The Two-Minute Search Drill

The successful Internet sourcer knows it’s not where you search, but how you search that really matters. I could be searching the same database or source as someone else, but come up with completely different results. In fact, it would be rare that I would come up with the same results. The only cases where you will come up with the same results are in highly niche, skill set searches — but let’s face it, how many times do you get to search for a Scientist with experience using a Sciex API 3000 machine? Knowing which keywords to use in order to “turn over every stone” is more than half the battle of sourcing, it’s the key to any successful search. I still see recruiters making common search string mistakes while building their search. For this example, let’s say you are looking for a Unix System Administrator who comes from a Pharmaceutical industry. Although we each have our own style to sourcing, here are some tips and tricks I use to make sure I am getting every available candidate:

  • Check the numbers. I like to throw in a couple different search strings and gauge how many results I get before I actually start the search. I recommend going to the largest resume database you subscribe to and testing out this method. Quickly scan the summary of candidates to make sure you are on the right track. Throw in a narrow search string and then throw in a wider string to judge your results. By doing this, you are getting a feel for the search, as well as which approach you will need to take first.
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  • The “need” question. Ask yourself what NEEDS to be on the resume in terms of keywords before you start the search. These are words that MUST be on a resume for them to even begin to appear qualified (usually skill sets). In our example, the word Unix would need to be on a resume. Rarely do titles need to be on the resume, especially since titles usually vary from company to company. What are the skill sets this person will need to have on their resume otherwise you can’t use them? There should be few words, if any, that actually fit the “NEED” bill since many descriptions are concepts and not key words. Don’t catch yourself taking off the “need” words in order to widen your search because you won’t be able to use those resumes anyway. Your “need” words should be in every search string you create.
  • Start narrow and widen as you go. This seems like common sense, although you can still catch a recruiter searching through 150+ results on the first string. Use a narrow search string so that your success ratio is at least 50% (meaning you will contact every other resume that comes up in that string). You may only get ten results but contacting five candidates right off the bat is not a bad start.
  • Start with titles. After you have determined your “need” words, couple them with various titles of the position so that your outcome should be those who have been in that role at some time or another. This is a good way to start narrow. Titles usually are the best way to identify quickly those who are a good fit for your position. In our example, you could use the following titles: (“systems administrator” or “network engineer” or “systems engineer” or “network administrator”).
  • Use those wildcards. Remember to use the (*) wildcard function to gather the various forms of different words. In our example, I would use the wildcard to gather every resume who had any word that started with pharm* in order to get those who had pharm or pharma or pharmaceutical.
  • Use those synonyms or similar keywords. Don’t forget to use the various synonyms to every word in your search string. Your string should look like a list of OR statements separated by the AND operator. In our example you may want to use the string (pharm* or gmp or fda or “good manufacturing” or glp or “good laboratory”) in order to gather those folks from a pharmaceutical background.
  • Use your head. I know your hiring managers will stress that your candidates must know “such and such”, but usually by the very nature of the position that would be a given. For example, the hiring manager wants to hire an accountant who must have general ledger experience. Would you use “general ledger” in your search string at all times? No, because by the very nature of being an experience accountant, they would have this knowledge. If you’re unsure of these kinds of things, ask the hiring manager. I always ask “Is this a given in this industry?”

Hopefully, you have found these tips useful. I’m sure there is many others I have missed, but in two minutes, these are a good start. Although you may intuitively know these things, you may catch yourself breaking the rules. I recommend printing this out and keeping it in front of you while sourcing. It will only serve to remind you of your various options. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*>

Audra Slinkey is a leading Internet Recruiting Consultant who has designed the Recruiters-Aid PERS (Proprietary E-Recruitment System) to ensure Internet recruiting success. 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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