What is a Job Alert?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

A job alert is one of the means by which the Internet has been increasingly employed to help people find work. On many job sites people search through help wanted listings, which are often organized by location and/or type of work. Job alerts may eliminate some of this searching because they automatically email notification to registered participants of new jobs that are matched by career field and/or location.

Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone
Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone

For the majority of people looking for work, signing up to get job alert notifications is free. In fact, people shouldn’t pay for this service and should be wary of companies that demand compensation for it. One difficulty, though, is determining how many companies with which to register, since there are many. The usual advice is to choose those companies that are likely to have a high number of employer registrants. Well-known job search companies may yield more search results.

There can be different ways in which a company uses its data and the job seeker’s data to construct job alert results. Some companies allow people to list multiple fields and locations of interest, which are all used to create the job alert, and others may limit number of fields or number of locations. One way to get around limitations is to use several email addresses. This can allow for more results and alerts.

Companies that offer job alert data may also have different information requirements of participants. Some may ask for a full profile and use that information as matching data for best job results, which isn’t always perfect. Others simply request people to give an email address and choose those areas of employment that are the best matches.

Several features of job alerts are worthy of notice. First, many companies don’t charge money, but they do send advertisements or use personal information in other ways. There may be opt-out boxes when signing up that limits amount of spam or sharing of personal information.

Second, frequency of job alert emails can be variable. It is dependent on at least two factors. These are the number of companies that contract with the job alert service and the degree to which jobs become available in a certain field. Someone looking for administrative assistant jobs might get at least one alert a day, but those searching in very rare employment fields may find that they receive few notifications.

While a job alert feature on a website might be one good way to look for work, those searching for employment shouldn’t abandon other methods. It is still a wise idea to look in local classified ads or on sites like craigslist, to utilize headhunters, recruiters, or employment counselors/services, to attend employment fairs, and to network with other professionals so that job offers may occasionally arise. Some suggest that job alerts may be best for those who are looking more passively, but that a more active stance is required for the person who needs to find a job immediately.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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