Have you tried our LinkedIn Profile Search tool?

LinkedIn by Diego Cornejo

By far the most popular page on the UK Sourcers site in 2013 has been our LinkedIn profile Custom Search Engine.

The tool uses the X-ray (or site: search) technique to search for only UK LinkedIn profiles via a Google Custom Search Engine.

I received a message from Dennis Patel of IT Mob Ltd in July 2013 thanking me for the tool, which was a great feeling.

Thought I’d say Hi, and thank you for the great google tool for searching linkedin profiles. Heck…..I’ve just made my first placement using it!

Dennis also asked about adding more location filters to the tool, so I added the ones he suggested. Do let me know if there are any you would like too.

I hope you have found the UK Sourcers blog useful in 2013. We are delighted to be Finalists in the UK Recruiter Recruitment Blog of The Year Awards. If you have any suggestions for 2014 please don’t hesitate to drop us a line.

Have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year! 🙂

Image Credit.

Boolean Tricks OR Treats

Cackling by sage_solar

As it’s Halloween, I thought I would use its most iconic phrase to demonstrate some Boolean search basics with Google Search.

Trick or treat

Halloween - tot1

This is probably the way Google expects us to search for this so it is probably the most visually pleasing set of results. Google will most likely be searching for both the words trick and treat on the pages, as we didn’t capitalise our OR, not making it a Boolean operator. Google does still highlight the or in results, clearly giving priority to the phrase “trick or treat”.

“Trick or treat”

Halloween - tot2

This set of results doesn’t look quite as pretty, Google probably doesn’t expect its average user to use quote marks when searching. It will be looking for the whole prase “trick or treat” so the results are similar to the last search. You will note that the estimated number of results for this search is less than the previous search. While these numbers should be taken with a pinch of salt, this is likely to be the case as the exact phrase will appear on fewer pages than simply both the words trick and treat.

Trick OR treat

Halloween - tot3

This search doesn’t make much sense in the context of Halloween. This searches for one or more of the words trick and treat. The results reflect this as the top two are definitions of the two words. You will also note that we have an estimate of many more results – obviously this is because we’ve been much less fussy with our search, any page that mentions either of the words trick or treat will satisfy this query.

Please note that I was logged in to Google when I ran these searches and yours might look totally different.

Image credit.

The Magic of Search Engine Sourcing

Screen Shot 2013-09-26 at 11.27.00


Delegates to the Discover Sourcing conference and workshops were treated to a feast of tools, techniques and tips to help with their sourcing.

Over the two days, two speakers looked at search engine sourcing and between them shared a wealth of information. On day one, Karen Blakeman, a freelance consultant at RBA information services, ran a sourcing workshop looking at a range of less well-known search engines as well as how to get the best out of Google, Bing and Yahoo.

And on day two, Laura Stoker (pictured), executive director of global training at AIRS, shared her favourite search engine tools.

In this post, we pull together a list of the search engines Laura and Karen discussed in their sessions. You can see Laura’s presentation here and Karen’s here.

Google maybe the dominant search engine for sourcers, but it is worth noting how search engine market share differs across different regions. For example, Google has almost the entire market share in the UK with 90.36% whilst Google has only 61% market share in the US. Understanding geographical differences and the range of search engines that operate across geographies is key to effective search engine sourcing.

Screen Shot 2013-09-26 at 11.08.54As Google is a dominant force, it is imperative sourcers know how to use it to search effectively. Both Laura and Karen shared insights into how to do this in their presentations – their slides show how to Xray sites and use a range of other filters. Check them out as they are packed with examples, as is this video of Martin Lee’s closing keynote in which he looked at how to use the major search engines to source.

So what other search engines are useful for sourcing candidates? Here’s a list generated from Karen and Laura’s talks.


This search engine compiles a list of results from around 50 sources including Wikipedia, Bing and its own web crawler. It is great if you want a range of sites in your search results and you don’t want Google spamming your results with lists of pages from two or three sites.


This search engine is great for finding results that are usually buried beyond reach within Google. You can remove the top 10,000 sites from results and you can change that number so you could, for example, remove the top million. You can also put sites back into search and you can block them. You can also search within a country.


The Russian search engine is available to anyone as it has an international version. Its advanced search function enables you to search for terms within a website, search across different languages and search different format types. It was launched in Russia in 1997 and supports advanced Boolean logic.

Other useful search engines include:

Microsoft academic search

Microsoft academic search is useful for finding journal articles, conference proceedings and reports. It is free to use but you may be charged for the full text of some papers. It is also worth looking at academic blogs because many academics and researchers are active bloggers. This is a great way to identify experts especially within new and innovative technologies and industries. Use Google blog search to help find relevant blogs.


Twitter is great for following events, identifying speakers and finding out more about someone’s interests. Twitter search enables you to filter using operators and Karen provided a list of Twitter search instructions and advance commands which you can find here.

Other Twitter search tools include:

Facebook Graph Search

Facebook Graph Search works using US English so if you are in the UK you will need to switch into that to use it. There’s a demo worth watching here.

Other general people search engines

Google Custom Search

Google CSEs

During her conference session, Laura told delegates, “If you do nothing else,  spend 10 minutes to set up a custom search engine.”

You select the sites you want to search, and hey presto, Google builds a search engine that crawls those sites for you. Laura recommended delegates create a search engine for 10 to 15 companies in their industry sector.

For some delegates these tips and demonstrations of search engine sourcing felt a bit like magic.

As @Claire_Recruits tweeted from Laura’s session . . .

Just learnt how to build a custom search engine! Never knew it was so easy! Feel like I’ve entered Hogwarts and learnt magic.

Visit our content round-up for all the content and resources from Discover Sourcing.

Your Basic Search Engine Handbook from UK Sourcers

Search Engine HandbookHave you ever wished you had a reference that would talk you through the basic building blocks of using Search Engines and Boolean?

The idea of using a Search Engine to find information about people is natural to some and a totally new idea to others. Search Engines like Google and Bing can be a valuable addition to your candidate sourcing toolbox.

When you have searched your database, checked the job boards and scoured LinkedIn, do you then turn to Google or Bing to access information available to all on the Internet?

This handbook aims to explain the basics of querying a search engine – add in your own industry knowledge and creativity and you should be able to track down anything (as long as it is out there in the public domain to be found).

We will start with AND, OR and NOT (the three Boolean operators) then look at other commands that will make your searches more targeted.

Download your copy of the  UK Sourcers’ Basic Search Engine Handbook for Recruiters by Katharine Robinson (aka TheSourceress)

A copy of the handbook will be given to all attendees of tomorrow’s Talent Sourcing conference in London. If you are not coming along to the event then follow proceedings via Twitter using the hashtag #TSUK – if you are unsure what a hashtag is, then check out this guide to hashtags that we published earlier this month.

If you have any feedback, please get in touch.

Twitter Search Gets An Important Overhaul

Twitter birdYesterday Twitter announced that they have made some major improvements to Twitter Search. Some of the new features may be important in helping you engage with a targeted audience.

Many of the new Twitter Search features don’t seem to be live across the board yet.

Spelling Corrections: Twitter should now make suggestions if it thinks you have spelled a word incorrectly. I have tried deliberately misspelling words, but am yet to see this feature in action.

Related Searches: Twitter will now suggest you other searches that you might be interested in. It sounds like Twitter will suggest search terms that provide more results for you. I am yet to see this feature in action for a search other than Twitter’s example of ‘Jeremy Lin’.

Real Names and Usernames in Results: According to twitter “When you search for a name like ‘Jeremy Lin,’ you’ll see results mentioning that person’s real name and their Twitter account username.” When I search for ‘Katharine Robinson’ though, it does not return results mentioning @TheSourceress too. This feature does work with Twitter’s ‘Jeremy Lin’ example – I can only suppose that the feature is a work in progress.

Probably the most useful new Twitter Search feature is working and working well

Results from people you follow: 
Up until now, when you ran a search on twitter.com, you got the option of seeing ‘All’ tweets or just the ‘Top’ tweets. There is now an added option to see results from only the ‘People you follow’.

It shouldn’t be underestimated just how tricky this was for Twitter to build – with Tweets coming in at 250 million per day, separating them out by an arbitrary list of users must have been a technical nightmare!

Twitter have got this feature working perfectly though – I have used it already to see what my network is saying about the Formula 1 racing at the British Grande Prix this weekend, rather than sifting through the noise of all the tweets about the F1 today.

The ‘People you follow’ results are a great feature if you are using Twitter to engage with a particular community. For example, I almost exclusively follow UK based recruitment professionals from the @UKSourcers Twitter account. I want to engage with that community because those are the people I want to work with. I don’t always want to talk to them about recruitment though – I have other interests and so do they. I can now run a search for ‘cheese’ or ‘F1’ or ‘pie’, see which UK recruiters are talking about those things and join in.

I expect that those of you using Twitter for recruiting purposes have accounts that follow people who are all involved with your particular niches – the exact people you want to engage with. You now have a tool to help you find people in your niche community that share other things in common with you. This will help you build more meaningful relationships.

This feature also adds incentive to corporate Twitter accounts to follow back real people – they will now be missing out even more by not following back those that have shown an interest in their brand as an employer.

How will you be using these new Twitter Search features?

Show Off Your Internet Sourcing Skills With Smarterer

If you know you’ve got mad Google search skills, or you think you know LinkedIn better than the back of your hand, why not show off with Smarterer’s short tests and funky badges.

You can take tests in all sorts of things from Web Development skills to using Powerpoint. Of most interest to us Sourcers are probably the tests in Google Search and LinkedIn.

I have taken a few tests and here are my results:

You can see even more on my Smarterer profile.

If you take a test, share the link to your profile in the comments and show off!

Thanks must go to Bill Boorman for pointing out this tool 🙂

Live Sourcing at Reconverse

Last week I was the guest speaker at Reconvers’ Direct Sourcing event in London.

Jamie had asked me to show the group what sort of candidate information is out there on the web and freely available if you know how to look for it.

I gave a very brief intro to sourcing, and Internet research in particular, followed by a live sourcing demo, just to show what you can find with a little knowledge of search engines and boolean logic. I asked the recruiters in the room to give a profile they were looking for and I started a search there and then.

Example – Interim Datastage Consultant in Watford

One attendee was looking for an interim contractor specialising in an old IBM product called Datastage. This person would have to work in Watford.

I started by using Google Maps to look at the area surrounding Watford and choose some appropriate place names to include in my search – something like this might work:

(London OR Watford OR “St Albans” OR Slough OR “Hemel Hempstead” OR Cheshunt OR Enfield OR Luton OR Harlow OR “High Wycombe” OR Stevenage OR Dunstable OR Uxbridge OR Amersham OR Hatfield)

Then because we were uncertain how candidates might write Datastage, we included in our search string some different permutations. I also added some job titles to help us find pages that were mentioning people:

(datastage OR “data stage”) (developer OR programmer)

We’re now running into lots of job postings, so I look to take out some words that commonly appear on job ads. I also include words that will help us find people willing to work on a contract basis. Giving us a final boolean search string of:

(London OR Watford OR “St Albans” OR Slough OR “Hemel Hempstead” OR Cheshunt OR Enfield OR Luton OR Harlow OR “High Wycombe” OR Stevenage OR Dunstable OR Uxbridge OR Amersham OR Hatfield) (datastage OR “data stage”) (developer OR programmer) (interim OR contractor OR freelance) -job -jobs -vacancy -required

Because the key difficulty with this search is that we need someone still working with an old technology, we need to look for people that are using Datastage in their current role.

You’ll notice on LinkedIn profiles that your current job is listed separately to your past positions. So if we tell google to search linkedin.com for UK profile pages with the word “current” near to the word “Datastage”, we should get what we’re looking for.

“Current * Datastage” site:uk.linkedin.com/pub

Google brings us LinkedIn profiles that look relevant. You might also choose to add our list of place names onto this string to make sure you are getting people in the right part of the country.

I had an excellent question from the Reconverse crowd about using search engines other than Google. If you put the search query above into Bing then you get some great results on the first page, but not as many results in total.

I always recommend mixing up the search engines you use and trying your strings on more than one.

I use brackets (or parentheses) in my search strings above. This is purely to keep my own thoughts in order – Google actually ignores brackets completely. Bing does not ignore brackets, but that is a post for another day.

For more details of my “Live Source” – check out this video recording. Unfortunately you can’t see what I am typing or the results on the screen, but the audio, despite being quite quiet, might prove informative.

Check out the Reconverse website for more great events. I think the glass of wine to one side of the shot above sums up the atmosphere nicely! 🙂

Capital Letters – The Key To Boolean Success

I’m about to share one of the most common things that people don’t realise about Boolean searching.

Boolean Ven

Boolean logic covers the operators AND, OR and NOT. The name comes from English born mathematician George Boole – his work with algebraic logic is the basis of the modern computer.

When were you last nagged about using capital letters? When you were in Primary school? Not if you’ve recently been in a training session with me.

When using these Boolean operators with a Search Engine, like Google or Bing, it is important to capitalise them.

A Search Engine automatically strips small words like and, or, if, but etc. out of your query. It only searches for what it considers to be a real keyword. By capitalising AND, OR and NOT we make sure the Search Engine takes notice of them as a Boolean operator.

Most job boards do not enforce this rule, so if you don’t usually capitalise your ANDs, ORs and NOTs you have probably still been having success when you search there. I tend to capitalise these operators as a rule – then my string will work everywhere.

The only problem is, I now automatically capitalise OR all the time – not just when I’m searching – Doh!

A Google A Day Keeps The Cobwebs Away

Worried that your search skills might get a little rusty? Google can help.

Last week Google launched a trivia game called “A Google A Day”. Unlike other trivia games, this one encourages you to search the web for the answer.


The questions (more like riddles or clues) are supposed to get more difficult throughout the week – let’s hope so!

You might worry that in searching you will simply discover other people revealing the answer in their social updates. There’s no need to fear – if you search from the A Google a day site, you will be using the Deja Google interface that strips out all updates from after the challenge was published.

You can find a more detailed write up about A Google A Day here. 

So go on – test your search skills!


Sourcing is about more than CVs or Resumes

This post is inspired by my ramblings today at #TruSource in London

Let me ask you a few questions…

  • In the course of your career, have you ever put your CV to the web? Either on your own or a company website or uploaded it to a job board/cv database.
  • Is your CV currently up to date?
  • If your CV is up to date, is it uploaded to the web?

The answer to all three of these could very well be “No.” I expect that is the case for many people. Your CV is a very personal document, a document that you should really have some control over, especially its distribution.

It goes to show just how unlikely it is that any one person’s current CV is findable on the web, even if you had access to all the job boards, all the CV databases and the best CV finding search strings on the planet. This makes the UK’s Resourcer role somewhat limited.

Enter Sourcing. Sourcing is really about people, not CVs.

Let me ask you some different questions?

  • Do you have a LinkedIn profile?
  • A twitter account?
  • A blog?
  • A facebook profile?
  • Are you profiled on a company website?
  • Have you ever attended an industry event/conference?
  • Did you buy your ticket to that event from a site like eventbrite?
  • Have you ever been quoted in the press?

I’m sure you can answer “Yes” to at least one of the above, if not two or three… or all. Then your name and some information about what you do for a living is findable by a Sourcer.

Once a sourcer has a name, it’s possible to find out more about a person. Take a people search engine like pipl or 123people to help you track down other outposts with more information about the person you are looking at. One piece of information leads to another.
More than that –  it is easier to judge the age of a sources on the web. Blogs and Twitter profiles give the date of the owner’s last post, LinkedIn and Facebook tell us when the person last updated their status and atendee information from events is only as old as the event. On top of that, news articles are dated and comanies rarely leave profiles of past employees on their sites.

Do you make the most of the information out there on the web?