If you’re out of work and searching for a new job or just interested in a career change, now is your chance to test-drive nearly 500 different online search engines at no cost to you. Now I know that this sounds like an infomercial but thanks to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), job seekers can search for jobs and apply online via the “Tools for America’s Job Seekers Challenge” program. This free opportunity launched Jan.4  and will run through Jan. 15, 2010.


The Tools for America’s Job Seekers Challenge is a three-phase program designed to find the best online job search tools and organize this information in an easy to access place for today’s job searchers. There are thousands of online job search tools and unfortunately some of them are not legitimate. This process will weed out the shady sites and the best of the best will emerge.

Phase one of the project was the site submission stage. Now the DOL is on to stage two, “Explore and Recommend.” This is where you, the job seeker, come into play. After exploring the online job searching sites and tools available, you’ll be able to review and recommend your favorite sites. The results will be compiled and presented later this month.

To get started, visit the Tools for America’s Job Seekers Challenge database hosted by IdeaScale. Right there on the first page, I noticed several tools that specifically mention green jobs. There is even a searchable green jobs tag that will help you narrow your search for an eco-friendly employment opportunity.

Due to the emerging awareness of the importance of green jobs, the industry is more susceptible to scrupulous websites offering green job search tools, so it is nice to see tools tailored specifically to environmental jobs participating in the Department of Labor program.

One of these green jobs sites, GreenJOBS.pro, already has three thumbs-up recommendations, more than any other tool tagged with green jobs. Although I’m not searching for a job myself, I decided to take the site for a test drive.

Admittedly, I’m a bit skeptical of sites with non-traditional domains so the .pro would have raised a red flag if I hadn’t seen the site listed in the DOL challenge database. However, the site has a very professional look and feel to it. It is easy to navigate and information about the organization is readily available.

Site registration started off pretty straightforward. The site prompted me for information about why I’m searching for a job, my current employment status, where I live, how far I want to commute, and if I would be willing to relocate. I was then required to fill out a biography, which is pretty standard for websites that have the ability to match jobs to your specific needs.

However, this is where I encountered problems. After choosing my industry, I was prompted to fill out a job questionnaire. I had a progress bar (which was at 0 percent) and a next button. I clicked on the next button and the page returned an error; I needed to select an answer. There were no questions or answers on the page, anywhere. Reloading the page didn’t work.

So, I tried to start over and log in using my newly created username and password. I received an error that my account was inactive. I checked my e-mail for an account activation e-mail and none was waiting for me. I encountered a second problem while trying to submit a request via the contact form — repeated incorrect security code errors. After seven times I realized that no, I wasn't entering the security string incorrectly and gave up. At this point, I was a bit frustrated and I’m not even searching for a job, just testing out the tool.  

Just to clarify my experience with computers: I’ve worked in technical support in the past and I was even a network administrator with Motorola in the late 1990s. I purchased my first domain in 1998 and have been on the ‘net since 1993. So what I’m saying is that I’m a highly experienced computer and Internet user and I couldn’t figure out how to get around this little problem. I’m sure many people have registered without any problems but unfortunately, my experience with the tool hit a little snag.

So while I experienced a problem, other participants in the Tools for America’s Job Seekers Challenge have been able to successfully register and use the tools provided by the GreenJOBS.pro website. If you’re searching for a new job, now is the time to take advantage of the free access offered by the DOL. Head on over to the challenge website and begin your job search today.

DOL announces free job searches
U.S. Department of Labor is working with some of the largest online job search engines to provide free access to job seekers through Jan. 15, 2010.