As an entry level sales rep, many moons ago, I used to do my territory and prospect research in the public library using a thing called microfilm. I also used to walk 2 miles to school, in the snow, uphill, both ways. But that’s a different story. Fortunately, technology and the internet have both expanded and expedited the research process for not just sales but any vocation. That’s also great news for your job search process.
A successful job search stands on the shoulders of in-depth and focused research. My definition of job search research does not include spending hours each day surfing the job boards and employment sites to apply for online job postings. The research that matters most for your job search includes:
Trends, analysis, and highlights for your targeted industry(s)
Financial analysis and market updates for your targeted organization(s)
Required experience, skills, and certifications for your targeted position(s)
Primary keywords for your targeted job(s)
Potential contacts for your job search network
Google and LinkedIn are the default tools for much of the research required for your job search process. Those two tools are mandatory and not the focus of today’s article. Instead, I want to focus on four lesser-known applications and websites that accelerate your research, help you stay organized, and position you for greater success in the job search process. My filter criteria for these tools was twofold. Number one, they deliver what they promise, and I use them every day. And number two, they are free!
Staying up to date on the news, articles, content, and information that serves as the fuel for your job search research can be a significant time soak in your daily work process. Navigating to multiple news and blog sites, managing RSS feeds, and email news notifications hitting your inbox, are all research strategies that impact productivity and don’t guarantee a complete view of critical content. Feedly is a content aggregator that allows you to select topics and content sources relevant to your job search. The platform then serves up a daily feed of content mapped directly to your job search requirements. Set up correctly, you will have a single job search content resource for all your relevant publications, blogs, YouTube videos, keyword alerts, tweets, and RSS feeds. The Feedly Basic plan is free and allows you to create three different feeds with up to 100 sources for your content. Additional paid plans are available with incremental features, but the free plan should be adequate for your research needs. Access and sign up for Feedly here. Be sure to also put the Feedly app on your Apple or Android mobile device for any time content access.
If you are anything like me, you uncover more research content than you can read and digest in a single sitting. Additionally, you don’t just consume your content sitting in front of a computer or laptop screen. We read content on our mobile devices in cars (preferably stationary), in line at the grocery store, or during commercial breaks watching our favorite sports team. How do you stay organized and hang on to that valuable content to read later? Bookmark the page or email the link to yourself and you can virtually guarantee data loss, time wasted, and frustration as your “to read” list spirals out of control. Pocket is the best tool I have found to save my content for later reading. Pocket, originally called Read It Later, is a cloud-based content collection tool that enables you to save and organize your research for reading at another time. Best of all, I can save and access my content from any device, all with the free version of Pocket. Access and sign up for Pocket here and add the Chrome extension to your browser here. Additionally., take advantage of the Pocket app for your Apple or Android device for mobile research productivity.
#3: O*Net Online
How do you research requirements and general skills for your target job? Online job postings are one source of information. A more comprehensive and unbiased platform is the O*Net Online website. This free web-based tool is designed for career exploration and job analysis. Sponsored by the US Department of Labor, the O*NET online service has detailed descriptions of the world of work for use by job seekers, workforce development and HR professionals, students, and researchers. Focus on the Occupation Quick Search function. Plug in the job or position title for your target career, and you will see a list of occupations, tasks, skills, and knowledge matching your query. All these resources provide excellent information on the most popular and relevant keywords for your target job or career. Access O*Net Online here.
#4: Keywords Everywhere
Understanding the correct keywords to use in your resume and on your LinkedIn profile is critical in the job search process. Optimizing both of these branding assets for online search result visibility ensures that you place higher on recruiter search lists and that you increase the probability of passing through ATS application filters. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a tool to give you a second set of eyes to validate the relevance of your keyword research? Enter the Keywords Everywhere solution. This free browser extension works on both Chrome and Firefox web browsers and was primarily designed for marketers focused on search engine optimization. But you can use the tool to test the relevance of keywords and their variants in your job search process and branding assets. Just enter a keyword into your search bar, and Keywords Everywhere will give you a quantitative stack ranking of current search statistics for that term. For example, if you were looking for a position in quantitative analysis, should you focus on Financial Analyst (74,000 searches/month) or Business Analyst (110,000 searches/month) keywords. Using the Keywords Everywhere tool, we can see that the Business Analyst keyword is in higher demand today. Access the Keywords Everywhere Chrome browser extension here.
These are just four of the many job search research tools I use daily in my work. And none of them involve microfilm or libraries! There are certainly more tools that you can adapt for your job search. If you have a favorite, drop me a note with your recommendation. I am always open to new suggestions and technology.
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Dan Troup is the Managing Director of the AdvantEdge Careers coaching service. If you are interested in learning more about how a job search expert and certified career coach can assist you, please contact AdvantEdge Careers for a free initial consultation.