If, as we noted last week, FAST Search is a rising star among search engines, then Northern Light is aptly one of the brightest lights. With a growing database of more than 200 million URLs, Northern Light is second only to FAST in terms of size. In addition, Northern Light offers ample features including Boolean, proximity, and field searching. Searches may be limited to specific sources such as the Web, Special Collections, Northern Light’s own proprietary database, Wall Street Journal abstracts, Business Week, Fortune, newspapers, wires and transcripts, and city, regional, and college newspapers. These additional sources can be powerful resources for people search. Additional advanced search options include: Power Search for field searching, Business Search, Investext Search and Stock Search, all useful for market analysis and Search News. Northern Light further qualifies search results into meaningful categories in custom folders unique to this search engine. Recent changes to Northern Light include a facelift and redesign (Sept. 99), credited with improving the search engine’s speed. Following Google’s lead, Northern Light also recently turned to the “link popularity” approach of relevance ranking. This method determines a site’s popularity by the number of links to it rather than the number of times a site is visited. For recruitment searches that are resume-specific or searching for a homepage or other resume-like document, the relevancy ranking is of little importance. It is, however, useful when searching for a company, product, user group or many other kinds of searches. On the downside, Northern Light decreased the number of records it displays at one time from 25 to a mere 10. In terms of recruiting, Northern Light offers a feature that should not be overlooked. Northern Lights’ alert service provides free, automatic e-mail messages, informing users of changes in their areas of interest. Users may specify which databases to search. As a recruiter this feature should come in handy in keeping apprised of what is going on in your world. Ask to be notified on specific career sites, businesses, or industries. The possibilities are virtually limitless and surely worth exploring. For more details, see http://www.northernlight.com/doc/alerts_help.html. Given this alert service and Northern Light’s rich variety of features, this is definitely one search engine you should try to illuminate your quest for talent.