Four “Lazy Operators” for Lazy Sourcers

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If you source well, that implies that you are also a Lazy Sourcer. What I mean by a Sourcer’s “Laziness” is trying to get results with fewer keystrokes and mouse movements. (Those of us who type slowly – I do! – need to find ways to reduce typing even more desperately). I am a Lazy Sourcer – and am always on the lookout to do things faster.

I won’t be covering various info-fetching Chrome extensions in this post. Good people like Dean DaCosta and Jan Tegze have posted plenty of information about them. Rather, I will talk about ways to type less when searching – specifically when considering using most common advanced Google search operators.

(To mention, I am not a fan of “Boolean Builders.” I always type searches “by hand”; I recommend you do, too! Humans do better than machines in generating searches as of February 2019.)

Here are some tips I want to share. (They are simple.) I will call them Lazy Search Operators.

  1. Lazy site: (X-Ray)

Google has become very intelligent. We can often search for a site (or company) name without writing out a site: operator (X-Raying) and still find the information we are looking for on that site.

For example, searching for <first> <last> linkedin (example search) or, for more common names, <first> <last> <company> linkedin, will find LinkedIn profile(s) in question. We can write other types of searches (if the search terms are “reasonably unique”) along with the word linkedin and quickly land on the right results.

Similarly, we can search for <any site’s name> <keywords> instead of X-Raying that site. Example.

(Makes sense, Sourcers?)

  1. Lazy filetype:

You guessed it. We can often search just for the file type and drop the operator filetype:. We do need to put the file type in the quotation marks, e.g., “XLSX” (though there are two extra characters to be entered!). Example.

  1. Lazy intitle: and inurl:

Remember that Google will rank results higher if it finds our keywords in titles and URLs, even if we don’t use these operators. For example, searching for resume along with some keywords will often work just as well as the popular template intitle:resume OR inurl:resume.

  1. Lazy define

In many cases, just naming the entity and dropping the operator define will produce a definition in a “Featured Snippet,” which we see above the search results. Example. (You can also search for what is <term>).

Additional Tip:

Try using fewer, if any, quotation marks in these searches: you may get better results – and you will type less as well!

Note that these “relaxed” searches have started working much better in our experience in recent years, as Google has been enhancing its search algorithms.

(As a reminder, use these best practices while you are searching).

So, you would ask, do we no longer even need to teach new Sourcers Google’s advanced operators? We absolutely do! There are numerous cases where advanced operators give us searching superpowers. (I might just need to take a touch-typing class to speed up those. 😉)

Ten Habits of Best Sourcers

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Would you like to source like the best? Here are some habits that, I believe, best Sourcers demonstrate while performing their searches. (We teach these practices, along with numerous examples, in our Training Webinars.)

  1. Best Sourcers spend a good deal of time figuring out what to search for (for example, terminology, job titles, company competitors, target schools, certifications, etc.). (Ideally, they are able to verify with the HM!)
  2. They spend a good deal of time figuring out where to search (for example, associations, conferences, industry social sites, Facebook groups, etc.)
  3. They use their imagination. They imagine what the search results look like, then search for “that” (vs., for example, copying some keywords from a job description into the search box). This mindset – “search for what you expect to find” – is key
  4. They spend a reasonable amount of time adjusting (modifying) their searches so that the results are useful. (They are not after a “perfect” Boolean String)
  5. They use search results to expand the search in new directions (for example, notice terminology, memberships, or certifications and run additional searches)
  6. They notice additional sites or sources in the search results to examine further (for example, if they run across a profile on a membership site, they might also look at other members on the site)
  7. If they see unexpected results, they stop and try to figure out the reason (Did they use the right syntax? Is it a bug or some odd behavior of the search system? If so, what is the scope?)
  8. They make sure they know what can and cannot be found, and where. (For example, we can’t X-Ray LinkedIn for postal codes, but can for current job titles)
  9. They know how to interpret searches with no results, or no relevant results. (For example, most people in a given profession within a location may not be present on LinkedIn. Or, some country does not host a conference on a particular topic – it happens elsewhere)
  10. Last but not least, they think while they search 😉 (I expect Glen Cathey to agree with me on this one).

What do you think about these ten habits? Do you have them? 😊 Would you add something else to the list? Please comment.

The Matter of Time in Alumni Search

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It’s not surprising to discover that LinkedIn doesn’t do what we expect it to do in our search queries. This time it is about the study years, and it’s a mystery what is going on!

While grading our Exams, David Galley and I ran into the following inconsistencies:

1. Search for graduation dates using operators (I am searching in “Alberta, Canada” in all examples):

startyear:2016 AND endyear:2018 AND school:”university of alberta” (3 results right now)

2. Using the Alumni search: Link (1,535 results for me; you may get a slightly different number).

3. Using LinkedIn Recruiter (which apparently provides the same results as the alumni search):

4. Now, this search produces 155 results.

5. And this, 232 results.

To get puzzled even more, take a look at an alumni search for people who started school later than they graduated!

Where do the differences come from and which search provides the right answer? It’s especially important to figure out if you are using LinkedIn Recruiter: from the examples above, and by examining search results, we can say with certainty that Recruiter doesn’t produce the results we are looking for.

There are several things at play here. (I will be sharing some explanations and workarounds in my future posts and webinars.)

It’s a great Sourcing exercise to try and figure out what is happening. For starters, here are some things to consider:

  • Does the search look for the last school or any school?
  • Does it look for graduation dates at this particular school or any school?
  • Does it include people with no graduation dates?

Want to share your thoughts? Please do so in the comments or on our Boolean Strings Facebook Group.

Why Searching for URLs On Google Is a Thing To Do

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One popular Sourcing “hacking” technique is by constructing or altering page URLs. Doing so can be useful when the site doesn’t have the search capabilities “officially” in its UI. This is the case with Facebook Graph Search, some LinkedIn “hack” searches, and more.

How do we learn the way to construct the URLs, particularly search URLs, if they are not “official” and not documented by the sites? Visually examining the URLs helps, but sometimes it’s not enough.

You can undoubtedly Google for something like facebook graph search links and will find some great material from blogs, Slideshares, etc. But there’s a better way to search, that will get you straight to the search URLs and uncover some that you won’t find as easily in other ways. So here is what to do:

Google for parts of the URL(s) in question, and you will find full URLs – and more URLs – to use in your Sourcing.

When we search in this fashion, we’ll often find pages from sites for “techies,” like StackOverflow and Github, and sometimes non-English posts, along with blogs and presentations – all quite useful!

(Note that, while we are using page URLs, these searches are entirely different than searching with the operators site: and inurl:).

Let me show you, for example, how we can be looking for Facebook Graph Search URLs. The more specific URL pieces we put in a search, the more concrete related examples we will find (along with the experts who posted them!).

It’s important to remember, information on blogs and in presentations can be outdated or incorrect; we always need to verify it.

Want to learn more about Facebook Graph searches specifically? Check out our online class. We offer classes about Googling as well.

If you search for pieces of URLs and find exciting new hacks (sourcing on Facebook or outside), roup please share on our Facebook Boolean String Group!



Did You Know You Can Search Pipl by Social Profiles?

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You probably know about the site Pipl, which allows searching for people by name and location, an email address, a phone number, or a social handle. But did you know that you can also search Pipl by social profile URLs, including LinkedIn profile URLs?

Setting your expectations right is important. Given the nature of Pipl, you can expect some outdated or wrong information on the profiles, so my advice would be to verify the info. However, you can expect to find professional info, phone numbers, social handles, and links to multiple social profiles! If you are willing to dig into the links that accompany your search result (which is what Pipl displays), you will find plenty of additional professional information. This is especially useful when the LinkedIn (or other social) profile you are starting with is “slim”.

Take a look at a couple of examples:

Example 1

Example 2

P.S. Did you know that we are repeating “Sourcing without LinkedIn”  on Wednesday, January 23rd? We will be sharing lots of Sourcing tips (like the one above) – join us!






Quiz Answers and the Certification Exam Winner

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Following up on the Sourcing Quiz, (that was quite popular!) I am posting the solutions and answers to the questions.

Question 1: Find a LinkedIn member, living in the San Francisco Bay Area, whose headline is “Student at SDSU Executive MBA” and who started school in 2018. What is his last name?

Solution 1: This search on LinkedIn finds the right profile, but the profile is out of everyone’s network, and we can’t see the name. To find the last name, X-Ray: OR -pub.dir “Student at SDSU Executive MBA” “san francisco bay area” 2018

Answer 1: Novoa

Question 2: For this GitHub user – – who is his current employer?

Solution 2: The Github profile shows the company is Semantic Machines. If we look up the person’s LinkedIn profile (by following the link we will see the current company listed as Microsoft. Since Microsoft has acquired Semantic Machines, the answer “Sourcing Machines” is also acceptable.

Answer 2: Microsoft (or “Semantic Machines”)

Question 3: Find a LinkedIn profile with a headline containing the person’s Yahoo-based email address and also a phrase: “Strategist | Influencer | Disruptor | Innovator.” What is the email address shared in the headline?

Solution 3: You might try this search on LinkedIn – headline:”Strategist Influencer Disruptor Innovator yahoo” – but it produces no results. (The reason is that LinkedIn won’t search for part of an email address). However, this search – headline:”Strategist Influencer Disruptor Innovator”
finds two profiles, one of which is the one we are looking for.

Answer 3:

Question 4: There is a member of the “Women Who Code” Meetup, based out of San Francisco, who states her interest in four programming languages, including Java and Scala. She has misspelled the name of one of the languages (starting with an “H”). What is the correct spelling?

Solution 4: X-Ray the Meetup: Java scala. You will find this profile that matches the requirement.

Answer 4: Haskell

Question 5: Which of the following works as a search operator on resume search?

  • employers:
  • employer:
  • schools:
  • skills:
  • yoe:

Solution 5: Review the list on Indeed operators on their site.

Answer 5: skills:

Hope you had some fun solving these!

We got correct submissions from:

  • Antonio Miragliotta
  • Kitti Nagy
  • Marc Spiron
  • Abhilash S.
  • Abraham Devkule
  • Jeremy Tatom
  • Natalija Vukadinovic
  • Hemanth Nanduru
  • Shivkumar Gurram
  • Kumar K

Well done! And here is the (randomly selected from those who submitted the correct entries) winner who gets to take the Sourcing Certification Exams as our guest:

Shawn Vyas

– congratulations, Shawn!




Why Google Email?

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I find it to be incredibly productive, as part of the sourcing process, to Google for email addresses (in the quotation marks). It’s particularly useful to Google an email address of someone whom you believe to be a fit for the opening you are trying to fill, an “ideal” candidate.

Here is what we can achieve by searching for an email address of an “ideal” candidate:

  1. Find additional professional background and contact information for that person.
  2. Find online lists in which the person is included – and which can potentially contain names and contact information of others “like” her.
  3. Find lists “like” the one where the person was included, by X-Raying the site where a list that we have already found
  4. is hosted.
  5. Find sites where the person has some sort of presence (like an online profile, or bio, or even a resume) and X-Ray the site that hosts that profile/bio/resume for more people “like” him.

(We can certainly also Google the person’s name with the same purposes in mind. But searching for an email address is helpful in the sense that it will almost never have “false positives” since an email address is unique for every person.)

There is nothing earth-shaking about the considerations above – it is a common-sense approach. I am posting this as a suggestion for those who haven’t practiced looking for emails – and a reminder to expand and vary your searches. It is also a reminder to examine search results for any useful information that you can utilize in following searches.

Do you Google for candidates? Do you use many sites other than LinkedIn for Sourcing? (Believe me, many Recruiters don’t).

Come join me on Wednesday, January 16th, 2019 for our historically most popular webinar – “Sourcing without LinkedIn”.

Sourcing Quiz – Test Your Skills

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Sourcing Quiz

Would you like to test your Sourcing Skills for 2019? Our quarterly Exam is coming up. You can get certified during the week of January 19-25, 2019.

I want to invite you to test your skills with five questions below. (These questions are similar to those that we include in the Exam). I will publish the answers in one week. Email me the answers for a chance to take the January Exam free of charge – we will randomly select a person who provides the correct answers.


Q1. Find a LinkedIn member, living in the San Francisco Bay Area, whose headline is “Student at SDSU Executive MBA” and who started school in 2018. What is his last name?

Q2. For this github user – – who is his current employer?

Q3. Find a LinkedIn profile with a headline containing the person’s Yahoo-based email address and also a phrase: “Strategist | Influencer | Disruptor | Innovator”. What is the email address shared in the headline?

Q4. There is a member of the “Women Who Code” Meetup, based out of San Francisco, who states her interest in four programming languages, including Java and Scala. She has misspelled the name of one of the languages (starting with an “H”). What is the correct spelling?

Q5. Which of the following works as a search operator on resume search?

  • employers:
  • employer:
  • schools:
  • skills:
  • yoe:

Hope you have some fun solving these!

Want to test your or your team’s Sourcing Skills? Read more about the Sourcing Certification Exams here.

LinkedIn Operators: One More and a Tip Sheet

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[Edited: please note, that, as of the end of April 2019, all operators have stopped working. They may come back, we’ll see!]

Your new undocumented LinkedIn operator (in addition to the ones I covered in a few recent posts) is functions:, with the values from Job Function Codes.

Example: functions:4 looks for people in Business Development.

As with other operators, you can search for several values at the same time, and LinkedIn does assign several functions to some people (example: functions:”4 8 9“).

As a summary, below is the full list of LinkedIn search operators that work with any basic or premium account, in the main search box. Many of the discovered search facets have only been available in LinkedIn Recruiter, and the operator headline:, uniquely, works only in a basic/premium account!

For each operator, you can use it with several values in the quotation marks, which means an AND of terms. For example, headline:”engineer senior” searches for both words senior and engineer to appear in the headlines (but not for a phrase).

You can certainly combine the operators and use the Boolean logic.

Note that the values calculated by LinkedIn are less reliable than those entered by members, no matter which account you use to search (I have marked those in the last column).

Tip Sheet – LinkedIn Search Operators

Operator Meaning Values Calculated by LinkedIn
headline: search for keywords in Headline no
skills: search for keywords in Skills no
spokenlanguage: search for language proficiency by a language name no
startyear: search for the start year in college no
endyear: search for the end year in college no
geo: search for a Geoname Geonames no
title: search for current job title no
company: search for current company name no
school:  search for school name no
firstname: search for first name no
lastname: search for last name no
industry: search for the industry by Industry code Industry Codes no
seniority: search for seniority Seniority Codes yes
profilelanguage: search for profiles in other languages by a two-letter language abbreviation Language Codes no
functions: search for functions Job Functions yes
yoe: search for “years of experience” yes
[Edited:] I have found one more operator – fieldsofstudy: – search for fields of study – the argument is a code (or codes) that can be identified using a “company/people” search dialog like this– select the field(s) of study in question and you will find the codes in the search URL.

[Edited: I have put the list of all known operators here – LinkedIn Search Operators]

The Webinar “Sourcing Hacks” presents an in-depth guide to LinkedIn operators and twenty-four other cool hacks for your productivity. The webinar is based on our new ebook “Sourcing Hacks” (2019)


Oh, NOT!

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Not only has LinkedIn restricted Boolean ANDs and ORs in its basic and premium accounts, but it has also now restricted the NOT operator as well.

In the help document Boolean Query Limitations they are saying: “While we do limit the amount of AND or OR Boolean operators, we don’t limit the amount of NOT Boolean operators.” Well, the last part is now wrong. Just try searching for engineer NOT senior NOT manager NOT director NOT recruiter NOT cto NOT ceo and you will get no results (while there should be plenty). Please make a note of it.

I have been sharing a LinkedIn OR workaround based on expressing the Boolean OR through the Boolean NOT. (It was a fun one!) Please note, that workaround no longer works.

However, sourcers never give up. We have come up with a brand new LinkedIn OR workaround that makes any OR query work. We have also figured out how to fix the NOT queries. We are sharing the working workaround in our new eBook “Sourcing Hacks”, just released! Check it out!