Google is not just an internet company. It has become a verb. Sure, they offer lots of different products... but they are likely most known for their search engine. But how can you use Google (or "the Google", as some of my older friends like to call it) to help you in your job search?
The answer is Google Alerts.
Not sure about Google Alerts or how it can help you in your job search? Don't worry. You are not alone.
Think of Google Alerts as a robot that spends the whole day sitting in front of your computer, continuously googling the same thing over and over. And when ever a new item comes up - a news article, blog post, particularly negative customer review - you'll receive an e-mail. Just fill in the fields and make your selections and that little robot goes to work!
You can use Google Alerts to stay up-to-date on the company you are researching. Of course, if the company you are researching is large or has a common name, you may want to refine your search. Consider using special operators to narrow your search. For instance, if your Google Alert for "Acme Corp." is giving you too many results about Road Runner and his nemesis, Wile E. Coyote, you can update your search criteria to: "ACME corp." -"road runner" -"wile e. coyote".
Companies hire people to solve a specific problem. If you stay current on what potential problems face the company, you are in a better position to market yourself to them.
Some examples of things you might learn from staying current with Google Alerts:
- The company just signed a deal with a software company with which you have extensive experience
- An up-and-coming blogger writes a strongly worded piece, critisizing the company for recent company changes that have resulted in less responsive customer service agents
- The company's primary competitor announced it is closing one of its divisions, which could increase your target company's market share
- The company has hired a new CEO, and as luck would have it, you worked for a previous company of theirs in the past
You may not be the only one setting up Google Alerts. I have, on many occasions, set up a Google Alert for candidates applying for work in my organizations. So, you should also create a Google Alert for your full name and any other names by which you are known. Keeping up with the Google Alert of your name can help you better respond to potentially negative items.