Passive Candidate Search Techniques

This month I have the pleasure of introducing Kevin Smith, passive candidate researcher/recruiter extraordinaire who has agreed to help with some of the more technical aspects of this column, especially the monthly tip at the end of each column. Kevin is newly associated with our SwatRecruiting service and is one of the most talented Internet recruiters I have met.

Kevin has been working in staffing since 1996 and is located in the heart of Silicon Valley. He has recruited throughout the United States and internationally. He specializes in passive candidate development, hard to find skill sets, executives, and research. He has worked for some of the largest users of Internet recruiting in the country including Google, Cisco Systems, Intuit Software, Nortel Networks, Veritas Software, National Semiconductor, Quantum Disk Drive, Apple Computer, and presently on contract with a large Silicon Valley manufacturer.

Here is Kevin’s contribution:

Even with a down market, hiring managers still want to see candidates who are working, but also passive on seeking new employment. Pulling a candidate off Monster or Hot Jobs might get a placement for you but finding the true passive candidate will let your hiring managers know you’re a good recruiter. Nothing more than I like to hear from a Passive Candidate is, “How did you find me?”

One of the advantages of finding good passive candidates in today’s market is the Web. Different search engines will bring up different results and my personal favorite is Google. It tends to be more accurate in research and gets better results.

Researching for potential talent out of competitors is a great way to make a good impression with clients. I start out with a “file type” search. For example, say I am looking for talent out of Silicon Storage Technologies and Micron Technologies. I want a name, title; direct phone number, location, and an e-mail. Some passive candidates will be traveling or not able to talk at work. This is when I use an e-mail to spark some interest.

The search string looks like this: filetype:xls phone title email sst OR micron technology. This one search brought up over 350 potential candidates. Not only did it bring up SST and Micron people it also brought up names from other competitors that I didn’t list in the search string.

Another way to find passive candidates is a “site” search. If you’re looking for Software Engineers out of IBM. You can use a search string like this: “software engineer”. With this search you will pull up 100’s of names and job titles of passive candidates.

When you have a hiring manager looking for candidates out of certain colleges or universities. Use Google and this url to start your search: Then pick the college or university of your choice and that will bring you to another page. For example, you’re in need of software engineers out of Stanford. Use this search string: intitle:resume OR inurl:resume “software engineer” This search brought up 86 hits.

Another good document to find passive candidates is from Power Point presentations. This is a good way to find management and organizational charts. Say you’re looking for top management out of Cisco, HP and Intel. Use a search string like this: filetype:ppt “org chart” OR “organization chart” manager OR director cisco OR hp OR intel. This search gave me 60 hits.

As America comes out of the recession and more baby boomers are retiring, recruiters will have to be more creative in finding good candidates to fill job orders. Sourcing good passive candidates will make your recruiting efforts more enjoyable and profitable.

Article Continues Below

I want to thank Kevin for taking the time out of his busy day for this project. Anyone with any questions or comments can reach him via voice at 408-287-5523 or via email at You can also check out the SwatRecruiting website at for more information.

TIP Domain Search

Since Kevin has offered some great tips using Google here is one you might be able to use from AltaVista, still my favorite (although I probably use Google more). Called a Domain Search, it allows you to search specific domains using your search keywords. For example:

domain:uk will let you search for resumes in the United Kingdom.

domain:org lets you search non-profit sites only, skipping the .com, .net, .edu, .gov and other domains.

The string “ resumes” yielded over 7 million hits but by adding other keywords for skills and geography you could get this number down quite a bit. This technique might work best when you are trying to limit results by searching on the non-profit (.org) or education (.edu) domains for candidates from those fields. Give it a try.

Mark E. Berger, CPC has been in permanent placement since 1979 and has been a partner in Berger/Nowlin, Inc. since 1997. Previously, he owned M. E. Berger & Associates, a permanent placement firm. He has been heavily involved in internet recruiting since 1996 and has successfully attained the AIRS CIR (Certified Internet Recruiter) designation. He is on the Board of Directors for the Missouri Assn. of Personnel Services and can be reached via email at


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *