I am often asked my opinion on the best use of resume search “aggregators” such as those offered by infoGIST, TalentHook, Data Frenzy RAM, DaXtra, AIRS SourcePoint and others.
If you’re not familiar with resume search aggregators, a resume search aggregator is an application that allows a user to enter a search string that will simultaneously execute across multiple free and paid job board resume sites and aggregate the results.
Many HR, sourcing, recruiting and staffing teams tend to use resume search aggregators at the associate level – enabling individual sourcers and recruiters to run Boolean search strings focused on specific hiring needs through a resume search aggregator to to simultaneously search several paid job boards as well as in some cases 100+ free job board resume databases.
While there is a huge convenience factor in using resume search aggregators in this fashion, as each sourcer or recruiter can save time and effort in not having to log into multiple job boards to execute Boolean search strings on each one individually, there are some limitations of resume search aggregators you need to be aware of, and I feel there is a better way to use this technology.
Limitations of Resume Search Aggregators
Limited Boolean Logic Support
Many of the resume search aggregator applications do not support full Boolean logic or even symbols such as the asterisk for root word/stem searching.
That, in and of itself, is a major limitation when attempting to mine information systems such as job board resume databases, because highly effective and precise search strings cannot be created.
Also, some of the aggregators don’t even allow you to “hand code” Boolean search strings – instead, forcing you to create searches using a query builder which often significantly limits the ability to create effective searches.
Similarly, not all job board resume databases support full Boolean logic.
Even if a resume aggregator application supported full Boolean logic, if it is being used to search a site that does not support it – you will not get the results you are looking for (or any results) because the job board resume database can’t execute your search string.
Lowest Common Denominator Search Functionality
If you are attempting to run a single search through multiple paid and free job board resume databases, your search won’t execute across every site you’re searching unless you use the lowest common denominator search functionality. In other words – if you want your single search to work on every site you are searching across, you have to use the syntax and search filters/criteria that each and every site supports.
For example, Monster supports fixed proximity search with their NEAR operator, yet I am not aware of any other major job board resume database that supports the NEAR command. Thus you cannot configure a search in a resume search aggregator using the NEAR command, as it will only execute on Monster and not any site that doesn’t support it.
Another area important for many recruiters is the ability to search for potential candidates by citizenship. Some sites like Dice.com allow you to search specifically for U.S. Citizens, while Monster does not and most others do not (and I still don’t know why – this is a very valuable feature!).
Similarly, some job board resume databases do not support zip code radius or education searching. If you are attempting to use a search aggregator to find candidates in a specific area via zip code radius, or candidates with specific a education level, you will not get results from any job board resume database that does not support that kind of search.
On the other hand, some search aggregators do not support the ability to search by zip code or education. If the search aggregator itself can’t perform these kinds of searches (and/or you can’t configure a Boolean to accomplish the same thing), you simply can’t do it through the aggregator.
One standout solution with regard to this issue is DaXtra – they are one of the few vendors in this space that allow you to search across multiple sites/sources and configure the search for each site to take maximum advantage of each site’s unique search capabilities. For example, you can run the same Boolean string in DaXtra to search Monster and Dice, and configure the applicable citizenship and other different search functionality to
Sorting by Relevance
Some resume search aggregators do not allow users to sort the results returned from a Boolean search across multiple job board databases by relevance.
This is a huge fail – when it comes to search, the whole point of searching for information is to get relevant results, and the most effective way to sort results is by relevance.
Most resume search aggregators have limits on the number of results that can be returned from each search – some are as low as 150.
If a sourcer/recruiter is running a search on job boards and opening up the parameters to search resumes posted in the last 90, 120, or 365+ days, in many cases the number of results can exceed the limits imposed by the aggregator. That means in some cases, sourcers and recruiters simply CANNOT find and retrieve some results because of the artificial limits.
The reason why some aggregators have limits on the quantity of results that can be returned per search and in some cases per DAY from specific job boards (usually the big ones like Monster) is because the big boards don’t want people automatically strip-mining their databases via software.
A Better Way to Use Resume Search Aggregators
In contrast to how many organizations leverage resume search aggregators, I propose that the ideal utilization of these applications involves largely automated 24 X 7 mining of job board resume databases, whereby “broad” Boolean searches are configured and saved into the resume search aggregator application designed specifically to pull relatively general results into an internal database/Applicant Tracking System (ATS) on a daily basis.
Once the resumes are pulled into the internal resume database/ATS, sourcers and recruiters can run more precise, configurable, and powerful full Boolean queries, searching by location, and sort the results by relevance, and find the best candidates available without artificial limits on the number of results. (Note: if your internal database/ATS does not support full Boolean logic and sorting by relevance – it should – but that’s another post entirely).
I recommend automated daily searches because even in the largest metro areas and when running relatively broad and generic searches, you are not likely to bump into any search aggregator’s max result limit because there are only so many people who will post their resume every day of any given skillset.
I recommend using search aggregator applications to run broader searches because most can’t run precise Boolean queries anyway, so why try to do so and miss picking up candidates in the first place?
Keep in mind that every single search aggregator is limited to the search interfaces they search through, and they will be “dummied down” to the lowest common denominator (the least configurable/capable search engine). In many cases, more complex and precise queries are impossible to achieve anyway.
Instead of a running the risk that a search aggregator (or the job boards I am searching through it) is incapable of returning results of candidates that DO exist but are incapable of returning from a complex Boolean search string, I would much rather get them into my internal database for permanent data capture.
While broader searches can yield some “false positives,” I have not found it to be a problem. I have worked with resume databases from 100,000 to over 3,000,000 records. Statistically, the more, the better – and sometimes the best candidates have lackluster resumes – you never know anything about a person until you get them on the phone/meet them in person and talk to them!
I also believe in automating the input of search results into an internal database/ATS because all too often, sourcers and recruiters over-analyze resumes and unknowingly miss fantastic candidates. This is perhaps the #1 mistake sourcers and recruiters make when searching for resumes.
Benefits of this Utilization of Resume Search Aggregators
- Increased sourcer/recruiter productivity. Instead of sourcers/recruiters running individual candidate queries across multiple job boards on a daily basis, they can save time by only having to search their ATS/CRM for the majority of their candidate needs.
- It can automatically build the breadth and depth of your ATS/CRM more quickly and more thoroughly than any team of people could, and at a lower cost.
- You can automatically build a large passive candidate database – the resumes you capture of active candidates today will evolve into passive candidates over time.
- Automatic, guaranteed, and permanent data capture. Resume search aggregator applications won’t look at a resume and not enter it into your ATS/CRM because it doesn’t match the position they are currently working on. People who post their resumes on job board databases don’t often leave their resumes up indefinitely – at some point most people remove their resume and if you don’t capture them before they do, you may never be able to find them in the future.
- Reduced job board costs. With automated sourcing technology, you will not need as many passwords or resume views.
- Guaranteed use of your ATS/CRM. With automated daily mining and extraction of resumes from the job boards, your ATS/CRM should be the first source of your sourcers and recruiters search.
If you already use or are considering using a resume search aggregator application such as infoGIST, TalentHook, Data Frenzy RAM, DaXtra, or AIRS SourcePoint, I highly recommend that you consider the limitations of search aggregators.
You should seriously contemplate the advantages and benefits of using an aggregator application to perform broader, more general automated daily searches to enter results into your internal resume database/ATS for permanent data capture and for more precise search/retrieval from your internal system than your aggregator or the job boards allow.