Setting Up Google Alerts
Google is the dominant search engine currently, and it offers many search-associated tools. Google Alerts are a free tool from Google that enables you to monitor topics important to you without needing to run daily searches. If you set up a Google account (also free), you can establish up to 1000 Google Alerts. Without a Google account, you can set up 10 Alerts.
Note: Employers research job seekers 79% of the time before inviting them in for an interview, so a wise job seeker knows what employers will find. Set up a Google Alert for your "official" name (the one on your resume and your LinkedIn Profile), and Google Alerts will help you track what is visible for your name. Check out Job-Hunt's Online Reputation Management article for help.
Creating a Google Alert:
Start out with a "baseline" of current information on the topics you will be using for your Alerts. Before you set up your Alerts, run searches using those terms to see what Google thinks is most important now. This is a good way to test how well your search criteria will work as Alerts, too.
Then, sign up by visiting the Google Alerts home page. You may want to establish a Google Account if you want to have more than 10 Alerts running simultaneously. For more than 10 Alerts, you will need to verify your account so Google can be sure that they are not spamming someone.
You will need to complete this short form for every Google Alert you want to establish.
For each topic you wish to track:
Input your search term in the "Search query" box, e.g. different versions of your name (very highly recommended!).
For the most effective searches, enclose the words that make up your name inside quotations marks - e.g. "Mary Jane Smith" - so that Google will see those words as a phrase and look for them to appear togther on a page (vs. scattered separately all over a page as they might in a long list of names).
To the right of the search box above, you will usually find sample results for your search visible in a large box labeled, "Google Alert for Today" so you can preview the kinds of results you can expect from that search. If what you see is not what you want, you can adjust your search immediately and see new sample results displayed in the box.
For help in fine-tuning your Google search results, read Google-izing Your Job Search for hints on the different ways you can adjust your search criteria to find different things.
Select your "Result type" -
Google provides Alerts for 5 categories of search results:
- "Everything" is the default, and it searches all new entries.
- "News" searches through only the latest articles in Google News for your search term, and returns new additions to the top results.
- "Blogs" searches only through the latest blog posts for your search term, and returns new additions to the top results.
- "Video" searches the latest videos added to Google containing your search terms, and returns the newest results.
- "Discussions" searches the recent forum discussions added to Google containing your search terms, and returns the newest results.
- "Books" searches the Books.Google.com database for books containing your search term in the title.
Then, select "How often" to receive your results -
"Once a day" - my personal favorite, means you will get one message per day, at most, for that specific Alert.
"As it happens" - sends a message whenever new results for that specific Alert appear. This can get overwhelming for really active searches.
If the topic is fast changing or if you must be on top of it ASAP (like an Alert on your name or a company you are interviewing with soon), this would be your best option.
"Once a week" - for topics that aren't very urgent.
Choose your "How many" options which translates into how deeply you want Google to dig.
You have 2 options here: "Only the best results" and "All results."
The "All results" choice will probably bury you with information, much of it not relevant. If you trust that Google will select only what you need, choose, "Only the best results."
If you're not sure how well Google understands what you want, choose "All results" at first, and then either change your querry until Google delivers only what you want. Or change your volume slection if it seems to be selecting what you want it to select.
- Input your email address in the "Your email" box, and click on the red "CREATE ALERT" button..
Depending on the Alert you set up, you will probably NOT receive email about each of your alerts every day. On the other hand, if you choose really hot topics in the News, request "as-it-happens" notifications, and select "All results," your email inbox will become quite full.
See Google's Google Alerts: Getting Started Guide for more information about setting up and using Google Alerts.
Check out Job-Hunt's 5 Ways to Use Google Alerts for Your Job Search for 5 ways to leverage Google Alerts for your job search.
© Copyright, 1998 - 2013, Susan P. Joyce. All rights reserved.
About This Author:
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, Susan is a two-time layoff "graduate" who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 1998, NETability purchased Job-Hunt.org, which Susan has edited and published since. Susan also edits and publishes WorkCoachCafe.com. Follow Susan on Twitter at@jobhuntorg and on Google+.