Is your Job Search down the tubes..?

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Let’s face it, job hunting in this day and age is a proverbial pain. With so many job boards, websites, agencies, newspapers etc., how do you keep on top of it all without losing your mind and the will to live?

Last year in my article “Turbo Charge Your Job Search” I mentioned several ways you can improve on your job search. If you’re in-between jobs or in a job you know how time consuming looking for jobs, filling in application forms, customising your CV and covering letters can be. So you need to be able to maximise your search results in the shortest time.

These days the majority of jobs are posted electronically in various formats, you may have signed up for a “jobs by email” alert when new jobs that match your requirements are posted. Even so, you still have to trawl through a good number of websites to check up on the latest postings.

maximise your search results in the shortest time

There is one thing that all these sites have in common, and that is an RSS feed. Simply put RSS is like a ticker tape of all the latest news as it happens, just look at some of the news programmes on TV for a similar example. Now with RSS you can get all the job postings as they happen. But wait! There’s only one problem… what if you use multiple sites to look for work..? Fear not!

Yahoo pipes to the rescue!

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Yahoo pipes is an application that most of us couldn’t find a use for… until now… Yahoo pipes is to information what Burger King is to burgers (mmmm is it lunch time yet…) in that it enables you to “have it your way” (I know shameless plug) and have exactly what content you want. In this article I’m going to show you how to make RSS feeds work for you!

Step 1 – Collecting RSS Feeds

In this step you need to visit each site you want to include in your search and create an RSS feed. You can do this by clicking on the RSS icon. Now you may get prompted to subscribe to a feed using Microsoft Office or Google reader, the thing is not to subscribe but copy the URL and paste into Notepad for later use.

Step 2 – Building Blocks

While the Yahoo pipes interface may seem intimidating to newcomers, it’s actually very easy to use. All you need is 5 modules to get started!

Fetch Feed

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This is where you paste in the RSS feed/url you collected earlier. If you need to add another just click on the + sign and past in the next feed.

Filter

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This is where you can set-up rules to allow/deny posts based on the criteria you specify. The trick is to remember to change the “all” to “any” otherwise it will only work in very precise conditions.

Unique

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This will remove any duplicate posts from multiple sources and clean up the listing.

Location Extractor

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This extracts the location which can be used by Google Maps for example.

Output Feed

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This requires no configuration whatsoever!

Step 3 – Filtering

This is where you can specify what words to look for in a post and either allow the post through or block it from view. This can be a bit trial and error.

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In the picture above you can see how I chose to approach filtering the jobs feeds to eliminate jobs that were not suitable.

Step 4 – Putting it all together

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This step is really easy! All you have to do is to connect the modules in the order listed above, it is really that simple! Once you’ve connected all the modules together you need to click “Save” and give your pipe a descriptive name

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Step 5 – Testing

The next step is to test the pipe and look at what sort of results it produced. Click on “Run Pipe…”

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and a new window will open displaying your results. At this point you may want to refine your results by experimentation.

Step 6 – Importing your custom feed

When you are satisfied with the results you can grab your custom RSS feed by clicking “Get an RSS” and you can then import it into your favourite RSS news reader and have instant access to the latest jobs as they are posted.

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Tips on Configuring Filters

If you’ve run the pipe you’ve created you may notice that there may be a number of items that are not relevant or unsuitable. For example in the field of IT there are a number of job roles e.g.

Desktop Analyst
1st/2nd/3rd Line Support
Helpdesk Analyst
Business Analyst
IT Sales
Database Administrator
Network Administrator
Systems Administrator
Programmer/Developer

Now you could create a filter that will return exactly what you want, however while it will work it will probably return very few if any results. After a lot of experimentation the approach I decided to take was to look at the keywords that were present in the jobs that I wasn’t interested in and filter based on that. The end result is that while I might get a few jobs that are not relevant I get to see all the available jobs that are broadly suitable to my requirements.

As with anything your mileage may vary.

Good luck in your job search!

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