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How to Write a Joke or Find a Job: Maximizing Returns on Your Keyword Search.

Jennifer | February 25, 2011

I was working on putting together a set for a stand-up comedy gig that I have tomorrow night.  I always try to use the old stand-by material mixed-in with something new that I am trying out; I’m always writing new material.  After almost every show, and I am expecting this tomorrow night, someone asks me how I write my comedy – how it comes to me.  The answer is simple: that thing you’ve been staring at the same way, over and over?  Tilt your mind a bit and look at it a different way. For example, I have a signature joke about pool balls that the audience loves.  You could look at a pool ball and just think, “eh, pool ball, object of amusement, yes, but funny?  Not so much.”  It’s when you start to look at the pool ball a bit differently and see its potential as joke material.  (I won’t tell the joke here, but, suffice it to say, it’s HILARIOUS.)

You are probably wondering how this can help you find a job, huh?  Let’s take your standard keyword search.  Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that your ideal job is Dinosaur Caretaker.  You can search for “Dinosaur Caretaker” and find nothing.  (I actually tried this – there are zero results for this search.)

And then comes the moment when you give up.  Here is where I would argue that your keyword search has in fact just begun.  Sure, the specific title of a job you are interested in is a great start for a keyword search, but it is just that – a place to start.  Break it down into its component pieces: Dinosaur and Caretaker.  Now, search for each individually.  You will be surprised how your search returns change by breaking it apart now.  Are you still not getting your desired results?  Now is when you get to play Human Thesaurus (or use the Thesaurus function on your word processing function).  Make a list of all the synonyms you can think of for your original search, but also for the component pieces.

Original Search: Dinosaur Caretaker

  • Synonyms (or closely related terms)
    • Lizard Lover
    • Fossil Concierge

Broken Down Into:

  • Dinosaur
    • Synonyms (or closely related terms)
      • Extinct Bird Ancestors
      • Lizards
      • Giant Beasts
      • Man-eaters
      • Relic
      • Fossil
  • Caretaker
    • Synonyms (or closely related terms)
      • Warden
      • Custodian
      • Caregiver
      • Concierge

Automatically your search widens dramatically.  You should try all of the synonymous terms you come up with in keyword searches. Keep a list of these terms so you can work through these methodically – you don’t want to miss anything. The key is this – a company may be out there looking for you, but they may have a different idea of the title or exact description of the task you wish to do.  You don’t want to miss out on an opportunity with them because you called the job something different.

Now, are you still not finding the job of your dreams?  Maybe you have tried every similar word and combination of words you can think of, and, due to the economy or a shortage in general of the type of job you are interested in, you just don’t see it.  I recommend that at this point, you make a list of all the things you like about the idea of the job of Dinosaur Caretaker – the actual tasks you are interested in doing on the job. For example:

I want to be a Dinosaur Caretaker because I am interested in:

  • The care and grooming of large animals
  • High-risk activities
  • An outdoor work environment

Now, search for the specific tasks you are interested in using the keyword search function. Maybe Dinosaur Caretaker isn’t available, but there might be outdoor work environments, high-risk activity-based, or large-animal based jobs out there which would allow you to acquire the necessary experience to someday get that dream job you are seeking (“Outdoor” alone produces 35 results as of the moment of this writing).  Just like with writing a joke, all you have to do is look at the keyword search a little differently and approach it with a more flexible idea of what it can give back to you, and a whole new universe of options will open up to you.

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Category: Internships, Jobs

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