Simplify your job search: Four tools to find jobs faster

This is the third in a three-part series for job seekers. You might also enjoy Can social media help you land your dream job? and Applying for jobs? Four free tools to keep the process simple.

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Job applicants prepare for mock interviews. (Photo: DC Central Kitchen, Flickr/Creative Commons)

The headlines about jobs are very doom-and-gloom, but this summer the number of jobs posted on Idealist has actually increased (knock on wood, there are currently more than 7,000 jobs listed on our site). If you’ve found yourself saying “there just aren’t enough hours in the day to stay on top of everything,” here are some tools to help you save time and keep your search organized and on track.

RSS feeds: For those who aren’t familiar, RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. You can set up a reader to serve as a one-stop website that automatically fills up with the personalized content you’re looking for.

All you need is a free RSS reader (like Google Reader) and a job site that supports RSS feeds (like ours!). To get started, run your favorite Idealist search, click the orange RSS button, and paste the URL into your reader. You’ll no longer have to constantly visit unique sites and run unique searches. All of your content will be in one place that’s easy to scan.

Google Alerts: Let’s say you’ve done some self-reflection and right now you’re motivated mainly by the desire to support a specific organization’s mission, by filling a specific type of role. (The “five lens framework” exercise can help you figure this out.)

If you know you want to be a Development Associate at the Alzheimer’s Association or a Program Officer at Room to Read, for example, create a Google Alert using those keywords. Then you’ll get an email whenever there is content posted on the web that matches. Even if you’re less sure about the exact job title you’re after, you can easily tailor alerts that pull in new jobs based on your area of interest or expertise.

Idealist Email Alerts: Similar idea, but specifically built into Idealist to help you stay on top of your searches there. They’re really easy to set up.

Social media: If you know you want to work at The Nature Conservancy, for example, be sure to like their page on Facebook, follow them on Twitter and LinkedIn, and connect to them on Idealist. Organizations will often reach out to their networks first before publicizing positions on major job boards.

Your turn! What other tools do you use to simplify your job search?

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Have you tried our daily Email Alerts to aid your job search?

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From Flickr user Dean Meyers

If you visit Idealist frequently and get tired of entering the same criteria into the search bar every time, our site re-launch brings some new features for you: now you can save your searches and take advantage of our revamped free daily Email Alerts.

If you’re logged in, you can run a search, then click “Save this search” on the left side of the results page. Name your search if you like (e.g. “Internships in NYC” or “Volunteering ideas for 2011”), and come back anytime to view updated results with just one click.

To take it a step further, you can get the results of saved searches delivered directly to your inbox. Just sign up for an Email Alert after saving the search. You’ll get a nightly digest email from us with up to 100 of the latest listings that match your search criteria. You can save as many searches as you like, and get separate Email Alerts for each of them.

If after a few days you don’t receive any matching listings, your search criteria may be too specific. To make changes to the criteria in your Saved Search, start by running the search, then add or remove filters and save the results as a new search. Once you’re satisfied with the new one, just delete or turn off the old one.

You can also temporarily disable alerts, or delete them. Just go to the Manage page to do this.

Already a subscriber? The search parameters on the new site might not match your old Alerts precisely. To make sure, you may want to log in and update your Saves Searches. Please contact us if you need any help with this.

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Thursday update: Email alerts, search, and speed

Yesterday, Elise reported on some of the progress we’ve made on the search features since our re-launch. Here’s what we heard from you today, along with updates about our to-do list.

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From Flickr user bark (Creative Commons)

What’s up with the search?

Most of the search issues boil down to a couple of big problems: either you want to search for opportunities by location, but location doesn’t feel like it’s working right, or you want to search for opportunities by area of focus or type of job and it feels a lot harder now.

These are our developers’ top priorities. We spent this morning fixing bugs that were preventing some of you from seeing the correct search results. The next step is to improve the search experience based on the criteria you’ve told us is most important.

Bring back email alerts!

If you’re an email alerts subscriber, there’s no need to sign up again. We will reactivate them very soon. We send out 200,000 messages every night, and we want to be 100% sure they go out correctly, so this may take a few more days.

We realize that a lot of you depend on this to keep up with the latest postings, so this is a close second on our priorities list.

When I try to drill down by “education requirement,” I’m not seeing helpful information.

We originally changed this because when we had a finite list of education requirements, it didn’t allow for specificity (such as specific types of degrees, e.g. “MSW,” which we’ve consistently heard is helpful for nonprofit job seekers). It also didn’t reflect the scope of different education options around the world.

We realize now that in aiming for such precision, we sacrificed searchability. We’ve come up with a solution that allows for both, and you’ll see it soon.

What happened to RSS feeds?

We fixed the links in the RSS feeds today. We still need to make some improvements to how they’re displaying.

In other news…

A big priority over the past 24 hours has been to stabilize our servers. The site is moving much faster now. Hopefully you ran into fewer of those pesky error pages today.

More tomorrow! Thanks so much for your patience and your ideas.

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