Ten Favorite Tools Shared at Sourcing Chats in 2014

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In 2014, our LinkedIn group – by far, the largest global community of people who are interested in Sourcing – reached 28K Members and the Boolean Strings Ning Network reached 7K members. Thanks to all for participating and sharing great content- and Happy Holidays!

The Bi-Weekly Sourcing Chats on the Ning Network, moderated by Master Sourcer David Galley, have been well attended in 2014 and always had great content, appreciated by all.

The Chats are not archived; the content stays up for about a day after the chat is over. (Of course, members are free to come and chat at any time outside of the “official” hours as well.)

Here are a few favorite free tools shared by the members of the Internet Sourcing Community in the last few sessions of 2014 at the Chats. Have you used these tools?

Email tracking:

Find the technology behind a site/find the webmaster or developer: BuiltWith (Chrome extension)

Social Look-up and Contact Info Search:

Broadlook’s “Contact Capture” as a Chrome Extension (the free part of the Extension): Capture!

Organize Info while Sourcing: Evernote

Access (lots of) public records – search by name, location: Family search.

The next Sourcing Chat is coming up on January 8, 2015; please join and bring your Sourcing questions and your suggestions for cool tools.

Looking to access in-depth coverage of Sourcing tools and methods? Go to our Training Library for single-subject in-depth webinars; sign up for the Sourcing Guidebook susbcription to have access to all topics Sourcing and ongoing support; or check out a “double-webinar” on Google Sourcing  (lecture AND practice) coming up January 6-7, 2015.

Stop Using Boolean OR on Google

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Here is the description of the Boolean operator OR from the Google’s help:

OR: If you want to search for pages that may have just one of several words, include OR (capitalized) between the words. Without the OR, your results would typically show only pages that match both terms.
Example: world cup location 2014 OR 2018

Many researchers routinely use the operator OR trying to control the search outcome by covering “every possibility” (whatever it means in every specific case).  There are certainly good reasons to use the operator OR  – say, when you expect few or no results for a given search, for each word for a list. Arranging these words in an OR statement and running one search instead of multiple (one search for each word) would speed up finding those pages.

Here is an example; each of the Midwestern States is spelled out:

chapter Healthcare Financial Management Association Illinois OR Indiana OR Iowa OR Kansas OR Michigan OR Minnesota OR Missouri OR Nebraska OR “North Dakota” OR Ohio OR “South Dakota” OR Wisconsin

That works fine. However, there days there are fewer cases where OR makes searching  productive, than there used to be. Automatic inclusion of synonyms and the ever-growing number of pages on the Internet are two considerations that may affect the usefulness of OR (I’ll say more on those in another post.)

In this post I would like to describe a specific case, where you are interested in finding several words from a list on the results pages. For example, you have a list of target companies and are looking for lists of professionals from some of these companies, or are looking for profiles of people who have worked at two or more of the companies. Putting those company names in a long Boolean OR statement on Google will often not be the best way to search in this case.

Try this search, for example, and look at the results:

Bain OR McKinsey OR BCG OR PwC OR Deloitte OR “Oliver Wyman” OR “Cambridge Group” OR Parthenon OR “L.E.K. Consulting” OR “Cornerstone Research” OR “Insight Sourcing Group” OR “Chartis Group” OR “Point B” OR “A.T. Kearney” OR KPMG OR “ClearView Healthcare”

You might hope that the pages with several of these words would rank higher (and this may be the approach for systems, other than Google, that search specifically for profiles). However, Google shows a list of the most important, relevant pages with just one of the words on each page:


Here’s my search advice: To find pages where several words from a list are present, it’s better to stop using the Boolean OR and search for some of the words together.

Let me provide an example to illustrate.

Compare this search (that doesn’t seem to bring up any contact lists high in the search results):

“raytheon.com” OR “lmco.com” OR “ngc.com” name email


– with the search, where the same email domains are AND‘ed instead of OR‘ed, i.e. are all included:

“raytheon.com” “lmco.com” “ngc.com” intrusion detection

While I have dropped the words email and name from the first search and didn’t even look for anything pointing to lists (and didn’t specify the file types), this search gets very promising results, many of which are lists of professionals with the contact info:


Sure enough, if there was a long list of target companies to try and include, some results will be missing here. But it would be way more productive to search for shorter lists (3 or 4 items, perhaps) out of the long target list together, without the OR. You would want to do this several times, to vary the shorter lists. The results that come up every time are amazing. Additionally, we notice the sites in the search results, that we may want to X-Ray to find more lists.

In conclusion: don’t take me wrong, OR is still useful in many cases. I hope though that you will review the above examples and will search more productively in the cases, such as those described in the post, by dropping the habit of including long OR statements.

If you are interested in reviewing advanced Google searching in application to Sourcing and Research, and get full coverage of the most useful search syntax and the ways it works today, check out the recent webinar “Google-Based Sourcing”.

Custom Search Engines Hack: Get 1,000 Results

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Google’s Custom Search Engines (CSEs) can be useful in many ways. They provide a way to hide advanced search operators from your colleagues who are less technically inclined; they don’t bug advanced researchers with annoying Captchas; and they provide some interesting possibilities beyond those of “regular” Google.

Unfortunately, currently the “official” limit of the number of the search results in a CSE is 100 , with the maximum of 20 results per page. Given that CSE’s have their own ways to pick the results from Google’s index (if you have played creating and testing CSE’s you’d know what I am talking about), these numbers seem too limiting for any serious research.

Hooray! I have discovered a “hack”, that allows to get up to 1,000 search results, up to 100 per page in CSEs, that I am about to share. The way to do this is to use an old web interface that has been abandoned (and is not documented any longer, which makes it slightly challenging figuring out how to customize its look and feel). I do hope it stays on!

Let me get straight to the point. A standard public link to a CSE looks like this:


The highlighted piece takes us to a CSE, hosted by Google; the long string after cx= is the unique CSE ID. The above is a public link to a CSE that I created, Document Finder (Storage) that looks for documents stored in a number of sites such as scibd, slideshare, etc.

Try this search, for example

employee directory

– and get 100 results, which is the maximum.

Now, if you use a different URL template, the CSE takes you to a different User Interface – and it’s there that you get many more results – up to 1,000!

The alternative URL looks like this:


The trick I discovered is to use this different Google-based URL, with the word “custom”. Now, try this:

employee directory

Currently, this search provides 1,000 results. That is quite unusual even for the regular Google these days! Here is what it looks like (there are some very interesting results this search provides by the way):


If you’d like to get existing CSEs to work this way: use the above format. Additionally, add &num=100 to set the number of results per page to 100; &filter=0 to see “all” results. You can even search by a date range or verbatim.

Check out my collection of Custom Search Engines here on the blog. I will adjust the links shortly there as well.





Google Quick Answers

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Many of you are familiar with Google’s operator define, useful for a quick lookup of an unfamiliar term. Unlike other operators, define doesn’t need a colon after it; here is an example: define SEO.


Google includes a link along with the definition if there’s one specific website it “thinks” provides the best answer. If you are searching for something common, such as Engineering, it provides a dictionary definition without a website reference. Recently Google has started adding a lot more information in addition to definitions, as you can see on this screenshot:


Google also now responds to a question “what is <…>?” in a similar manner, providing a definition, – and responds to some other searches that it “perceives” as questions, to which it knows of definitive answers.

Google’s answer is combined with the usual search results and is shown just above them. In some cases the answer for a “what is” question is the same definition as the operator define provides; in some, it’s a different one:



(Also try what is Engineering?)

The answers to “what is” questions are Google Quick Answers (sometimes also called Direct Answers). They can certainly be useful for research. As the time goes, “quick answers” expand way beyond “just” definitions and also beyond special Google search features like calculator, weather, etc.,  that have been around for quite a while.

Let’s take a look at some.

Of course, the question mark is not necessary; it is ignored. Using proper grammar is also not necessary; you can often just hint at a question. However, to get an instant answer, you need to keep it simple; using Boolean operators will take Google on a different path of interpreting what you are searching for.

Try these searches; at this point they all trigger “quick answers”.

Can you come up with some other search strings that will trigger Google Quick Answers today?


Five Sourcing Tips I Learned From Others

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Once in a while I run into a post outlining a sourcing tip that I didn’t know about, or hear a new tip in conversations. Today I’d like to point to some of those tips and thank my colleagues for sharing them.

1) The Facebook #Sourcing Tutorial by Balazs Paroczay . It’s not “just” a tip but a whole methodology of constructing Facebook Graph searches. Once you go through the initial digesting of the technique, you would be able to create searches like “People who like Python programming language have worked at Apple and have worked at Google and live near San Francisco, California” in no time. This technique allows to create searches even beyond those that Facebook can express in English, such as this: Registered Nurses who work at Kaiser.

2) How to Find Almost Any GitHub User’s Email Address by Matthew Ferree – nice practical tip, applicable to everyone’s daily sourcing for Software Engineers. Matthew explains how to discover the email address of a Gihub member if it’s not visible on the public profile.

3)  Targeting events to source candidates by Billy McDiarmid – this is an unexpected discovery of geographical locations being “hidden” in the meetup.com member profiles. Billy has posted some guesses there, that can be taken into further exploration. (Anyone?)

4) How to find a Person’s Exact ZIP Code Using LinkedIn Recruiter by Randy Bailey – with the limitations LinkedIn places on us in terms of location searching, this is a nice way to learn where exactly the person lives, without jumping through hoops.

5) How to look for Chrome Extensions by Shane McCusker. I have long been annoyed when getting stuck while looking up a Chrome extension that I knew existed but now shown in the official extension search. Here’s one of several cool tips Shane shared with us at the last SOSUEU conference: simply X-Ray (example) and you will find more.

On the photo above: Oscar Mager, Jim Stroud, Shane McCuscer, Balazs Paroczay, and I sharing some sourcing tips at the dinner after the Sourcing Summit Europe this year. (For a wonderful collection of the conference photos I suggest checking out Oscar’s Album #SOSUEU 2014.)

It’s your turn now! What sourcing tips have you learned from others? Please share.


Sourcing Certification EXAM Demo Sessions

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Are you interested in joining the ranks of Certified Sourcing Professionals in 2014? Our final Sourcing Certification Exam period this year is coming up during the week of December 8, 2014.

How do you decide whether you are ready to take the Exam?

In brief: to pass the Exam requires good knowledge of Googling and Sourcing on Social Sites; familiarity with some productivity tools; and the ability to combine that knowledge and skills in solving practical hands-on sourcing challenges. These are the baseline skills necessary for every Recruiter, to make sure they quickly find and try to engage the right potential candidates – and find some hard-to-find top talent as well.

Those already enrolled in the Program on a subscription basis have access to all the necessary material and practice tests in the Sourcing Guidebook and pick the Exam date when they feel ready. However, taking the Exam and getting Certified is now also offered separately from being enrolled in the study through the Guidebook.

Join me (Irina) at one of the two Sourcing Certification EXAM Demo Sessions: Friday November  or Tuesday December 2. At the sessions,  I will provide a brief overview of the Sourcing techniques you need to successfully pass the Exam; will show a number of sample questions similar to those at the Exam – and the ways to solve them (those are fun!); and will answer your questions about the Certification Program and the Exam. Sign up here:

  1. Sourcing Certification EXAM Demo Session – Friday November 21
  2. Sourcing Certification EXAM Demo Session – Tuesday December 2

>>> Here is the best part: at each of the two Demo sessions we will be giving away 5 (five) guest passes to take the Exam during the upcoming Exam week in December.

Seating at the Demo sessions is Limited. Register now to reserve your seat for one of the two sessions.

If you have any general questions about the Sourcing Certification Program and the Exams, or if you would like to register a team, please browse through the Sourcing Certification Site or contact our Customer Support Manager George Glikman.



Source Code Search Engines

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As a follow-up to a previous post Sourcing Developers in [software] Source Code, I’d like to go over some alternatives to “plain” X-Raying for searching open source code.

Google used to have advanced search that “understood” regular expressions for https://code.google.com/ but it was shut down in 2012. At this time the most advanced search you can do there is to search the Google-hosted code using “labels” that shows 100 results at a time; as an example,: search for python. The Chromium project source code still has the advanced search ability; but it has only so many developers involved.

The good news is that there are multiple sites that offer open source code search across hosting platforms. You can select the programming language on all of those code search engines. As we have seen in the previous post (and in the screenshot above), code authors may leave “signatures” in the code that allow us to locate them.

  • Open HUB (formerly Ohloh, formerly Koders.com) searches impressive 20,000,000,000+ lines of code – unfortunately, rather slowly and with rather limited search syntax. You can also search for its own 60K+ registered members and you can look at the most popular contributors to each of the supported 40+ programming languages.



  • SearchCode is another code search engine that has indexed a significant amount of code. It displays the sources it searches on the front page, and you can pick and choose from them. Here is a search similar to the above: C++ code with @samsung.com email addresses. The site is run by a single (super-) Developer – Ben Boyter.

(I must admit that I am not certain about the usage of the special character @ for searching here. The results do have email addresses – and that’s what I am after. I will leave it for the reader to figure out how special characters are processed.)

Searching for contact info in the Source code is a rather unusual way to locate Developers. While we can’t know the location for the email owners, cross-referencing is quick and will identify people at certain locations, for whom we’d already know the programming language and possibly the employer (depending on how we search). As an example, a similar Krugle search for Google.com-based emails AND the C++ programming language reveals the LinkedIn profiles of 6 solid Software Developers in the San Francisco Bay Area, 5 of whom currently work for Google – and we can now email them directly.

The same set of email addresses (@google.com with C++ skills) reveals a good number of Google-Plus profiles:


I have yet to figure out how to quickly narrow these down to a specific location (for the companies that have multiple offices, such as Google). When I do, I will let you know!

LinkedIn Basic Search is Galene – LIR Search is Lucene

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search linkedin

It was comforting for some LinkedIn Recruiter users to hear about the search results discrepancies, shared previously in the posts

Here is some feedback I got:

“GREAT GREAT GREAT article on the discrepancies in search (LIR vs Personal LinkedIn). A few colleagues and I have been experiencing the same problems but were chalking it up to software bugs…”

“Glad you posted this! You validated the fact that I am not crazy! I had the same exact thing happen to me about two weeks ago. Side by side searches yielding less profiles from the LIR account search vs my own personal one.”

Here is an update.

I am happy to report that I got a clear explanation of what is going on there at a recent live “Technical Deep Dive” at LinkedIn San Francisco.

Bottom line, LIR search is still Lucene (the old search algorithm) and Personal search is Galene (the new search algorithm). Yeah!

I was impressed with the Software Engineers at LinkedIn at the meeting; they are obviously high-class folks. They were explaining the complex ideas behind the new search algorithm and relevance. The difference in the search code behind LIR and Personal was not a central point of the Meetup in any way; it was just mentioned in passing. Of course, it is not the Engineers’ responsibility to explain to Recruiters what changes have been implemented.

So – not that we are getting any updates on when LIR is going to be moved to Galene (and it will be); not what user query interpretations are coming… but at least the basic reason for the differences is quite clear.

I heard about some exciting new features coming up with further development of Galene. If you are curious, I believe you can find some slides and materials online from the Software Engineers, to whom I listened, Sriram Sankar and Rahul Aggarwal, as well as from other LinkedIn Engineers.

I am proud that my guess, that semantic interpretation of the personal search happens before the search is executed, proved to be the case in reality. The Engineers used this language for it: “converting user query into a structured Galene query” and, in another instance, “query rewriting”.

As a side note, this information makes me worry about searching in LIR. Apparently the “old search”, Lucene, cannot be properly scaled to manage searching on that much information. The scaling necessities is what initially triggered the Galene development a year and 1/2 ago. LIR is currently working on a weak search mechanism, inadequate to handle 300+ MLN profiles and other data.

One More Sourcing Challenge (Advanced!)

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I received over 20 responses for the #HIREConf Sourcing Challenge in one day. Most participants sent me the right answer; well done! I now have a correct answer for each of the two great prizes. So that search is over.

Here’s an additional Advanced Advanced Challenge, for which I am adding two prizes of the same kind: a Special Guest Pass to HIREConf and a webinar from the Training Library. If you have not participated in the first challenge, you have a chance to jump in right now!

#HIREConf Advanced Sourcing Challenge – Open to Everyone

Please read carefully.

Suggest ONE SEARCH STRING on ONE SITE, that would instantly identify the person who fits the first two requirements. THE SEARCH STRING MUST BE NO LONGER THAN 20 CHARACTERS.

(By a SITE above I mean a website that allows searching, which could be Google, Github, Google+, LinkedIn, or some other site.)

As a reminder, here are the first two requirements. That person:

1) Works at an office on the 8th floor, at an address within the same zipcode as the hotel where HIREConf is held;

2) Has a Github profile, created in 2014; has somewhere between 60 and 70 followers there, but is not following anyone.

Of course, if you already know the answer to the previous challenge, that may put you at an advantage. (Or not.)

Email me the URL for that search.

Have even more fun!

#HIREConf Sourcing Challenge

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(Wherever you live, if you enjoy solving fun Sourcing Challenges, don’t miss the one below.)

If you are a Recruiter in the San Francisco Bay Area:

If you can make it, I’d be glad to meet live at the upcoming HIREconf, a full day conference with training and talks focused on Sourcing and Recruiting in highly competitive markets. It’s coming up on November 4, 2014. I will be giving a live 3+ hour interactive Sourcing Workshop, covering lots of Sourcing tips and techniques for the modern Recruiter.

The HIREConf price is affordable and is incredibly low, given the amount of great content that is going to be revealed. If the price is a problem, however, our Boolean Strings members get a discount. I also have 5 free tickets given to me by the organizers; be one of the first 5 people to email George and he will give you that secret registration link. (Actually, if you are a really good Sourcer, you won’t even need to email George.)

Local Sourcing Certification Program past attendees and supporters: it’s also your chance to meet David Galley and George Glikman, who are on the Program Team, and my business partner Julia Tverskaya of the Brain Gain Recruiting fame; they will be attending. They are all very cool people!

I would like to offer 1 (one) Master Sourcer Guest Ticket to HIREConf to the person who is the first to solve a Sourcing Challenge, identified shortly.

To make it interesting for those who live outside of the San Francisco Bay Area, I will also offer 1 (one) webinar from our Training Library to the first person who submits the right answer.

We’ll have one local and one non-local winner.

#HIREConf Sourcing Challenge – Open to Everyone


Find a person who:

1) Works at an office on the 8th floor, at an address within the same zipcode as the hotel where HIREConf is held

2) Has a Github profile, created in 2014; has somewhere between 60 and 70 followers there, but is not following anyone

3) His company was established in 2012, and has something to do with JavaScript… well, OK, one can learn JavaScript there.

Send me an email with the subject #HIREConf Sourcing Challenge and let me know what his last name is. Please follow these directions exactly to qualify!

  • As soon as I receive the winning answer for attending HIREConf, I will update this post. — Solved!
  • As soon as I receive the winning answer for getting a Sourcing webinar (non-Bay Area people) I will update this post. — Solved!

Have fun!

hireconf>>> note: I posted a new (advanced) challenge.