropriate jobs directly to your email inbox. Randstad offers a similar feature: you can sign up for job alerts and we’ll email you when a position is posted that matches your requirements.
Using advanced search techniques
It doesn’t matter if you are using an aggregator or a traditional job board; to conduct more advanced searches, understanding Boolean logic is your secret weapon. If you haven’t heard of Boolean before, don’t fret. Its name may sound complicated or scary, but it is quite easy to master. Boolean logic has been used for decades by database administrators because it is an information retrieval tool that allows several search words and phrases to be combined using operators or commands.
Mastering the basic Boolean operators
OR – Using this operator allows you to combine keywords so that a page or document is retrieved if it contains any or all of the keywords. For example, “nurse or pediatric” will find all instances in which the words “nurse” or “pediatric” appear.
AND – Also used to combine terms so that information is retrieved only if all those terms occur in the same place. Searching for “software and engineer” will bring up results where both keywords occur.
NOT – This operator will prevent any results in which specified terms occur together. This is helpful when a specific keyword may have many meanings. For example, “engineer not mechanical” will find instances in which “engineer” occurs but “mechanical” doesn’t. However, it is important to note that this operator is not recognized by Google. If you’re using Google to job search, use the minus sign (-) in place of the “not” operator.
NEAR – This is particularly helpful if you want to search for words which appear near each other. When you use this operator, the search will only find instances where your keywords appear between one and 20 spaces of each other.
“ ” – Quotation marks allow you to search for words or a phrase exactly as you type it. For example, “financial analyst” will only find results containing those two words in that exact order.
While there are other Boolean operators that can help you narrow your searches even further, mastering these basics will dramatically improve the accuracy and success of your searches and avoid further frustration.
Find and be found
Job seekers aren’t the only ones using job boards. Many recruiters frequent resume databases to search for available candidates. By posting your resume online, a hiring manager could find you and invite you to apply for a job you didn’t even know existed.
If you choose to post your resume, consider the following:
- Use a dedicated email address for your job search.
- Focus on niche job boards for your location, industry or position type.
- Use a Microsoft Word version of your document named with your target job title(s).
- Refresh your resume weekly so that it remains at the top of search results.
When using job boards, create and experiment with various search strings to see which work best for you. Once you have identified the appropriate search strings, set job search alerts and tweak your search parameters so you can receive emails when new jobs are posted that meet your preferences. As you receive alerts and find a position that interests you, be sure to review tips and best practices for submitting applications before you apply to the jobs you find.
Find out the moment opportunities become available by signing up for Randstad's job alerts. Just tell us the kind of position you want, and we'll email you when we find it.