In 1997, I wrote a newsletter story for my engineering job candidates titled, Staying In Touch by Scanning The Environment. In it, I pointed to the need for job seekers and career changers to develop a habit I called “scanning the environment”.
In the article, here’s how I described this valuable research habit.
On a personal level, this habit involves the daily search for and absorption of information on trends and changes that may impact society in general, but more specifically the working world we live in.
“Scanning” can be as simple as taking in the evening news on TV or as focused as attending a seminar hosted by futurists. As a career development tool, scanning the environment can be a wonderful catalyst in leading us to new people, new ideas and new opportunities.
Now, let’s fast forward to 2014…
“Scanning The Environment” Made Easy
Today, Google has turned what used to be a time-consuming, solitary effort into a passive, “let Google do its search thing” exercise. The trick to this is a wonderful tool they call Google Alerts.
In short, Google Alerts uses keywords (that you pick) to scour the Internet for virtually anything (news, blogs, videos, etc.) that appears to be a good match. Google then emails its findings to you based on various criteria that you choose when setting up the Alert.
Maybe best of all, Google Alerts are free, simple to set up, and work for you every hour of every day. The possibilities are truly unlimited.
Many businesses and people use it as a reputation management tool to monitor what’s being said about them on the Internet. It can also be valuable as a market research tool and as a secondary lens for keeping tabs on what competitors are doing.
How I Use Google Alerts
My personal interest in Google Alerts is two-fold. First, I think it’s a great career management tool to help us keep our finger on the pulse of the industry we’re employed in. It can help us to understand hiring and job trends, the most sought after skills, and important changes that might otherwise catch us off guard.
Second, I use it to help me find unique engineering career stories and to connect with interesting people in the engineering world. Both of these will be especially important to me in the future as I begin reaching out to invite guests for interviews on the upcoming ECL podcast.
Let Me Show You How Easy It Is To Use
To help give you a better understanding of how easy and powerful Google Alerts is, I put together the short tutorial video below. By investing a little over four minutes, you’ll be ready to let Google do some detective work on a topic that interests you. (Click here if for some reason you can’t see the embedded video)
So what do you think? Are you ready to become an armchair super sleuth using Google Alerts?
I’m confident you’ll find some interesting information in the results that start showing up in your Inbox.
Question: What things do you plan to let Google Alerts find for you on the Internet? You can leave a comment by clicking here.