Internet Job Seeking with RSS

This may be obvious to all you seasoned veterans out there, so skip this one if you are an expert job seeker.

I’d like to give you some background/insight/ideas on how to get a job in technology technology-with technology. I’m often looking due to the nature of what I do, and I’ve been at it for just over 10 years (Sales Engineering).

There is a wealth of tools on the Internet that weren’t available just a few years ago for job seekers. These tools bring the opportunities to the seeker, where in days gone by the seeker had to, well, seek. True to the “80/20 Rule”, I used to spend 80% of my time looking for an opportunity, then 20% actually applying for that opportunity. Now that ratio is gratefully reversed.

The tools available today take advantage of a new protocol called RSS. You’ve no doubt seen this little icon (““) on web pages you’ve visited. It means that the content on that page, in part or in whole, is available via what is called an RSS Feed. There is a wide variety of software that takes advantage of these feeds, which can do something very useful for a job browser.

RSS Readers, as they are sometimes called, can actually go out to that web page and gather select information about the content in a condensed fashion. From the reader you can decide to read that “article“, as web pages are called, or delete it from the reader’s list. So how does this help job seekers?

I used to pay a service called The Ladders for monthly access to job postings it had gone out and gathered. All it had was a collection of jobs that already existed on employer sites, and you basically saw the web page as if you had gone there yourself. They just added a light search interface over these results. It wasn’t customized to me, and I was still basically going out and looking. It isn’t that efficient, and there are only so many hours in the day. Nowadays, an individual can do much more-for free.

With an RSS Reader you can use sites on the Internet specifically designed to gather these posts, just like the pay sites, but they then present custom, even stored, searches in a condensed way that lets you browse the titles and first 50 words or so to determine if that result is even worth opening. What a time saver! Again, if you aren’t using technology to bring you information, you are wasting time and effort-both of which are in short supply to the job seeker!

As a disclaimer, job seeking in this fashion is only more efficient if the job(s) you are a match for are typically/usually/always found on the Internet in one way or another. That said, there are two kinds of readers, ones that are stand-alone applications (like Outlook or Firefox), and those that are plug-ins to an existing application-effectively extending that application’s functionality without needing another application installed on your computer.

One of the best things about news readers (sometimes called “news aggregators“) is that they keep track of the sites you’ve already visited, and go out and gather only new articles for you. This is the difference between going out and looking, and having the software look for you.

Plugin RSS readers (Scribe is my favorite) offer one advantage over a stand alone reader-they present themselves to the job site as a browser. Because the plugin is part of, in this case, Firefox, the page will render with all the features you need to apply for the job. Stand-alone applications that read RSS feeds are not browsers, and therefore may not even render the job site at all, much less allow cookies, Active X, Javascript, etc. as required.

So where would you point these nifty news readers as a job seeker? To a site that aggregates, or collects, job opportunities that match your criteria. My personal favorite in Indeed, but there are many to choose from. I simply enter a job search in the clean interface (“Sales Engineer” Software “New York”) and a result is presented as a list of web sites who have job opportunities that match your search-just like Google. But on job sites like Indeed, there is something else shown in that result page-a custom RSS feed is presented for the seeker to simply copy to their new reader!

So now, after I carefully crafted that search string and verified it was exactly what I wanted, I can save it and re-run that search automatically in my news reader, only grabbing new jobs that matched! As long as the reader is open, it looks every 5 minutes at every site (search) I have subscribed to. I simply browse through the results, picking and choosing the ones that look interesting. The beauty of a good aggregation site, like Indeed, is that they include all the common job search sites in their searches, along with all the individual company sites. So I get results from Dice, Monster, CareerBuilder, etc. combined with opportunities direct from employer’s web pages.

So not only are there tools for a seeker in the technology business that bring work to the desktop/laptop (80/20), these same tools search all the relevant job search sites. This tactic will catch jobs posted from sites that do not continuously post, but more importantly it removes the burden from me to try and figure out who is posting a job. You just can’t get more efficient than that!

To your query regarding the amount of jobs out there, you can really only answer that once you’ve really uncovered all the jobs in your career’s space/vertical, and the above approach will do that for you. Imagine a frustrated job seeker who simply lacks the tools that bring the opportunities to them. What would they say about the job market?

“There is nothing out there!”

RSS in Firefox
List of RSS readers available in Ubuntu Linux
An exhaustive list of all RSS readers out there-with links!

You probably already know all this, but I hope this helps!

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