The top search engine, Google, can be a powerful partner in your job search, but most of us use only about 10% of Google's capability. It can do MUCH more than simple searches of the web -- you can fine tune it to find that proverbial "needle in the haystack."
Use Google to help you find jobs and potential employers, to research those employers (financial stability, competitors, etc.), and to separate the good opportunities from the not-so-good ones.
Leverage Google to prepare for job interviews, as described in Job Interview Preparation with Smart Google Research. To avoid a bad situation or an employer heading for trouble, check out the 50 Google Searchs to Avoid Layoffs and Bad Employers.
Note: Not every website is included in Google's database of Web sites. Some sites are not included because they are very new or are designed in a way that Google cannot see or catalog the site's contents.
Depending on the browser you are using (Google's own Chrome browser is the most consistent), Google now offers you the ability to search for and find job postings simply by searching for jobs in a location. Results include jobs posted on employer websites as well as on the usual job boards.
In Google's search bar, type (with the quotation marks for phrases):
"jobs near me"
"sales jobs near greater Boston"
"marketing jobs in san francisco"
Or type the job you are seeking plus a location, and Google will show you job postings in or near that area.
Then, refine your search by using the "FILTERS" Google makes available at the top of the search results for jobs. Google offers many options, as shown in the image above. Click on any of the options to modify the query:
You can combine several different options to find newly posted jobs in your target location, and even for your target employer.
Google Maps can be a very handy way to find local employers you may not know about. Simply go to maps.google.com, choose your target location (if it's not already on the map), and type the kind of employer you want into the search bar.
The example below shows what the results page looks like when you type "accounting firms near Boston" into the search bar. Click on the "+" sign on the map to get a closer look at the search results and where they are located, and shift the map around to see results in different locations.
Click on the image below to see live search results on Google Maps.
Click on a dot on the map, and a box will open that gives you location and contact information as well as a link to the website.
Google always assumes -- unless told otherwise -- that you want it to find pages which include all of your search terms appearing anywhere on the page, not necessarily close together.
So, if you are a senior sales and marketing person looking for a job in business development, you might type this search query into Google --
Without quotations marks around the term "business development" Google doesn't understand that you want pages only where the words appear together in a phrase.
If you type a phrase without enclosing them inside quotation marks, Google would find all the pages containing those words.
However, in this case, you really want those words side-by-side, in a phrase. So, enclose them inside double quotation marks (" "), as below, so that Google will look for that exact phrase. Your search would look like this:
Notice that fewer pages appear in search results when quotation marks are used. This is good! Fewer results are better results because those results are more accurate -- they are what you really want.
To get the most useful results for you, test different versions of your search query. Each will return slightly -- or dramatically -- different results.
Try different versions of the job title you want, like "admin assistant" and "administrative assistant" or "marketing specialist" and "marketing analyst."
Pay attention when you are searching on long words or phrases that are typically reduced to acronyms, like the names of large companies (HP or Hewlett Packard), degrees (MBA), professional certifications (CPA), etc.
The acronyms may be better in some queries, but the full phrase may be required for others. You'll determine what works best for a specific query by doing trial-and-error testing.
Also, try searching with typical shortcuts and abbreviations as well as the complete words (e.g. try both telecom and telecommunications). Also test both plural and singular (job and jobs).
Google uses "stemming" to try to find different versions of the word you are seeking, but it may not find the version you mean.
(Also see # 7 to try a Google "wild card" search.)
If you want Google to find either this or that, you can do an "OR" search. Simply put the word "OR," in ALL CAPS, between the words you want it to search for.
For example, if you wanted a job that could be called either driver or chauffeur, you would type this query into Google -
driver OR chauffeur jobs
Be sure to use all capital letters for the word OR so that Google understands you don't want it to search for the word "or" but are giving it different terms for your search. If you add the "OR" to your query, between the terms you want, Google will return all of the pages that contain any of those terms.
You can search on several variables and even include a phrase in the mix like the queries below:
Boston OR Cambridge<< finds entries for both cities
director OR vp OR "vice president" << finds these job titles
bank OR "credit union" OR "savings and loan" << finds these employers
If you want to include a phrase in your either/or's, just be sure to enclose the phrase in quotation marks, so Google knows how to treat it.
If your Google search results have some entries mixed in that have nothing to do with what you are seeking, you can exclude many extraneous entries by excluding words used commonly on those pages you want to avoid.
For example, if we want to find Florida banks, our first search results contains not only the financial institutions that we want, but also entries for fishing banks and food banks that we don't want (this time).
How do you exclude results that are not good fits for what you want? Expand your search terms by adding words from the kind of sites you want to exclude (e.g. fish, food) but attach a minus sign (-) to the front of each word. So "fish" becomes "-fish" and so on for all the terms to be excluded.
Thus, after a few tries, your Google search query looks like this --
-- and Google returns results that include pages that DO contain the phrase "florida bank" but do NOT contain the words "fish" or "food."
Please note! As in the example above, do NOT put a blank space between the "-" for the word to be excluded. So, "-fish" (without the space) WILL exclude pages containing the word "fish, but "- fish" (with the space after the minus sign) will NOT exclude those pages!
When you aren't sure exactly the word to use in a phrase, replace that word with an asterisk (with spaces on both sides of it), and Google will fill in the blank for you. Perhaps you want an entry level job, but you aren't yet sure which job title you want, you could type this query into Google to have Google show you your options -
entry level * job << This search would find many different entry level jobs
assistant * job << This would find many different assistant jobs, including assistant cook, assistant bookkeeper, assistant manager, etc.
* manager job (Boston OR Cambridge) << This would find different kinds of manager jobs, like project manager, marketing manager, etc. located either in Boston or Cambridge
In the last example, putting Boston OR Cambridge inside parenthesis helps Google understand which words are included in the either/or statement.
The default timeframe for Google search results is "Any time." Google displays the most relevant search results, according to its algorithm and your preferences. But, sometimes, you want Google to search for something during a specific period of time, for example:
You can direct Google to search almost any time frame since 2000. Understand that Google cannot re-build a webpage which has been removed from the web, but otherwise it does a good job of focusing on specific timeframes.
Start with a Google search results page. Click on the "Search tools" link at the top of the page. Two new options will pop up below and on the left side of the top of the page, as indicated below.
Make your choice from the options offered, or create your own "custom range."
To focus Google's search to a specific website: Use Google's Site Search capability. Type your query into Google's search box, type the word "site" with a colon (:) after it. Then, immediately following "site:" add the domain name of site you want searched.
For example, to search through Capital One's Website for an administrative assistant position, you would use this search query -
Please note! Again, as with the use of the "-" and the "~" signs, do NOT put a space between the "site:" and the domain name you want Google to search.
To exclude a specific site from search results: Perhaps one site dominates the search results, and you would like see your options without that site cluttering up the results. As with number 4, above, Google offers you the option of adding a minus sign (-) immediately ahead of the search term you would have used to limit the search to a specific website.
So, the query site:URL becomes -site:URL with a minus sign immediately in front of the "site:URL" part of the query, like this --
In this example, above, we are searching for administrative assistant jobs with a focus on results from sites other than Indeed.com or Monster.com. We could also have excluded employers we didn't want to see in the results by replacing the -site:indeed.com with the employer to exclude, like this -site:employer.com (using the employer's real domain name).
When you have a complex search, you can combine the various techniques into one long query.
For example, assume you wanted an assistant job for a bank located in Boston or Cambridge, MA, but you don't want to work for Cambridge Savings Bank because you worked there in the past. And you also don't want to see search results that include Indeed.com.
This is how you would structure that query -
"assistant * job" (boston OR cambridge) bank -"cambridge savings" -site:indeed.com
So, you have two phrases, one to be included in search results ("assistant * job") and one to be excluded (-"cambridge savings"). You have a included a wildcard (assistant * job), plus an either/or (boston OR cambridge). You have also asked for results from one specific employer (-"cambridge savings") and one specific website (Indeed.com) to be excluded.
That's a pretty complicated search, but the results should be exactly what you want. And they are! Of course, you can refine this search even more based on the search results you receive. Perhaps there is another bank or job board to be excluded.
Maybe, after looking over the results, you decide that you want to be an assistant branch manager or whatever. Simply adjust your search again.
"assistant branch manager job" (boston OR cambridge) bank -"cambridge savings" -site:indeed.com
When you find the perfect search for you, one that you would like to use in the future, set up a Google Alert, and Google will run the search for you again and again (you decide how often).
Not sure what time it is? Type this query into your search bar -
If Google knows your location (and it probably does), you don't even need to know your own time zone.
Not sure what time it is in another location in a different time zone? For example, suppose you wanted to know the time (and date) in Sydney, Australia. Just type this query into your search bar -
time Sydney Australia
Google will tell you the time and the date.
Not sure what a word means - very important when you are reading job descriptions! Do a Google Dictionary look-up, like this:
Just put whatever word you want defined after the "define" request.
Need another word for a word you have already used in something you are writing? Just ask Google to find a synonym for the term you want, like this:
Google will usually return a few synonyms for you and then link to websites that offer more options in the search results.
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, and Google+.