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Career Advice

From Marc Cenedella
Marc Cenedella

Whenever a recruiter posts a job with us, we want to connect our members as quickly as possible. So we look through our whole directory of members, including you, to find those best fit for the job.

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Resume

The Right Search for the Right Job

Partner with the job-search engine to target the best matches for you.

By Leslie Barrett
Resume

For most people, the difficult parts of the job search include things like writing a resume and performing well on interviews. Very few people believe that it is difficult to "find" a job — the tough part is getting the right job, right? Well, not quite. Matching yourself with the right job through clever search strategies can set you up for success right away. You are much more likely to get a job that matches your skills than one that does not. However, despite the importance of finding the best-matching job, few people would think to seek out advice about using a job-search engine for that purpose. Search technology has become a commodity after all — nobody needs a "tutor" to use Google any more than they do to operate a telephone or walk down the street.

But looking for jobs is not quite the same as trying to find a new toaster oven or camera on an internet e-commerce site. Job descriptions are very different sorts of documents from the things typically found on the internet like products or blogs or news articles. This is why you go to specific job-search engines like TheLadders to find them — these special search engines are "tuned" to "understand" job-description data. First, let's look at what makes jobs different and then we can explore how to best create searches to find them.

Job descriptions contain three main information types — the Title, the Description of Responsibilities and the Set of Requirements, usually desired skills or education. In this respect they are somewhat formulaic and structured. The search engines that are specific to information about jobs use this structure to help retrieve relevant results to queries. For example, the Title tends to be the part of the job description that reveals the most about the nature of the job — tips you off to what the job "is". Now, right away we can see that this makes a Job different from an average document out on the internet. Many documents either don't have titles or their titles don't reveal much about the contents. The Requirements are also unique to job data. These "requirements" are things that should match with a jobseeker's Skills or Education. Similarly "responsibilities" are things that should match jobseekers' previous work experience. It seems obvious when you put a job description next to a resume of course.…but very few jobseekers consider this when sitting in front of a search box wondering which words will retrieve that perfect job! Using this simple insight could result in much more productive searches for job hunters by yielding much better matches. A surprising number of people have a poor search experience because their searches are too general — that means the results will not be relevant to them because their search keywords carry too little information. Very general searches also yield large numbers of results so even if relevant documents are retrieved, it will take much longer to find them as you wade through page after page of results — and that slows down the time to finding your next job.

To create a productive search, you need to know what kind of data you want to favor in your match. That means when you put the words in the search box, you need to understand what part of the job description they are likely to fit with and what parts of your resume they best correspond to as well. If that sounds complicated, it isn't — just use your resume as a "cheat sheet". Start by looking at your most recent job. First, notice the Title. It generally has two parts, your Position Level (things such as Manager, Director or Vice President) and your Function (the part that says what you do such as "Sales" or "Marketing"). Before you type anything in the search box, ask yourself whether you want your next job to look like your last job. Perhaps if you are a Manager you would like your next job to be a Director position. With that in mind, compose the "title" portion of your search query. Let's say we have a search string like " Director of Sales" — that's a much more productive search than just searching for "Sales" because it will help us find Sales jobs that are appropriate for the level we are seeking.

But hold it! We are not done yet — a good job match will be one where not only the Title matches well, but also the requirements are a fit for your skills and accomplishments. After all, you don't want just any job in your field — you want a job that's a fit for you and your best skills! Go back to your resume and think about what your strongest skills are — and what you like to do best. Perhaps, as a Sales professional, you have had particular success selling Medical Devices. You can use this specialty in your search string. Let's see what would happen if we put all these pieces together in a little "hypothetical" search. The goal will be to compose a string that retrieves jobs for mid-level sales executives where the requirements include experience selling medical devices. We can actually give this hypothetical search a try on a real search engine by using TheLadders. We will combine our two information types (i.e. the Skills and the Title) with the "Boolean Operator" ‘AND'. This simply allows the search engine to understand your need to have these two items within the same document. It will not retrieve any documents that do not have both of the items conjoined by AND.

(Director of sales) AND "medical device"

Notice that we have the term medical device in quotes. This is done so that the search engine knows to take these words exactly as it sees them — that is, as a phrase. If we did not do this, it would find documents that might have only one of the words or documents that might have both of the words but not next to each other. Let's choose a geographical area for our job too — say, Los Angeles, California and give it a fairly wide radius to insure that we get a fairly large set of results. If you live in a small town, know that you may have to expand your search out to the nearest commutable urban area to get an acceptable number of matches. Searching in too small a geographical area is actually one of the main causes of poor results or zero-results searches.

If we look at the matches, we can see that our strategy does very well! Our search string on TheLadders looks like this:

Search string on TheLadders

And indeed it turned up several matching jobs. Here is an example:

Search string result on TheLadders

This job would match our criteria for the "hypothetical" job goal we described very well.

So, while searching for a job may sound simple, it is not the same as searching on Google — it requires some knowledge both of your own needs, your experience and of the kind of data found in job descriptions. Let's review some simple tips that will help make you a job-search whiz in no time:

  • Use your resume as a "cheat sheet" to create search strings based on your most recent job
  • Select a geographical location that is large enough to have a sufficient number of jobs
  • Try to consider both Title-based and Skill-based words
  • Try to consider which search strings need to be found as "phrases" and which words may simply be found near each other

That's all you need to fire up your job search. Remember, it's much easier to get a great job when you can find a great job!

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