Sourcing Challenge – Answers, Results, and Thoughts

booleanstrings Boolean


The latest Sourcing Contest got lots of attention. More than a thousand people read the post; it has been one of the top reads on my blog in the last couple of weeks. More than a dozen people reached out to me privately or posted in online discussions, twitter (etc.) that they are:

  1. extremely busy right now
  2. don’t have access to what they must have via the company firewall
  3. hurricanes happening in the area
  4. (etc.)

So lots of potential winners just didn’t have the time. Hmm…

Lately, a Talent Sourcer’s role is being expanded to interviewing candidates, scheduling company interviews, employer branding (seriously?); perhaps negotiating and closing offers will be next? I do hope that, with all the added responsibilities, Sourcers will keep healthy in the “searching” and “understanding how search works” department. I hope Sourcing is not Dead!

I appreciate several contestants posting their answers and refining them in the responses. Kudos for trying it out! It wasn’t easy. Alas, the answers to this contest did not leave us with a grand prize winner. Nobody has gone all the way to answer the hardest questions (#4 and #13).

The Challenge itself and these two blog posts on the topic –

– are an excellent exercise for someone who wants to understand how to search the web and what can and cannot be found. The posts do shed some light on the answers to the most difficult questions. (OK, they just have the answers.)

Here are several honorable mentions. Ninh Tran has dug out a few links that were pointing to correct answers. Aaron Lintz has brought up the “/topics” pages as the ones that generate resume preview images for Google to index. Katie Gechijian has added some interesting thoughts (and a potential idea for another contest!).

Given every answer a serious consideration, as well as formally counting the points, we are announcing Vidhya as the winner. Congratulations! She was also the winner of a past fun contest. Vidhya, please contact me to get the reward.

Best of luck searching to all!



Resumes That Go Into the No-Humans Land

booleanstrings Boolean


Let’s now see what happens with resumes and other documents that LinkedIn members upload if they opt-out of sharing on Slideshare. (See the beginning of the exploration on attached resumes in my previous post.)

In this case, the resume still goes to Slideshare, but not under the user’s account, since the user had opted out. The user has no further control over the resume being found. In fact, the resume becomes forever not being found by any search anywhere. Here are some details.

The uploaded content (which the LinkedIn member did not want to post on Slideshare) goes into accounts of the non-human profiles on Slideshare, that LinkedIn automatically creates exactly for the purpose of storing those documents. By now, LinkedIn has created an army of those accounts; they all have the usernames starting with linkedincontent_ and ending with varying combinations of three digits and numbers. Here is an example of such a profile:


When LinkedIn sends the uploaded document to that Slideshare “user”‘s storage, the document’s privacy settings are assigned as follows:

  • Public image preview – yes
  • Available to download – no

Because the privacy is set as “unavailable to download”, the “text” of the document gets hidden – forever! Slideshow does not display the text, nor does it allow to search within it.

The “opted-out” resume’s formatted text goes into a cloud storage, where nobody will be able to access it. (Remember, the accounts storing those resumes are created programmatically – an account holder could, in theory, “see” the document as its owner, but these account owners are not people!). I won’t even say that this content is stored on the “deep web” (that consists of pages that only a limited number of people can see) – it exists in a non-human “web land”, where nobody can view, search, or download it. Sure enough, the auto-generated slideshow user profiles, like the one above, don’t show any of this “secret” content.

Will Google image search include the image previews of these documents? The answer is – “sometimes”. The image previews for this type of content are public. While we can see the document attached to a LinkedIn profile (such as the already-mentioned example of a profile with an uploaded resume) only in the logged-in profile view on LinkedIn, there is a public link to the preview, that shows in an incognito window as well.

Here’s a subtle part regarding the images being indexed by Google. While the links are public, Google only indexes a link if another page points to it. Interestingly, these image previews from SlideShare “surface” in some pages! If you do an image search like this  (vary the letters/numbers at the end to see more results), you will see what’s happening. The documents which “surface”, can be found in images; all other previews, Google won’t index.

There is very little that we can find out about the linkedincontent_* type of SlideShare users. If you go to SlideShare and tell it that you are one of those users and forgot the password, it will show this:


So these “users” have accounts registered with a email domain.

Borrowing Google’s message that we see once in a while:

That’s all we know!

Interesting, isn’t it?

P.S. Just ran into another interesting example of content that went into the No-Human Land:


The Adventures of Your LinkedIn Resume

booleanstrings Boolean


LinkedIn profiles are often considered to be “new resumes.” It’s true, that if a professional fully fills out her LinkedIn profile, that profile works instead of a traditional resume, at least at the beginning stages of interviewing, at many companies. That is one of the innovations LinkedIn has brought into the area of recruiting, quite a game changer!

One the other hand, LinkedIn offers its members to upload and share documents on their profiles. There are hundreds of thousands of members who have uploaded PDF or MS Word resumes to their profiles. When we view those profiles, we see previews of the resumes (or other uploaded documents), which look like this:



Not all uploaded resumes are equal though. There are two kinds of documents, regarding others finding them by searching, depending on what the member did right after uploading a file:


Now, I need your full attention! Further destiny of the resume heavily depends on whether the member selects this option – “publish to SlideShare.”


Slideshare Opt-in. If the member continues and does publish on SlideShare, good for him or her! The member gets an account on Slideshare if s/he didn’t have one, the document is uploaded, and the member has further control over the resume:

  1. Being indexed by Google
  2. Whether others can download the original file (PDF, MS Word, etc.)

If you are a Recruiter or Sourcer searching for those resumes, you might want to try these custom search engines from our CSE collection:

Slideshare Resumes
Slideshare CVs

However, please note that the resumes cannot be found using LinkedIn people search by any keywords that are only on the resume and not on the profile. LinkedIn Recruiter search won’t find them either.

Recruiters: we’ll cover this (and much more!) at the sourcing webinar next week. 

Are you a job seeker? Note that pasting the resume text into the Description section accompanying the document won’t fix the ability for others to find that information either. LinkedIn doesn’t search in those descriptions.

If you want to be found by keywords in that uploaded document on LinkedIn, paste them in the summary or experience sections.

Slideshare Opt-out. It’s a shame if the member selects this option by unchecking the checkbox – assuming the member wanted to be found and was willing to share the resume with interested parties.

Believe it or not, the resume still goes to SlideShare in this case. (This is the correct answer to the question number one in the Sourcing Contest). However, if the member opts-out, the document does not go into the member’s SlideShare account, and he has no further control over this content being found in searching anywhere – on LinkedIn, SlideShare, or by search engines.

What happens then, is that, sometimes, Googlebot will pick the image preview. Recruiters: here’s a related post – Large Free Resume Database Hidden In Plain Sight. I must warn you though, that Google will index the content only of the “opted-in” resumes. I.e. we won’t find the image previews of the majority of “opted-out” resumes when searching by the job-related keywords.

The story of the resume in the opt-out case is fascinating. I will share it in a post soon. As a reminder for Sourcers who like a challenge, there is still a big chance to win the Contest. Monday, October 24th, 2016 is the deadline, and the Grand Prize is worth a lot.


The Fastest Ever Way to Uncover Hidden Names

booleanstrings Boolean


LinkedIn shows very little information about members who are out of our networks, even for those of us who pay for premium personal accounts.

This brand new method to uncover the real name, when we see “LinkedIn Member” instead, and view the full profile takes about ONE SECOND to execute. Here is how it works.

Take a very, very careful look at the screenshot below. Need I say more?


This name-and-profile uncovering technique, that you have just figured out, works in the cases where the member has set a custom profile URL. For those members who haven’t, we can also find the name and profile easier than before – it would just take more than one second (but it’s also quick).

I have also figured out ways to lift the limitations for other cases, such as how to work around the commercial search limits (in a way that was never shared online) and more.

Get the webinar Overcoming LinkedIn Limitations to learn many more new tips and techniques. As always, we provide the slides and video for everyone to keep, and one month of support.

P.S. If you have a Recruiter subscription, I’d recommend getting the LinkedIn Recruiter webinar recording from our Sourcing Training Library. All others, no matter with a free or a paid account, will find this webinar useful and informative. I promise!


A Close Look at “Open to New Opportunities”

booleanstrings Boolean


Signaling that one is “Open to New Opportunities” without alarming your boss is certainly a good idea for a job seeker. Recently, LinkedIn introduced this feature.

If you are a job seeker, there are a couple of things to be aware of here.

(1) The signal you send gets only to LinkedIn Recruiter product subscribers. That subscription is quite expensive. For many smaller companies – both potential employers and smaller recruiting agencies (which may be serving large corporations!) – the product costs too much to buy. Just be aware that the signal only goes to some, not all professionals who might want to employ you.

(2) The “exact” employer, i.e. a registered company on LinkedIn, will not see your status. But any company working in a close relationship with your employer, for example, other divisions registered as separate companies and third party recruiters, can still find you as someone looking. Then, people from different companies who are friendly can also ask each other to search. An employer without the subscription can ask someone with a subscription to look. (Etc.) Here’s a related discussion in our group.

It’s progress, though – Recruiters, no matter which subscription they have, have not been able to search for members with paid “Job Seeker” accounts. So for people who are openly looking, I’d advise raising the flag on your account. For those who want to keep it a secret, I am not sure.

If you are curious how widely members have used the “Open to New Opportunities” signal, here are some statistics, measured this morning using LinkedIn Recruiter.

The global stats are the following – please note that (for a variety of reasons) the numbers are approximate:



Members who have set the status:


The “Open” members amount to 0.25% of all the membership, as of now.

It’s the early days, so perhaps the stats show more of the membership using this function vs. those looking to leave. However, the stats narrowed down to the hiring company’s industry, and location can be examined for employers who are potentially in trouble. Those would be the companies with the percentage of employees looking to leave, out of employees with LinkedIn profiles, being high compared to the average. In fact, I would say it is a way to investigate companies that might be good to research when sourcing for talent. (Right?)



Deadline and Prizes for the Sourcing Challenge

booleanstrings Boolean


As I have promised, here are the formal rules for the Sourcing Challenge.

Answer the questions in a comment here – Are You an Advanced Sourcer or Researcher? Partial answers are welcome; you do not have to post all the answers in one comment. It’s OK to add an extra comment where you change your mind on an answer as well.

The post has 12 13 questions. Each correct answer to a question gives the participant one point, except the correct answer to the question number 4 gives a whole five TEN points. Also, I have added one more question – #13 – also TEN points.

The first person to answer each question correctly gets one additional point. The answers need to be explained.

The person with the largest number of points is the winner. In the case of a tie, we’ll take a look at the explanations; we might have more than one winner, too.

The prize is a choice of a one-hour consultation – where we can source together, or talk about sourcing tools and tips – with your choice of: me (Irina), David Galley, or Martin Lee; access to one webinar of your choice from our Training Library; and participation in our new tool Beta-testing (now, developed in a stealth mode).

Additionally, here is the grand prize for anyone who answers all 12 questions correctly: access to all of our Training Materials.

Deadline: Monday, October 24th, 2016.

Best of luck, Sourcers!

Are You an Advanced Sourcer or Researcher? Can You Answer These 12 Questions?

booleanstrings Boolean



Hello Sourcers and Internet Researchers:

Here are some questions, that I would like to offer, based on just one collection of professional data, that has an interesting implementation, and that is – documents uploaded to LinkedIn by its members.

How good are you at understanding what data can be found and how?

Please post your answers as comments – and please provide your reasoning for the answer. Responses to only some of the questions are welcome. I anticipate a nice discussion here!

[Updated!]  We have launched a contest based on these questions!

Deadline: Monday October 24th.

Here you go:

If a LinkedIn member, say, Joe D. wants to upload a resume (or another document) to his profile from his PC, LinkedIn will ask him whether he would like to store the document on Slideshare or not. (If you haven’t, try it, you’ll see.)

Suppose Joe said “no” to posting the resume on Slideshare and uploaded it to the profile. When we view Joe’s profile, while logged-in, we now see Joe’s document’s preview as an image (or series of images if there is more than one page).

  1. Joe said “no” to storing on Slideshare, so where (to which site) did it go?
  2. Is a preview available on Joe’s public profile? That means, is it available when you are not logged-in?
  3. Can the preview image(s) be viewed in an incognito window, i.e. without logging into LinkedIn?
  4. [Difficult] Can we download the original resume or document (say, PDF or Word)? From which site? Please note, the question is about finding the original doc, not trying to recreate it by using “print to PDF” or character recognition. 10 points
  5. (Easy) What does LinkedIn call the part of the profile that stores those uploaded documents?
    • (5a, harder) Is there a URL pointing to that part of the profile (for logged-in members)?
  6. Can we find Joe’s profile by searching on LinkedIn “people search” …
    • (6a) for the resume keywords, if they are not included elsewhere on his LinkedIn profile?
    • (6b) for keywords in the title and description, that Joe adds when he uploads the document to the profile?
  7. Is there a URL that you can share with a colleague, for them to see the resume if the resume has more than one page, for example, three pages, – not on LinkedIn, but on that site, that stores the resume?
  8. Will Google find the uploaded original document if there are no other copies of it online? The options are “yes,” “no,” and “sometimes, when…”
  9. (This is a tough one!) Will Google find the uploaded original document’s image preview in the Image search? The options are “yes,” “no,” and “sometimes, when…”
  10. Can Yandex find Joe’s original resume?
  11. Can Bing find it?
  12. On which cloud is the document stored (Amazon, etc.)?
  13. BONUS Q: If a LinkedIn member opts-out of Slideshare when uploading a document, the document is still posted on Slideshare (as we now know) under some “user” account. With what email domain has that “user” registered with Slideshare? (you might want to find that user’s profile URL for starters). 10 points

To help you here’s a (randomly picked) example of a profile with an uploaded resume.

What say you? 🙂

I’ll reveal the answers in a future post.


P.S. Just launched a formal contest around these questions. I think, these are great questions for anyone who searches, to understand the Surface, Deep, and Dark Web.

Advertising as a Researcher’s Friend

booleanstrings Boolean


Not every advertising option is equally useful for research, and I don’t think truck advertising or billboards can play a big role. But some other advertising platforms can give us invaluable data – even before we invest any money in them.

The two social networks with giant amounts of professional data, LinkedIn and Facebook, offer to explore to whom to advertise. While we do that exploration as the potential users of the ads, we can assess available talent pools. This is a largely underutilized resource to use in research.

Take a look at these screenshots of the dialogs to help define the audiences for advertising. These dialogs can answer the questions any self-respecting Sourcer would try to answer before looking for candidates:

Where are the skills we are looking for? – Companies, job title, locations, graduates from which schools?

(To illustrate the ad audience exploration capabilities in the screenshots, I have inserted some parameters, such as target company names, skills, etc.)

LinkedIn Ads (note – this data is available to any user, even the basic):



Facebook (this data is also available to anyone):



For each entered set of parameters – locations, employers, skills, and more – these tools show us the available pools of professionals. Spending some time with these and similar tools is a solid way to get some market intelligence data – and to be much better prepared to source for individuals with target skills.

Nerdy Custom Search on GitHub

booleanstrings Boolean


Ever since we started making use of structured web search capabilities, I have been fascinated by the precise results we can obtain from a general search engine via this mechanism.

Here is an investigation and multiple examples of precise X-Raying on, which is a truly useful site to know if you are looking for software developers.

For those (few) Sourcers who love working with advanced search operators – here is where you will find tons of long and barely readable expressions, that you can change to your liking! For your convenience, I have placed a search box for Custom X-Raying Github below as well.

For those who’d rather skip the cryptic search syntax, the good news is that we have a new, unique Sourcing Tool in development – currently, in a stealth mode – that will relieve end users of needing to use these operators. (Please follow us for more news!)

For now, just take a look at the search results. You will find them to be precisely finding what we are looking for in each case – a big difference with “general” Google and most social sites.

Here you go:

Examples – Github Precise XRay Member Search

Want to build your own? The Custom Search Engines Webinar is coming up!

And here is a

Github Custom XRay Engine

This Webinar will Change the Way You Source

booleanstrings Boolean


“Like writing poetry or tweeting, searching without operators allows us to be creative and make discoveries.” – David Galley

Searching without Boolean is a new webinar with how-to, step-by-step guide to creating amazing searches in English; here is a quick write-up on its content.

If you search the Web on a regular basis, you will want to obtain the webinar materials, to instantly improve your sourcing performance. Promise, you will never search like you used to! Tune into the best ways to build queries, that are now simpler and cleaner than before, yet produce superior results.

Recruiters: want to get on the phone with potential candidates fast? The webinar teaches more than a dozen easy to use “plain English” search patterns, which do not require advanced search skills. (But they do require thinking it through and understanding what to expect; we’ll go over that in the presentation).

Major search engines, including Google, are rapidly becoming more semantic-oriented, meaning – they try to guess the intent of the person who Googles and respond appropriately. In many practical cases, Google is now giving better answers to searching “in English”, without advanced operators, than when using complex Boolean constructions. That’s great news!

At the lecture, I demonstrate finding “hidden” professionals, locating and exploring previously unknown sites full of candidate details, by using creative patterns and templates, searching in English “without Boolean”.

Equipped with the search patterns that are easy to keep in mind and apply, you will be able to put your new skills to work as soon as the webinar ends.

Who should attend: Recruiters who need to find target professionals outside of the mainstream sites, but dislike or don’t have enough time to write complex Boolean Strings. Everyone who wants to find more professional information on the web by using additional search patterns.

Included: The slides and video recording from the session(s) for you to keep and one month of support for any questions about the Boolean free Sourcing techniques demonstrated in the webinar.

The webinar materials are available (including one month support): Searching without Boolean.