How to Get Better Online Job Search Results

(Hint: Stop searching by job title)
Kaitlin Madden, CareerBuilder Writer

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It can be tough to figure out the nuances of the online job search. With the option to search by keyword, location, industry, company or all of the above at once, it's hard to know which query will return the best search results for you.

In the absence of knowing the best method for getting targeted results, many people default to what they DO know about their job search: the title of the position they're looking for. While searching for "marketing assistant" or "pediatric nurse" may seem like a good way to get direct hits on the jobs you want, searching by job title actually eliminates a lot of positions that may be exactly what you're looking for.

Why? Because job titles often aren't standardized across different companies and industries. One company's software engineer is another's database programmer. The job descriptions might be exactly the same, but the positions may have different titles.

In order to get the largest number of relevant search results, try one of these methods instead.

1. Search by keyword

Instead of simply searching by a job title, develop a list of keywords that represent both the type of job you're looking for and the work you're qualified to do. The list should be comprised of functions you've performed at previous jobs, duties you'd like to perform at your next job, as well as relevant skills and experience.

For example, if you're looking for software engineering position, your keyword search terms may include:


  • Software design

  • Software languages

  • Algorithms

  • Linux

  • .Net programming

  • Network security

  • Computer science

  • Master's degree


Instead of searching the term "software engineer," use the terms above terms to find job results that match what you're looking for.

2. Combine keywords with Boolean search terms

While searching by keyword will bring up a broad range of search results, combining keywords to create a "Boolean search" will allow you to narrow down your results.

Though the term may sound complicated, Boolean search is actually a simple way to combine search terms in order to form strings of keywords. They're surprisingly easy to conduct once you understand the basics.

The basics:


  • Put quotes around terms you want to keep together. For example "software languages." This will ensure that your results are returned with listings that contain this specific phrase, not just the words software and languages somewhere in the listing.

  • Combine words using plus (+) and minus (-) signs.

    • For example, if you're searching for a job where you can put your Master's degree to good use while working on software languages, your search may be: "Master's degree" + "software languages."

    • However, if you prefer not to use the JAVA language, your search may look like: "Master's degree" + "software languages" - JAVA.



  • To make your search even easier, Boolean searches also enable you to search root words. Meaning you won't have to conduct separate searches for "programmer" "programmers" and "programming." Instead, type in the root of the word, with an asterisk, to search all forms of the root word. For example, you might search "software language" + program*.


3. Try an advanced search

If you're not sure exactly what you're looking for, or you're interested in a job function, but not a specific industry (i.e. an administrative position in any sector), start with a broad search -- you can always narrow it down as you figure out what you want and don't want.

On CareerBuilder, for example, you can type in a general keyword, like "administrative" and then narrow it down through a variety of search categories. If you realize you'd prefer to work as an administrative assistant in a medical office or at a school, for example, you can specify this in the advanced search.

Similarly, if you are only interested in jobs that pay over $50,000, you can enter in your salary requirements as well.

The more fields you enter values for, the fewer, but more targeted, your search results will be.

Kaitlin Madden is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues. Follow @CBForJobSeekers on Twitter.




Last Updated: 22/09/2010 - 4:11 PM


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