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.