The How, When, and Why of Flip Searching

I recently attended a conference at which I was able to speak with many HR/Recruiting folks. To my surprise, I learned that many of them were not familiar with how to successfully “flip search.” Many of them had heard of the technique but they did not know how to perform this useful search function. Many times people even know HOW to use the technique of flip searching but don’t know when it would be most useful. For those of you who are “old pros” you may want to skim this article to see if you’re missing anything in your day-to-day sourcing. For those of you who have just started taking advantage of the Internet to find passive candidates read on! Below is a step-by-step description of how to successfully flip search. The purpose or why you would Flip Search is to ask a search engine to find all of the web pages that are linked to a particular domain. Why would you do this? The theory is that many people create home pages, alumni pages or brief listings about themselves and link those to the sites that are significant to their experience, skill sets, schooling, associations and background. For instance, if I graduated from Harvard and am currently working at Oracle it would be highly likely that I may hyperlink those sites on my homepage to let the reader know a little bit about them. How do you Flip Search? Flip Searching or linking (which is probably a better term shrouded in less mystery) is actually easier than it sounds and can be performed using some of the major search engines such as altavista.com, hotbot.com, and northernlight.com. When you Flip Search, you are asking the search engine to give you all the pages “Linked” to a particular domain. An example of this would be if you were looking for an Electrical Engineer from one of your competitors. Flip Searching can be used to find homepages etc. that are linked to all of your competitors and have the term “electrical engineer” on them. The search string in the Altavista “advanced” box would look like this: (link:competitor1.com OR link:competitor2.com OR link:competitor3.com OR link:competitor4.com OR link:competitor5.com) AND “electrical engineer” AND (title:resume OR url:resume OR resume) You would pull off all of those candidates who call themselves an electrical engineer and have for some reason linked their resume to one of your competitors. Could it be they worked there? You can take off the last command for resumes to find other helpful listings after you have reviewed those who were kind enough to call their page a resume. This same theory goes to find all alumni from particular universities you are trying to target or all of those individuals who are members of a particular organization you are targeting. While you are reviewing the results that your “flip search” brings up, make sure to note other companies that qualified candidates have previously work for. You should also keep your eye open for specific skills or associations that these candidates have in common because that can help you identify top candidates. An important thing to also remember is that each search engine will bring up different results. If for example AltaVista didn’t get you the results you wanted, then try a couple other search engines like Northern Light or Snap.com because no one search engine has the ability index the entire Internet. As you can see Flip Searching is a great tool but it is not the end all answer to Internet Sourcing. You must use many different techniques like flip searching to find candidates who are hidden on the web. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*>

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Scott Hagen (shagen@recruiters-aid.com) 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 (http://www.recruiters-aid.com/kit.html) online. Recruiters-Aid services were created specifically for recruiters who don't have time to source the Internet themselves.

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1 Comment on “The How, When, and Why of Flip Searching

  1. Hi Sir;

    Thanks for the article, i have a problem while using Altavista.com when i click on the option Advanced i was directed to Yahoo Search where there was no option for Competitor or link. Please advice and also i would request if you provide me some links or webinars which have video classes on Flip Searching.

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