Love Writing Boolean Instead of Recruiting? Then Don’t Read This Post

Who doesn’t love writing Boolean search strings?

There’s nothing like crafting a Boolean equation to find a software engineer with every single requirement and a few of the “nice-to-haves” only to discover that somewhere in those 193 characters you’ve got a tilde instead of a minus and now your list includes tons of coffee industry IT professionals, who may also know Java.

Even writing a perfect Boolean string the first time isn’t quite so satisfying when you consider the time it took.

Scavado (nee AutoSearch) shortcuts all that string writing to cut to the chase, which, (need it be pointed out?) is to find prospects who meet your hiring manager’s needs.

That’s kind of how Lori Fenstermaker came up with the original AutoSearch. A recruiter and sourcer who founded her own boutique RPO six years ago, she got tired of spending more time writing search strings than calling prospects. But instead of shrugging it off or surrendering to pure keywords, she hired a development company to build an automated search tool. It became AutoSearch, which she eventually licensed.

AutoSearch has now become Scavado, a name change that signals the launch of a campaign to move Fenstermaker’s creation into the mainstream of corporate recruiting.

An early user of AutoSearch, Jim D’Amico, strategic staffing manager at Bissell Homecare, Inc., said the tool is one of those things you wonder how you managed before it came along.

“I love sourcing,” D’Amico said, but he prefers spending his time on the phone courting prospects. Scavado, he says, “shortens the sourcing cycle.”

“It’s a big time-saver for in-house recruiters,” he says. With multiple reqs to fill at any one time, they need to source, qualify, and recruit prospects without delay. Scavado, D’Amico says, makes sourcing much more efficient for his recruiting team.

If all it did was to take keywords, integrate choices of things like geography, skills, and such from pulldown menus, and generate a list of prospects, it would still be a valuable addition to any recruiting toolbox. But Scavado (Italian for excavate and suggestive of hunting) does so much more that Fenstermaker and her partner, Daniel Estrada, say it also has business intelligence implications.

One of its many features is the ability to search a site like jobs aggregator Indeed to see who else is looking for the same people you are. Check on your competitors and find out what kinds of jobs they’re offering. Scavado may have started out as purely a sourcing tool, but it’s been used by a private investigator to track people and by some companies for sales leads.

Simplicity of use is perhaps what recruiters like best, Estrada says. Skilled recruiters can enter a full Boolean string if they choose; most simply enter the job keywords. Either way, Estrada says, “There’s not a very steep learning curve with Scavado.”

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It’s obvious, even from a quick demo, that Scavado was developed by an experienced recruiter for recruiters. Many vendors claim that, but Scavado delivers. For example, once Scavado develops a list of prospects, you get to review their basics and develop a list of “persons of interest” that, among other things, includes comments, and which can be exported.

It’ versatility, as much as its simplicity and time saving, are among the reasons Bissell’s recruiters find it so useful. One of his favorite features, says D’Amico, is the ability to generate alternative job titles. “That’s actually helped me a lot because we have ridiculous titles that correlate with nothing in the real world,” he says. Scavado will look at the job requirements to generate lists of other titles with the same requirements.

Another of his favorites is the email verification. After seeing a Scavado demo last week, I can see how it would make anybody’s list of favorite features. Once you generate a list of prospects, Scavado helps you figure out how to contact them. Emails, for instance, can be tricky and because no one wants to encourage spammers, contact information for passive prospects isn’t always available. But someone at their company has an address floating around. Scavado’s pattern finder will capture corporate email addresses so you discover the naming taxonomy. Figured it out? Now Scavado will verify that it’s a live address without you having to send an email.

From D’Amico’s point of view, Scavado has few shortcomings. Eliminating duplicate entries is one enhancement he’d like to see. A second, he offered, rather tongue-in-cheekly, is an auto-dialer “so I didn’t have to do anything.”

One feature I can see as a benefit is to enable customization of the sites Scavado searches. Google, LinkedIn, and a few others are searched; Facebook, however, is not. Fenstermaker says that’s because Facebook is constantly changing its security settings. As much of a hassle as it might be, Facebook is becoming such an important part of the recruiting geography that it really shouldn’t be overlooked.

Nor will Scavado search the corporate ATS. Ideally, it would, even if candidates in the ATS are not the passive target group for which Scavado was developed.

Fenstermaker and Estrada said ATS integration “is on the radar,” as is giving users more control over the sites to be searched. Because Scavado is an SaaS product, as features are improved and new ones added, everyone gets them immediately. And implementation can be as quick as logging in.

What’s it cost? At $1,999 a year per user, D’Amico described it as “ridiculously inexpensive. The ROI is so fast.”

John Zappe is the editor of and a contributing editor of John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.


14 Comments on “Love Writing Boolean Instead of Recruiting? Then Don’t Read This Post

  1. Reducing time in the sourcing cyle is key and it looks like this product has potential. Also, being able to get alternative job titles is very helpful when takiing on searches that sometimes go beyond our reach.

  2. This looks like a good tool for sourcers.
    As frequently mentioned, sourcing is an activity which usually (and particularly the type of sourcing which would use a tool like this) should be outsourced for $11/hr (or less) retail. I have used a fine outfit which costs $6.25/hr (on a weekly basis for up to 15 searches) for phone, internet, and board searches, and they provide a scheduler/coordinator for interviews (along with the search) at no additional charge.


    Keith “Ask Me, and I’ll Set You Up” Halperin

  3. With all due respect, Keith, I’m interested in the quality of the results you get from engaging sourcing at a minimum wage level. That pay scale is pathetically low for anything I’d consider to be of any quality. As a matter of fact, it’s downright insulting to me. Of course, I am biased since I have 10 years’ experience as a sourcer and would never work for such a low rate. So please enlighten us as to what you’re having these sourcers do for you.

  4. Hi Amy,

    Thanks for your comment. I’ve had them work on board- scraping (they have their own Monster, CB, and DICE) and doing internet sourcing so far, and have been very pleased. I would judge by the level of experience you’ve indicated that you do far deeper sourcing than these folks do- similar to the work our world-class pros like Maureen, Irina, Shally, Glenn. etc., do. These (and I presume you) are who you call in when you’re prpared to pay for very sophisticated work, and pay $40+/name or $50+/hr for it, too. The thing is, the vast majority of what is needed for sourcing ISN’T the sophisticated work, and it can be done very well for a fraction of the cost of the sophisticated work… It’s similar to recruiting: if the assignment isn’t hard enough to pay $50+/hr or 30-35% for, it can probably be done for $11/hr or less. Why buy a Maserati to drop off the kids at practice? You’re the Maserati, Amy- these folks are the Volt.



  5. Thank you, Keith. For the most part, you have some good points. May I guess that the company you are using is an offshored, outsourced company? I have used that type of company in the past and while they do offer some cost savings, you surely do not get any outside-the-box thinking. You get exactly what you ask for, nothing more and nothing less. So in a day and age where titles are not uniform and looking for an account rep you also want to look for “sales rep,” “sales associate,” “account manager,” etc. you’ll likely only get “account reps.” By Internet sourcing as well, may I assume that you mean LinkedIn? Survey says that LinkedIn is lumped in with job boards lately (just sayin’…) My assumptions are just that though — but having been around the block a few times this is what I have personally seen.

    Either way, companies need to find a sourcing model that works for them. Some need cheap, fast name lists to call. Some need more long-term relationship development and cultivation (talent pools). Others still need to go further into market research and business/competitive intel. Each has a cost associated with it that doesn’t always look like a dollar sign — sometimes (I’d say more often than not) it’s a “quality sign.” Regardless — each company is unique in its needs and what works for one may not work for the other…sourcing isn’t a one size fits all function.

    While I have the platform I’d invite anyone here interested in more sourcing knowledge to check out, which is ERE’s sister site dedicated to the sourcing function. Shameless plug as I am the editor 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your opinion Keith!

  6. You’re very welcome, Amybeth. You’re quite right- each company may need their own approach to sourcing. Probably thanks to you, the Recruiting Manager of a multi-billion dollar company e-mailed me and asked me about these $6.25/hr folks I use.

    However, according to Geri Crispin’s 3/2011 Report (, only 5% of hires were obtained with direct sourcing as the source, compared to 27.5% from employee referrals. (That’s why I’m looking forward to ReferralCon!) From my experience, most required sourcing (the majority of this 5%) doesn’t take very sophisticated research. The point I’d like to re-state:
    “Unless you’re a sourcer, leave sourcing to the professionals. Most of what you need will cost $11-/hr or less, and what doesn’t will cost $50/hr or more. There isn’t much in between: it’s either overpriced $11-/hr work, or under-quality $50+/hr work.” (If there IS some category of sourcing work in between that I haven’t considered, let me know.)


    Keith “Let’s Organize ReferralCon” Halperin

  7. Hi all,

    as one of those potentially to be sourced, find the methodology outdated and likely more effort to locate true value over the long run than the cost. The reason is simple; anyone can add a million keywords to a resume, but a valuable candidate has to be the “real deal” to comprise the package you seek.

    Boolean searches are not going to find that person and if you are paying that kind of money to find them, you’re wasting your efforts. Reputations matter 10x more than any boolean searches – and that is a fact of life. The “real deal” is a person who has skill and ability, not some set of keywords the fits a neatly defined criteria. Surprised that recruiting has not evolved beyond that outdated model since the 1980’s.

    Technology has become so much of an inhibitor of the greatest asset a person has that it is no wonder many jobs go unfilled. Voice and presence are the key; speak to the candidates and locate the winners. If they are not interested, they usually know who will be and who has skills to do what is needed and is a good fit.

    Many a person is found through using that talent, many more placements are lost because the fine art of listening is lost as technology has taken over through relying on the computer to do the work. Here’s a clue: it’s a tool, not the worker; you still have to do the job.

    Here’s one more thing to add to the mix. Used to be a recruiter myself, but went back into a normal work life during a second downturn in our economy. Some of my best placements though were some of the people rejected by others due to the fact no one listened to them. They commanded a higher salary, even though they were different, they were just unique.

    Patience, presence, and listening can reward the skillful. Over-reliance on technology to perform all of the work for you is a failure waiting to happen. Even working in technology am aware of that fact. Always check on the program, it was written by a human being after all.

  8. While I happen to be pretty good at and thoroughly enjoy writing Boolean queries for talent mining, I actually love the entire recruiting life cycle. Sourcing is a means to an end, not a means in and of itself. Recruiters who are very good at sourcing are able to find more people faster, accelerating referral recruiting and networking opportunities, and ultimately (of course) make more high quality hires in less time, increasing productivity (the ability to handle a higher req load without working more hours) and time to hire (assuming the hiring managers consistently take decisive action).

    I especially enjoyed the comments on this post, which inspired me to write this article on Boolean search strings, referrals and source of hire:

    With regard to $6.25/hour sourcing – let me paint a scenario: Company providing sourcing uses COTS search aggregator(s) and can scrape and build a list of surface-level keyword/title matched resumes and profiles from multiple sources in a matter of seconds. Company bills 1 or more hour for this work. You pay $6.25/hour, they may make $6.25/minute. Maybe I am in the wrong business.


    Honestly, I am not really sure why corporations would need to use third-party sourcing services for resume scraping at any rate – if they used the right technologies, which have been around for quite some time, they could build an internal, private database that their own recruiters and managers could use and then not have to use third party recruiters to fill their positions.

    If someone were to pay $1,000/year for a search aggregator, the effective cost of the software at a “normal” work week of 40 hours would be $0.48/hour (assuming 52 weeks). What’s even better is that the software will work nights, weekends, and holidays – so if you really wanted to use it to the max, the effective cost would be $0.11/hour because it can work 24X7X365.


  9. @ Glen: you’re exactly right, and I’d love to find out more from you about this search aggregator- my colleague and I’ve been looking for something like this for a while. Through-sourcing (automation) is one of the components I advocate to improving recruiting work, along with no-sourcing (eliminating unnecessary work up-front,) and out-sourcing (sending away). $0.11-0.48/hr is MUCH better for me than $6.25/hr, and if I can’t get what I need from these lower-priced resources, I would feel comfortable in obtaining the services of $40+/name sourcing folks. While I concede there might be some sort of quality intermediate-level service at the $6.25-$50/hr rate and I recognize that people have to do what they can to pay the bills, my problem is with the folks that are offering their services for say, $25-$45/hr rate and providing the same type of quality that you could get for $0.11 or $6.25/hr (and NOT the level that you’d get from the $40+/name folks), and relying on the ignorance of clients to know about the more efficient, lower-cost alternatives.

    Keith “Tell Me About Good $1k/yr 2 Search Aggregators” Halperin

  10. Hey Glen,

    I just got this today:


    I am very interested in learning about COTS and resume scraping. Please let me know if you receive any information. Thanks for all of your help!

    Make it a great day,


    Inquiring minds want to know:



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