The challenges of searching for search engine jobs

It’s really hard to find job postings for jobs that are actually search engine jobs. There are so many false positives. On January 23, 2020 I scraped for this search: “search engine” -seo -sem. To break that out, here are the parameters I used:

  • Must have: “search engine” in quotes
  • Must not contain: SEO
  • Must not contain: SEM
  • Location: United States
  • Time: from past 30 days

After de-duping results, I ended up with 761 job postings and here’s what I found:

  • 9% were actually search engine jobs for roles like engineer, architect, analyst, taxonomist, etc.
  • 2% were “maybe” search engine jobs. So, like an architect or QA listing that might cover search, I couldn’t quite tell with a quick investigation.
  • Some fuzziness around companies like Google that are search companies, but the role was for something other than search, such as a marketing job. I counted those as irrelevant.

What’s going on with so many false positives?

  • The majority of false positives were for search marketing and search engine optimization jobs that did not use the acronyms SEM or SEO. But I didn’t want to filter out words like “optimization” because it was too likely to filter out actual search jobs.
  • Another main issue were jobs for producing content that would be indexed by search engines. A form of SEO, though in a broader sense.
  • 5% of the jobs were for recruiters because of the overlap with searching for candidates.
  • Additional false positives: research jobs, front end engineering, sales jobs, medical jobs, and many others.

Search suggestions to get better results:

  • The job posting title must have “search” or “search engine” in it.
  • Search for specific jobs like “search engineer” or “data scientist”.
  • Include industry terms like “relevance” or “machine learning”.
  • Expand the list of excluded words to include “marketing”, “sales”, “recruiter”, etc, but be careful of overly limiting recall and missing out on relevant things.

This whole issue points out the challenges of working in an industry that’s also a noun. We are not lawyers or doctors or mechanics or baristas. We are product managers or engineers or analysts who work on search, and the word search has so many interpretations.