LLM: Your job search from home

By Desiree Jaeger-Fine

The online world was essential to us long before this pandemic, but now it has reached a whole new level. It may feel like your job search is on pause until normal life resumes, but this is not the case. You can set the stage now for your post-pandemic success. Below, I show you how to use keywords, Boolean strings and job boards in a more efficient and creative way during your time at home:

Job Boards

The starting point for every job seeker is a job board. The most common strategy for using job boards is to look for open positions and to apply for them. This is, however, a very limited use. Why not use the information provided to come up with a more effective approach than simply sending your resume to an applicant tracking system? Let us have a look at what information job postings can give us:

1. The firm that is searching; 2. Which position is vacant. This will also tell us about the department that is hiring; if it is a corporate position, we can assume that the corporate department is searching. If we can deduce which department is looking for a new associate, we can, with a simple search, find the lawyers in that department; 3. We may find information about the person in charge of receiving resumes. And again, with a simple search, we can find out what position that person holds, e.g., is it Human Resources or a hiring partner? We can use all this information and move to our next source: LinkedIn.

We enter the name and see whether one of our connections is linked to the aforementioned person. If so, and it happens to be a good acquaintance, why not ask for an introduction? If we do not have any close connections in common, we can check which bar or trade associations that person may belong to. Maybe we will find ourselves at the same event at a bar association in the very near future.

This is one creative way of looking at a job posting, but it does not mean that this is the only way to look at it. A job posting is much more than a black or white, apply or don't apply situation. It is one source of information. Be creative, take information, and put it to good use.

Keywords

Keywords are the words and phrases that we, as Internet users, type into the search box of a search engine to find those websites that match what we are looking for. While some keywords get hundreds of thousands of unique searches a day, others get a couple of hundred.

Few job seekers spend time considering proper keyword search. To find proper keywords, there is a necessary preceding step—we must know what it is that we are looking for. If you are looking for a particular kind of shoe, you will not go to Google and type in "shoe." This will lead to 1,300,000,000 results. If you want to find "Converse," you might put that term in. This will lead to 312,000,000 results. You refine again and search for "Chucks Converse," resulting in 19,400,00 results. If you were to search for Converse AND Chucks AND Grey AND 7.5 AND under $45, you would only get 456,00 results. Do you catch my drift? If you did not know that you wanted a Grey chuck in size 7.5 for under $45, you would have to struggle with 1,300,000,000 results.

We use keywords quite intuitively when we search the net. We even use full phrases or questions such as "How far is the moon?" (238,900 miles by the way). Yet, when it comes to our job search, we use extremely broad terms such as "attorney jobs" (17,900,000 results). This is where your job search turns into a nightmare.

Why am I not simply giving you a list of keywords? If I could, I would. But the point is that keywords are based on one's search objective, and without knowing it, I cannot give you a keyword. Search objectives are as diverse as people. A list of keywords supplied to you without having discussed important matters first is just as useful as the keyword "attorney jobs."

Boolean Strings

Recruiters are very familiar with Boolean strings—a search technique to get meaningful candidate results from a wide range of software. Boolean strings help filter search results to avoid an overload of data. A Boolean string may look complex, but once the constituents are understood, they are easy to use. There are only five elements of syntax to understand.

These are:

AND

For example, Associate AND Corporate will give results that include both the word associate and corporate.

OR

For example, Associate OR Counsel OR Attorney will give results that include one or more of the stated words.

NOT

For example, Associate NOT "Document Review" will give results that contain the word associate, but leave out any that use the phrase "document review."

()

The use of parentheses causes the most confusion. Words within parentheses are given priority over other words around it. The most common way in which parentheses are applied by recruiters is in the use of OR strings. For example, we have a list of target companies we wish to work at; we can construct a command like this:

Facebook OR Apple OR Microsoft

But we do not wish to find just any job within these companies, so we might add:

"In-House Counsel" OR "Attorney"

We can now combine both commands into one search by using parentheses. This way, we tell the search engine that we want to see results containing either "In-House Counsel" or "Attorney" and also one of Facebook, Apple, or Microsoft. It will look like this:

("In-House Counsel" OR Attorney) AND (Facebook OR Apple OR Microsoft)

It makes no difference in which order the two sections in parentheses go; the same results will appear either way.

""

You will have noticed that I used quotation marks in the expression "Document Review" above. These quotation marks are used to capture a phrase that is to be kept intact, in the precise word order stated. Not using quotation marks around a phrase will mean that each word is treated separately, usually with an assumed AND in between each one.

By applying these elements along with our keywords, we can create a huge range of search operations. There is no limit to how often we can use any of these elements in a search, so we can create very specific search strings, which will save us a lot of time in filtering results.

Some job boards, such as Indeed, have advanced search features. Such features basically assist you in creating Boolean strings without you having to use any of the operators above. They offer the options to use "with all of these words," "with the exact phrase," "with at least one of these words," "with none of these words," etc.

Once you have used the proper keywords and a result-producing Boolean string, you should subscribe to email notifications for these results. Many job boards offer this feature. This way, you do not have to constantly check the sites. Relevant opportunities will be delivered to your inbox and you can focus on your networking.

Even during pandemic conditions, you can do a lot to advance your networking and career. Do not let this opportunity slip away—instead use it to position yourself for success.


Desiree Jaeger-Fine is director of International Programs at Brooklyn Law School and author of "A Short & Happy Guide to Networking" (West Academic Publishing) and "A Short & Happy Guide to Being Hired" (West Academic Publishing).