Monday, September 21, 2009

Using RSS Feeds for Ad Chase

I just realized I posted about this back in January, but this is a much more detailed discussion.

I manage all of my repetitive on-line activity through the use of RSS feeds. My choice is Google Reader, but there are other options depending on your preferences (Bloglines, SharpReader, Newsgator, etc.). Your reader will pull new content from any site you designate and place it into one, easy-to-read source so rather than flipping from site to site, you can just go to your reader and have everything laid out in front of you. You could look at it as a newspaper that is updated constantly and only includes content you are interested in.

I think there are three (3) main advantages to using a Reader to manage your content. First, it is much more time-effective. With everything on one page, you don’t have to wait for pages to load, try to remember website addresses, etc. You can also easily skip content that you are not interested in and only click through to read the specific articles/jobs/etc. that you want. It is also updated in real-time, so if a job is posted in the middle of the day, you don’t have to wait until your morning e-mail to find out about it.

Second, it ensures that you don’t miss anything. We all get very busy. If you don’t check your ads for a couple of days, it can be very easy to miss them. The reader will highlight unread content and helps me make sure that I review everything I need to.

Most importantly, it is searchable. If you rely on Indeed’s website for your ad chase (as you should!), you cannot find ads once they are more than 30 days or so old. If they are being pulled into your reader, at least the abbreviated version of the jobs are available for all time. Previous firms I have worked for have hired administrative assistants to input ads to make a searchable database (for skill marketing, MPC calls, etc.). An RSS reader will do all of that work for you for free.

The How-To
First, go to http://www.google.com/reader and create an account. After you verify your information, you will get a screen that looks something like this:

I’m going to assume that we’re using Indeed for our job ads, so open another window and go to Indeed and conduct one of your normal, periodic searches.

I usually filter by “Employer” to weed out the obvious recruiter-posted ads, but if you like to look at other recruiter ads, you can skip this step. To filter, of course, just click on “Employer” on the left side of the screen.
If you scroll down the screen, on the right-hand side you will see a link that says “RSS Job Feed”
Click on this link and you will get a page that looks like this:
If you are using one of the readers they highlight in the yellow box, all you have to do is click on the link and it will add it automatically. Since I’m using Google Reader, I need to copy the URL from the address bar. Return to your Google Reader and click on the “Add a Subscription” box. You will paste the URL in its entirety in the box and click “Add.”
Your new job feed will automatically be added under Subscriptions. Now you can scroll through the jobs. It will only initially pull the last 10-20 jobs posted that meet the criteria, but as soon as a new job that meets the criteria is posted, it will appear in your reader in bold so you know you have a new job to review.
Repeat this process with as many search strings as you like. Personally, I make them pretty specific. Since the different searches will just be listed as individual subscriptions, I will know that if “Software Engineer” comes up in bold, that there are new Software Engineering jobs, and if I ever want to just browse, I have a place to go. However, you can use very general searches too, it just is more likely that you will have to weed through garbage (i.e. if one of your searches was “Engineer”).

You will not be able to reap the search benefits of this for a few months. However, as an example, if I do a search in my personal reader for “Software Engineer” I get over 500 results from just the last 6 months. (To do a search, type a search string into the box at the very top of the page).

I have identical RSS feeds for both Indeed and SimplyHired since both aggregators pull from a slightly different pool, and the process is basically the same for both.

Happy Ad Chasing!

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