Tag Archives: Boolean Black Belt

100+ Free Sourcing & Recruiting Tools, Guides, and Resources


It’s been a LONG time coming, but I finally got around to updating my free sourcing & recruiting tools, guides and resources page where I now keep a current list of the best of my work all in one place for easy bookmarking and reference.

You can find it here on my main page:


Here is where you can find all of the best of my Boolean Black belt content all in one place - free sourcing and recruiting how-to guides, tools, presentations, and videos - be sure to bookmark it, and if you're feeling  friendly, tweet it, share it on LinkedIn and/or +1 it on Google Plus.  Many thanks!


Additionally, I thought I might as well put all of my best work all in one blog post as well – over 110 of my articles in one place for easy referencing!

My blog is a pursuit of passion and not of profit – if you’ve ever found anything I’ve written helpful to you, all I ask is that you tweet this out, share it on LinkedIn, like it on Facebook, or give this a +1 on Google.

Many thanks for your readership and support – please pay it forward to someone who can benefit.

Big Data, Analytics and Moneyball Recruiting

Big Data, Data Science and Moneyball Recruiting

The Moneyball Recruiting Opportunity: Analytics and Big Data

Human Capital Data is Sexy – and Sourcing is the Sexiest job in HR/Recruiting! 

Is Sourcing Dead? No! Here’s the Future of Sourcing

The End of Sourcing 1.0 and the Evolution of Sourcing 2.0

How to Find Email Addresses

How to Use Gmail and Rapportive to Find Almost Anyone’s Email Address

Social Discovery

2 Very Cool and Free Social Discovery Tools: Falcon and TalentBin

Talent Communities

The Often Overlooked Problem with Talent Communities

Lean / Just-In-Time Recruiting / Talent Pipelines

What is Lean, Just-In-Time Recruiting?

Lean Recruiting & Just-In-Time Talent Acquisition Part 1

Lean Recruiting & Just-In-Time Talent Acquisition Part 2

Lean Recruiting & Just-In-Time Talent Acquisition Part 3

Lean Recruiting & Just-In-Time Talent Acquisition Part 4

The Passive Candidate Pipeline Problem

Semantic Search

What is Semantic Search and How Can it Be Used for Sourcing and Recruiting?

Sourcing and Search: Man vs. Machine/Artificial Intelligence – My SourceCon Keynote

Why Sourcers Won’t Be Replaced By Watson/Machine Learning Algorithms Any Time Soon

Diversity Sourcing

How to Perform Diversity Sourcing on LinkedIn – Including Specific Boolean Search Strings

How to Use Facebook’s Graph Search for Diversity Sourcing

Social Recruiting

How to Find People to Recruit on Twitter using Followerwonk & Google + Bing X-Ray Search

Google Plus Search Guide: How to Search and Find People on Google Plus

Facebook’s Graph Search Makes it Ridiculously Easy to Find Anyone

How to Effectively Source Talent on Social Networks – It Requires Non-Standard Search Terms!

How a Recruiter Made 3 Hires on Twitter in Six Weeks!

Twitter 101 for Sourcers and Recruiters

Anti-Social Recruiting

How Social Recruiting has NOT Changed Recruiting

Social Recruiting – Beyond the Hype

What Social Recruiting is NOT

Sourcing Social Media Requires Outside the Box Thinking

Social Networking Sites vs. Job Boards

LinkedIn Sourcing and Recruiting

Sourcing and Searching LinkedIn: Beyond the Basics – SourceCon Dallas 2012

LinkedIn’s Dark Matter – Profiles You Cannot Find

How to Get a Higher LinkedIn InMail Response Rate

The Most Effective Way to X-Ray Search LinkedIn

LinkedIn Catfish: Fake Profiles, Real People, or Just Fake Photos?

LinkedIn Search: Drive it Like you Stole It – 8 Minute Video of My LinkedIn Presentation in Toronto

How to Search LinkedIn and Control Years of Experience

How to Quickly and Effectively Grow Your LinkedIn Network

How to View the Full Profiles of our 3rd Degree Connections on LinkedIn for Free

How to Find and Identify Active Job Seekers on LinkedIn

LinkedIn Profile Search Engine Optimization

Free LinkedIn Profile Optimization and Job Seeker Advice

Do Recruiters Ruin LinkedIn?

The 50 Largest LinkedIn Groups

How to See Full Names of 3rd Degree LinkedIn Connections for Free

How I Search LinkedIn to Find People

LinkedIn’s Undocumented Search Operator

Does LinkedIn Offer Recruiters any Competitive Advantage?

Have You Analyzed the Value of Your LinkedIn Network?

Where Do YOU Rank In LinkedIn Search Results?

What is the Total Number of LinkedIn Members?

Beware When Searching LinkedIn By Company Name

LinkedIn Sourcing Challenge

How to Search for Top Students and GPA’s on LinkedIn

What’s the Best Way to Search LinkedIn for People in Specific Industries?

18 LinkedIn Apps, Tools and Resources

LinkedIn Search: What it Could be and Should be

How to Search Across Multiple Countries on LinkedIn

Private and Out of Network Search Results on LinkedIn

How to “Unlock” and view “Private” LinkedIn Profiles

Searching LinkedIn for Free – The Differences Between Internal and X-Ray Searching

Sourcing and Boolean Search

Basic Boolean Search Operators and Query Modifiers Explained

How to Find Resumes On the Internet with Google

Challenging Google Resume Search Assumptions

Don’t be a Sourcing Snob

The Top 15 Talent Sourcing Mistakes

Why Boolean Search is Such a Big Deal in Recruiting

How to Become a World Class Sourcer

Enough with the Exotic Sourcing Already – What’s Practical and What Works

Sourcing is So Much More than Tips, Tricks, Hacks, and Google

How to Find, Hire, Train, and Build a Sourcing Team – SourceCon 2013

How to Use Excel to Automatically Build Boolean Search Strings

The Current and Future State of Sourcing

Why So Many People Stink at Searching

Is your ATS a Black Hole or a Diamond Mine?

How to Find Bilingual Professionals with Boolean Search Strings

How to Best Use Resume Search Aggregators

How to Convert Quotation Marks in Microsoft Word for Boolean Search

Boolean Search, Referral Recruiting and Source of Hire

The Critical Factors Behind Sourcing ROI

What is a “Boolean Black Belt?”

Beyond Basic Boolean Search: Proximity and Weighting

Why Sourcing is Superior to Posting Jobs for Talent

The Future of Sourcing and Talent Identification

Sourcing is an Investigative and Iterative Process

Beyond Boolean Search: Human Capital Information Retrieval

Do you Speak Boolean?

Is Recruiting Top Talent Really Your Company’s Top Priority?

Sourcing is NOT an Entry Level Function

Boolean Search Beyond Google

The Internet Has Free Resumes. So What?

How to Search Spoke, Zoominfo and Jigsaw for Free

Job Boards vs. Social Networking Sites

What to Do if Google Thinks You’re Not Human: the Captcha

What if you only had One Source to Find Candidates?

Passive Recruiting is a Myth – It Doesn’t Exist

Sourcing: Separate Role or Integrated Function?

The #1 Mistake in Corporate Recruiting

How I Learned What I Know About Sourcing

Resumes Are Like Wine – They Get Better with Age!

Why Do So Many ATS Vendors Offer Such Poor Search Functionality?

Do Candidates Really Want a Relationship with their recruiter?

Recruiting: Art or Science?

What to Consider When Creating or Selecting Effective Sourcing Training – SourceCon NYC

The Sourcer’s Fallacy

Sourcing Challenge – Monster vs. Google – Round 1

Sourcing Challenge – Monster vs. Google – Round 2

Do You Have the Proper Perspective in Recruiting?

Are You a Clueless Recruiter?

Job Boards and Candidate Quality – Challenging Popular Assumptions

When it Comes to Sourcing – All Sources Are Not Created Equal

Boolean Search String Experiments

Boolean Search String Experiment #1

Boolean Search String Experiment #1 Follow Up

Boolean Search String Experiment #2


I’ve Joined SourceRight Solutions, a Randstad Company

When it comes to recruiting – it’s all about timing and opportunity, right?

I’ve had a great 15 year run in the staffing industry, starting off in 1997 at a small privately held company in Chantilly, VA, and ultimately ending up at Kforce after they acquired that no-longer-small staffing company back in February of 2005.

Over the years, I’ve progressed from a top producing recruiter to a VP of recruiting, and I’ve relocated twice with Kforce from Ashburn, VA to Tampa and more recently to Atlanta.

As with most people in the recruiting and staffing industry, I’d received my fair share of opportunity pitches.

Some came from companies I would have loved to work for, but none were the right match for what I was looking to do, and disappointingly, most seemed to be looking for someone to fit into very defined and scoped roles offering little room for me to bring all of my knowledge, experience, and passion for sourcing and recruiting to bear.

I’ve enjoyed many rewarding roles at Kforce that offered me the ability to stretch the boundaries of my job descriptions to be able to add value to the entire firm in as many ways as possible. When I was contacted about positions that were limited in scope and seemed more like the company was looking for a specific piece to fit their puzzle, it was an easy decision to not pursue them any further, as I promised myself I would never take a step backwards, even if it was an opportunity with a marquee company.

However, after 15 years in the staffing industry, the right opportunity finally came along. Continue reading

The Guide to Semantic Search for Sourcing and Recruiting

If you have nearly any tenure in HR, sourcing or recruiting, you’ve probably heard something about “semantic search” and perhaps you would like to learn more.

Well – you’ve found the right article.

As a follow-up to my recent Slideshare on AI sourcing and matching, I am going to provide an overview of semantic search, the claims that semantic search vendors often make, explain how semantic search applications actually work, and expose some practical limitations of semantic search  recruiting solutions.

Additionally, I will classify the 5 basic levels of semantic search and give you examples of how you can conduct Level 3 Semantic Search (Grammatical/Natural) with Monster, Bing, and any search engine that allows for fixed or configurable proximity.

But first – let’s define “semantic search.” Continue reading

Talent Sourcing: Man vs. AI/Black Box Semantic Search

Back in March 2010, I had the distinct honor of delivering the keynote presentation at SourceCon on the topic of resume search and match solutions claiming to use artificial intelligence in comparison with people using their natural intelligence for talent discovery and identification.

Now that nearly 2 years has passed, and given that in that time I’ve had even more hands-on experience with a number of the top AI/semantic search applications available (I won’t be naming names, sorry), I decided it was time to revisit the topic which I am very passionate about.

If you’ve ever been curious about semantic search applications that “do the work for you” when it comes to finding potential candidates, you’re in the right place, because I’ve updated the slide deck and published it to Slideshare. Here’s what you’ll find in the 86 slide presentation:

  • A deep dive into the deceptively simple challenge of sourcing talent via human capital data (resumes, social network profiles, etc.)
  • How resume and LinkedIn profile sourcing and matching solutions claiming to use artificial intelligence, semantic search, and NLP actually work and achieve their claims
  • The pros, cons, and limitations of automated/black box matching solutions
  • An insightful (and funny!) video of Dr. Michio Kaku and his thoughts on the limitations of artificial intelligence
  • Examples of what sourcers and recruiters can do that even the most advanced automated search and match algorithms can’t do
  • The concept of Human Capital Data Information Retrieval and Analysis (HCDIR & A)
  • Boolean and extended Boolean
  • Semantic search
  • Dynamic inference
  • Dark Matter resumes and social network profiles
  • What I believe to be the ideal resume search and matching solution
Enjoy, and let me know your thoughts.

Looking Back, Forward, and For Your Input

As a reader of Boolean Black Belt, I’d looking for your feedback and input on a few things.

For example:

  • What would you like to see me write more about?
  • Would you like to write a post on Boolean Black Belt?
  • What do you think of me changing my site to something other than “Boolean Black Belt?”

However, before I go any further down that rabbit hole, I’d like to thank you, give you some insight as to why I blog, and let you know about what you can expect from me in 2012.

First & Foremost – Thank You

As 2011 has come to an end, I find myself reflecting on the past as as well as looking forward to what 2012 will bring.

Most importantly, I want to thank you and the other 112,320 people who stopped by my blog in 2011, who came from 175 countries and viewed over 300,000 pages.

I owe special thanks to all of you who have commented on my posts, shared them with others, and suggested my site to peers, managers, and team members.

If I’ve ever shown you something you didn’t already know, or made you think or reconsider what you do already know,  I’ve accomplished one of my main goals in blogging, and it makes all of the hours of precious personal time I take on a weekly basis to publish my blog posts worthwhile.

Why Do I Blog Anyway?

This happens to be my 165th post since I started blogging back in October of 2008.

I write for many reasons, and monetizing isn’t one of them. I will never take a 2000 word post and split it into 4 500 word posts just to string my readers along.

I’d love to post content more frequently than once per week, but with a family and a full time job, blogging about recruiting, sourcing, and social media is essentially a weekend hobby.

A hobby is defined as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation.” I’m not so sure blogging relaxes me, but it certainly doesn’t feel like “work,” as time flies while I am writing and it is definitely intellectually cathartic.

If I could sum up what I am trying to accomplish by blogging, I would have to use something Erik Weihenmayer said during his LinkedIn Talent Connect 2010 keynote: I want to “contribute to something extraordinary.”

While it may sound corny or ridiculous to some, I am actually trying to try and change the world of recruiting one post at a time.


I don’t write to make people agree with me – I just want people to think instead of clinging to what they already know and are comfortable with.

Because if you’re comfortable, you’re not growing.

What’s Coming From Boolean Black Belt in 2012

I had a pingback a while ago from a blogger who praised the content of one of my posts, but complained about the length.

I took it as passive constructive criticism, and I took a moment to think about my blogging style.

Most of of my posts are in the 1500 word range, and some go over 2000. In the blogging world, that’s on the long side. I know that many people want “fun-sized” content (500 words or less) that they can consume in 30 seconds or so. However, some concepts can’t adequately be explained in 500 words or less, nor would 500 words do some topics proper justice. And as I stated previously, I don’t write to string people along – I would rather publish a 2000 word post than split it into 4 500 word posts.

There’s nothing more annoying to me than clicking on a link from a tweet that praises an article, and once I get to the article, I find it to be a 300 word “fluff” post, totally devoid of substance. I personally don’t have a lot of time to read other blogs, so when I do, I want to sink my teeth into something substantial that I can learn something from – not some “quick hit” post that skims the surface of a topic to get a pageview.

When I am hungry for information and knowledge, I want a 7-course meal of thought – I’m not there for appetizers, and I’m never on an idea diet.

I know I may be in the minority on this issue, and I am 100% comfortable with that.

I don’t write to cater to the casual reader looking to skim over a topic or concept – if my long posts drive some people away, I actually think that’s a good thing. There are plenty of sourcing and recruiting blogs for readers to choose from. I write for people who are looking for 7-course meals of sourcing and recruiting substance.

Speaking of sourcing and recruiting substance, in 2012 I plan on going deeper into some topics that I am very interested in and passionate about, but haven’t written about as much as I would have liked in 2011. For example, semantic search, the critical importance of data and technology in support of talent identification and acquisition, and applying Lean as well as proven supply chain principles to talent acquisition

In 2012, I will also continue to update my free sourcing and recruiting resources page, and you can continue to rely on my average of 1 post per week, typically published on Monday morning, and 1000+ words per post.

What I’d Like From You

As a reader of my blog, I’d like to hear from you. Specifically, I am looking to know:

  • What would you like to see from me in 2012? Is there something you’d like to see me write more about? Please be as specific on content and topics as possible.
  • Would you like to write a post on Boolean Black Belt? Although I’d never really thought about it before, I’d love to start having guest bloggers. If you have something helpful, insightful, though-provoking and interesting regarding recruiting, sourcing and/or social media that you’d like to share, posting it on Boolean Black Belt will get your content exposure to recruiting and sourcing practitioners and leaders all over the world. With nearly 4,000 subscribers and over 10,000 unique visitors per month from over 100 countries, I can and want to help you share your ideas with the global recruiting and sourcing community, including some of the best and brightest from the most well-respected companies and talent acquisition teams in the world.
  • On a different note – what do you think about me changing the name of my site to something other than Boolean Black Belt? I write on so much more than Boolean search that I think “Boolean Black Belt” is too narrow and limited and doesn’t accurately reflect the totality of my content. I have some ideas in mind, but would honestly appreciate your input on my blog’s name and the idea of changing it to something else.

I’m looking forward to your input.

Once again, thank you very much for reading, sharing, and recommending my site and content, and you have my best wishes for a successful, fulfilling, and prosperous 2012.

Happy hunting!

What is a Boolean Black Belt Anyway?

I’ve been blogging nearly 3 years now, and I realized I’ve never come out and actually defined the term “Boolean Black Belt.”

The concept seems pretty self explanatory, but there has been at least 1 person who’s taken the opportunity to point out (and gain some traffic in the process – but it’s all good!) that it could be perceived as a bit of an oxymoron to be an “expert” in something as simple as 3 Boolean operators.

Interestingly, however, I’ve found that most sourcers and recruiters don’t even fully exploit the various powers of the OR and NOT operators – not even close.

So what is a “Boolean Black Belt” anyway? Continue reading

How I Search LinkedIn to Find and Identify Talent

Would you like to know how I search LinkedIn when sourcing for talent?

I don’t have a premium LinkedIn account, so you may be surprised to learn that I don’t X-Ray search LinkedIn all that often.

I’ll tell you why in a moment, but first I would like to share my inspiration for this post.

I recently read a great post that addressed an issue with X-Ray searching LinkedIn and that pointed out that pattern recognition is critical to effective online sourcing.

I could not agree more – truly dynamic pattern recognition is something I think is unique to humans and is something that I believe cannot be replicated by applications claiming to leverage artificial intelligence, semantic search, and Natural Language Processing (NLP). I could elaborate further on this topic, but that would unfortunately bore 98% of my readers, so I will save it for another post that they can choose not to read later. :-)

Suffice it to say I wholeheartedly agree that is it more important to have the right investigative thought process than to have any specific Boolean search string or pre-built X-Ray search.

Getting back to how I specifically search LinkedIn to find people – you first need to understand some of the significant issues associated with using Internet search engines in an attempt to find public LinkedIn profiles. In other words, you should know they “why” before the “how.”

As an added bonus, you’ll also find that I’ve discovered that Bing and LinkedIn apparently don’t play well together anymore, and I’ll issue a LinkedIn Sourcing Challenge to the international sourcing and recruiting community to crowdsource the solution. Continue reading

Boolean Search String Experiment #2

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. Continue reading

Boolean Search String Experiment Follow Up

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. Continue reading

Boolean Search String Experiment – Are You Game?

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. Continue reading

Boolean Black Belt Website Visitor Analytics

I’ve been blogging since 10/2/2008.

Since then, my blog has had visitors from 9,704 cities in 171 countries around the world, and has been read in 90 languages.

I don’t blog to monetize my website – I write because I’m passionate about recruiting and technology. Okay, I may be a little obsessed too. Maybe more than a little. :-)

Because I am not a professional blogger, I’ve never really drilled into my website analytics beyond the basics. I recently had a friend ask me about the visitors to my blog, and I really couldn’t tell him much other than the obvious, which made me feel a little stupid. Okay, maybe more than a little.

So, I decided to dig into my website analytics and share with you what I found. I hope you find it as interesting as I do! Continue reading

How to Search Across Multiple Countries on LinkedIn

I’ve recently received a few requests from my European readers (thank you!) to write about how to use LinkedIn to simultaneously search multiple countries to identify candidates. In this post I will do exactly that – show you how you can search for candidates across multiple countries in one search. Although I will be using European countries in the examples, the same techniques can be successfully applied to any combination of countries.

LinkedIn’s Interface

If it was obvious how to search for people from multiple countries using LinkedIn’s search interface, I likely would not have received requests for help. I’ve personally never run into the need to source from a variety of countries, so I enjoyed taking on the challenge of figuring this out. Continue reading