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Making the best of your online job search Strac Ivanov, MBA, PMP, President of Vicinity Jobs Inc

About the Author

Strac Ivanov is President and Co-founder of Vicinity Jobs Inc, a Canadian cloud-based analytics technology provider that monitors economic development and business intelligence data trends on the Internet. Vicinity Jobs operates a network of specialized search engines and a hiring demand analytics service, and was among North America's first companies to launch an Internet search engine for jobs. Strac holds a Master`s degree in Business Administration from Vienna University of Economics and Business. He lives in Vancouver, BC with his wife and two children. You can follow him on Twitter, at @stracivanov

Are you sure you are finding all the jobs advertised online that you are qualified for? You spend hours online, browsing through job postings. Even if you are unemployed, your time is expensive: You are paying out of your own savings for every day you spend looking for work.

Here are some basic Do's and Don'ts that can help you increase the productivity of the time you spend job hunting online:

  • Start Your Search Using Job Search Engines - Job Search Engines, such as Vicinity Jobs, are a relatively new invention: There were virtually none prior to 2006. Job Search Engines are different from traditional job boards: They actually collect and index job postings published on other web sites, while traditional job boards are like Internet-based classified ads services: They only provide access to jobs that employers have actively published with the respective Job Board. A job search engine is a search engine (similar to Google and Yahoo), but a specialized ones, whose search results only contain job postings. Using a job search engine saves you time and increases the efficiency of your job search, because it gives you access to information that you would otherwise only be able to collect by regularly visiting each individual web site that the search engine monitors. Since job search engines typically monitor hundreds of web sites, using them gives you access to job postings published by more sources than you would ever be able to monitor on your own.

    But be careful when choosing a job search engine: Some, such as Vicinity Jobs, update their complete index on a daily basis, while others may get updates from external sources as rarely as once a week. Getting information about job postings on a timely manner is a crucial factor determining the success of your job search.

  • Don't type in full sentences or linguistic structures in the search engines' search boxes: Search engine do not understand ''human language'', they only rely on keywords to determine if a document is relevant to your search or not. As a result, for example, a search for ''Mechanical engineer with team leadership skills located in Newmarket Ontario'' will fail to find a job whose description says simply ''Mechanical engineer / team lead at Davis and Harry Walker Pkwy''.

  • Do use advanced search capabilities (most search engines do, and they are accessible through a link on the standard search form that says something like ''advanced options'', ''advanced search'', or ''additional search options''). Advanced search options usually provide standardized menus where you can select criteria such as job type, location, and/or industry that a job is in. Many people assume that typing in the job title, job type, or industry in the search field will produce the same results as selecting it from the standardized menu. This is not the case. You will receive more relevant results by selecting from a standardized list of options than you would using only the free-type search field. If you select, for example, ''Richmond Hill'' from a geographic location selection menu, you will see all of the jobs located in Richmond Hill. But if you type in ''Markham'' as a search expression, your results will only include jobs whose descriptions contain the words ''Markham''. This may include, for example, jobs in London, Ontario with employers whose head office is in Markham, but will not include jobs whose description contains ''Bayview and HWY7 area'' or ''Southern York Region''.

  • Start your search by entering as few restrictions as possible. You can always refine your search later if your initial search produces too many results. For example, instead of selecting both an industry that a job is located in and a job category, start by selecting a job category only, then do a second search to specify an industry restriction if the first search produces too many results. Consider selecting more than one job category, if there is a chance that some of the postings that you would be interested in may be classified into different categories. Alternatively, for example, if you are willing to consider a job located outside of Newmarket, do not limit your initial search to Newmarket.

  • Do your homework. Prepare a list of keywords that are relevant to the type of positions that you are looking for and do separate searched by entering those keywords as search expressions: Do not assume, for example, that a search engine knows that ''Hair dresser'', ''Hair stylist'', ''Barber'', and ''coiffeur'' are actually the same thing: Most search engines will not. Therefore, if you do a search for a ''hair dresser'' only, you will not find all the job postings for ''Hair stylist'', ''Barber'' or ''Coiffeur''.

Remember: The way you enter search criteria when using a job search engine is the single most important factor that influences quality of the results that you receive. Mostly due to technical limitations, the way job search engines determine whether a job is related to a particular search request is not always the most intuitive. Computers do not understand human language: They only retrieve content based on combinations of words that you have ''fed'' to them.

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