Change Your Thinking, Rewrite Your Search Strings

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Successful Sourcers know the main – secret! – principle of productive search: “Imagine the words and phrases exactly as they should appear in the target results. Then, use those words and phrases in your search”.

We also call it “Visualize Success”.

Rarely do Recruiters get training in the “Visualize Success” skill, yet it is the #1 factor in finding target data even if the data is well-hidden. Once you start thinking this way, your search results world will turn around accordingly, finding never-seen relevant pages. (It implies thinking while searching 😉 )

Here are two practical use cases of implementing the “Visualize Success” principle (that you can start today):

  1. While constructing X-Ray search strings, if possible, review several sample pages to see what information they contain. Prepare your imagination to work, close your eyes, and picture an ideal (or acceptable) candidate’s profile – which words and phrases are there? Use those in X-Ray. Once you uncover and test an X-Ray template and educate yourself on target keywords, you can get to work.
  2. An additional, little-used, source of professional data is online contact lists or directories of organization members, conference attendees, and company staff. Sometimes, pages with lists and directories are posted on the surface web in an Excel format, but often, also in PDF or HTML. You can Google for them.

If you have obtained a list of professionals with contact emails, you can discover their profiles on LinkedIn by uploading a CSV list of the emails (and any names) into your Contacts. After an upload you will know the following about each person:

  • Their LinkedIn URL
  • Confirmed email address
  • Knowledge that they come from that list (e.g.,, spoke at an industry event, etc.)

Nice, isn’t it? So Googling for lists of professional contacts is an excellent idea as a step in your sourcing process.

To find lists of professionals, prepare your imagination again. Clearly, Googling for “contact lists (<keywords>” will only land you on contact vendor databases ads. Everyone’s usual “Googling” using a few terms will never take you there.

The best list-finding search strings have two or three values of the same category (or more than one category) such as:

  • names
  • companies
  • job titles
  • email extensions
  • phone area codes
  • (etc.)

You can Google for lists of values like country phone codes or top companies in an industry and then use the values in search strings.

Here are some examples that work like magic (even though I have not used any advanced operators):

What are some clever Google search strings that helped you find unique  contact lists? Please share.

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