The Magic of Search Engine Sourcing

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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.