The First Name @ Mass-Email-Finding Hack

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Our online lives depend on little things. Slow performance and lack of functionality caused by limited computing power restrict our data gathering ability in seemingly small but consequential ways. (As always, our perceived needs run before computers’ ability.)

As an example, Google will not search for the symbol @ as a part of an email address. At this time it would be too expensive.

Google does, however, notice the periods, and we can take advantage of that.

While figuring out how to massively source emails, I noticed that many companies predominantly follow the [email protected] format. And some, follow it diligently.

Here are the unique stats we have collected: of Fortune 500 companies, 72 are E100, and of those, there are 56jane.doe”s and 10jdoe”s:

I am assuming that companies that deviate from the preferred format still have a high percentage of jane.doe emails.

The vast majority of corporate emails start with a first name followed by a period and end with a .com or another extension.

Google handles both the name and .com as separate words. Realizing this gives us instant sourcing power. We can un-dig pages with emails and contact lists that Google won’t rank high otherwise.

To run such searches, first, Google for common first names. Start with a couple of first female and male names. Add professional keywords as usual (but not too many). Do not forget to put “at” before the name. You can generate a series of queries in Excel, run, and collect all emails with our Email Collector.

Here are two sample searches:

The British say “on,” not “at,” so you can collect a few more.

Just dropping “at” is also an excellent idea!

Join us for the always-popular and practical workshop “Find Anyone’s Contact Info and learn various email- and phone-finding techniques this week.

P.S. Notice how many of my latest posts reveal approaches that have been available for years. There is so much more to discover!

Visual Research and Validation

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In this post, I outline two uses of image search in sourcing. For these purposes, searching in Google images is “good enough” but Bing and Yandex will also work.

Visual Research

My sourcing projects come from different industries (which I love.) There is a particular way I identify target companies for initially unfamiliar industries. To figure out what a company does, I search for its name in images.

Here are two recent examples.

In a project to hire aviation professionals for a large airliner, I needed to narrow down to companies that do the same. Companies making small airplanes, helicopters, spaceships, or military planes were the wrong targets.

First, I found a list of companies that employ these specialists. I searched on LinkedIn using the job titles and terminology and seeing which companies come up. (It is easily done with Recruiter’s “View Insights”). I then searched for each company name in Google images to find out what they make:

Depending on what I saw, I kept or excluded the companies from the search.

In another project, we were looking for Hardware Engineers to work with complex biotech equipment. Googling company names in Images, I could see what each company makes.

Image search can also help to find out what a word (perhaps in a foreign language) means. You can use it, for example, when searching for unfamiliar job titles:


Visual Validation

The second use of image search is verifying whether your Google search is on target. It is obviously applicable to Diversity sourcing.

Here is an example showing that the Boolean String produces the right results:

Having visually verified that your search works right, you can go back to “all” results for review.

Check out our “Sourcing Hacks” book, 3rd edition, almost ready for shipping!

Tomorrow, Friday, I am giving a lecture on all the material (and all our webinars come with a month of support).




Hack: Find LinkedIn Members by Company Size

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Recruiter is the only LinkedIn account offering member search by company size. We used to have it in business accounts some years ago – remember this dialog above? –  and now it is gone. We used to be able to search for companies by size but now Sales Navigator is the only account allowing that.

Here is how to search for LinkedIn members by company size by X-Raying, using a technique similar to this.

Step 1. Let us start with company pages X-Ray. This search –

“51-200 employees” “new york” “hedge fund”

– will find Hedge Funds in New York employing between 51 and 200 people. To proceed with searching for people who work at these companies you could scrape the company names and run an “OR” of them. However, various Boolean limitations, both on LinkedIn and Google, can make this cumbersome. You can search for current and past employees of these identified companies in a better (and fun) fashion.

Let us modify the above search by going to Images and restricting results to LinkedIn and images size 200 by 200 (which is both company and school standard LinkedIn logo sizes).

Now you have a collection of company logos used on LinkedIn.

Step 2. Drag each company logo into the reverse image search box and add your member search parameters ( plus a job title, skills, or location):

Note that this search will find both past and present employees of the company. Since the current company name is in the profile page title, you can also look for companies past but not present with this technique by adding -intitle:<job title> to your search.

You can apply the exact same technique to search for schools’ alumni.

Please join me this Friday to watch a parade of hacks in a fun and useful 90-minute webinar. Each hack will ad power to your sourcing toolbox. You will spend less time on the same project, find matches that you could not before, automate repeated tasks, and view relevant data (vs. false positives). Register at

Sourcing Hacks – webinar Friday, August 14th, 2020.

Seating is limited. The webinar includes one month of “hack” support.



Five Tools to Scrape Search Results

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When you X-Ray on Google or search on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Github (etc.), you see results that are links with previews (called “snippets” in Google). The problem is that snippets never provide enough information to qualify a result. You can try very hard to phrase your search yet you should always expect false positives. It is time-consuming to click and review every result. Additionally, saving “good” results is a challenge.

Here is an example. If you X-Ray LinkedIn trying to narrow to a location, false positives are unavoidable. This search – “san francisco” intitle:sourcer intitle:facebook – will find not only Sourcers at Facebook in the Bay Area but also those who used to work in San Francisco and now live elsewhere.

Scraping the information under results’ links and exporting it in Excel can speed up individual reviews many times. This is because, in Excel, you can sort, search, and filter columns (such as “Location”). If you have access to such functionality, you can do wide searches and catch results you would not find otherwise after filtering.

Another use case for scraping under links is delivery to your client. For example, you might have a Recruiter project with identified prospects and need to put the results in a Google doc for sharing with a client. (This is what I do every day).

Here is a list of the best five non-technical tools for under-links scraping that I am aware of. None of them require any coding.

  1. Phantombuster. Search on LinkedIn and parse the results. The output is impressive, having lots of variables scraped. However, you cannot do volumes (hundreds).
  2. Outwit Hub – somewhat tiring to use since it slows down fast. But pointing Outwit Hub to scrape within each result is just one mouse click away. It can scrape your connections, including email addresses, out of the box. (On a fast computer, I got 7K+ records!)
  3. Ally from (Beta). Ally allows you to scrape search results (on Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, or other sites), save results in an internal list, and do a second round of scraping the links. The advantage is that you get data from search previews as well as results themselves, combined.
    Since I have started using Ally in Recruiter, both for results filtering and sharing with the clients, my sourcing speed went up. (I do 80% less copying and pasting).
  4. ScrapeStorm is a new and promising application. It is downloadable. (I hope they will do a web version). I was able to tune ScrapeStorm to go through LinkedIn X-Ray just in a few minutes.
  5. Social List. While the underlying technology does not rely on scraping (we use Google CSE APIs), you can search and export results in Excel. A big plus is that Social List gets its data through Google Custom Search Engine APIs and does not even “touch” LinkedIn.
    Here is what a result (using “Github Agent”) may look like:

(Please note that new Social List users must submit a credit card. But you will not be charged if you cancel early.)

P.S. As a matter of caution, all sites have protection against scrapers. Do not do too much at a time. On LinkedIn, especially.

Combine Reverse Image with Boolean Search to Find Who Likes What

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Here is a neat trick involving a “part-visual” search.

Did you know that, in Google Images, you can combine reverse image search with additional search parameters such as X-Ray? Neither Yandex, no Bing offer to enter anything else when you upload an image.

The search pictured above finds public LinkedIn profiles in a unique way; here is how.

Since Google captures profile activity, including shares and likes when it gets a copy of each profile, you will find people who share that they got certified or “like” that their colleague got certified. Searching for likes (which reminds us of Facebook!) is not possible within But this example “multi-media” search will find us people who know others who are certified and could be certified themselves.

So – you can search for likes from Google.

You can also expand the technology from the search for AWS-Certified people to search for anything expressed by a logo or an image – think organizations, skills, or technologies.

Here is another example. These people either posted “I am hiring” or liked someone else’s post:

Many more people “like” something vs. posting themselves. Those who are “passively” open to a new job would often hang out on LinkedIn and “like” job posts of interest. We can locate them this way. They are potential candidates or references.

Can you think of other creative combinations of searching by words and images together?


Your Homework

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Motivating recruiters to source outside of LinkedIn is topic managers often bring up when signing up their teams for training. Yesterday, I spoke with a potential client, a thriving agency manager whose recruiters “won’t step outside of LinkedIn.” “How do I motivate them?” The conversation has prompted me to write my thoughts down.

Sourcing is not Rocket Science, but it is not science either! It never follows one channel of potential candidates. There is no tool, dataset, or process leading to the best results. Data is spread between sources. Sources differ in demographics they cover. Search capabilities vary, and some are paid. Things change daily.

But most importantly, search systems, even general search engines like Google, are increasingly skilled in interpreting the purpose of your search. (I am fascinated by the GTP-3 news.) Sourcing in 2020 is more of an Art and requires both intuition and hands-on practice and experience with a variety of search techniques.

One excellent – but involving substantial commitment from participants – way to stimulate learning without procrastinating – is to sign your team up for the Certification Exams. This past round, the exam takers passed 100%. We attribute that to each of them utilizing the new ebook “Sourcing Answers.” as part of their subscription. The ebook has 120 diverse questions with solutions, similar to our exam’s questions. (You can also use the book alone to assess your team.)

If you want, at least for starters, to only train your team in the sourcing basics, or have a custom webinar (or a series) delivered for your organization, encourage them to click every link in the presentations. It is just as vital that they try to modify examples to adjust to different sourcing needs. While the attendees can keep the materials forever, they should ideally practice in the first week after the webinar.

To promote the practice, we have started populating our materials with “Your Homework” slides in-between the content sections. Let me give you an example from today’s “Sourcing for Diversity”  slides:

Here is another one:

(Can you answer these? If you like these questions, send me your responses, and I will share more.)

The audience has received the homework with enthusiasm. Many said they are committing to doing it (we’ll see). One attendee was solving the homework during the lecture!

I trust you can complete all homework for the Diversity class in two afternoons (if you attended, let me know if you feel otherwise). You are welcome to send us your solutions as part of online support.

One of the teams of sourcers that we have been custom-training has a lively Slack channel, and everyone contributes their responses to the homework following each lecture. (Sure enough, there are Birthday wishes and baby photos, but there is a lot on the sourcing topic, and team members are engaged in discussions.) If your organization has a social channel, they would learn from each other – and develop a collective “team” language.

Part of the motivation is the enjoyment everyone will feel once they get amazing results!

Let me know if you agree or disagree.

Expect our future classes to come with “Homework.”


Diversity Identifiers

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multiple identities

Due to the last few months’ global events, diversity hiring and diversity recruiting training are the two topics getting a lot – if not most – Social Media attention within our industry.

If your search includes a preference for reaching out to diverse candidates, expect it to take twice as long, unless you have built a diversity sourcing part of your toolbox. However, as you save some search templates, your job will become easier. Here is how to address the challenge of building up the necessary search templates library. (No paid tools are required.)

Diversity Sourcing is not Rocket Science. Nobody gets surprised any longer by seeing the “face” option in the image search applied to diversity sourcing. There are lots of Boolean Strings, and example image searches shared in blogs and Facebook Groups. However, covering all aspects of diversity sourcing for a given job opening – or across a company – can be a daunting task.

To fulfill it, you need to be methodical, creative, organized, and fluent in Excel. (It is quite a unique combination of personal traits!)

Coincidentally, three of our clients have just requested us to source for specific kinds of diversity (plus, of course, some location and experience requirements). Two Bay Area companies have chosen to target only two or three types of diversity out of dozens. The project of interest I want to tell you about is the third.

Navajo Nation | Visit Arizona

The third project is a search that requires candidates to:

  1. be well-connected in the American Indian community – preferably Navajo (!)
  2. work at a for-profit
  3. have been on multiple boards
  4. live in AZ.

(I am always grateful for unique projects!)

I do not know whether our Navajo Project can be called a “diversity search” (what would you say?). But sourcing techniques based on any aspects shown on the top image above, including ethnicity search, are quite similar. So is sourcing for this project.

I will write another post sharing some details of the third project as well as some reflections on the sourcing process structure. Please sign up at the text box on the right to be notified of future posts.

The good news is, you can set up your sourcing process and sometimes, even search templates, once, and later maintain, grow, and reuse the saved lists of queries no matter what you search for. (Also, these diversity searches are perhaps the only use case for keeping, sharing, and “saving” Boolean Strings.)

To help you start generating your custom search string library, I want to share a list of the latest diversity-related posts on my blog. Feel free to bookmark any of them.

Unsure how to get a list of association names to plug in? The best strategy is simply to Google various diversity types-serving organizations within the area and a relevant industry focus for at least a sizable part of employees. For that, you will be using Googling just like everyone else – looking at the first couple of results if at all.

You can usually expect to get a large volume of potential candidate matches while using the discovered memberships as keywords in an OR string. If that is the case, you might want to weed out any suspicious or unverified records (however you define them.) Then, upload results to Google docs, and you are done – unless you are responsible for messaging prospects as well. The latter would be an optional last step, depending on your sourcing agreement.

Please join me at our always-popular class, “Sourcing for Diversity,” on Tuesday, July 28th. Seating is limited. Support for all attendees is unlimited for one month. Take advantage of that!

Nice! #opentowork is Public

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Good news! We woke up to #opentowork LinkedIn members becoming visible in Google:

I am pretty sure Google picks the hashtag from shares, so results will miss many, but – it will find many too!

Here is a CSE to find the profiles:

By the way, I am open to work. 🙂 I am looking for new clients for sourcing and training projects. Please feel free to reach out!

Sixteen Techniques of Interest

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I want to share sixteen tools and techniques that have impressed me in the last few months. They should be of interest to recruiters as well as OSINT people, I hope. Consider them to be techniques that you did not know you should use.

  1. Outwit Hub is a veteran tool. And it is the only way to scrape your first-level connections along with email addresses without the need to script. Just scroll down your connections list and tell OH to get contacts under all links. It will manage about 7K records before slowing to a crawl; more if you have a large computer memory. Phantombuster will die much sooner on a free account. (No tool will “get” my 30K!)
    The latest OH version (8.0) has an auto-scroll feature as well. Be prepared for a bit of a rough UI though. The full lifetime version is under $100 – buy it. (I am not affiliated.)
  2. Face recognition and search – Works pretty well! Google’s reverse image search has become ridiculous, so we have been in need of a working replacement. (Google recruiters in the Image division: if you need help sourcing skilled Developers, I will do it for free. Please PM.)
    Yandex, however, as well as Pimeyes, does an excellent job since it recognizes faces. On both Pimeye and Yandex, you can take a selfie and they will find your online traces. You will be impressed. Pimeye, by the way, has removed image uploading, so you’d have to hold a photo close to the computer camera if it is not you.
    What is amusing with these tools is that they find people who look just like you, who you did not know existed! What was their life story?
  3. Social List now has a Slideshare Agent! Anyone who has ever uploaded a document to LinkedIn has a Slideshare profile. Since Googlebot and LinkedIn public profiles are still at odds, this Agent gives you excellent filters. We use the Social List’s Contact Finder when we source.
  4. builds org charts based on LinkedIn profiles. It is a cool, unique idea. The tool has ways to go. There is a lot more intelligence to be derived from LinkedIn’s Big Data. I think contact-finding should not be their priority but they need to market, so.
  5. Ally from (in Beta) has become my favorite scraper. (I rarely praise any tools that creators ask me to review.) But my feelings about the tool are ambivalent. I have wasted hours because of losing information without a way to return to it. If they improve the UX flow and error-handling, I will declare Ally the greatest tool of all time.
    No need to know HTML, out-of-the-box scrapers, easy way to set your own, dig into pages if you like. Sweet. It combines the best of Instant Data Scraper and DataMiner, plus adds power. (Funny, the founders were not aware of either.)
  6. My friend Balazs has made the community happy by explaining how to source on Facebook again. (I just recommend putting “a” in the keywords, nothing else, to get maximum results. Try it and see if there is a difference.)
  7. Phantombuster is very alive, “automating everything” as promised. You will not, however, get any significant volume of data for free.
  8. ScrollBuddy – configurable autoscrolling.
  9. – have not tested much but sound promising.
  10. – public records search.
  11. Github email finder – finally!
  12. Amazon advanced book search – do your candidates write books?
  13. – detailed scrapable lists of staff for a bunch of companies.
  14. Translate text from images on the search results page with Yandex
  15. Search for podcasts – Google does not have links for every specialized search on the home page.
  16. Clustrmaps is a scrapable database of people info including email addresses. Make sure you verify the data though since it is far from perfect. (Which is to be expected from such a tool.)

How about you? Anything new and remarkable that you can share?

Sourcing Essential Workers

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Our webinar this week is Sourcing Essential Workers. We will share some new material that you have never heard of before. We are going to summarize our recent successful experience in recruiting Registered Nurses and other healthcare professionals.

We have realized that the method that we have developed will work for any job that does not call for “purple squirrels” or “the best” but simply requires candidates to match the requirements. Candidates should have easy-to-identify skills and experience, e.g. bedside Registered Nurses with two years of experience and a valid license in TX (compare with a Full-Stack Developer assessment!)

They often work for large organizations like hospitals and universities.

There are thousands of them. Yet they have little online presence or none.

The challenge is to contact them via a channel that they check.

And we made a discovery. Since the initial volume is high, we did not mind if we let go of many candidates. We narrowed the target company list down to “E100” companies, ones that follow an email format 100% of the time. RocketReach is a helpful site that gave us a way to collect E100 companies in the target sector. (As an example, from Fortune 500 companies, 72 are E100.)

The rest was just running an excel formula. Two, actually – for jane.doe and jdoe. In a few hours, most of which was spent on cleaning up data, we had a solid list of thousands of prospects with emails. We ran them through some verifiers to double-check.

I have not seen our method described before. Yet it is reasonably quick and costs nothing.

Please join me at Sourcing Essential Workers. Mass-email-identification is of interest to any Sourcer. You will be able to get up in running in minutes following the webinar. Pretty high ROI! 🙂