Google Alerts is a handy, free, and powerful tool that can make a big difference to your job search.

Quick to set up, and easy to use, Google Alerts can keep you informed of emerging news in relevant areas, sending updates straight to your inbox. Knowledge is power. It can increase career confidence and, if used appropriately, can help you stand out from other applicants.

Here are three ways to use Google Alerts in your job search:

#1 Set up a Google Alert for industry news

Keep up to date with all the latest industry news and trends by setting up a Google Alert focused on industry keywords. Make sure chosen keywords reflect your career target, rather than current state, so visit wish-list employers’ websites and identify the keywords they use to describe their offering. Brushing up on wider industry events and trends will be great preparation for an interview.

#2 Set up a Google Alert for target employers

Set up a Google Alert for your target employer, ensuring that you are aware of the very latest news. Getting to know what’s going on within will strengthen your understanding of the organisation’s successes and challenges, and help you to work out how you could fit in and stand out, if hired. You could even set up alerts for a specific department, function, programme, or member of staff; ensuring you have the lowdown on what is going on in that area.

#3 Set up Google Alerts for you

If your CV or application is of interest to a potential employer, it’s highly likely that someone involved in the recruitment process will Google you. I’d recommend auditing your online presence before a job search to check what comes up, however, it’s also a good idea to keep abreast of any newly indexed ‘stories’ about you online. Setting up a Google Alert is a great way to make sure news about you stays on your radar. If you’re not regularly in the news, other search terms could include your website domain, your department, or current organisation name.

How to set up Google Alerts

You’ll need a Gmail or Google account to use Google Alerts. These are easy to set up, and will qualify you to use Google’s other services.

To start, visit https://www.google.co.uk/alerts.

To create your alerts, enter keywords for which you’d like to receive email notifications. The more specific you can be with keywords, the better.

Google Alerts may also suggest topics for you to follow. Click the + to follow Google’s suggestions.

The ‘Show options’ function can be used to specify the frequency and timing of alerts, types of results, and more.

Select ‘Create Alert’, and you’re done! You’ll receive emails at the frequency you specified, whenever new search results are found in relation to your keywords.

Once you start receiving Google Alerts, you can edit and refine your alerts to make sure they are working as hard for you as they should. Deselect irrelevant articles as they appear, and refine your keywords for better results.