I wanted to share with you a project I've been working on demonstrating how to use RSS and Wikis to support a job search. Whether you're a nonprofit staff person who wants to use these tips for yourself or you're a nonprofit that helps other people in their job search, this could be a good resource for you. I think it could be particularly helpful if you work with clients who are always losing their paperwork, can't find their resumes, etc. Or maybe I'm describing you.
There are two major components to this project:
- The Job Search Dashboard--I've taught job search techniques for many years, and one of the major issues I stress is the need to create for yourself an organized, one stop location for your job search materials. So what I wanted to create was basically an online Job Search dashboard where someone could see their job leads and other information in one location. This is where I used Netvibes and RSS.
- An Online Porfolio and "Office"--The other key component I wanted was an online porfolio to maintain resumes, cover letters, links to good job search resources, work samples, etc. I used PBWiki for this piece.
Creating the Job Search Dashboard
The first thing I created was the Job Search Dashboard, for which I needed to use an RSS Feed Reader. Personally, I love Netvibes. The look and functionality is great and it was perfectly suited to this project where I wanted to create a "dashboard feel" to set things up. But technically I suppose you could use any reader.
Because I wanted to show a sample, I registered with Netvibes using a "fake" name. You can see what I developed by going to Netvibes and clicking on the button to sign in. The username for the account is firstname.lastname@example.org and the password is getajob.
You'll see that Netvibes actually allows you to set up tabbed feeds. If I wanted, I could have a tab that's just for my job search, a tab that's for news and business and another that has all my favorite personal blogs, access to Flickr. etc. . This is another reason that using Netvibes really appealed to me.
The first thing I needed to do was set up my feeds, so I started looking for job search sites that allow you to create an RSS for customized job searches. I decided to use nonprofit jobs as a sample, so I included feeds from Idealist.org and other major job search sites. There is probably some overlap there, but I figured that it would be better to see a job more than once, than not at all, so I wanted to err on the side of too much info.
Fortunately most sites allow you to do a search and then set up a feed specifically for that search, although surprisingly, Monster.com was not one of them. If you didn't want one of their "pre-developed" searches, then you're out of luck. So Monster isn't on my list.
Netvibes also allowed me to add some useful modules to my Dashboard. You'll see that I included a basic web search, a "To Do" list feature and Web Notes that allow me to create little "stickies" to leave on my dashboard. This would be great for leaving myself reminders or recording ideas. I could even set up a separate tab just to hold my notes if I wanted.
I could also add e-mail from several sources (gmail, Yahoo, etc.) and a calendar. Unfortunately the calendar they provide doesn't allow you to write items on it and I couldn't find support for Google calendars, so I would have to access my Google calendar by going through to my gmail account if I wanted to do that. Not the end of the world, although it would be nice to have it directly on my dashboard.
One of the things I wanted to be able to do was access my "On-line Portfolio" (my wiki) from my Dashboard. So after I set it up (more on that in a second), I created a feed on my Netvibes site to the front page of my wiki. (It's the first feed on the graphic below) That way I would always be able to get into my wiki through my Netvibes Dashboard.
Here's the basic dashboard:
Now that I had my Dashboard, it was time to turn to the portfolio.
Creating an Online Portfolio with PBWiki
Because I wanted a way to upload and maintain job search materials online, I decided to create an online portfolio using PBWiki. If you want to see the sample I created, you can either go here or you can access it through the Netvibes Dashboard I put together.
I didn't do this for the sample, but in the "real" version, you could upload your resume, cover letter and work samples so that they would always be available to you from anywhere you had a browser and an Internet connection. You could also scan copies of diplomas, certificates, etc. to upload.
The wiki could also be a place to store links to job search resources, like how to answer interview questions, helpful videos or podcasts, etc. You could either put links there as you found them or create a feed from De.licio.us to go there so that you would just bookmark as you were surfing and the feed would automatically update at your wiki. For that matter, you could put the feed directly onto your Job Search Dashboard if you wanted.
I actually plan to do more on using a wiki as an online portfolio at some point down the road, but I think that for now, this gives you a picture of how it could work.
So those are the two pieces. I think that this idea could work well for a lot of job seekers. It allows you to access job search information and materials anytime, anywhere. That would be a HUGE plus for the tons of Welfare to Work and other individuals with whom my clients often work. It also puts job leads into a single location so that you don't have to go from site to site to your saved searches.
I'd love to hear any feedback or suggestions people have for additions, improvements, etc., so drop me a line or leave me a comment if you have some feedback you want to share.
P.S.--I used FastStone Image Viewer for the Screen Captures. Took me about 2 minutes to download, install and get my first screen capture. Nice tool that I'll have to explore further.