7 Best Practices for Searching

booleanstrings Uncategorized 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. craigtheinfoguy
  2. harveydaniels
  3. sourcerersheepwash
  4. 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,


  5. 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?

  6. algrady
  7. headhunterforstars – Staffing project management will be a revolution in high quality staffing. Project management techniques applied to staffing create longer lasting placements and using staffing project management tools and experts in your recruiting process will create reduced turnover and a more productive workforce. At Head Hunter For Stars, we use the most cutting edge staffing project management techniques available to find you the best candidate possible for you! This is a place where every placement is a star!
  8. chrisetorne
  9. 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

  10. taniabrammer
  11. supercoach100
  12. chaitalimody
  13. mcmhackers
  14. rsarkari

    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.

  15. robinharpe – Gainesville, FL – Robin Harpe is the founder of Navigate Your Life, a career coaching and consulting practice whose mission is to partner with clients to transform their passion into performance. As a human resources professional for more than twenty-five years, Robin assists companies in developing employment succession, branding, sourcing and retaining top talent. She also helps individuals create work life strategy career plans for each stage of life. Her expertise includes life coaching, career development, social media consulting and branding for recruitment or individual job search.
  16. stephensonfam
  17. debbienaustin
  18. 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,


  19. booleanstrings – United States – Recruiter, Sourcer, Trainer, Speaker @braingain
  20. rweisscolemandev
  21. vonskie
  22. Sandeep – I have over 6 years of recruiting experience having recruited for varied skills across various levels. I am currently a Delivery Leader - Executive Search Services with Options Group.

    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.



  23. uday kiran – Hyderabad – Sr.Staffing Consultant at Amazon.com @@ HYD
  24. Sarang Brahme – chinchwad – Recruitment Sourcing - by profession but a amid lover of art by heart... Loves music, poems, books and films. I think they give a totally different dimension to ones' personality - add a touch of sensativity. Through this platform (blog) I will try to maintain and enhance this dimension further. It's been a while since I went this way...... Let's explore it further... This space will be a mirror of my thoughs over lot of issues, aspects - be it personal or social. A mirror of my mind and heart....
  25. lakesidezz – A dynamic recruiter and result-oriented individual with several years of sourcing & recruiting experience, focused in the placement of top talents in the construction, manufacturing, IT, energy, oil and gas industries. http://staffmills.com/.
  26. andrewbork2014
  27. Carol Hagen – Phoenix, AZ – National Speaker, Social Media Maven, Construction Software solutions provider always looking for better ways to accomplish more with less effort while eliminating waste - a LEAN approach. Looking for continuous improvement in others, I openly share ideas, tips and tricks to make technology work for you and drive business success with an emphasis on LinkedIn Tips in my blog posts.
    1. booleanstrings – United States – Recruiter, Sourcer, Trainer, Speaker @braingain
  28. Scott Crossett – The report is compiled and published by Scott Crossett, a partner with executive search firm Cameron Smith & Associates, in partnership with Magpie Marketing.
    1. booleanstrings – United States – Recruiter, Sourcer, Trainer, Speaker @braingain
      1. booleanstrings – United States – Recruiter, Sourcer, Trainer, Speaker @braingain

        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.

Leave a Reply to Sara Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *