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Precise Job Descriptions Could Be Your Ticket to Employment!

You suddenly find yourself unemployed or under-employed in a job market strewn with vague job descriptions and more competition than ever before with exploding unemployment rates. Gone are the days when people could find jobs in newspapers; nowadays, the first places people turn to in their quest to find employment are job search engines. Unfortunately, searching online with most job-search engines is extremely frustrating. Typing your area of expertise into the search field often results in hundreds of available jobs to sift through, many having absolutely nothing to do with you or your career. How do you pinpoint your search to get relevant results? How do you connect with the employer who is looking for you?

Narrowing Job Descriptions: Start with What You Know

Before anything else, make a list of exactly what it is you do. The list needs to be all-inclusive—include hardware, software, specific skills, certifications held, and everything in between. Also, list the time used and level of expertise for each of them. Be specific when including industry recognized terms, degrees, and certifications. Emphasize exactly what makes your career path stand out from the rest. Don't forget to include all languages you may communicate in fluently. In today's global markets, this may make the difference in an employed choosing between you and the next candidate. All this information is necessary in narrowing your search down to the jobs for which you might actually have an interest in applying.

For instance, let's consider a business controller who is looking for a new position. We will examine three of the top job-search engines for our research: (1) Indeed.com, (2) Monster.com, and (3) Careerbuilder.com. If we search for "business controller" within the United States but without a specifying a city, the sites yield (1) 1000+ results, (2) 10,000+ results, and (3) 2589 results, respectively.

Narrowing Job Descriptions: Where Do You Want to Be? We can narrow these results further by choosing locations where we actually have the ability to work. For this example, we will use Boston, Massachusetts and Dallas, Texas. By adding each location to our search, the sites show that (1) Dallas has 53, and Boston has 82 openings; (2) Dallas has 259, and Boston has 367; and (3) Dallas has 81, and Boston has 62. This is much more manageable than the thousands of jobs from before!

Fine-Tuning Job Descriptions: Details!

To fine-tune our results even further, we will select the most important job or skill from our list. We chose Demand Management and added it to our original search criteria. Some results were very surprising. By changing the search from "business controller" to "Business Controller, Demand Management," the average number of responses actually increased dramatically in our first two sites. The third site dropped to seven choices in Dallas and three in Boston. Removing the comma from the search criteria reduced the results in sites one and two and had no effect on site three. From this, we learn that punctuation is very important in some sites but matters not in others. You will learn the needs for each site by trial and error.

Narrowing Job Descriptions: Advanced Search

When a large number of responses overwhelms you, the advance search feature can be very helpful. The options and format will vary widely from site to search site.

Indeed.com's advance search offers a window to enter words into that you want to include in your search. This is where we entered Business controller demand management. It appeared to have a 200-character limit, which is more than enough for most needs. Next, windows ask for (in this order):

  1. Words you want excluded from your search Location
  2. Space to select particular companies you would like searched
  3. Specific industries and job categories within those industries
  4. Full- or part-time jobs
  5. Employee-only positions or contract jobs (this can be very important in weeding out situations you don't want.)
  6. Career-level choices (from student to president to CEO)
  7. Your education level
The problem with this advanced search is that the more criteria you add to the "include these words" box, the higher the number of results. Instead of narrowing the search, the search engine looked for any job with any of these words in them instead of all the words. The key here is to limit your criteria in the "include these words" box and use the detailed search ability this site offers in the industries and job categories choices instead.

Monster.com's ,advance search allows fewer but different choices. It asks for jobs with ALL of the search words, so the more criteria you add, the more pinpointed your search becomes. It only allows one choice from full- or part-time, temporary, internship, contract, or all of the above. With this site, you can also exclude all staffing agencies.

Careerbuilder.com's advance search gives you the choice of "use any of these words" or "use all of these words" for their search criteria. With All words selected, we got three results as opposed to over 2,800 with use ANY of these words. This site also gives you the choice of up to three locations and three job categories.

Narrowing Job Descriptions: Using What You Have Learned to Get Specific Results!

How do we use what we have learned to find the particular job we are looking for? First, realize that most jobs are posted on only one job search site, which leads us to look in many locations. There are sites dedicated to particular industries too. This is helpful in narrowing down your search to just your industry. At least one site posts job descriptions from most sites in the major search engines as well as industry-exclusive sites and even local newspapers. It provides one-location shopping, but the number of results can be overwhelming. The answer is to not put all your eggs in one basket. Use multiple search engines, and spend the time to learn the quirks of each advanced search option so you can narrow down your results to a manageable, relevant list of jobs to pursue.

We began our search with general criteria and gradually narrowed our choices down to a manageable few by adding more and more restrictions to our search. This worked well. We also tried the opposite by starting with sharply defined criteria and working outward by removing keywords to gain more results the wider our search became. This was more frustrating as there were no results at all until we loosened the criteria quite a bit.

Job Descriptions: Using Advance Search Options

The advance search options are a blessing whether you are looking for a business controller position as a demand management specialist in Boston or a diesel mechanic looking for a position repairing tractors in Tyler, Texas. List the things that make you who and what you are, and use those things to make your job search as productive and specific as you can. It is just as important to exclude what's not important, as it is to include what is important. Overall, the more precise you are in your final search, the more relevant your results will be; however, beginning with too narrow a search could cause you to miss a great opportunity. So the key is to methodically rule one thing out at a time until you find the results you are searching for.

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