Feature: Job Boards Don’t Speak English

Feature: Job Boards Don’t Speak English

Feature: Job Boards Don’t Speak English

That’s right. Job boards post millions of jobs on the Internet every week, and not a single one of them is available in English. How can that be? Well, job boards store their postings in databases, and the computers that run those databases don’t know a widget from a midget. In other words, if you want to use a job board to find your dream job, you’re going to have to learn how to speak the language of computers. Now, don’t have a heart attack; it’s not as bad as you think. In fact, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist or even have to like computers in order to be fluent in “jobspotese,” the lingua franca of successful online job seekers.

Speaking jobspotese is important because job opportunities are presented differently on the Internet. When you open the classified ads in a newspaper or magazine, all of the openings appear in front of you, on the printed page. You can see every single one of them, so you don’t have to worry about overlooking any that might be of interest to you. Jobs that are posted on the Internet, however, aren’t visible. When you open the Jobs page on a job board, you are asked to describe the kinds of job you want so that the computer can find and display them for you. Hence, everything depends upon your ability to give the job board computer instructions it can understand and use as you intend.

While all job board computers are different, the vast majority accept instructions that are based on a single set of rules. These rules were devised by a 19th century British mathematician by the name of George Boole. He established the logic by which factors are presented so that their relationship to one another can be clearly and accurately understood. In job databases, these factors are the characteristics you seek in your dream job.

For example, if you’re looking for a Project Manager’s position in the telecommunications industry that pays a salary of $50,000 and is located in Milwaukee or Green Bay, Wisconsin, Boolean rules will enable you to present those criteria so that the computer understands exactly what you want. Thanks to that clarity of expression, you can be sure that you won’t waste a lot of time uncovering positions in which you are not interested or, even worse, overlook one or more positions in which you are.

The following list summarizes the most important Boolean rules. Master them, and you will be an expert in jobspotese. Please note, however, that to get the best results from any specific job database, you should study its Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and use its online tutorial, if one is provided.


1. Factors (the characteristics you seek in a job) are normally entered in all lower case letters because capitalization makes them cases sensitive. In other words, if you capitalize a factor, the computer will identify only those jobs where the term is capitalized. If you use all lower case letters, the computer will identify jobs that contain the term whether it is capitalized or not.

2. To link two factors together, both of which are required in your dream job, use the Boolean operator AND. Boolean operators are normally expressed in all capital letters. In the example above, you might use the following expression to tell the computer two of the key attributes you want in the job:

  • $50,000 AND telecommunications
  • This expression instructs the computer to identify any job in its database that offers both characteristics. It must pay $50,000, and it must be in the telecommunications industry. If either one of those factors is missing, you do not want to see the job.

    3. To tell the computer that the factor for which you are looking is a phrase rather than a single word, use quotation marks. For example:

  • “project manager” AND $50,000 AND telecommunications
  • 4. To link two factors together, either one of which is acceptable in your dream job, use the Boolean operator OR. For example:

  • Milwaukee OR “Green Bay”
  • Note that using capital letters with city or state names is acceptable because they are seldom expressed any other way.

    5. To link two factors together when they are part of a longer set of characteristics, use parentheses. For example:

  • “project manager” AND $50,000 AND telecommunications AND (Milwaukee OR “Green Bay”)
  • 6. To account for the fact that different people use different terms to express the same idea, always include any synonyms of your factors and, wherever possible, use a Boolean operator called a wildcard.

    To identify other terms that employers might use to describe the characteristics you seek in a job, review the vocabulary in their print employment ads. For example, you may find that some employers use the term Project Director synonymously with Project Manager. Hence, you should instruct the computer as follows:

  • (“project manager” OR “project director”) AND $50,000 AND telecommunications AND (Milwaukee OR “Green Bay”)
  • Sometimes the variability in expression is simply a derivative of the same word. For example, an employer might use the term “project management” to describe the “project manager” job for which you’re looking. The wildcard enables you to tell the computer to look for any and all terms that are based on the same root word. Hence, the term “project manage*” (the asterisk is the wildcard) would tell the computer to find any job with a characteristic that is expressed as a derivative of the root word, manage. For example:

  • (“project manage*” OR “project director”) AND $50,000 AND telecommunications AND (Milwaukee OR “Green Bay”)
  • Using jobspotese is a little like learning to speak pig Latin. Anyone can do it and, with even a little practice, become and expert. So, give it a try. The more fluent you are, the easier it will be to spot your dream job on the Web.

    Section Two: Site News

    CareerJournal.com, from the publishers of “The Wall Street Journal,” has published advice for recent college graduates who have yet to land a job. According to the site, these graduates are not only competing against each other, but also against nearly 9 million other unemployed people, all of whom are chasing after just 3 million openings. What should they do? CollegeJournal.com suggests the following: volunteer (to gain work experience), network (among family, friends and fellow alumni), cast a wide net (don’t focus on one specific job at a select number of companies) and be flexible about location.

    ExecuNet, a career management services company for the $100,000+ executive, announced that its Executive Talent Deamnd Index showed a 2% gain between the second quarter of 2002 and the second quarter of this year. By comparison, year-over-year demand was flat in the first quarter of 2003 and down by 17% in 2002. Those functions showing gains were Finance (4%), Human Resources (9%), Sales & Marketing (3%) and MIS/IT (15%). Those showing a decline were General Management (-13%), Operations Management (-3%), Consulting (-3%) and Legal/Regulatory (-2%).

    Korn/Ferry International surveyed recruiters to identify the factors most likely to undermine a person’s candidacy for an employer’s open position. The most serious flaw, cited by 43% of respondents, is verbosity-candidates who talk too much. It was followed by lack of preparation, which was mentioned by 33% of respondents, and an “over-inflated ego,” which got the nod from 24% of respondents.

    The National Black Data Processors Association and WorkplaceDiversity.com announced the winners of the 1st annual “Best Companies for Blacks in Technology” Awards. They are Allstate Insurance, Blackwell Consulting Services, FleetBoston Financial and Lockheed Martin. Founded in 1975, BDPA serves African Americans in the IT field; WorkplaceDiversity.com serves employers seeking experienced diversity candidates in all professions.

    WEDDLE’s announces that research for its 2004 Guides has found the following sites are no longer in operation: Accounting Professionals Resource Center (kentis.com), Bankconnect.com, Bank Marketing Association (bmanet.org), FinancialProfessional.com, FinCareer Global Financial Careers (fincareer.com), PlumbingOnlineJobs.com, ProActiveRecruiter.com, and Talentworks.com.

    Section Three: Site Profiles

    Site Insite … how well do you know the Web’s 40,000+ job boards?

    Which of the following sites would get a bad review if you were searching for an on-air position with a radio or TV show?

  • Showbizjobs.com
  • CastingJobs.com
  • TVjobs.com
  • Filmbiz.com
  • Where would you probably get a decent payoff from checking the opportunities in compensation and benefits management?

  • CompHealth.com
  • Shrm.org
  • WorldatWork
  • Jobs4HR.com
  • If you were a Logistics Manager living in Cedar Rapids, IA, which site might post appropriate openings with manufacturing companies in your area?

  • Jobing.com
  • HireGate.com
  • CorridorCareers
  • PortaJobs.com
  • (answers below)

    Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2003 Guides and Directories




    Post full time jobs: Yes

    Post part time/consulting jobs: Yes

    Distribution of jobs: International-USA & Canada

    Number of jobs: 200

    Salary levels of jobs: $21-30K, $31-40K

    Offer a job agent: No

    Resume database: Yes

    How long are resumes stored: As long as candidate would like

    Restrictions on who can post: Only those in social and human services fields

    Other services for job seekers: Career/job search information, links to off-site resources, resume not released to employer without candidate’s permission

    Answers to Site Insite:

    1. CastingJobs.com, a site for the metal forming and manufacturing industries

    2. All but CompHealth.com, a staffing firm specializing in the healthcare industry

    3. CorridorCareers