Using basic Google Search modifiers to enhance your job search
By Uri Allen, CPRW
Become a Google-Fu Master with a few easy tricks!
One of the most often overlooked and easily accessible tools for any job seeker boils down to one simple word; Google. Yes, Google. The search engine has become so popular that the Miriam-Webster dictionary now includes a definition of its name and related activity (Googling) and while many people know of and have used the Google search engine feature from everything from searching for favorite recipes to that new, hilarious cat video, many overlook the rich features that make the Google search engine a powerhouse of information for the web savvy 21st century job seeker.
Most job seekers these days know the value of doing research on companies before they interview or in some cases, even before an application to a company. Knowing what a company is all about, the power players, mission statements and organizational goals can help a job seeker in answering the “Why do you want to work here” question in an interview or decide if they would be a good fit with the corporate culture of a given organization.
One way to do some quick investigating on a company is to pop their name into the Google search engine and start sifting through the results. Now that may give you some good hits, maybe a link to the company website…but say you wanted to see what kind of financial situation a company is in. After all, during challenging economic times, it’s in a job seekers best interest to find out if the company they are racing to get into has viable long-term staying power. A Google-fu master would probably, in this instance, use the following search string to pull-up the targeted organization’s annual report:
The + search modifier in the search query tells Google to search for those two strings of words together and pull those results first. This can be particularly helpful when a job seeker is trying to obtain specific information about a company or industry. With that idea in mind, there are several ways that a job seeker might be able to find out helpful information about a company such as: Company x + interview
This search string query may pull up testimonials, advice or previous interviewing experience from folks who may have already gone through the interviewing process for the company you are targeting and if you are really lucky, someone may have even posted sample interviewing questions to help you prepare for your interview. You can try the above method and combine the company name with other search strings such as + company culture or + mission statement to find out some more information about the company you are targeting.
On the flipside of the + Google-fu modifier, you can use the ‘-‘modifier to take out erroneous or unrelated things that keep coming up in a Google search. Let’s say for instance, you are doing a Google search for banks in your area to find some places to submit applications but you have already ruled out one popular bank that has many branches in your area. When you search for banks, this one company seems to dominate the search results and you find yourself having to weed through many pages of unwanted results to get any viable hits. What you can do in this case is use the ‘-‘ modifier to remove most, if not all, of those unwanted results. This query string would look like this: company x –unwanted company.
The third Google-fu search modifier you could use is the open and closed quotation marks or “ “. This modifier will result in the search engine pulling exact phrases and can be helpful when you are looking for something that can be easily confused with other things or to narrow down results if you find you aren’t getting good results with a straight, unmodified Google search. Let’s use our annual report example: “company x annual report” may net you more tailored results where a search without the quotation marks may yield, in addition to the result you want, results on the company as a whole and results on annual reports as a whole, respectively.
As you can see, Google allows users to do really powerful and in-depth searches utilizing the search modifiers above. In addition to the above mentioned, Google also offers a few other quick search operators that may be beneficial to you in your job search:
location:query will give you location specific results. Helpful if you are looking for information specific to a certain locality, city, state or town.
weather:location will help you plan that perfect interviewing outfit or figure out an alternative to riding that bike to an interview if there is pending inclement weather.
dictonary:query can help you when editing, spell-checking, writing an elevator pitch or reviewing documents about a company or making changes to a résumé.
movie:query so that after your awesome interview (since you Google-fu’ed prior to the interview and were super prepared!) you can treat yourself to a nice movie.
While this is in no way an exhaustive list of search modifiers and operators that Google offers, these are a great way to start incorporating Google-fu’ing in your job search and set you on your way to becoming a Google-fu master. Now go forth…and GOOGLE!