How To Build The Ultimate Job Finding Dashboard with iGoogle

final-job-dashboardPicture this: You wake up in the morning, grab your cup of coffee, and meander over to your computer. After checking your morning email and twitter accounts, you get started looking for some new work. You check a number of different job boards, look for keywords on a bunch of job-finding sites, and complete several twitter searches. After about hour or so of looking, you’ve got 5 or so potential leads. Not a bad start!

While 5 leads is pretty decent for an hour of searching — what if you could accomplish the same thing in 15 minutes? What about 5 minutes?

In this article we’re going to show you how to take that entire job search process and replace it with a single customized job finding page on iGoogle. We’ll aggregate all of the various job boards, grab feeds for different twitter searches, and create a single dashboard where you can look for jobs at a glance.

Step 1: Create a Google Account

create-accountIf you already have a Google account, or know how to use iGoogle, skip this step. If you don’t have a Google account, now’s the time to create one. We’re going to spend a lot of time customizing an iGoogle dashboard, so you want to make sure it is saved securely in your account.

To create an account, just jump over to Google and click ‘Sign in’ at the top right. On the next page click ‘Create an account now’ and follow the instructions.

Step 2: Clean Things Up With a New Tab

add-new-tabiGoogle starts you off with a rather packed and busy page, which isn’t going to be helpful in the search for new projects.

Instead of deleting everything, the easiest way to create your new job finding page is to add a new tab — and this works for those of you who already have customized iGoogle pages too.



You’ll also want to uncheck the “I’m feeling lucky” box too, as that would just fill up your new tab with stuff again, which is what we’re trying to avoid.

add-new-tab-2

Step 3: Add Your Favorite Job Boards to iGoogle

Now we’re ready to start getting into the fun stuff — adding job boards to your page. Since this is a freelance site we’ll be using a freelance web designer as our example, but you can follow along with any industry, topic, or job type that you want.

So, create a list of the job boards that you frequent regularly and would like to include in your personalized dashboard. We’re going to use these job boards for our example:

  • 37 Signals Job Board
  • FreelanceSwitch Job Board
  • Authentic Jobs
  • Krop Creative & Tech Jobs

fsw-job-feedsOnce you have your list of job boards, open them all up in your browser, along with your iGoogle page.

Look for links to RSS feeds. Go to one of your chosen job boards, we’ll start with FreelanceSwitch, and look for small links to rss feeds. They’ll look something like you see on the right.

fsw-select-categoryFind the RSS feed that is most relevant to you.With a little digging you can usually come up with a selection of multiple different job feeds for each major job board.

For example, FreelanceSwitch has feeds for each of their different categories — but since we’re building a page for the freelance web designer, we only want the feed with design jobs.

copy-rss-linkRight click and copy the RSS feed.
You’ll need the RSS feed to add this job board to your iGoogle dashboard, so right click on the best link and click “Copy link location”. That RSS link is now on your computer’s clipboard.

add-to-googleOpen iGoogle and Add the RSS feed. Go to your iGoogle dashboard, and in the upper right hand side click on the “Add Stuff” link. This will bring you to a page where you can add a lot of gadgets.

Once the page loads, click on “Add feed or gadget” in the lower part of the left column. That will open a box where you can paste in the RSS url that you just found in the previous step.

Repeat for each of job board. Open each job board and look for the most specific RSS feed you can find, and then copy/paste it somewhere you can refer to it later. Once you have the link for all of your job boards, it’s time to add them to iGoogle.

Here’s what it looks like so far:

google-dashboard-one

Step 4: Add Custom Twitter Searches

As we’ve mentioned a number of times on FreelanceFolder, twitter can be a great place to find new jobs of all different types and industries. We don’t want to overlook this potentially valuable resource when creating your job-finding dashboard, so in this section we’ll show you how to include twitter searches in your page.

The first step is to go to search.twitter.com and test a few search phrases to see which results work well. For our example we’re going to use these search terms:

  • Need Web Designer
  • Hire Web Designer
  • Know Web Designer

There are an infinite number of combinations to try, so test until you find something you like. Once you have a few search phrases that work well, move on to the next step.

twitter-feed
Copy the RSS link for your search. In the upper right corner of twitter search results page you’ll see a link that says “Feed for this query.”

Right click on that link and copy it to your clipboard, like we did with each of the job boards.

add-to-googleAdd the twitter feeds to iGoogle.
Go to your iGoogle dashboard, like we did for the job boards, and add a new RSS feed for each of the twitter searches you want.

Tada! Now you’ve got both customized job board feeds and specific twitter search results showing in one place.

Step 5: Add More and Customize

The final step in creating the ultimate job finding dashboard is to customize it even further to really make it your own. You can do that in several ways, but here are a few ideas:

Add a gadget or two. There are a lot of other gadgets out there made specifically for iGoogle, and you can find all of them with the “Add Stuff” link. Some of them can help with your job search, like the indeed.com job search gadget, and others are just fun to have. I personally added the FreelanceFolder feed to my iGoogle page :-)

Customize the look. The other way you can customize your job dashboard is by changing the theme. You’ll notice in my finished product that I’ve changed it to a darker theme than the usual. The other way that I’ve customized it is to make each feed display 5 items instead of the default 3, as I think this adds to the utility of the page.

Here’s the end result:

final-job-dashboard

Get Our Dashboard For Yourself

Are you a web designer who would benefit from the dashboard we’ve created? Do you want to see a full-sized example? Either way, you can instantly add all of our feeds and customizations to your own iGoogle page by clicking this link:

http://www.google.com/ig/sharetab?hl=en&source=stb&stid=111537202062304519503f78b9acc3fb90f95eaefc8ef2e09b7cd

Add Your Tips

There are a lot of other clever uses for iGoogle that we didn’t cover in this post, but you can add them to the comments! Share your thoughts, suggestions, and ideas in the comments and other freelancers will be eternally grateful.

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Comments

  1. says

    Awesome post Mason. This same tactic can be utilized in so many ways using iGoogle it’s almost too exciting to even think about it. Thanks for compiling such a detailed tutorial. Kudos!

  2. says

    Great idea, I’ve just setup my iGoogle page. I’ve been using a similar idea with Google Reader but this way is a lot clearer. Also I have the Jackie Chan theme for my page ;)

  3. says

    I was just thinking about setting up iGoogle before this post came through to me. I used the link you provided at the end and my iGoogle was customized is seconds! Thanks Mason!

  4. says

    How do I move the tabs from the top to the left?

    Apparently Google changed the layout recently to have the tabs on the left side and I heard it’s the bee’s knees. However, my layout is still the old one.. how do I update it?

  5. says

    Thank you so much for your article. I’m a Vietnamese (a South Eastern Asia Country) web freelancer. Can you give some advices for freelancers like me?

  6. says

    Wow! I have to admit, I was quite lazy in aggregating all of these suggestions into iGoogle, yet this post kicked my butt into gear! I now have a great page set up and not only will it make me more efficient, but also hopefully more money :)

    Thanks guys – I owe you one!

  7. says

    That’s such a fantastic idea. I’ve set up my iGoogle for so many other things but never thought about using it for getting new freelance projects. I check many of the sites every couple of days. I can’t believe I didn’t think of this!

    Great post! :)

  8. Nick Parsons says

    I can’t believe I never thought of this! I have a whole bunch of feeds on my iGoogle page, but I never even considered putting job feeds on there. Thanks so much for this idea!

    One thought I had that might complement this really nicely is to also put up some time-tracking sort of widget that could help you stay on track with your day :) Web Worker Daily published a really neat article on iGoogle productivity gadgets, if anyone’s interested.

    Thanks again!

  9. says

    This is absolutely Brilliant!

    I wonder how else you can use iGoogle? I just use it to keep updated with other blogs. I’m curious to see how others use it.

  10. says

    Very cool idea. We generally teach people to use Google Reader, but this way is much cleaner and gets rid of the clutter by creating the page and using widgets and themes.

    Thanks for the tutorial.

  11. moon h says

    Great article, Mason. Usually I read the articles and think ‘oh, useful info!’ but this one made me act! An hour later, I have Monster, Dice, Elance, Guru, and oDesk feeds. Probably more to come, like Twitter.

    Thanks!

  12. says

    Wow for some reason I never thought about subscribing to RSS feeds for job opps… thanks! I’ve signed up for several, will be nice to have an “automatic eye” out there!

  13. Jay says

    I too have been doing this for some time with and rss reader.

    I highly recommend funneling all feeds through yahoo pipes for good filtering. Separate out the junk to be even more efficient!

  14. says

    Great article and tips. One issue, I can’t seem to get it to work right. Half of them don’t load right or are all jumbled up, and they’re not holding my job search functions. That, and I’m having great difficulty finding the RSS feeds on the job boards; monster, hotjobs, guru, etc.
    Any tips?

  15. says

    I too was looking at how to do this via Google Apps because it was such an awesome idea, and I figured it out after much research and it was right under my nose all the time. Thus the reason I am posting this to also help others out with what I found. If you go to your Google Apps custom home partner page and then click on the add items on the right hand side, you will be taken to the add page for adding gadgets. None of which really work like the iGoogle. But up at the search box on the top is a small amount of text that says “Add by url”. Click on this and it will allow you to paste the RSS feed in and add it to your page just like the iGoogle and give you settings for each and the freedom as this article does on iGoogle. Hope this helps somebody else out.

  16. says

    This is an outstanding tutorial on a critically important step that every job seeker should be taking in their job search efforts. The tools available for job seekers today are incredibly powerful, but the numbers can be overwhelming and the steps involved can be daunting. It’s also hard to know where time will be well spent with a productive outcome as opposed to being a waste of time. This step-by-step tutorial on iGoogle is well written, easy to follow, and extremely worthwhile for job seekers. It highlights a technology platform (iGoogle, RSS, and Twitter) that any job seeker at any level, in any location, and in any industry can leverage to improve their efforts.

    One of the RSS feeds that a job seeker should add to their dashboard is a customized search from LinkUp.com. LinkUp is a job search engine that indexes job listings exclusively from company websites. The index is updated every night and lists jobs from over 22,000 corporate career portals on company websites. As a result, jobs on LinkUp are always current. Unlike other aggregators such as Indeed and Simplyhired that list jobs from other job boards, the LinkUp search engine lists only jobs directly from company sites, so we have no fake jobs, work-at-home scams, and phishing jobs. As well, since 70% of available jobs are not advertised anywhere but can only be found on a company’s website, the vast majority of LinkUp’s jobs cannot be found anywhere else on the web.

    To add a customized job feed from LinkUp, a job seeker should visit LinkUp.com, enter a search query into the search engine, and then hit the RSS icon in the upper right corner of their browser to get the RSS feed for that search. If a job seeker adds that RSS feed to their iGoogle dashboard, it will always list whatever current jobs are in the search engine that match that search criteria. I’d also recommend that a job seeker add multiple RSS feeds into their iGoogle dashboard, not just from different sites, but also different search strings from the same site.

    In any event, this is a great post and one that I will be highlighting for job seekers as frequently as possible.

    Thanks.

    Toby Dayton
    LinkUp.com

  17. says

    Hey so this is pretty cool but I noticed a major issue with it…

    There is NO way (that I could find) to message the strangers on Twitter who I was finding… I was stuck having to google their names & trying to find their emails, facebooks or myspaces out on the internet… Not very efficient…

    Can you shed some light on this Mason?

  18. says

    I have had job alerts set up for ages on job boards, more for keeping an eye on the industry rather than actually looking for a job. But, you never know! Every morning I open my email and there they are – all the relevant jobs from three job sites that I set up alerts on. One national newspaper, one niche site and one generalist job board. Having a dashboard sounds lovely, but calling something the ultimate job finding tool is some claim!

  19. says

    thanks for the entertaining page. I was initially delighted after i examined ones piece and have made a subscription with it. Make sure you revise this informative article when you are able because I would really like more information.

  20. says

    What a great Post! I haven’t thought of Twitter at all. Though , I knew iGoogle . When i searched Twitter i was amazed . Thanks for such a post . sure it will help beginner freelancers like me.

  21. Philip Turpin says

    Great idea (and I hadn’t thought of it tbh). However, after having a quick play with it I’d prefer to import the RSS feeds straight into Google reader. 3 reasons behind that.

    1. I stopped using iGoogle some time back as, fancy though it is, it’s limited in the quantity of info it can display (although there are some fantastic gadgets out there, I’ll admit).
    2. I use Google Reader quite heavily anyway so it makes sense for me to include the RSS feeds there.
    3. Lastly and probably most importantly, even with the “display number of entries” for the feed, on iGoogle, set to it’s maximum of 9 you might still miss out some new entries (10 onwards). With the RSS feed in GReader (or any other RSS Reader) you’re guaranteed to always see all new entries.

    None the less, still a great article – I just needed to adapt it slightly to suit me ;)

  22. says

    Nice tutorial on how to create your own job board with igoogle. You just opened my mind to how many other things it could be used for. Thanks

  23. says

    Step by step guide on how to build a custom job finding dashboard using iGoogle.
    From the Page: “We’ll aggregate all of the various job boards, grab feeds for different twitter searches, and create a single dashboard where you can look for jobs at a glance.”

  24. Kendra says

    This was a fantastic tutorial but Google decided to change the way RRS and Widgets work and made it kind of a nightmare to do what is listed here.

    This article helped me set up all of my previous feeds/widgets well over a year ago.

    I went to add another one today and can’t. :(

  25. says

    How To Build The Ultimate Job Finding Dashboard with iGoogle | FreelanceFolder I was recommended this website by my cousin. I’m not sure whether this post is written by him as no one else know such detailed about my problem. You are wonderful! Thanks! your article about How To Build The Ultimate Job Finding Dashboard with iGoogle | FreelanceFolder Best Regards Nick Craig

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  30. says

    Gee, if only it were so easy. Google thinks of everything. Looks like I’ll have to check this out more closely, because if this works that easily, it could make things a whole lot easier.

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  1. [...] How To Build The Ultimate Job Finding Dashboard with iGoogle | FreelanceFolder Picture this: You wake up in the morning, grab your cup of coffee, and meander over to your computer. After checking your morning email and twitter accounts, you get started looking for some new work. You check a number of different job boards, look for keywords on a bunch of job-finding sites, and complete several twitter searches. After about hour or so of looking, you’ve got 5 or so potential leads. Not a bad start! [...]

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    This tutorial will show you how to build the ultimate, customizable, job finding dashboard using iGoogle. Integrate job boards, twitter searches, and more….

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