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How to automate job searches and find work faster

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By Drew Prindle
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Now that summer is fast approaching and many of you readers out there might soon be looking for employment, we wanted to share one of our favorite tech tricks with you — automated job searching. It’s a super simple technique that doesn’t take any technical knowledge to pull off, and if used properly, it’ll hopefully help you spend less time searching and more time actually applying to jobs you’re interested in.

However, before we dive in and get started, there are a few things you should know. For starters, this method isn’t guaranteed to get you a job; it’s merely a way to be alerted faster when jobs that meet your search criteria are listed online. This way, you’ll be able to prioritize your time more effectively and get an application in faster. That being said, it’s also worth noting that simply being one of the first people to submit an application doesn’t necessarily boost your chances of getting an interview — but it also doesn’t hurt. If an employer is looking to fill a position quickly, this technique could very well help you beat other applicants to the punch.

No matter how you shake it, this is a good idea. It only takes a few minutes to set up, and once you’re done, you’ll never have to actively browse through job listings to find what you’re looking for. Instead, they’ll come to you, and you’ll get a notification the instant that a relevant job listing is posted online.

We’ll cover all the steps in gross detail below, but we also realize that this is a long article and not everyone has the time to read it completely. So for those of you in a time crunch, here’s the TL;DR: Use the Craigslist and RSS triggers on e to text you links to new job postings as soon as they’re listed.

That’s pretty much the gist of it, but keep reading to learn the finer points.

Step One: Setting up SMS alerts on IFTTT 

If you aren’t already using IFTTT, now is the time to start. Despite being one of the most versatile and far-reaching web apps in existence, it’s also one of of the easiest to use. Sign up for an account here and dive in head-first — even if computers aren’t your strong suit, we have no doubt that you’ll be able to figure out IFTTT in a few minutes.  

Once you’ve created an account, the next step is to activate the SMS channel. To do this, click on the Channels tab at the top of the page, scroll down until you find the SMS icon, and click it. Follow the steps IFTTT provides to complete the activation. You’ll need to enter in your cell phone number, but don’t be shy – they won’t send you unwanted messages or sell your contact info to telemarketers. 

*Note: You can also receive notifications via email if you’d like (just use the Email channel instead of SMS), but we recommend using SMS because it allows you to get notifications without any additional configuration on your part. Both methods will work, but if you use email, make sure you’ve got Push Notifications enabled. The idea here is to be notified at the exact moment a position becomes available.

Step Two: Conquering Craigslist

This is the only tricky part about the entire process, but getting it right is the key to making this automation actually useful to you. If done incorrectly, you’ll end up getting hundreds of texts a day, thereby making the process extremely inefficient, annoying, and confusing. Here’s how to do it properly:

Head over to Craigslist, hit up the Jobs section for your area, and start searching. What you want to do is find listings that fit a very specific set of keywords — and don’t be afraid to be too specific. When searching for jobs, you want to cast a wide net, but using broad keywords isn’t the best way to do that. If you do, your inbox will be inundated with job postings you aren’t interested in. For example, lets say you’re looking for a job in marketing. Even though you want to keep your options open, you probably don’t want an alert to be sent to to you phone every single time a job is posted to Craigslist with the word “marketing” somewhere in the body.

A smarter approach is to create multiple IFTTT recipes, each with their own set of very specific keywords. For example, somebody looking for a job in online marketing might want to set up separate triggers for the terms web marketing, Internet marketing, and digital marketing. If the results are too broad and a given keyword search still returns dozens of postings for each day, use Craigslist’s “title” filter to limit results only to job listings that contain your keywords in the title.

Tweak your search parameters until you’ve adequately narrowed the results, and then copy the page URL.

Step three: Building your recipes

Now that you’ve got the SMS channel set up and your first Craigslist feed figured out, it’s time to build your first recipe. Here’s how it’s done:
  1. Head back to IFTTT and click the Create tab at the top
  2. For the This step, select Craigslist
  3. Select “new post from search”
  4. Paste in the Craigslist feed URL you copied earlier
  5. For the That step, select the SMS channel
Click through until the recipe is complete, and when you’re done, give yourself a high five — you just created your first automatic job search trigger. 

Now, if you want to cast a wider net, just repeat that process a few more times, and use different keywords in each new recipe so there isn’t any overlap. Also, feel free to use the same triggers in different city-specific subsections of Craigslist. 

 Step Three: Wrangling the rest with RSS

While Craigslist is definitely a great place to start, it’s not the only place where jobs are posted. To cast your net even wider and thereby boost your chances of finding a job via automation, you’ll need to draw from additional sources. The only problem is that creating automations for other websites isn’t quite as simple as it is with Craigslist because IFTTT doesn’t have a specific channel for most other websites.

There’s a workaround, though. What IFTTT does have is an RSS or “Feed” trigger. Therefore, if you can track down (or create) an RSS feed for a given job search site, you can use IFTTT to selectively send you posts that fit your search criteria. It’s tricky though, because some job search websites offer RSS feeds and others don’t.

If the job search website you’re using does offer RSS feeds, the process is pretty straightforward:
  1. Search for a job and narrow the results as you see fit
  2. Click the RSS button
  3. Find/copy the RSS address (This can be tricky sometimes. If you find yourself lost in a page of code, look for the word source and a url that has rss in it near the end)
  4. Head to IFTTT and create a new recipe
  5. For the This section, select the “Feed” channel
  6. When prompted, select the “New feed item” trigger
  7. Paste the feed URL you copied earlier
  8. For the That section, choose the SMS channel
  9. Rinse and repeat for all the jobs you’re after
If the job search website you’re using does not offer RSS feeds, the steps are slightly different
  1. Search for a job and narrow the results as you see fit
  2. Copy the URL
  3. Use a feed creator like this one to make the page into an RSS feed
  4. Copy the new URL that is generated
  5. Follow steps 4-9 from the previous section.
Continue creating triggers until you’re satisfied with your collection of recipes. Once you’ve amassed a few, all that’s left to do is sit back and wait for the relevant job listings to roll in. If everything goes as planned, you should recieve anywhere from 5 to 20 notifications per day. If you end up getting more than that, or simply can’t keep up with the volume of alerts you’re getting, try editing your recipes and making them more specific, or simply turning a few of them off. At the end of the day, this is something that should simplify your life and help you achieve your goals , not something that complicates your life and makes things difficult.

This article was originally posted on Digital Trends

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