7 Best Practices for Searching

booleanstringsUncategorized 122 Comments

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.

Comments 122

  1. Dear Irina,
    I’m very interested in your top 25 search strings. It will help me to understand how to make strings by my own

  2. Hi Irina,

    Very nice article – very informative.

    I would be very interested in your 25 search string list. Could you send it over?

    Thank you,

  3. Absolutely on point about practice being the means to learning Boolean….but I’d still like your 25 string list. Thanks for sharing your knowledge so freely.

  4. Great info as always, Irina, although I didn’t catch the joke you alluded to in your tweet 🙁

    I’d love to have the Top 25 as well!



  5. Thank you for the article, it is always nice to re-emphasis important imformation. I would love to view your top 25 list of strings as well.

    Much thanks,


  6. Stellar information as always!! Can you please share your top 25 boolean strings with me?
    BTW…I’m still looking for the joke 🙂


  7. It’s great to re review a practical summary like this one. Thanks for sharing. And as always I would appreciate seeing what you think are the top 25 strings. Do you include any background on them as well?

  8. Thanks for yr generosity, Irina. Your Linkedin webinar was so useful. Sorry I did not get a chance to write back to you with qs. Pls send me yr 25 strings on email. I would really appreciate it.
    Thanks a ton

  9. Thank you Irina! You always lay out the basic essentials/common sense stuff so well. No frills just what is reqd to make it work! Emailed you for the 25 strings! Appreciate the sharing.

  10. Very interesting article. Thank you.l

    May I also add my name to the bottom of your ‘ 25 strings’ list, please?
    Many thanks

  11. Nice article sharing it with office. Thanks and could you send me your top 25 strings

    Margaret Underwood
    Program Mgr/Sr. Recruiter

  12. Hi Irina,

    Thanks for this – really great information.

    I too (like the 82 before me) would love a copy of your top 25 searches.

    Kind regards and many thanks,


  13. Hi Irina,
    Very informative article, and I would sincerely appreciate having a look at your top 25 search strings list. Thank you.

  14. Hello! Thank you for sharing your experise! I too would appreciate a copy of the 25 search strings. Thank you in advance.


  15. Hi Irina,

    I would like to have the copy of your top 25 search strings.

    Also, i sent you an invitation this morning to review and join my group “Sourcing School”

    Please review and respond.



  16. Would love a copy of the top 25 strings — and also where can I download the webinar from today?

  17. Hi Irina,

    I would appreciate if you include me in your mailing list of those to benefit from the top 25 strings.

    Look forward to reading from you.


  18. Irina,

    I really appreciate all of your information. Your information brings much value! Please send me the 25 search strings. Thank you!

  19. I would appreciate if you include me in your mailing list of those to benefit from the top 25 strings.

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge

  20. I would like a copy of the 25 common search strings. If I have some success figuring them out, I will look into the starter kit.

    Thank you

      1. To explain a bit further… It’s possible to still get the strings for 4 more days, as part of the nominally-priced “Sourcer Starting Set” (and it makes a lot of sense to get some guidance along with them) at http://booleanstrings.com/2011/03/11/the-sourcer-starter-set-available-one-week-only/

        The “Sourcer Starting Set” is not a money-maker for me, but more of a desire to explain how this works to a wider audience. Of course, a jump from free to $29 seems like a big jump for most. I like free things too.:) However, I am not able to provide the guidance for free to almost 2,000 people who requested and got the strings in February.

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