Boolean Search String Examples

How Would You Search for these Positions on LinkedIn?

Posted by | Boolean, Boolean Search Experiments, LinkedIn, LinkedIn Search | 16 Comments

One of the things that has always struck me as extremely odd with regard to sourcing is the fact that there appears to be so little sharing of Boolean search strings.

While one can find basic search string examples in training materials and in various sourcing groups online, I know plenty of sourcers and recruiters that have never seen another person’s production search strings – those used to actually fill positions.

Why do you think that is? I have my ideas, and I’d like to know yours.

I believe there may be several contributing factors:

  1. Some people just don’t save their searches. If I were a betting man, from what I’ve seen over the past 15+ years, I’d wager that the majority of people don’t save their search strings. If they’re not saved anywhere – you severely limit any sharing opportunities to live, in-the-moment situations that may or may not ever present themselves.
  2. It simply never occurs to some people to share their searches with others – unless someone specifically asks, why would someone?
  3. Plain old insecurity. Some folks might not want to share their search strings with others because they are afraid theirs are somehow “wrong,” inferior or inadequate.
  4. The belief that their Boolean search strings are somehow their “secret sauce” and that in sharing their searches might somehow expose their competitive advantage.

What do you think?

How Would You Search for these Positions on LinkedIn?

Are you up to the challenge of sharing some of your searches with a global audience of talent acquisition professionals? Read More

Boolean Search String Experiment #2

Posted by | Boolean, Boolean Search Experiments | 24 Comments

Cyborg Sourcer

Back in November, I posted a Boolean search challenge to demonstrate that when you give a number of sourcers and recruiters the same job description/hiring profile to search for, you will get as many different searches and search strategies as you have sourcers and recruiters.

As I have said many times before, every search string “works,” provided they are syntactically correct.

However, not all search strings or strategies are created equal, nor are the results that are returned.

Because of this fact, 20 different sourcers and recruiters searching the same source (LinkedIn, the Internet, Monster, etc.) will find some of the same candidates, but each will also find some that the others do not.

The most important question to ask is anyone actually finding all of the best candidates that the particular source has to offer? Believe it or not, some of the best candidates are never found by the people who are searching for them. You can’t be aware of something your searches do not return.

Or can you?

Information Retrieval is the Key

When it comes to information retrieval- which is the science of searching for documents (e.g., resumes, press releases, etc.), for information within documents (e.g., experience and qualifications), as well as searching relational databases and the Internet – simply having access to the information does not afford a sourcer, recruiter or organization any competitive advantage.

However, human capital informational and competitive advantage can be achieved through more effective retrieval – in other words, more effective queries (i.e., Boolean search strings).

Queries are formal statements of information needs. When searching to identify talent, the more effective you are at translating your information needs (skills, experience, qualifications, etc.) into queries, the more likely you are to find all of the best candidates any particular source of talent has to offer. Read More

Boolean Search String Experiment Follow Up

Posted by | Boolean, Boolean Search Experiments | 11 Comments

On November 8th, 2010, I wrote a post containing a Boolean search challenge and an experiment of sorts – I asked readers to share their approach and Boolean search strings for a basic job description. The inspiration for the experiment came from the fact that very few people seem to be consciously aware of the issue that when it comes to sourcing candidates via the Internet, resume databases, LinkedIn, etc., is that all Boolean candidate searches work, provided they are syntactically correct.

This is a fundamental problem which heavily influences the perception of sourcing as a low level, non-critical function and/or role, because anyone can take the title from a job description and the required skill terms, create a basic Boolean query, and get results. This leads to the idea that finding talent is easy – slap a few search terms together and voila! – you get candidates.

Congratulations for finding the same candidates everyone else is finding with the same unsophisticated searches. All candidate queries are definitely not created equal, and you simply cannot gain any competitive advantage running the same basic taken-straight-from-the-job-description title and keyword searches that everyone else does.

The lesser-known reality is that most people who run Boolean searches on LinkedIn, job board resume databases, in their Applicant Tracking Systems (if they even support Boolean – ouch!) and the Internet only find a small fraction of the talent that is available to be found. I’ve written quite a bit on the topic so I won’t belabor that point in this post. Read More

Boolean Search String Experiment – Are You Game?

Posted by | Boolean, Boolean Search Experiments | 63 Comments

Cyborg SourcerOne of the most interesting yet overlooked aspects associated with sourcing candidates using the Internet, job board databases, ATS/CRM systems and social networks such as LinkedIn is that as long as your syntax is correct, every search “works.”

This fact leads (too) many people to believe that finding talent online is easy and that there is no competitive advantage to be gained in the practice of searching human capital data.

However, are all queries created equal?

Would 5 different recruiters working the same position use the same search strings and search strategy? Would they find the same people if they used the same source?

In many organizations, sourcers and recruiters do not get (or seek out) the opportunity to compare and contrast their search strategies and tactics with their peers and/or managers on a position-by-position basis. Much of the magic of talent discovery and identification, or lack thereof, happens on each person’s computer screen.

Unlike professional athletes and musicians whose skills and techniques are on display and scientists who publish their work, sourcers and recruiters responsible for talent discovery have absolutely no public basis of comparison. Read More