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Searching the Internet for assignments


Finding your next role is always the key to maintaining the long term success of your business as an interim. Service providers will often, by their own admission, not be able to deliver your next assignment and it therefore falls on you to deliver using your own means.

Networking is much lauded as being the salvation of the Interim and much time is put into developing this. But if you’re new to the world of the Interim, be warned. Unless you have an established effective network you might just struggle to generate assignments and especially, dependent on sector, given the current climate.

Networking is about relationship building and in some respects should be re-named as such. It’s the art of turning a stranger into a professional friend. After all, you want them to recommend you for a role and that usually implies a certain amount of putting their own professional head on the metaphorical block.

But this article is not really about Networking or Service Providers. It’s about using the tools freely available to try to find, identify and be first in applying for those roles that are put in the public domain. Some may see this as unnecessary as they have never had the need to stray away from the above two sources of work. Fair enough. If your current marketing strategy is working then why change it? The same applies to a recent discussion amongst Interims about the usefulness of a web site. But be warned here. Things rarely stay static and free market rules usually mean that if you have a comfortable little niche then others will eventually find it and move in.

So how to go about looking? You can do a lot worse than to sign up for jobs on the general sites such as: 

Others will have their own favourites and I’m not holding this list up as being definitive in terms of it being a “Top 5”. Over the years I’ve taken the trouble to discuss recruitment with various agencies to try to get feedback on just where they advertise all their Jobs. So this is my view based on the people that I talk to in my market areas. To be frank it’s likely to be out of date, but what I’m confident with is that it gives me good “coverage” of what is out there. The chances are that if you do a bit of digging yourself and created your own list of 3-5 sites then you will cover most of the roles you are looking for. If you want to copy this list then I’m pretty sure you’ll not be far out, if at all. It’s also in order the sites I rate the highest.

There are more specific interim ones that I use such as: 

Several of the Service Providers will also send emails of roles that they have. Some are filtered and others unfiltered. This can be a pain but thankfully the amount of roles are small so wading through the chaff isn’t too much of an issue. Obviously do your homework initially in selecting the provider from whom you get the emails. This process itself can take several weeks to try to establish whether they deal with your sector or not. Send them an email detailing you’re areas and ask for confirmation that there is a match.

Another place I’ve come across is a Job Aggregation site such as www.Indeed.co.uk .  I’m sure there are others out there as well. Indeed, serves to bring together jobs from many sources and casts a much wider net than the list you’ll come up with. It also puts it all on a single page. More about that later.

But Indeed also has another feature that I use and that is the ability to put in long search strings of words that should be included and, importantly, words that should not be included in the results. You’ll be surprised how many results are returned by entering a handful of words that you consider unique to your own industry but are also used in others. I use Indeed to set up very tight criteria that would stretch across the page if you printed them out. When Indeed has returned roles that are irrelevant, I try to drill down to the reason, then add that word to the “Do not include” options for next time.

I rarely get results from Indeed now. But that’s a good thing!

Another way of finding your next role from the public domain is to use iprofile . This is effectively an online CV that agencies can access and if you believe the website hype, it saves agencies having to receive and sift through thousands of CV’s a week. It’s been around for several years and many agencies do use it. It may also be useful for yourself in having an Online space where you have your CV stored for reference if you need it and are not at home.

Let me just deviate here and talk a little about search criteria. Some of these sites are very poor about discriminating and returning good results. I think that they figure that any result is just that, a result. We are a niche and perhaps one that most of the industry out there doesn’t yet fully understand. Even those that have heard of the term often really don’t understand the meaning. Recently I came across an Interim £25K per annum primary school teacher position on an Interim website. The term Interim is not a protected term and in some quarters is just another word for Short Term or Temporary. The best you can do on most of the sites listed above is to search under “Contract” and not “Perm”. Maybe it’s about time sites recognized the Interim category and provided a specific search category.

So where did that get us? You now have a well used Inbox. Jobs arriving by the Kilobyte. Your heart leaps as you get another notification and you click on the latest offering and scan down the long list of irrelevant positions. But that’s fine, for a while. You then notice that the next email from the same job site also repeats some of the positions from the previous. You also become aware that the email you got this morning contains positions that were posted yesterday afternoon and were sent out by an automated service at 3am, probably to take advantage of economy seven electricity rates!(joke…).

Now, respectable Interim Services providers tend to be quite considered in their approach. They will gather CVs and talk to the prospective interim and it may be several days before they present a very short list of quality vetted interims to the client. The problem with the internet search approach is that you are more likely to be in the hands of what I like to call a “High Street agency”. You know the sort. An aluminium framed door advertising “Drivers Wanted”, sandwiched between KFC and the Dry Cleaners and reached by a set of steep straight stairs covered by a thread bare carpet. The person deciding on your next assignment is a fresh faced 23 year old. Buoyed with the worldly experience of coming from a failed estate agency (the other side of the dry cleaners) where they were Senior Negotiator but satisfied in the knowledge from their academic background in Textiles and Paper Science from Manchester.

Their sole aim is to furnish the client with the first 5 CVs with 5 matching words or more as soon as possible. Then move on. This process usually is measured in hours rather than days.

So, the email you received this morning giving details of the role that you want has already been assigned number 37 on the list in the agencies Inbox before you even press the send button. Wait ‘till the afternoon before sending and you’re already talking motorway speeds. I have had agencies tell me that they’ve received nearly 250 emails in response to a particular advert. The beauty and the downside of the internet is how easy it is to apply for jobs. In the good old days you could print your CV on nice posh blue paper to ensure that it created the right feel before it was picked from the pile. The best you can do now is to try to create an eye catching strap line in the Email Subject box.

So the question is, how can you manage to get notified of roles sooner rather than later and how can you manage the deluge of emails that are now stacking up in your Inbox, ready to be read and then re-read in a subsequent email?

Fortunately, there is help here that goes some way to automating and relieving the process and providing a one stop dashboard for your search.

The two paragraphs below are from a couple of Blogs that I produced a few months ago. They are produced almost verbatim and provide a means of giving a single point of contact with the internet which can be refined and updated with time. Most browsers these days allow you to automatically open with several “tabs” as your home page. You can have this as one of them and because it’s Google based you can access it from any PC anywhere on the Planet.

On one occasion whilst I was applying for a position I asked when it was actually posted. It was posted at 12:40 and I had applied at 1:10 . Interestingly I was not the first! But I was certainly within the Inbox top 3.

Please don’t be put off if you are a techno phobe. You’ll need to sign up for a Google Mail (GMail) account. But it’s really easy. Just open up the normal Google Home page and click on Reader under the more drop down menu along the top of the page.


RSS Feeds    

 I’d ignored these for quite a while but last year decided to look into that they were and whether that might help me in my business.

First, let’s get over the techie side. “Really Simple Syndication” is what it stands for. Now, just go and forget/ignore that because it is of no further use. What they are (which is important) is a real time update. So, let’s say that you frequently go to a particular website to look for updates. You are only interested in updates. But you find that most of the time you look it is still the same. Perhaps you have many websites that you do this to. So, you are spending lots of times looking at lots of web sites only to find that there is nothing new to read.

Wouldn’t it be good if the web site actually TOLD YOU if there was something new? Well, that is exactly what an RSS feed will do.

In order to be able to tell you there is new stuff to read, they have to have a way of getting it too your laptop. They could email you. But that means you have to go into your email and open it up. There is a better way. It’s called an RSS Feed Aggregator. Another word here to understand then instantly forget.

Aggregator just means something that gathers stuff together.

So, there are many feed aggregators about. I use the Google aggregator called Google Reader.

Get up your Google Home page. Then look at the menu along the top line where it says “…Maps  News  Shopping  Mail  More

Click on the More option and you’ll see Reader about a quarter of the way up. Click on this.(you may then need to sign p for a GMail account)

If you then click on “Add Subscription” it opens a box. This is where you paste your subscription into from the website of your choice.

Now, you need to find a feed from your favorite web site. Maybe this is a Job Site but it could typically be a News site. Wherever you see the little RSS feed symbol (some sites/providers don’t have it), you can click on this and you’ll get a paragraph of pretty unintelligible writing. Now ignore this writing and go and select the link (web address/URL) at the top of the page and paste this into Google Reader.

Every time the website changes you’ll get and update from this feed into Google Reader. The advantage is that once you have read it, it doesn’t flag it up again. That way you don’t get the same news over and over again.

You can set up many, many RSS feeds into Google Reader and I have over 30 feeds operating.

You can set it up as one of your default Home pages so that you always have it come up when you open up Google. I have it set up on my smart phone too.

Any question you might have about the above. Please feel free to ask.


Google Alerts 

 This is complimentary to the previous Blog on RSS feeds. To re-cap, RSS feeds allow you to get real time updates from websites that subscribe to RSS feeds. Whether this might be news items or new jobs posted.

Google Alerts are where Google itself crawls the Web and alerts you when it discovers a new phrase matching your criteria.  So, for instance, if you are looking for the phrase "Start up funding London" then you enter these words and you get emailed if this phrase comes up.

The really good thing is that you can also get them directed to Google Reader (see RSS feeds blog).

I also put my Name and Business Name into Google Alerts just to keep an eye on where I might be mentioned.

Just Google for Google Alerts and you'll find it. 


Steve Compton - Tristram Consultants Ltd 



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