Recruiting With Boolean Strings – Part 1: Google

Tips and techniques for searching for how to supplement the candidates who apply for your job ads by recruiting with boolean strings and Google search.

Today I am looking for an IT Manager/IT Coordinator in Frederick, MD or someone nearby.

Think of recruiting with boolean search strings like making a cake.  You have to gather the ingredients before you put it in the oven.  Before we can start collecting resumes we need to know a few things.  Here is how we get them.

Get a list or of zip codes (here):

This is only for the city of Frederick.  I still need add zip codes for cities that are within a comfortable commute radius as well.  This is helpful because it will help narrow the search to people who list a Frederick, MD (or local) zip code on their resume. If you do not do this, you will probably get a bunch of people who moved away from Frederick, MD and presently live elsewhere.  People tend to leave zip code off of the experience section of their resume but they include it in their address section of their resume.

Convert the list into a range like this: 

Get a list of area codes (here):

Pick out a combination of keywords to include:

Security+, Linux+, Barracuda, Mac OS X, VPN configuration, VPN is better than Mac OS X, Juniper,  cisco

Here is a clip from the job description that I am using:

As the systems manager, your responsibilities will include:
Small office LAN, VPN, Macintosh and iOS fleet administration and support
Administration of Google Apps for Business, GitHub, Grasshopper, and other SaaS as needed
Manage low-volume websites via AWS
Responsibility or systems planning and execution.

LAN & WiFi up to layer 4 (Cisco, Barracuda experience preferred)
Basic VPN configuration ability (Juniper experience preferred)
Mac OS X & iOS familiarity
Administration of Salesforce, Google Apps, GitHub, Slack & others
Cloud IaaS familiarity

6+ years information technology experience, or 4+ years and bachelor’s degree, STEM preferred
A+, Linux+, Security+ certifications or similar preferred.

You want to choose words from the job that will ensure that the search is inclusive of the right kind of resumes, but that will also narrow the search results to candidates while avoiding terms that are too broad. In this case, I did not use words like LAN, iOS, Wifi, Salesforce or Github because they are not really going to help me narrow the list to the kind of candidate that I want as much as the other terms.

For example: I tried the search with three words from the job (Mac OS X, juniper, cisco – all key skills).  That phrase brought back all kinds of people results including grad students who use Mac OS X and Wifi and who mentioned a LAN for some reason.  It would have taken me weeks and it would have been like a needle in a haystack.  I tried again with a few additional keywords and suddenly I was finding dozens of resumes that were a match (Security+ | Linux+ | Barracuda | Mac OS X | VPN configuration | VPN).  There are still going to be some that don’t as well as results that we do not want to see, but initially there is some trial and error involved.

Choose file types that should be included in the results:
filetypes:pdf, docx (MS Word), doc (MS Word), .pages (Apple’s word processor), .odt (open office word processor)

I could include other formats, but this is a pretty broad list are pretty standard.  This search could be re-configured to look for presentations (i.e. .ppt (MS Powerpoint), .pptx (MS Powerpoint), .key (Apple’s Keynote)) or spreadsheets for example.

Choose what to look for in the URL of websites:
resume, cv, portfolio, about, contact

You might also try using “bio”, “vitae”, and “portfolio”.   I do not suspect that IT Managers will use these words in their website URL so I am leaving them out.  These might work better if you are searching for someone who is more senior level or who is in academia (i.e. PhD students or faculty). “Contact” may or may not be helpful so I suggest experimenting.  It may help net people who have included some key information on the same page that their contact information is on.  The same applies for the HTML title section below.

Choose what pages to look through using the HTML title section of websites:
resume, cv, about, contact

A few tips in Google Boolean Operators:
Google recognizes three types of boolean operators:

The pipe symbol can be substituted for OR: “|”.  This helps shorten your boolean string and make it more readable.

A space can be substituted for AND: ” “.

A dash can be substituted for NOT: “-”.  Use this for excluding a word.  For example: “Windows” AND “Windows -8″

For example: If you do a Google search for “VPN AND Mac OS X” the results are nearly identical to what you get from searching for “VPN Mac OS X”.  There are a few changes to the order of the results. I also got two additional ads with one versus the other, but that should not change your search outcome.

Queries to Google are not case-sensitive except for the AND and OR operators.  For example: “or”, “Or”, and “oR” would be considered search terms.

For more on Google Search operators, the Google Expert Tips Blog has some good tips including the use of the + operator vs. the use of double quotes (“).

Let’s add combine our ingredients and see what we get back:

With Security+ at the front I get 336,000 results:  
Security+ | Linux+ | Barracuda | Mac OS X | VPN configuration | VPN | 21701..21709 | Frederick, MD filetype:pdf | filetype:docx | filetype:doc inurl:resume|cv|portfolio|about|contact | intitle:resume|cv|about|contact

Re-arranging the order of the terms in your boolean search string can change the results that you get back so you may want to experiment a little there. For example: try putting Security+ at the end of the skills used and VPN at the front.  With VPN configuration | VPN at the front I get 68,700 results:
VPN configuration | VPN | Linux+ | Barracuda | Mac OS X | Security+ | 21701..21709 | Frederick, MD filetype:pdf | filetype:docx | filetype:doc inurl:resume|cv|portfolio|about|contact | intitle:resume|cv|about|contact

Adding the area codes code reduces the results down to under 19,900:
VPN configuration | VPN | Linux+ | Barracuda | Mac OS X | Security+ | 21701..21709 | Frederick, MD | 240 | 301 | 410 filetype:pdf | filetype:docx | filetype:doc inurl:resume|cv|portfolio|about|contact | intitle:resume|cv|about|contact

Results will vary.  Google’s search may show you a different set of results than it shows me based on where you are located.  If you or are do a search while logged in that may also change the results a bit.  Google changes its search algorithms so as it does I will try to post updates.

For this same search you might also try looking for technical support and IT contacts for schools, businesses, etc. using the same technique less the resume terms, etc.

This Series
This is the first in a series of posts about how to find candidates using free resources. I have been using boolean search strings to find candidates for jobs for a long time.

Need Help With Recruiting or Candidate Sourcing?
If you are a startup company or software company that needs help with candidate sourcing or recruiting or other services then check out my startup packages page (HERE) or my consulting firm website (HERE).  You can also Email Me ( or reach me using the Chat button in the lower right corner of the screen if I am online.

Need A Startup Lawyer?
Neelbauer Law, LLC

Need A Startup Recruiter?
staffmagnet, LLC

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In Search of Better Startup Accounting Packages

Every single founder that I talk to about their accounting and bookkeeping software tells me the same thing: they are in search of better startup accounting packages. They also start complaining loudly about having to put up with QuickBooks. I literally had this conversation a day ago and today I am the one complaining loudly.

So why is this happening? Most startup founders ask their CPA which accounting software they should use. Others just go with the default option from before. The CPA in nearly every case says QuickBooks or Peachtree (which is now Sage 50). It is easy for the CPA to get everyone using the same software, but this model is really bad for founders.

It isn’t that QuickBooks doesn’t get the job done or that it can’t. It is that QuickBooks is like a 1980′s Lincoln Town Car in today’s fast pace business climate and it needs to be sent to the junk yard. Accounting for startups should not have to be this hard.

Just today I had to set up a new workstation with QuickBooks in order to invoice a client. It took me nearly 50 minutes and two phone calls after I figured out that QuickBooks was crashing when I clicked on the link to register my copy because of a well known bug in the software.

Intuit is not a small company. If you have ever been to Google’s main campus in Mountain View, CA (I have) you may have noticed that Intel has around 8 buildings next door. On top of that they have what seems like an endless supply of offshore call centers.

My experience today:

Round 1 of Trying To Register QuickBooks

Ring, Ring…

Enter your phone number. 0# …

Automated help:
Enter your phone number using your phone keypad. Done.

Are you ready to enter your product number? Beep Boop Beep Bop…Done.

Enter your really long product number using your phone keypad. Beep Boop Beep Bop…Done.

20-30 minutes into the black hole with lousy hold music.

Offshore call center live person:

I am sorry for your really long delay.

Tell me your phone number. Ok, 202-555-1212. (What I want to say: WTF? I just did that.)

Tell me your really long product number using your phone keypad. Ok, 12345678910toinfinity. (What I want to say: WTF? I just did that.)

Dropped call (not an iPhone Call Failed message for a change).

Round 2 of Trying To Register QuickBooks  (Deja Vu)

Ring, Ring…

Enter your phone number. 0# … 0# … 0#… Someone will be right with you.

15-20 minutes into the black hole with lousy hold music.  At least I didn’t have to enter that really long product code again.

Sorry for the long delay.

I do apologize for the inconvenience of your really long hold, but anyway. By the way tell your name.

Tell me your phone number. Ok, 202-555-1212.

Tell me your really long product number using your phone keypad. Ok, 12345678910toinfinity. (What I am thinking: shouldn’t your software be working so I don’t have to lose close to an hour of my life?)

Ok, please hold…5 minutes go by…Ok, please keep holding…another 2-5 minutes.  Ok, here is your code.

Ok, thanks, I just tried it and it works now so thanks and have a nice day. Bye.

Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200
The worst part of this experience is that I just needed to generate an invoice and now I had to spend an hour of my time which is not billable.  I will not be upgrading my copy of QuickBooks this year.  The only other thing I use it for is entering receipts and bank transactions and tagging them with codes.  I could do this with a spreadsheet.

I really do not need a complex one sized fits all web based SaaS accounting product to get this job done and most startup founders do not either.  So upgrading to the web version of QuickBooks or a software package like FreshBooks or Xero or LessAccounting or Outright or others  is not altogether appealing either. I would rather spend the extra cash on something else – date night, targeted ads that bring in revenue, or beers with friends.

This seems like a really good opportunity.  Someone should write a light weight basic accounting and bookkeeping app for Mac OS and Windows and Linux to solve this headache once and for all.  There should be an output that your CPA can work with, but other than that about the only thing it might need is the ability to sync with your sales or recruiting CRM package.

In the mean time, I will try to use QuickBooks as infrequently as possible and hope that I can squirrel away some time to hunt down a better startup accounting package that already exists so I don’t get tempted to build one.


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How To Get To Hello World In Go

Tonight I learned how to get to Hello World in Go.  Iam checking out Go as part of the Golang DC meetup (Get GOing is tonight’s event theme).

Set up Your Development Environment:

Download and Install Go
Get it from

Un-tar the go package that you downloaded from and add it here:
/usr/local  (this becomes: /usr/local/go)

Add go to your path by editing your bash configuration in Vi:






Create a project folder:

I created on called “go”.

Create sub folders inside your “go” folder:
These are the sub folders – bin, pkg, src

Create your app to get to “hello world” in go like this:

package main

import “fmt”

func main() {
          fmt.Println(“hello world”)

Save your file as “hello-world.go” in to a folder called “helloworld”.

From a terminal window ($ is your prompt):
$ go run hello-world.go

The output should look like this:

I found the Hello World example on Go By Example.  There are a number of other examples of Go in action here.

You would use Go because performs much faster than something with Python or Rails.  It may or may not perform faster than Java depending on who you ask or which benchmark that you use.  Compilation is crazy fast with go.  Someone also described Go as a better C.

A friend and I paired up and with his Go expertise and my suggestions along the way we created a more complex app with Go that compares text files.


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You Should Only Hire A Players And Other Recruiting Myths

This article originally appeared via staffmagnet, LLC’s blog here.  staffmagnet, LLC provides recruiting services for software startup companies. defines a myth as “an idea or story that is believed by many people but that is not true.” Unfortunately, the A Player is a myth. A lot of hiring teams believe that they should only “Hire A Players”, but our experience suggests otherwise. Here is a quote from an article on that sums this up best:

“Make sure you’re hiring only A-players.” Hire a few B-players, he said, and they hire B’s and C’s, and pretty
soon the whole operation is going to pot. ”

People take phrases like this and interpret them as the law. The only problem is that even laws require interpretation. What happens the most is that people go out and look for people with a 4.0 GPA from the top ten schools and call it a day.

When you take a look at the data like we have over the past ten years a few patterns emerge. The “A” players are conventional players. They are playing within a narrow set of rules and not innovating. If you are looking for people to manage a call center or to be good accountants then hiring A players can work out really well. However, our clients hire software engineers, designers, marketers and people who have to be creative in all of the things that they do. “A Players” run into problems when things are not so well defined.

Case In Point
One of our client CEO’s best engineering hires graduated from a not so well known school on Maryland’s eastern shore. The early career software engineer had been working for a small Internet service provider while attending college. Aside from his experience at this college and a good, but not top of his class, academic profile this is someone who would be passed up by nearly every major software company and Internet company that recruits in Maryland. Why? They skip the smaller schools and they look for the students with “A Player” stats. In his case it was necessary to look beyond the schools.

The Odds Are Against It
Recruiting at schools that are not top tier programs would take a lot of time. Recruiting the best and brightest can be very challenging. If you recruit at better schools the law of averages should apply, right? Yeah, it should in theory. The problem is that you must adjust for local variables.

At the top schools students are literally funneled by their advisors, faculty, and alumni into the college recruiting programs of the big companies that pay tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars per year to. It isn’t that you can’t compete or differentiate, it is that you are fighting the ocean of conditioning and expectations that form in peer discussion groups throughout college. Students have classmates who intern at large companies and take jobs at large companies year after year which reinforces this.

It isn’t that colleges don’t care about your company. They just care more about the money than they do about your company than they do about Booz Allen Hamilton or Lockheed Martin or Google or Microsoft or Amazon. If you are a startup or a growth stage company with fewer than 250 employees you are going to have to work up hill all the way.

A lot of people have this concept of what makes good prospective candidate or an “A Player”. They think that GPA or SAT score is the best predictor. I would argue that SAT score probably indicates that someone could perform better quantitatively. But there is a breaking point beyond which none of this matters. Someone’s SAT score or GPA ceases to become a differentiator when you hire someone who is motivated by money and you just can’t pay them more than Amazon or motivate them to work a little harder when the only reason they took your job was because they were staging for their next round of interviews.

Things can work the other direction too. You could hire someone who is completely unmotivated or who is behind the times. While this is truly a possibility, it should could just as well be true that the A Player that you are trying to recruit will only be motivated to study about your industry long enough to get the job. You still have to make sure you do a great job of interviewing candidates for your job openings.

What To Watch Out For
There are a lot of students, especially at larger schools, who are essentially logo collectors. They will look for the best collection of big well known company logos to add to their resume above all else. They don’t mind being a low end manual tester for Microsoft or Amazon as long as they get the logo on their resume. They are easy to spot – ask them what other companies that they are applying for jobs at. If they say Microsoft, it is probably a good idea to move on. Some people just need to get this out of their system so let them. It is that or lose them when you can least afford to because they act on their logo hobby.

There are other common variables, but you get the idea. This applies with interns, entry level hires, and people who are well into their professional career.

Related discussion over on Hacker News


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DC Growth Hackers & Beers


Startups go through phases.  Right now mine is in the growth hacking phase.  Right now I am spending an increasing amount of time engaged in growth hacking efforts.  When I first started doing this I was thinking about organizing a web study group, but after talking to a dozen or so people I decided that wasn’t such a good idea.  Too many people are chasing too many cats (i.e. I need to learn how to code in x, I need to learn y).  The missing ingredient was a common mission: growth in users and revenue.  Polyglots aside, my dance with a web study group convinced me that learning or studying how to do development is like a a poker game without any stakes.  It just doesn’t work as well when there are none.

With a group for growth hacking there is real potential for an actual payout for people who participate.  You can show up and potentially get help figuring out how to improve your product’s user signup rate by 5% or 25% or 50% leading to more paying customers.  We will all learn something along the way.  I believe that with this recipe, the difference will be a higher caliber group of participants than would have been the case with a web study group  because there will be something in it for everyone.

What is Growth Hacking?
there are a lot of discussions out there about what the definition of growth hacking (take this one for example or this one or this one). You can decide for yourself, but I wrote a post a few days ago that should yield a potential starting point and some insight into what I mean when when I personally refer to lean startup principles which are essentially a core aspect of growth hacking.  The bottom line is that growth hacking is creative efforts to take things to the next level.

Isn’t There Something Like This Now?
Yes, in Mountain View, CA.  There are some very good resources like and even a conference for Growth Hackers.  All of this is being discussed somewhere else.

Why Start Yet Another Meetup?
This is not a meetup.  This is a group getting together to build.  I went to the DC Python meetup (and Saturday School), signed up for a Web Architecture Coursera involving Ruby on Rails, attended the DC Hack and Tell Meetup, and haphazardly missed the DC Ruby Users Group because I was running late from a networking meeting just prior to it.  The best discussions I had were ones at the bar after these events or in the case of the DC Python Saturday School meetup…a partition over from the class where I ran into Aaron Schumacher who co-organizes the DC Hack and Tell and another founder who was working on something.  When I missed the DC Ruby Users Group I managed to get some really productive time in.  When I left the DC Python class I managed to get some good coding time in.  I guess I am just looking for the best of both worlds.

Anyway, I found a nice quiet place with a great Beer selection and some tables that is adjacent to the Bethesda Metro station so I am thinking about who might want to join me.  The first time we meet it will be over beers.  After that we can mix it up.  I have access to quite a few places.

Some considerations (you should):

1. Have a product that is live.  It could be yours, it could be the startup that you work for.  If you don’t that is not necessarily a deal breaker, but it could be.
2. Be able to write some HTML and CSS (preferably you are someone who can code raw CSS3 and HTML5 even if you prefer using CSS pre-processers and mixins) as well as be able to use work with images (Photoshop, Pixelmator, Gimp, Illustrator).   Omnigraffle, Mockingbird or Balsamiq a plus.
3. Have at least some object oriented programming experience with JavaScript and either Ruby, Python or PHP.  If you use Java, Scala, Swift/iOS, Android, etc. that is probably ok too. No .NET people (unless you can completely turn off the MS portion of your brain).  Definitely no CMS configurators (if you you wield WordPress, Drupal or Joomla and that is your main thing that isn’t a deal breaker, but it could be).  Someone who is a really good designer who knows CSS and HTML really well and some jQuery would probably be ok too.
4. Know how to use Google Analytics or MixPanel
5. Be open to trying new things.  For example: we might try to learn to do something with Go or machine learning.
6. Like Beer and Coffee, though not necessarily at the same time.
7. Probably be a (choose one or more):
a. Business or marketing founder who has learned to do some coding and wants to go in that direction more
     b. Developer who has learned to do some business and wants to go in that direction
c. User Experience Designer who has learned to do some coding that wants to go in that direction more
d. Product Manager who has learned to do some coding that wants to go in that direction more
8. Be familiar with one or more of the following: Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing (AdWords or similar services), Facebook Targeted Ads).

If this sounds like something you could be interested in getting mixed up in and you are in DC or Maryland (VA is okay, but this is an event with a Bethesda, MD epicenter that will be on the Red Line so it might be a trek.  Email me today.  In case you were wondering, the taps pictured above are from the Tyber Bierhaus in Bethesda, MD where we will probably kick things off.


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Learn Ruby on Rails and Web Architectures On Coursera

Yesterday I blocked off some time to start learning Python, but quickly figured out that the DC Python Programming Classes on Saturday were really not geared for those who had zero Python experience.  Instead, I decided to sign up for and take a Coursera course that I heard about on Reddit titled: Web Application Architectures  taught by Glen Heileman from the University of New Mexico.  I already use Ruby on Rails, have read a few books, and know my way around but I wanted to see if this course promising to help someone learn Ruby on Rails and Web Architectures might be a good way to get future interns and entry level hires up to speed more quickly.

If you are interested in joining the course, you can still do so today (August 17, 2014).  Today is the last day to sign up.  Keep in mind that you will have to spend 1-2 hours watching the course’s first module and then taking two very short quiz exercises that will take you about 10 minutes each.

So I started taking the class and so far have enjoyed it.  It covers some things like the history of the Internet and the World Wide Web that I already knew, but also a few things that I did not know.  This is the first time I have taken a Coursera or another type of online course, but from what I can tell I think course would be very helpful to founders and others interested in learning to us Ruby on Rails programming.

If you are wondering if the course will be over your head, I would not worry about that so much at this point. It is pretty easy and there are pretty good resources.  You do not have to be do any programming in first module.  I will try to update this post with my impressions on the course.

If you know of similar free online courses that are worth checking out let me know. One of the things that I have learned from hiring interns and entry level developers is that if you can’t get them acclimated quickly it makes things a bit harder and more frustrating along the way.  This is true even for really smart computer science majors and graduates.  It also helps to go through the motions of creating a new Ruby on Rails app, even a simple one, before jumping in and trying to work on an existing one like the one that I have been working on for a number of years now.

Progress Update
I stuck with it through the first two modules. I have to say that there are some aspects of the way Coursera works that leave something to be desired. I would take a course via the site again, but the user experience feels really dated.

The Web Archtiecture course itself is pretty decent, but it does not feel very original the more I think about it.  I guess I expected a “course” by a professor from a major traditional University to be something more than a bunch of his University logos slapped onto a tutorial that anyone can get from the Ruby on Rails website.

He did make some changes, but he also did copy quite a bit rather than create original content. I can’t help but wonder why he thinks it is ok to copyright content that is under a creative commons license.  Maybe this is a standard practice in colleges, but I just can’t imagine someone doing this even for a meetup talk without more complete attribution.

Additionally, I don’t like how some things are just not discussed. For example: he choses to use Atlassian’s Bitbucket and doesn’t explain why he used it instead of Github. I’m not saying that I think he should have to use Github, but people should be aware of the reason someone might prefer one or the other.  At least a 15-30 second mention that Github is popular and that people use it to show off what they are doing for job interviews or to collaborate on open source projects would suffice IMHO. My guess is that it is free to start a private repository, but then again he could just prefer them. I guess we may never know.


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DC Python Programming Classes on Saturday

Today I decided to check out the DC Python Meetup’s PythonLab: Share & Learn Python 2.7 class that meets on Saturdays at the MLK Library next to the National Portrait Gallery and Gallery Place.  My DC Python Class on Saturday turned out to be interesting, but despite it being a class for “beginners”, it was actually not for complete beginners (with Python, not programming).

The class started off by picking a daily challenge from the  /r/dailyprogrammer/ subreddit.  The group settled on a program to make change (see above).

This is a great class for someone who has a little Python basics down before they show up, but there isn’t a really clear starting point or common starting point which makes it a bit hard to just jump into.  The event registration page did not make this too clear and I am not having a ton of fun discovering how things like camel case work one question at a time as I try to figure things out so I have decided to cut class and go check out an online course that I read about on Reddit earlier today. Next time I show of for this one I will be better prepared.


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