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:
OR, AND, NOT.
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 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.
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