I got a lot of questions about the Job Hunting tool I put together for my own use I mentioned last time. Sooo… I figured rather than send out individual emails I’d just post a response here on it. Before I start answering questions – I figured I should cover what it actually DOES in more detail, because there’s a lot of confusion it seems.
First off – Lets discuss what this tool does and what it’s designed for, and why. If you look at the screen shot here – and yes, this has been updated since last week so – it is different than you remember… I tweak it constantly.
If you look at the tool itself, it sits INSIDE of Microsoft Outlook, specifically Outlook 2010, as an Add-In. So it requires that to function. Can I make a version that doesn’t need Outlook? Yes. Will I? Most likely no. Not unless I get some serious arm twisting from people. And it’s not because I want to horde it’s riches for myself.
It’s actually because (drum roll…)
It’s because this tool is designed FOR ME and how I use Outlook with all of my mail accounts, Comcast, rjakobson.net, rjakobson.com, hotmail.com, and it’s meant to be used to connect to my SQL 2008 database, on my webserver.
Which brings us back to… how it actually works and what it does.
Outlook – brings in all my mail from all of these, and that makes it easy for me to just look at an email, fill in the form information, and send it to my database. It’s convenient (for me) in that the tool itself becomes a part of my email reading experience. As I click on emails in the Inbox, they come up in the Outlook Reading Pane – which the Job Tool shares. So it’s right there, and it does a pretty surprising job filling in a job hunt form that I’ve created to populate my database.
It pulls the contact information for the Recruiting firm from the email header – and checks it against the database to see if this is someone I’ve done business with before. It then reads the email and populates it into a text box. Why a text box? Well, actually it’s a Rich Text Box – and I do that so that I have a complete copy of the email I can do things to in a non-destructive manner, and if I delete the email, or some horrid action happens, I have a copy of it somewhere.
The email really doesn’t take up much space so – not a real issue, and it also allows me to do queries against it directly. Once everything is in the database when recruiter asks me if I’ve been submitted, or contacted about a position I can ask him for the particulars, like the job ID.
If they’ve contacted me – I generally speaking make sure they have a right to represent sent them and update the info to reflect it. If they don’t respond, or the positions closed – I can still track it, even if it’s closed for my own information uses. It’s useful, and it also allows me to end any questions I get about, “So do you have any experience with web tools connectivity, SQL server, or other tools?”. I just point them to the web site and they can look it all up. Basically the www.rjakobson.com website is specifically for recruiters and prospective employers. If you’re in the IT line of work – for the $6 a month it costs, it’s well worth it to have your own site, your own database – and create something for people. It’s like a working version of a portfolio you can play with and show off. (Mine’s currently at around 80% functional as I haven’t had time to really build it out.)
Here’s a basic work flow on how it’s designed to work… and it does. Which, is also why it’s not really designed to just be handed out. There’s the whole, it’s really meant to be used to alert recruiters if I’ve been contacted by their company on a job, and what jobs I’m currently looking at.
So – for this reason alone – it’s not really something that I can share. Now, what I can do, is make a version without the web server and have the database reside on a desktop computer. Which is pretty easy to do, and nice to have since as all good job hunters will tell you – you have to have records of your job searches for benefits while you’re looking for that next job, and this does a nice job of doing it.
This – could be rolled up into an email report that could be displayed, or forwarded to people when they ask who you’ve been contacted by or if a specific job position id you’ve been contacted about.
And that’s pretty easy to do, as I can – while I’m on the phone with a recruiter, look it up from inside the email itself. I can actually look up a pretty wide variety of things, check to see how the rate compares to similar offers, even see how it compares to the actual average wage offer I’ve been receiving. Which makes it very useful, and yes with a bit of work all of that – I can make available to people.
What I can’t make available is the web site and the backend database.