Internet Research Forms: Do You Use Them?

With the recent changes in the economy, recruiters are finding themselves in an interesting predicament: they have few positions to fill, with hundreds of applicants applying for a single position. It’s a far cry from what we had been witnessing over the past several years. What I hear now from many recruiters is that they are getting far too many unqualified candidates for their positions and that they are spending too much of their time sifting through a sea of resumes. The widespread use of applicant tracking systems like BrassRing, Wetfeet, Icarian, etc. has helped, but this software still does not limit who applies for a position. That’s why proactive sourcing of the Internet can put the power of the decision back in your hands. Proactive sourcing means you choose your own candidates based on your own searches. But because proactive sourcing can also be time consuming and complicated, you will need an effective way to organize your Internet searches. If you don’t organize from the very beginning of each search, you can find yourself duplicating your efforts over and over without even realizing it. Below are some suggestions on how you can put together an effective research form to ensure that you are organizing each and every search you perform:

  1. Skills. For any search to be effective you must first do some research on the position to ensure that you have a clear understanding of the qualifications. The job requisition is the first place to identify the key skills and experience that are required for any given position. Meet with the hiring manager to make sure that you clearly understand his/her expectations of what a candidate must possess in terms of skills and experience to be considered qualified. Once you have a clear picture of these expectations, then list them on the research form you are creating. Create a section for “must have” skills/experience. This will allow you to quickly and easily refer back to the core requirements. Also, create a section for preferred skills and experience. Hiring managers always have a list of “nice to have” skills. This section is a place to put those skills, so when you find a candidate who matches the “must haves,” you can quickly scan the preferred section of your form to identify if they have any of these skills as well.
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  3. Source Companies. We all know that most hiring managers drool over candidates from a competitor, so it’s a good idea to start your search there. Go onto sites like to make an extensive list of your competitors. Then create a section on your research form for all of the competitors you have identified. By putting a list of competitors for each search on your research form, you have a permanent list of your competitors in front of you and in one place. You can list your largest competitors all the way down to the most obscure competitor out there that many other recruiters may overlook simply because the don’t have it written down. It’s also important to save the companies URLs so that you can use advanced searching techniques to find these hidden gems. It’s quite handy when all you have to do is cut and paste a URL instead of retyping it over and over again!
  4. Tools. For technical positions, create a section on your research form for position- or industry-related tools. With this handy list you will be able to easily refer to this list of tools as you build your search strings.
  5. Location Information. For location-specific searches, it’s always great to have a place to put states, area codes and zip codes. A great site for finding area codes is
  6. Search String Section. Now that you have the research section created and filled out, writing your search strings should be a snap! Create a simple table for each database, search engine and advanced search technique that you will use to conduct your searches. In this table, create several lines so that you can save the search strings that were most successful in targeting the candidates that you were looking for. When you have completely exhausted all of your Internet sources, you will be left with a clear and concise history of where you have searched and what search strings were most successful. This can be invaluable because you have, number one, documented your work, and number two, you have search strings that work for a particular position. Therefore, if you get the same or similar opening in the future, all of your research is already done. All you will have to do is cut and paste the search strings into your sources to bring up qualified candidates at the click of your mouse.

By taking the time to put together a comprehensive research form you will be not only be saving yourself time in the long run, you will be targeting candidates that you deem qualified and taking back control of your resume flow. If you are interested in seeing an example of a research form that we have put together, please feel free to e-mail me at

Scott Hagen ( is a graduate of San Diego State University, with over 8 years of high tech corporate recruiting experience with industry leaders such as Qualcomm, Cymer, and Pyxis. Scott is also a co-designer of the Recruiters-Aid PERS (Proprietary E-Recruitment System). Recruiters-Aid provides Internet candidate sourcing and screening services, and guarantees results-or the clients do not pay. Recruiters-Aid manages one of the largest free recruiting resource sites ( online. Recruiters-Aid services were created specifically for recruiters who don't have time to source the Internet themselves.


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