Everyone’s heard the expression: Job searching is a full time job. But it isn’t until you find yourself sitting in front of a laptop, eating take-out, and scrolling job sites night after night that you realize how much of your life becomes consumed by the search. It takes time to find the right position. And yes, it’s a lot of work. But, like anything, there are things you can do to make it a little easier on yourself.
Discovering RSS feeds was probably the best thing that happened to me last year. Well, okay—finally getting the job I wanted was slightly more exciting. But I would never have gotten there if I hadn’t figure out how to optimize my job search. For the longest time, I was visiting 20 different sites a night and exhausting my browser’s bookmarks feature—when I could’ve been accessing all those same postings faster, in one easy-to-organize place with RSS feeds.
When it comes to jobs, it’s about searching smarter, not harder. And here’s how you do it.
1. Save Your Searches
Almost every job search site allows you to save your job searches and add them to your Google Reader (or any other RSS Feed Reader). At Craigslist, just scroll to the bottom of any search results page and click the big orange RSS feed button. After you create an account at Monster, you can make any search a feed. CareerBuilder even has feeds for each job category and an entire page with directions and widgets to help you create customized job search URLs.
2. Keep an Eye on Your Favorite Companies
We all have crushes on companies. You know, the ones that make things you love or just have a vibe that fits who you are. The ones you check every single day for new jobs. If your company crush has an RSS feed for its job posts, add that to your reader, too. If not? It probably has one for its Twitter account (here's how to set that up), blog, or news section. Just browse for companies directly from Google Reader, click "subscribe," and you're all set.
3. Organize by Job Type and Skills Focus
Now that you’ve brought all your searches and company postings into one spot, you can organize them into categories. Most of us have skills that apply to a variety of jobs (for example, Marketing Manager vs. Copywriter vs. Communications Coordinator), so sorting by job type is a great way to keep things organized. That way, you can focus on positions that have similar requirements at the same time, which will get you in the groove as you’re adapting your resume and cover letter for each job. After a while, you’ll also start to notice trends—that certain types of positions always ask for the same thing or use the same keywords—and you can take what you’ve learned and use it to strengthen your resume.
4. Scan, Star, and Send
The absolute best thing about using RSS feeds is that after you have everything set up, you can scan the jobs in your reader from anywhere you have internet or mobile access. Use your phone to look for jobs on the train, while you’re waiting in line, or ordering coffee. (If you’re feeling really fed up, you can even look for jobs at work without worrying about your browser history showing you on a job site.) While you’re scanning, star or flag the positions you want to apply to, and you’ll be able to easily go back and find them when you’re ready to prepare your resumes.
Using my feeds, I was able to send out 10 or more resumes a night, usually in about 30 minutes to an hour. That still left me time to work out, grocery shop, cook, and even have a life. My roommate at the time called me a resume robot (and yeah, I was pretty focused, and maybe a little crazy). But hey, it worked. I got calls, I got interviews, and eventually, I got the job I was looking for.
Photo courtesy of Pimkie.