Just typing “jobs” as your query in Google will give you nearly 3 billion results – a little time-consuming for you to check out each one, and not very practical or useful either.
Before you start Googling, you need to do four things to help you find the job postings you want:
An unfocused web search on Google is as useless as an unfocused job search, “IRL” (“in real life”). “Anything” seems easy to find, but it really is not because no one describes their job opening as “anything.” And recruiters don't search for someone who is able to do "anything."
So figure out the job titles typically used for the job(s) you want to do next. This provides you with the terms you will use in Google, LinkedIn, job boards, and also in your answer the next time someone asks.
Look for terms that are repeated on those pages (like "click to apply"), and then add those commonly-used terms in your search to find similar pages.
Read Ground Rules for Google Search to understand how Google "thinks" and to have the best search results.
Often, search results can be improved by adding or removing terms. Keep testing and modifying until you get the search results you want.
Read Google-ize Your Job Search with These Tips and Tricks for how to structure your search queries.
Once you have a search query that works well for you, copy it from the Google search bar, and paste it into a file you save for future use. You can also use your best search queries to set up Google Alerts so that Google will email results to you when they change.
If you are looking for a job, you must think like a recruiter or employer. You need to analyze what words people creating the postings you want commonly use in their postings:
Most job postings contain the title of the job, so those words should be used in your search. If you are searching for a specific job title, be sure to search using the most commonly used version of the job title.
Different employers and different industries often use their own versions of standard job titles. For example, perhaps your current employer calls your job “Member Service Associate,” but most employers use the title “Customer Service Representative” for people doing the work that you do.
This means that searching for “Member Service Associate” jobs won’t get you the results you need if your target job is really called a Customer Service Representative job by most employers.
[Related: Choosing the Best Keywords for Your LinkedIn Profile - discover the terms most employers are using in their job descriptions.]
You probably want a job in a specific location, so the name of that location should be included in your search query. Use the words normally used to describe the location, and think about how the location is normally described. If you are looking for a job in eastern Massachusetts, south of Boston, try terms like “greater Boston,” “South Shore,” “south eastern MA,” “eastern MA,” “south eastern Massachusetts,” or a list of the city names.
If you are ending up with many results that are not job postings or not the job postings you want, you can fix that by adding terms used in job postings to pull those into your search results.
Some job postings contain the term “job description” and many often offer directions about how to apply for the job (like “click to apply” or “submit your resume”). You can include those words in your search queries to find the jobs they have posted.
So, if you wanted a job as a “customer service” job (but not a bilingual job if your only language is English) in Boston working for a bank, you could search for those job postings using this search query:
Often you will find developing effective searches is an iterative process. Looking at the results of the first search will help you refine the structure of the second search, improving your results each time. It shouldn’t take too long to develop the most effective search queries, and then you can turn those into Google Alerts to have Google run them for you on a regular basis.
If you have target employers in mind, use those employers’ names in your search queries. When I worked for a company named Digital Equipment Corporation, the outside world often used the whole name in references to the company, or they used the initials, DEC. But, inside the company, we called it “Digital” or, less often, “DEC.” Which version of the name is most commonly used in the company’s job postings? How does the company refer to itself on the website and in press releases?
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn.