Sourcing and Research
The checklist below is simple. I am often asked to troubleshoot search strings that aren’t doing what they are supposed to do.
I can’t give an exact percentage but it is safe to say that the vast majority of the strings would work fine but have errors that are easily overlooked.
Next time you are in the search engine ready to run your string go through the checklist below and get the results you are looking for.
Common errors are:
- Forgetting to close quote marks for phrases and parenthesis for OR components. Not doing so will change the entire complexion of your string.
- Spelling. Remember you only get what you ask for. Sometimes Google will suggest a different word for you to use if it is a common misspelling, however, don’t count on that. Check to make sure all your keywords and advanced commands are spelled properly.
- Syntax. Syntax is nothing more that the rules of play. Your search engine expects to be able read your request following a set of simple rules. Some examples are one space between keywords or keyword phrases. No spaces before or after the colon in field or site searches (intitle:keyword, site:keyword), and others as well. Know your syntax.
- Advanced commands should be all lower case. For example linkdomain. Not Linkdomain.
- In general, stay away from capital letters unless you want to force caps. You always want to capitalize OR when you are writing an OR component to your string. You can also use caps when you are looking for a state (MO, NY, CA, etc.), but there are few instances when you should use caps otherwise.
- Know your search engines. Not all search engines support all commands. Google is the only engine that supports a number range search. Only Bing and Yahoo support a link search. All engines support a file type search but all three have a different command for it. Don’t get them mixed up.
- When you are using a NOT component in your string, trying to remove keywords from your results, always make sure you are using the minus sign, and not the dash. You can easily avoid this problem by using a text document to develop your strings, as opposed to a word processing document.
Anyway…those are most of the pitfalls I encounter, however, it is not a definitive list by any stretch. Just take the extra step of proofing your string with the checklist above, and lo and behold…you might actually get what you are looking for.
Mark E. Berger; CPC, CIR, has been in recruiting and staffing since 1979. He is currently the owner of Swat Recruiting, a firm supporting the technology needs of the recruiting and staffing industry. He is also a partner in Ramsey Fox, Inc., an IT services firm, and its predecessor, M.E. Berger & Associates, since 1986. He has been heavily involved in Internet recruiting and has become an expert on recruiting and sourcing products and services available to the recruiting industry and also has a high level of expertise in recruiter databases (ATS’s), including how these products add to the bottom line.
Mark started utilizing the Internet for candidate sourcing back in the early 1990s by first running classified ads on the text versions or AOL and Compuserve. Then he was an early user of some of the very first online resume databases including Career Mosaic, Headhunter.net, and Online Career Center. In the latter part of the 90s he learned advanced techniques to source passive candidates from the Internet using the search engines, primarily utilizing Alta Vista and Northern Lights in the beginning and is now an advanced user of today's popular search engines including Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
More recently, Mark has been teaching the recruiting community best practices as they relate to the social and business networks including LinkedIn, Twitter, FaceBook, and MySpace and how recruiters can utilize those networks for recruiting, marketing, and branding.
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