7 Best Practices for Searching

booleanstrings Uncategorized

While sourcing is not just about search, the search is a critical part of it. I’d like to discuss the seven Best Practices around SEARCH as the key element of sourcing.

Here you go.

1. Research before you search. If you have a job opening and are looking for candidates, figure out the title synonyms, major keywords, target companies, geography, certifications, organizations, conferences, places where “these people” hang out, especially if the role is new to you.

2. Use the correct search syntax. Search on a computer may correct your spelling using a built-in dictionary. But, unlike us humans, it will not recognize other syntax mistakes. Seemingly minor things such as a missing quotation mark or an extra space after a Google operator will produce results that you are not looking for. Search for special characters such as @&%$! is not possible on Bing or Google.

3. Refine and vary the search strings. The search process is about getting a good amount of relevant information to process. Perfectionists want to get relevant results only but it slows them down. 🙂 If you have “the wrong” results, too few or too many results, it’s a great prompt for what to do next. Refine your strings, vary the sites and approaches, and keep collecting the data.

4.  Practice. No webinars, training DVDs, tutorials, built-in strings, or help pages will lead to success unless you practice the search skills from day one. There is no magical list of N strings that you can base your searches on. Pre-cooked Boolean strings are just samples; you need your own strings.

(Please note: As of 3/18 the list of the top 25 strings is no longer available.)

5. Search only for part of information. Some keywords like the state of OR are a bit hard to find. Qualities such as the degree or years of experience may be challenging to spell out in a search string. You will have a chance to screen the results for those qualities.

6. Automate the parsing, not the search. Search shortcuts, systems with hidden Boolean syntax, meta-search engines and systems that find resumes based on a job description (imagine that!) may sound good. However, if you use them you will be missing results. What is great to automate is the information collection, sorting and parsing.  I use browser add-ons to auto-scroll, parsers to extract files or contact information and MS Excel to sort and filter.

7. Cross-reference. We’ve long moved beyond just searching for resumes. There are profiles, lists with contact information, blogs and forums rich with traces of potential candidates. These candidates have “distributed profiles“. As an example, I often find people in Jigsaw and Zoominfo, then look them up on LinkedIn, pipl.com, Google and Bing.

Thanks for reading! Feedback and comment are very welcome.