I often get asked by people looking for work if I have any tips that I can share with them. I am surprised by how many people still do not know about Google Alerts and how it can be a useful tool in your job search. Plus it’s free to set up and use. All you need to have to access the Alert feature is a Google email (Gmail) account. (It is free to set one up if you don’t already have one.)
First, you should have your own name set up as an alert. You will then get alerts sent to you as soon as you are mentioned somewhere on the Internet. Managing your online image (personal brand) is important whether you are looking for a job or not. If you have not Googled your name, try it. See what results pop up. It may surprise you. Potential employers and recruiters will do that to see what information they can gather about you. It will show your activity on social networks, comments you make on websites, blog posts, etc. If you have a less than glowing online presence you can work on improving it. Remove questionable photos from social sites, start posting on groups and blogs in your area of expertise to show value. Start a blog. Create a LinkedIn profile.
Next create Google Alerts for your most common job searches instead of searching job board after job board. It will save you time to focus on other job searching techniques (such as networking, updating your skills, working on your resume, meeting with recruiters, etc).
How do you set up a Google Alert? Here’s step by step guide to help you:
1) Go to http://www.google.com/alerts (You will need to be logged into Google, via Gmail or Google+).
2) In the ‘Search Query’ field enter what area/field of work you are looking for.
You can make it very general or very specific. I recommend making it specific to what you are looking for, including the city, so that you are not inundated with hundreds of irrelevant positions. To help with that I recommend using Quotation Marks around a grouping of words. In the example below I put quotation marks around “human resources”. That will pull results that have the words human resources in the title or description.
To limit your search to certain websites only, put the words you are searching for in quotations, followed by the website, like this: “human resources” site:monster.com. This will only produce results for Monster.
I also recommend putting the city that you are seeking to work in. Unless you are ready to accept a position anywhere, adding a city helps to limit the results in your alerts. If there are two cities close by that you are willing to commute to, then add both with ‘OR’ separating them. For example I could have put “human resources” jobs Ottawa OR Montreal in the example below. Then I would get all relevant job postings for both locations.
3) In the ‘Result type’ field the selection I made is ‘Everything’. This means it will search news, blogs, videos, discussions and books.
4) In the ‘How Often’ field I selected ‘As-it-happens’. Other options include daily or weekly. You are going to want to receive job postings right away, so that you are one of the first candidates to submit a resume. Generally, if an employer receives a resume from someone that they think is a star they are not going to wait until the closing deadline or until they have received a certain amount of resumes before calling them. Make sure yours is one of the first resumes that they receive. Keep a version of your resume stored in the ‘cloud’ such as on Google Drive, so that you are ready to send off your resume anywhere, anytime.
5) In the ‘How many’ field I selected ‘all results’. You can also select ‘Only the best results’ if you prefer. You can experiment and see what results you get in emails to see what you prefer.
6) The last field is for your email address.
And voilà! You have set up a Google Alert. Repeat the process for as many search terms as you’d like. You can go back to http://www.google.com/alerts as often as you’d like to manage, delete and edit any alerts that you have set up.
Google Alerts don’t have to be limited to job searches. They are also useful if you are interested in a particular topic or subject.
Think of Google Alerts as an ongoing search and time saver. It’s as if you are sitting in front of the computer all day-every day running Google searches.
If you have any questions about Google Alerts or have additional tips for setting them up please leave a comment below.