Did you know that Google can be a powerful partner in your job search? It’s true. And some of the most successful job hunters use a Google job search to help them find potential employers, research those employers (financial stability, competitors, etc.), and separate the good opportunities from the not-so-good ones.
In fact, while not every website is included in Google’s database of websites, it remains the most comprehensive collection of searchable information available.
Here are 10 tips and tricks to improve your Google job search and achieve better results.
1. Try Different Variations of Your Search Terms
Different versions of your search query will return different results. Test by changing the order of the terms, like from “Boston, MA jobs” to “job in Boston, MA.” Try different versions of the job title, 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.
2. Enclose Phrases Inside of Double Quotation Marks
Google always assumes – unless told otherwise – that you want it to find pages which include all of your search terms. So, if you typed in this search query, entry level jobs, Google would assume you want pages containing all three words any where on the page. Google would find all the pages that contained all 3 of those words — it assumes you mean “and” between those words: entry AND level AND jobs. If you type a phrase without enclosing them inside quotation marks, Google would find all the pages containing those words.
However, for a google job search, you really want those words side-by-side, in a phrase. So, enclose them inside double quotation marks (” “) so that Google will look for that exact phrase. Often, a much greater number of search results appear when quotation marks aren’t used. In the case of a google job search, however, fewer results are better because those results are more accurate — they are what you really want.
3. Try an Either/Or 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.
4. Exclude Some Results
If your Google job 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 attaching a minus sign (-) to the front of each word. So “fish” becomes “-fish” and so on for all the terms to be excluded.
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!
5. Use an Asterisk
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 these queries into Google to have Google show you your options:
- entry level * jobs | This search would find many different entry level jobs
- assistant * jobs |This would find many different assistant jobs, including assistant cook, assistant bookkeeper, assistant manager, etc.
- * manager jobs (Boston OR Cambridge) | This would find different kinds of manager jobs, like engineering 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.
6. Ask Google to Check Within Specific Timeframes
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:
- Have Google check an employer’s website for any jobs posted within the past 24 hours.
- Get the latest news about a target employer to read just before heading out on a job interview, or,
- maybe, to find an announcement (or job posting) from some point in the past.
- Look for “old news” that might give an indication about how an employer operates.
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.
Make your choice from the options offered, or create your own “custom range
7. Limit the Search to a Specific Site
Limit Google’s search to a specific website, or even part of a specific website, using 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.
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.
8. Combine the Techniques
When you have a complex google job search, you can combine the various techniques into one long query. For example, assume you wanted an assistant job for a green industry employer located in Boston or Cambridge, MA, but you don’t want to work for a fictional company named Employer, Inc.
This is how you would structure that query:
- “assistant * job” (boston OR cambridge) -employer
So, you have a phrase (“assistant * job”), a wildcard (assistant * job), an either/or (boston OR cambridge), and an employer to be avoided (-employer).
9. Queries for Interview Preparation
Combining all our new techniques, be up-to-date with the latest news about an employer before you go into an interview. Run Google searches like these before your interview so you can knock their socks off in the interview with your knowledge:
- “[insert company name here]” “(ceo OR president)”
- “[insert company name here]” officers
- “[insert company name here]” “expanding in *”
- “[insert company name here]” (announced OR introduced)
- “[insert company name here]” “new * announced”
- “[insert company name here]” (growing OR planning)
- “[insert company name here]” (launched OR launching)
- “[insert company name here]” (awarded OR won)
- “[insert company name here]” (chosen OR selected)
- “[insert company name here]” “opening *”
- “[insert company name here]” “venture funding”
- “[insert company name here]” “quarterly financial results”
- “[insert company name here]” “beginning production”
- “[insert company name here]” “acquiring *”
- “[insert company name here]” ~competitor
There are MANY more queries, so keep thinking and looking!
10. Google Job Search Bonus Tricks
Google Time Check | Not sure what time it is? Type “time” into your search bar. If Google knows your location (and it probably does), you don’t even need to know your time zone. Not sure what time it is in another location in a different time zone? For example, supposed you wanted to know the time (and date) in Sydney, Australia. Just type “time Sydney Australia.” Google will tell you the time and the date.
Google Dictionary Look-Up | Not sure what a word means – very important when you are reading job descriptions – do a Google Dictionary look-up. Just put whatever word you want defined after the “define” request.
Google Thesaurus Look-Up | 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 by typing “synonym” before the word. Google will usually return a few synonyms for you and then link to websites that offer more options.
If done correctly, a google job search can be a powerful tool in you career arsenal. User the tips and tricks above for a more effective, successful search.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Job-Hunt.org!
About the Author: 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, 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 Google+.