Yesterday you met Shari, a mid-career training professional I'm working with who's currently engaged in looking for a job. We're in the process of looking at Shari's job search needs and then finding the Web 2.0 tools that might complement and improve the strategies she's using to conduct her job search.
Job searching is a big project. If you're engaged in passive job searching--you're still employed but open to possibilities--then being really organized is nice, but not critical. However when job searching becomes your full-time job, as it should if you're laid off, then getting organized is one of the first things you need to do in order to get a handle on all your job search activities.
When Shari and I first spoke, she had already signed up with several major job search agents, like Monster.com, Careerbuilder, etc. to be emailed when jobs were posted that met her search criteria. For those sites that didn't have that option, she'd created a word document with links to each site. These were great first steps.
I mentioned, though, that she might want to think about re-organizing things a little and creating a job search dashboard for herself using a start page option like i-Google, Netvibes or Pageflakes. This way when she fires up the Internet, the first place she goes is to a start page that has everything she needs for job searching in one convenient location. The start page option would also allow her to add additional modules, like a calendar, a "to do list," etc. so she could see everything at once. Shari loved the idea, so we decided to explore further.
Setting Up I-Google as a Job Search Dashboard
Because Shari was already using a few Google tools (she has Gmail and was starting to experiment with Google Reader), I decided it made sense to continue down the Google road so she could tie together what she was already using. Netvibes or Pageflakes could also work, but my theory is that it's better to build off of what people are already comfortable with.
During another call with Shari, I walked her through the process of setting up an i-Google page. The directions are fairly clear and Shari was quick to pick up on things, so it was a pretty easy process.
Setting up a Job Search Tab
We first set up a tab in Shari's i-Google for "Job Search." We could have put everything on the home tab, but Shari will be using i-Google for more than just job searching, so it made better sense to create a separate tab.
This also worked well because i-Google will pre-populate new tabs with content it thinks you might want based on your name for the tab. In Shari's case, this meant that she immediately got several job search widgets (Google calls them Gadgets) added to her page. These included Monster.com, Careerbuilder and Indeed.com. With those modules added to the page, Shari can simply add in her search terms for job type, location, etc. and the gadget will set up an automatic feed to Shari of the jobs on those sites that match her search terms.
Adding Google Gadgets
I then showed Shari the extensive library of modules that she could add to her job search start page. For example, although in an ideal world the job search sites she's using would have RSS feeds to individual searches, that's not the case, so Shari needed a place to bookmark some of those sites on her Job Search tab. I showed her how she could add a Google bookmarks module and then bookmark any key job search sites that she might regularly visit.
We also added modules for:
- Google Maps, so that if Shari saw a job she liked, she could just plug in the info to see how close it was to her home or find directions in case of an interview.
- An online dictionary, which Shari said she uses frequently.
- Google Calendar for keeping track of appointments and activities.
Google has a ton of other gadgets, so I suggested to Shari that she spend a little time browsing through them to see what other modules she might want to include that could further support her personal dashboard. I emphasized though, that she should make sure that these modules add value for her. I don't want her to gadgetize so much that her page gets overwhelming and, therefore, less useful to her. I also shared with her this link to 70+ Tools for Job Seekers, where she can find more job search engines and other sites to use.
Now that Shari had her customized job search dashboard set up, we discussed the fact that she should look at the job search agents she'd set up previously and decide if she wanted to keep those or if she wanted to use the Google gadgets instead. In some ways this is a personal decision--some people might be more comfortable using email to be notified, while others might like the RSS feed option. Shari needs to find the strategy that will make her feel the most organized and on top of the process.
She'll also have to get into the habit of using her new start page. It's great that we created something, but in order for Shari to get the most bang for the buck, she'll need to think about how to integrate this into her job search process. At a minimum she should set her browser to start up on her i-Google page so she gets into the habit of checking there first. She might also want to keep an eye on which Google Gadgets are helping in her job search and which may just be cluttering things up so she can continue to refine and customize in a way that will best meet her individual needs and approach.
Getting organized isn't just about having a customized start page. Tomorrow we'll look at how Shari is using a few other Google tools, including Google Calendar and Google Alerts. I'll also discuss how Jott can be used to support the job search process. It's a great tool for follow-up and for those people who prefer to talk rather than write.