Intelligent Searching and Matching

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Intelligent searching and matching resumes against job descriptions is not an easy task, not for a recruiter and not for software. At the end of last year, I became interested whether recently released tools in the “match” category can help to speed up searching, by offering “short-listed” candidates for review and contact. I’d like to share some observations on intelligent searching and matching and will go over some tools in a future post.

Let’s take a closer look at what “matching” means for a job description and a candidate’s resume. I think you would agree that finding a matching resume would rarely be productive if it is only done by crafting a Boolean string with long lists of keywords and synonyms separated by ORs, based on the job post. (As just one example: the job and resume “context” matters for matching; in one case, a person with either Linux or Solaris, both being Unix variations, would be okay; in another instance, it has to be Linux.)

A naive assumption of some job hunters – and even systems that assist them (such as Resunate and Jobscan) – is that “resumes must contain the most prominent keywords from a job post” for a candidate to have a chance to be hired for the job. A junior recruiter (or poorly constructed system) can pull out only keyword-matching resumes as “the” ones worth reviewing – but this rarely works to solve the matching challenge. The reality is that keywords on job posts and resumes of those who get the jobs differ quite a bit!

Below, you will find the word clouds for two job ads, along with two resumes of people hired for each of the jobs. Let’s take a look and appreciate the how far apart these word clouds are:

Job 1 (Clinical Nurse)
job-cniiiResume, match #1 (the person works there):
r1-cniiiResume, match #2 (the person works there):


Job 2 (Developer, machine learning):


Resume, match #1 (the person works there):


A filled out LinkedIn profile, match #2 (the person works there):


You see? The keyword sets in both cases are dramatically different between jobs and resumes. Clearly, searching and matching in recruiting is more complicated than automatic keyword searching, even with the addition of synonyms.

Recruiters who use databases with resumes or professional profiles may construct searches based on:

  1. Location, job title (with variations), skills (including synonyms, popular technologies, etc.), years of experience, education requirements, (possibly) certifications or licenses, etc. – This is derived from the job post.
  2. (except for new and unique job openings) “Similarity” to people who have been hired for this type of jobs at this company in the past, or perhaps got an offer but didn’t accept – for example, graduates from given schools, employees from a company’s competitor, or a company using the required technology, etc. There can also be “preferences” input from Hiring Managers that is not present the job post. – This is additional helpful intelligence.

Constructing productive searches that would find results matching the requirements, as you see, is not straightforward – it is an art. Even in systems providing faceted resume search, allowing (for example) to search for job titles and years of experience, in addition to keywords and phrases, and offering advanced Boolean syntax, choosing search terms requires the recruiter to understand the industry terminology, as well as apply company- and job-specific knowledge. Recruiters, while sourcing, need to run a variety of searches to get the best matches and not miss any top candidates.

Can a computer system efficiently do the job of searching and matching? I’ll write a review of matching systems in an upcoming post.



Sourcing in 2016 and What’s Ahead in 2017

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This year, we have seen a rapid growth of tools to automate search, match profiles against jobs, and refresh professional data in resume databases. Yet, going into the new year, Sourcing as part of Recruiting seems further away from being trivial – or being automated – than ever.

In 2017 and for at least a few years after that, Sourcing will absolutely require skilled Humans to perform it!

Here is, briefly, how the current Sourcing landscape appears to be.


The amount of online data is growing fast – and it’s not a database where we can search. Data is becoming more distributed: people have a professional presence on various sites. People aggregators, that started appearing back in 2011 (see a section on the Tools page) provide access to unified profile data and help a lot, especially in IT recruiting. But we still can’t rely on any one tool for sourcing. (What is the next BIG sourcing tool concept after aggregators?)

Ways to contact and interact with prospects are multiple, cluttered – and need to be sourced, too. We are seeing new contact-finding apps and increased use of texting in recruiting.

Access to professional data is getting more challenging (e.g. the new LinkedIn limitations, costs, and user-unfriendly search syntax). It’s unfortunate that the largest professional database, that has revolutionized recruiting, is now making access to the valuable data so hard. Will the Microsoft ownership provide positive changes next year and bring back the Economic Graph project? Let’s hope for that.

In the meantime, Google X-Ray is our friend! Google has improved its algorithms and no longer requires complex syntax to get the right results. Custom Search Engines and structed data on websites provide interesting search possibilities.

Facebook Sourcing – and interacting in groups (please join the Boolean Group!) – is gaining popularity. It is tricky to find professional data on Facebook, but we see tool improvements – Shane’s Tools is gaining popularity. Facebook has been making itself more search-friendly as well.

Automation and matching technologies seem to be everywhere, but it is a double-edged sword – sometimes, overpromised and underdelivered. (Please expect a blog post on matching soon). I believe that machine learning, in the right hands, can do wonders, especially in fast-screening backgrounds in volume hiring – but profiles and resumes still need human eyes to properly assess them.

It is interesting what Mobile Sourcing holds! Let us all dig deeper into that this coming year.

We are going to keep providing the most comprehensive Sourcing Training in 2017. You can count on our Sourcing Training Library to be up-to-date and our Exams to assess true Sourcing Skills. With our expanded team of Master Sourcers we will increase availability for custom Team Training and Sourcing Projects for our clients. Additionally, expect us to release a new Sourcing Tool in January 2017, currently in private Beta… watch for announcements soon.

Happy New Year to all!


Role Search Price Hike, on LinkedIn Only

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Among many valuable features that LinkedIn is discontinuing “to improve member experience,” what stands out for me is losing the Role/Job Title search facet with the switch to the new desktop UI.

Seriously? Tell me it’s not happening! For anyone looking for professionals on LinkedIn, I imagine that this, always-free, search filter has been critically important.

(If you see a prompt by LinkedIn, after you search by keywords that sound like a job title,

please know that this is, in fact, just keyword search – for “developer” in the above screenshot – and, oh, this is VERY different.)

LinkedIn has:

  • ~1.7 MLN people with the job title “developer” and ~5.7 MLN with the keyword “developer.”
  • ~1.1 MLN people with the job title “nurse” and ~2.5 MLN with the keyword “nurse.”
  • ~800K people with the job title =  (recruiter OR recruiting OR recruitment) and 8 MLN people with the keywords (recruiter OR recruiting OR recruitment)

I.e. overall, it will get about ten times harder to find the right people because of this change alone!

The only products with Job Title search, after the new UI is rolled out to everyone, are going to be LIR (Recruiter) and SN (Sales Navigator). And here are the consequences:

  1. Job seekers – even those with paid accounts – will no longer be able to search for people with title=Recruiter. Job search will be harder also because LinkedIn subscriptions changes will block a significant number of recruiters from using LinkedIn efficiently.
  2. Recruiters who do not upgrade to LinkedIn Recruiter (with the current pricing of $8-10K and up per year, a tenfold hike for all recruiters with premium accounts) will not be able to search for candidates efficiently.

The price hike for Recruiters with premium accounts is going to be too steep for many; they will probably stay with their current subscriptions – and searching is becoming harder for them. (We shouldn’t be surprised if InMails will be getting more spam and poorer response next year because of that.) An option to get a job title search is Sales Navigator, not quite a product for recruiters, but, I suppose it’s a way out without getting broke for many. It “only” costs about $1K/yr.

There are multiple other drawbacks with the UI redesign and changes in account options.

On the other hand, even if you do have the money, don’t think that LinkedIn Recruiter subscription will let you search well – the new search syntax is not Boolean, it’s pretty odd and not easy to use.

With all that gloomy future in searching LinkedIn, I invite you to get ready for 2017 – join me for the last webinar of the year, the top-attended-ever

Lecture “Sourcing without LinkedIn” – Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

For my blog readers, I will offer a money-back guarantee for the presentation.

Sign up soon – seating is limited (and it’s already filling up).

Connectifier Uncovers Hidden LinkedIn Profiles

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This Chrome Extension is nothing like Connectifier was before its LinkedIn acquisition, but it’s free and available to everyone. You can get it here:

Connectifier Social Links

Please install it and I will show you how to view out-of-network profiles. It’s simple.

Here is an out-of-network profile and a Connectfier (CF) overlay window:

See, the information that CF shows says (no name). Don’t get discouraged! Click on the LinkedIn button, and – here you go:

You will get to see the full name and profile.

(No Googling or URL manipulations required, by the way).


I Search From

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It’s not a secret that Google search results are different for different people. (That’s why sharing a “Boolean string” is rarely enough to tell others how you have searched). Results depend on our locations, using vs. country-based Google, a language (other than English), and other variables. Searching on a mobile device can show different result pages than the desktop, too.

Telling Google that we are searching from a different country is a reasonable way to find more relevant results, but it doesn’t work smoothly. After all, Google is rightly suspicious of users who appear to be searching from far-away countries within minutes. (Expect to see captchas.)

For those of us sourcing globally, we can get help from a tool for AdWords advertisers to test their ads – Ad Preview Tool. (We have already begun using advertising tools for sourcing!)

I Search From provides convenient User Interface to Google’s AdWords test functionality. Here is what it looks like:


And here is what the results look like:

For those of us with love for examining URLs (nerdy, I know!), will notice this part of the URL: &adtest=on. This is what tells to Google to respond appropriately, without worrying how I got from California to Australia in no time. Another nice feature, you can block Google from using your IP address in the tool (the URL addition looks like this) – something we can’t do otherwise (and the IP address does alter the results).

Bottom line, the AdWords test tool, and I Search From as a UI for it, can be of much help when sourcing in a place different than where you are.

Are you looking to upgrade your Sourcing Toolbox for 2017? Please join me at

Productivity Tools Webinar –  – Thursday, December 15th, 2016

where we’ll go over 50+ tools – slides, video, a tip sheet, and one month of support are included.




Social Media Management 101 for Recruiters

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As Recruiters, we are already online a lot – we work with online job postings and interact with potential candidates on social media. However, in this “connected” day and age, every Recruiter would benefit from taking further steps by incorporating basic social marketing skills and tools into his or her daily practice.

Social Media Management Tools share content across multiple social accounts, such as LinkedIn member account and company pages, Twitter IDs, Facebook member, company pages, and groups, and Google-Plus profile and pages.

Buffer and Hootsuite are two popular tools in this category.


Here is how these tools work. The user sets a “sharing” schedule for each included social account – for example, an account could do four shares daily at set times. Then, on an on-going basis, the user adds the content to share to each managed social account’s queue. Social management tools collect the analytics on the shared content (expect to read about analytics and measurements in my next post).

That’s it! This is how social media management tools operate:

  1. Set social accounts and schedules
  2. Populate each account’s content queue
  3. Let it run and see the stats

These tools are open-ended as to what content they share – the user fills the content queues.

A word on pricing. Most social management tools have a free option that is pretty limited (but is good to test the tool) and a low-cost option (around $10/mo) that would work for most of us. An exception is Sprout Social – its cheapest option has gone up to $59 per month, perhaps more than many us (who are not professional marketers) would spend.

In addition to allowing to “hand”-populate the sharing queues, that the user can pick and choose while browsing the web, social management tools also offer to add content automatically, by subscribing to RSS feeds and using other “social triggers”.

RSS Support. Social media management tools offer RSS feed subscription. All we need is to pick relevant sites (blogs, news), that have RSS feeds, and enter the feed URLs into the tool; as an example, Hootsuite Syndicator offers to add feeds to Hootsuite.

Social Automation.  Buffer works well with the tool IFTTT (If This Than That).

  • “If This” stands for a”social trigger”. It can be a new blog post (an RSS-feed-based trigger) or one of many other “events” on social networks, for example, you or your brand being @mentioned on Twitter.
  • “Than That” stands for a “social action”. It can be a variety of actions – and includes adding posts to the queues in Buffer.

Here is an open-ended recipe for sharing via your social media accounts. Combine these three components:

  1. Content that you want to attract to – job posts, recruiting events – set up and let it run
  2. Relevant brand-related and professional content – news on your company, industry, posts from experts – set up and let it run
  3. Personal remarks (posts “by hand” -such as responding to a comment) – do on a regular basis

The analytics on how well others engage, collected over time, helps to optimize the shared content.

Are you curious what analytics means and how it is collected, or how to find RSS feeds? Watch for future posts and check out the upcoming information-packed

Brand New Webinar – Data-Driven Recruiting


Mobile Sourcing: Barely Touched

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While we see an occasional post about obtaining a list of conference attendees from an app, I don’t think “mobile sourcing” has gotten the attention it deserves.

Mobile Recruiting has a great quick definition in a Smashfly post: “Deliver a mobile-responsive candidate experience, leverage SMS campaigns and capture leads from mobile devices at events.

However, if we step back from “recruiting” to “sourcing”, as in “finding professional information”, we’ll see that there is an aspect of sourcing, that the above definition mostly misses. Capturing leads from mobile devices at events is only one way of using mobile for sourcing – and most users don’t know how to download or search within that data.

Here is where the opportunity lies: many mobile sites and apps allow to discover and collect data that is not available from the usual “desktop” browser access, unless we make special efforts for access it. “Mobile-only” data remains largely untapped by Sourcers; discovering it undoubtedly belongs to Mobile Sourcing.

Interestingly,  some “mobile sourcing” can be done with no smartphone at hand, right from the desktop browser, using special URLs or changing the browser settings, as I am about to explain.

Getting data from mobile apps requires some technical knowledge. In this post, I won’t cover it (yet); let’s talk about mobile sites for starters.

For some sites, opening the site URL from a browser on a mobile device would automatically redirect to the “mobile” URL. For example, redirects to By typing in URLs from the “mobile” pages (that start with touch.www…) we can reproduce the mobile site functionality in a desktop browser such as Chrome. The reason we might want to do so is that the mobile versions may have better – or different, complementary – functionality.

Here is a practical usage example. People who have reached a “commercial search limit”, would still see 25 search results in a search like this (I have guessed a working URL format. Interestingly, to the best of my knowledge, this is not what the current mobile LinkedIn search uses – it is an older version of the LI search that just continues to work). Here is a screenshot:


…Other sites would keep the same site URL in a mobile browser, but the site would look and behave differently than its desktop version.

To reproduce the mobile-specific behavior on the desktop, use Chrome’s Developer Tools (CTRL-I) and toggle device (CTRL-M, help page). (It may sound complicated, but it is not; just ignore all the displayed code that you will see in the “Developer mode”!). Select the device to be emulated (such as iPhone 6-Plus, for example) from the drop-down menu, to see a close copy of the actual mobile screen. Even mouse movements behave differently when Chrome emulates “touch” devices.

As we access “mobile-only” functionality of a site via device emulation, we may find ourselves eventually looking at page URLs that never appear on the desktop. Here is screenshot of a page on LinkedIn, that can be viewed on the desktop because of the mobile emulation (notice the unfamiliar URL):



(Those with the “new” LinkedIn desktop UI tell us that it looks similar to the above mobile emulation-generated view.)

One attractive aspect of working with an emulated touch device is that some sites will switch from pages of search results to endless scrolling. So does LinkedIn; scrolling does not end at ten results per page as it does on the desktop. When we get a long list of results on one page, it is often easier to “digest” (or to collect into a table). 😉

We will continue Mobile Talent Sourcing exploration soon, in further posts and in an upcoming webinar – stay tuned!


Texting by Emailing for Recruiting

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Following up on last year’s Arron Daniels guest post Texting While Sourcing, let’s take a closer look at texting in Sourcing and Recruiting.

Texting is about to become common practice in our industry. Job Candidate Preferences for Recruiter Text Messaging, a post by Brian Westfall, quotes as many as 60% of recruiters texting candidates. Unsurprisingly, most candidates under 25 years of age perceive texting as “professional”, while those older than 45 years don’t feel that way. Posts Can You Text Me Now? How To Leverage Text Messaging for Recruiting by Patrick Ward and Here’s How To Text For Success cover best practices in texting.

By all accounts, texting raises average candidate response rates dramatically, compared to emailing or leaving messages. Keeping in mind appropriate professional use of texting, how can we integrate it into our practice and use it efficiently? New tools such as TextRecruit promise to assist. But before we consider specialized tools, it would help to try easy – and not widely known – ways to manage texting outreach.

Did you know that it is possible to text by emailing, without using any additional tools? If we do so, we will be:

  • Keeping track of emails and texts together, for message consistency and communication tracking
  • Having a choice of a channel to reach out to a potential candidate
  • Able to set reminders for follow-ups
  • Mass-text when appropriate

Here is how texting by email works. If your recipients’ mobile carrier is AT&T, substitute the ‘number’ for the 10-digit cell number:

  • AT&T:

Similarly, for a few other popular mobile providers the templates are:

  • T-Mobile:
  • Verizon:
  • Sprint: or
  • Virgin Mobile:

The email domains such as “” and “”, serving to receive texts sent by email are called “SMS Gateways”. Here is the most comprehensive list of SMS gateways I know of.

Of course, to find the correct email address, we need to know the mobile career for the given number. There are sites providing the information for free, for example, use freecarrierlookup.


Using texting by email, we need to understand the difference between “plain texting”, that allows to send a 160 character-long text at a time (SMS), and multimedia messaging (MMS). Mobile carriers accept either kind of messages via email, but the email domain is usually different for SMS vs. MMS. For example:

  • Verizon (SMS):
  • Verizon (MMS):

As always, we need to be considerate in the content and types of messages we send.

Sign up for the new webinar on Tuesday, November 15th (new date!) MONDAY, NOVEMBER 21st

Candidate Response Rates

to learn about easy-to-use tools for combining and optimizing messaging channels and improving candidates’ engagement.






Boolean Is Dead. On LinkedIn Only

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Here is a “double alert” I have just copied from my screen. A rare error occurred, and Boolean is going away in Recruiter Lite.

If you wanted to search, for example, for someone whose job title is (Engineer OR Developer) NOT Manager, you will no longer be able to do so.

Of the current choices of premium personal accounts,


it looks like only Navigator and Lite have advanced search. Lite doesn’t have Boolean, we are told. Navigator has something called “Lead Builder” that doesn’t sound like “Boolean” to me. Is Boolean search going away from all accounts?

LinkedIn suggests to people who want to use Boolean search to upgrade to LinkedIn Recruiter. (By the way, is the assumption that only recruiters, of all LinkedIn members, may want to use Boolean search syntax?)

The problem for the fans of traditional Boolean search is not just that LinkedIn Recruiter is expensive; its search syntax is not exactly Boolean – it’s complicated and user-unfriendly. Just to give you one example – in LinkedIn Recruiter, the second search below brings up more results than the first:

  1. Software Engineer
  2. Software Engineer NOT Senior

(Did you think the first search should bring more results?)

In our sourcing practice, we find that searching on Google can be well done without writing long OR statements or exclusions using the minus. That is because Google has done a lot to understand what people are looking for, “read between the lines”, and show related results.

LinkedIn, on the other hand, doesn’t even “know” standard abbreviations, let alone synonyms; so on LinkedIn, we have always looked for terminology variations using OR statements. Not knowing even the basics on the job titles (VP and “Vice President” in the Job Title field search bring different results), it will not be able to provide us with intelligent suggestions.

We can’t just walk away from LinkedIn – it has so much professional data! But the lack of access to Boolean syntax on LinkedIn is going to lead to productivity loss, and not just for recruiters.

Bottom line:

  1. No Boolean in free LinkedIn accounts
  2. No Boolean in any premium LinkedIn accounts, including Job Seeker, Business, Sales Navigator, and Recruiter Lite
  3. No Boolean in LinkedIn Recruiter

I would be glad if the announcements of the Boolean death on LinkedIn are wrong! But to get ready for the new era, you might want to look into our (most popular!) workshop “Sourcing Without LinkedIn” to learn to utilize other sources and “Boolean Strings Basics” to brush up on X-Raying.

Three Ways to Raise Candidate Response Rates

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Personalizing messages to potential candidates is one of the widely accepted best practices, and rightly so. However, writing personal emails is not enough to get a high response rate. Most working professionals rarely even see, let alone open messages from recruiters. I.e. most recipients stop before they have a chance to see that personalized email; sometimes, before they see the subject, too.

Here are three aspects of reaching out, that are important not to forget about, to raise the response rate.

  1. Choosing recipients. When recruiters are deciding to whom to write, it is best to, first and foremost, choose professionals who already have a connection with them as a recruiter, agency, or employer. Search in your ATS first! The response rate among people, who have interacted with you or your employer in the past, is going to be high. It sounds straightforward, yet at some companies, searching begins elsewhere. (Related questions, to make sure your ATS supports that effort – How easy is it to search in your ATS? Do you keep in touch with past applicants? Refresh the ATS data? Does your ATS record past interview results if the person was not hired?)
  2. Optimizing the channels. When recruiters have access to variable channels to send a message (such as email addresses, profiles on social networks, and a mobile number), there are ways to optimize the choices. Just as one example, many recruiters are careful not to email to a candidate’s work address. – However, a lot of LinkedIn InMails will go to the work email address and may be deleted or land in a junk folder instead of being read. If this is the case, messaging via a different channel may work out. (Related question – Do you have a convenient system to track your interactions and, ideally, prompt to follow up as well?)
  3. What they see. It used to be a return name, email address, and subject, that everyone saw on the receiving end. Now, previews vary; most people see messages on mobile devices. To create an attractive message preview, it helps to know what the recipients see on the other end, depending on devices and applications they likely use. The preview should convince the recipient to read the message. (How many people keep that in mind?)

We will go over all aspects of measuring and raising candidate response rates in the upcoming webinar

Improve Candidate Response Rates – Monday, November 21st

As always, the webinar comes with the materials for everyone to keep and one month of unlimited support. Seating is limited.