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.

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.

Wake Up Europe – Sourcing Is A Job In Its Own Right

Today we have a guest post from Martin Lee of Talent Works. Find out more about Martin at the bottom of this post.

I recently saw an advert for a Trainee Resourcer. The role was to identify the “best talent around” using direct sourcing methods, social media, job boards and any other methods available.

The job description finished up with an apparent incentive, saying that if you were successful there was a chance you could be promoted to Trainee Recruitment Consultant. I was shocked! Are we assuming in the UK (and Europe) that the job of Sourcer is at a lower level than that of a Recruiter? A stepping stone only? Why didn’t I see promotion to Sourcer, then Senior Sourcer?

As a general rule (yes there are exceptions) is that the European recruitment market is behind our Northern American friends in thinking. As they would say, we should “wake up and smell the coffee”.

Companies need to invest in the people that find candidates. It is an art form of its own, if done properly. It is backward thinking to expect one person to be great at the entire recruitment process. Wayne Rooney is (sometimes) a great footballer, but he would never be put in goal!

To be a credible Sourcer (or Resourcer as some of us call it) you need to have an exceptional knowledge of social media, all the additional tools and technology available, Boolean strings, search engine capability etc. whilst having an inquisitive nature, technical prowess and to only ever be satisfied with the best match possible.

Time and education are the required investment.

Talent Sourcing Conference Artwork

Oh no – here comes the sell! Well, not really. I aim to bring a number of low cost sourcing events to Europe where people at all levels come to hear experts, ask questions and generally make their way of working more efficient and productive.

The UK’s first ever conference looking purely at Sourcing is coming to London on August 23rd.

Tickets are deliberately low in price to encourage everyone at all levels to come. (Prices do go up in the first week of August though).

Hope you can make it and join the mini revolution.

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!

3 Sites You Have Never Thought About Sourcing From

Do you see sourcing opportunities everywhere you go? You should.

Here are three sites not usually associated with unearthing talent…

Wikipedia Logo

1. Wikipedia

We already know that Wikipedia is a great site to have in our sourcing tool kit, but what about actually finding candidates there? The thing to remember about wikipedia is that anyone can edit it. It stands to reason that the people editing or creating the articles have some expertise in that area. For example I can see that the page on Sourcing (personelle) was created by Rob Macintoch, one of the founders of SourceCon and all round sourcing legend.

Let’s say that I am trying to track down some games designers to work at a tech startup in London. If I check out the wikipedia article on Game Design then I not only find a lot of handy info that will help me with keyword identification, I also find a list of people. “Where?” I hear you ask.

On the top left of every Wikipedia article there is a “View History” tab. This allows you to see all the changes made to that article. Some people edit anonymously so you can only see details of their IP address on the history page. Other people have set up a User profile on Wikipedia and I can see their usernames against the changes they have made.

I start to look for users with profiles that have made changes to the section about the different roles of a games designer, it’s most likely that these are actually people doing the job. The first one I come across is Tom Edwards. He lists the company he works for on his profile, they just happen to be based in the UK. This is a rather hit and miss approach, so I look to use Google or another search engine to find these people more efficiently. I now know that user profiles have the word “user” in the url of the page so I can start to build a search string.

inurl:user site:wikipedia.org

this will give me wikipedia user profiles. I can add keywords and phrases to find the people I want e.g.

inurl:user site:wikipedia.org “game designer” (uk OR “united kingdom” OR london)

I could also include the names of particular games or game makers in my search string.

2. Amazon

Amazon Logo

Next time your boss catches you browsing Amazon while at work you will have a legitimate reason for being there. You’ll be sourcing talent.

One of the most useful shopping features on Amazon is the product reviews. This is the bit that is useful to us for sourcing too! Think about it, who is going to be reviewing books on game design? You could either look through the reviews of particular publications or use a search engine to find reviews that contain certain words and phrases.

“game design” site:amazon.co.uk/product-reviews

will find me product review on amazon that mention the phrase “game design”. I might need to narrow that down with some more keywords once I assess the quality of the results. We can now look at the profiles of the people that wrote those reviews. Amazon profiles don’t usually contain much information, but it’s usually enough to get you a name, which you can then put back into a search engine to find out more about a person.

You will also notice that profiles on Amazon contain the word “profile” in the URL, allowing you to search for people profiles that mention certain keywords – by doing this you will probably find profiles that have been filled in with more detail. e.g.

inurl:profile site:amazon.co.uk “game designer”

You will also want to consider using sites like goodreads.com in a similar way.

tumblr Logo

3. Tumblr

Tumblr is a blogging platform that makes it really easy to share a wide range of media types very quickly. It lends itself very well to visual content. It is definitely a darling of the social media world but not talked about very much in recruiting circles. At the time of writing, tumblr has over 57 million blogs.

Just like any of the myriad of blogging platforms out there (wordpress, blogger, posterous etc…) it is worth site: searching tumblr to see anyone you are interested in is using tumblr to demonstrate their expertise.

Sticking with our Game Designer example;

“games designer” (uk OR “united kingdom” OR london) site:tumblr.com

Among other things, this brings up a post from a Tiggy Tuppence actually showcasing some work. Tumblr does allow users to connect up Twitter and Facebook accounts but not all choose to do this. The only way to get in touch with this user through tumblr is to use the “Ask a Question” feature. I decide to google her username first though to see if it’s being used elsewhere. I’m lucky, I quickly see that Tiggy Tuppence exists on Twitter and Google+ too. I could also run the username through pipl.com to find other online profiles.

What unexpected places have you unearthed talent from?

Are You Just Starting Out As A Sourcer In The UK?

Examining CloudsI’ve been approached a few times in 2012 by folks just starting out as Sourcers, Resourcers or Executive Researchers (a rose by any other name?).

I thought I would put together the advice I’ve shared with them (and some extras) here:

By far the best way to learn is to JUST DO IT! Everyone has a different style of sourcing, we’re all sourcing for different kinds of candidates and what works for one person will be useless for another. So just get stuck in!

I learned the most by joining Twitter and it still helps me learn new things most days. It’s a great place ask questions as well as network with people in both the recruitment industry and the niche you are sourcing in. Feel free to follow me if you join. If I don’t follow straight back and welcome you – please bug me!

Feel free to meet me for coffee – always happy to have my brains picked by new sourcers. You might choose to work with me too.

Tools and Resources

Take a look at the Useful Tools page on the UK Sourcers site. There’s everything there from in depth guides and custom search engines to Twitter search tools.

I’d also recommend joining the UK Sourcers LinkedIn Group where I’m happy to answer any sourcing questions if you’re struggling with a tricky assignment.

Events

Keep an eye on the information coming out of these events in 2012 and try to attend if you can.

The Social Recruiting Conference
Crexia hosts the fourth Social Recruiting Conference in London on 28th June. This is a thought-leading Social Media in Recruiting conference, with case studies.
Follow on Twitter: @crexia and #srconf
Twitter chat every Wednesday: #srchat

#Tru Events – 2012
The Recruiting Unconference. You get out of these events what you put in and if you come armed with questions then there will be someone there to answer them. There is always a sourcing track on the bill. #TruLondon has already happened this year (I hear there might be another one in September) and it looks like #TruLeeds is soon to be anounced for July.
Follow tweets from this event: #TruLondon #TruLeeds

The Talent Sourcing Conference – 23rd August 2012
The first conference event in the UK to be dedicated exclusively to the topic of sourcing.
More info here: http://talentsourcing.eventbrite.com/

SourceCon – 20th & 21st September 2012
The original Sourcing conference will be back again in the Autumn, this time in Texas. Not always accessible to us on our side of the pond, but there is always a healthy stream of tweets from attendees and SourceCon often provide a live-stream of the event so that we can watch online.
Lots of great info on the blog, all from top sourcers: http://sourcecon.com
Follow on Twitter: @SourceCon and #SourceCon

The Onrec Conference & Exhibition – 4th October 2012
This year’s event focuses on how to harness the power of online recruitment, and the latest thinking in how to make full use of the UK’s online recruitment opportunities. Of particular interest to budding sourcers will be Laura Stoker from AIRS – the USA’s primary sourcing training provider.
Follow on Twitter: @Onrec

People to follow and learn from

Amybeth Hale (USA):
Amybeth was my introduction to sourcing. She’s been behind the SourceCon events and website for the past couple of years but has recently started a new Sourcing gig with Microsoft.
Blog: researchgoddess.com
Twitter: @researchgoddess

Andy Headworth (UK):
I learn new things from Andy all the time – he also asks me really difficult sourcing questions that I often can’t answer! He runs Sirona Consulting and mainly helps recruitment teams use Social Media more effectively.
Blog: Sirona Says
Twitter: @andyheadworth

Bill Boorman (UK):
Bill is the man behind #Tru and a font of knowledge about all things social recruiting. He’s a pretty good sourcer too! He’s especially good at new ideas.
Blog: Norton Folgate
Twitter: @BillBoorman

Glen Cathey (USA):
A sourcing legend from the USA. Glen is particularly skilled in searching LinkedIn – his blog posts are very in depth and thorough.
Blog: Boolean Black Belt
Twitter: @GlenCathey

Irena Shamaeve (USA):
Irena’s knowledge of Boolean search is legendary in the world of Sourcing.
Blog: Boolean Strings Blog
Boolean Strings Community: on Ning and on LinkedIn

Jim Stroud (USA):
Jim is a prolific blogger and video maker – he makes fantastic sourcing training resources.
Watch: The Jim Stroud Show
Circle Jim: On Google Plus

I hope you find this useful. If you have any other questions or you’d like to meet up, then do contact me or leave a comment on this post.

Happy Sourcing! 🙂

Image by katerha on Flickr

The UK’s Secret Sourcers

It is easy to think that there aren’t any great talent sourcers in the UK.

They are certainly not very visible online, and wouldn’t they be if they existed?

A few weeks ago at the Executive Research Association’s Annual Conference, I met a whole group of undiscovered secret sourcers!

ERA

I was really impressed by the people I met there. Some identified as researchers, some as recruiters, resourcers or head hunters, but all of them were clearly very passionate about tracking down hard to find talent. I really hope some of them decide to raise their profiles by sharing their skills with us online.

I was asked to share with them some tips and tricks when it comes to searching the web for candidates. When I sat down to write my presentation, I decided to share some of the first things I had learned when I started out as a researcher in 2008.

Here are the slides I shared with the ERA group – giving you a crash course in Google-ing for talent.

Andy Headworth also gave a fantastic keynote presentation “Social Media – Friend or Foe” – I’d recommend checking that out too.

Katharine
@TheSourceress