Tiny tech tip #4: use Google Alerts to be the first to that job, house, story…

One of my proudest internet-nerd moments was being the very first person to call about a gorgeous apartment that just opened up (for rent – I live in London!), consequently being the first to view, and having the whole thing signed and wrapped up the same week.

How, you ask? Google Alerts. Much like the eBay Alerts I covered in Tip 1 , you just tell Google what you’re after, and they’ll ping you an alert whenever a new search result comes in.

You can get them instantly or as a roundup, depending on how many emails you can cope with at once.

Let’s say you’re looking for a job.

You can set alerts for your desired job title and location, or even specify a company. You can get really clever here, especially if you’re playing the long game: a Google alert for Head of Acquisition site:WarnerBrosJobs.com might not bear any fruit for years, but you’ll be the first to know when it does.

It’s important to word your search carefully, otherwise you’ll get loads of unrelated stuff and a bajillion emails. Try a few test searches on Google to see if you’re getting the kind of stuff you want, and if not, tweak accordingly. Make use of Google’s search operators to be extra specific.

For instance, since I don’t have a very common name and often appear in/write articles, I have an alert for “Holly Brockwell” (including the quotes), as well as “H Brockwell,” “HM Brockwell,” “Miss Brockwell” plus usernames specifically associated with me. Only the first one gets many results, but it’s worth having the others just in case — you could even include common misspellings for extra accuracy.

Famous people often have Alerts on their own names so they’re the first to know when there’s a news story about them. Whether you’re using it to find a new home, dream job or just the latest news about something you like, you can set Google Alerts up here .

Side note: if you really hate someone, you can set up a Google Alert for their obituary so you can have a little party when it comes in. No, I won’t tell you who I did this for, but believe me when I say he really deserved it.

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