searching

Do you really need capital letters to make Boolean search work?

By | LinkedIn, Search Engines | No Comments

When were you last nagged about using capital letters? Probably when you were in Primary school.

That won’t be the case if you have recently been in a training session with me! I am always nagging recruiters to write OR in capital letters in their searches.

The truth is, you don’t always need to write AND, OR and NOT in all capital letters. In fact, you don’t even have to type the words most of the time. It gets a bit complicated when I try to explain all the rules and exceptions to the rules.

The concepts of AND, OR and NOT are used to query every database whether it’s Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, a job board CV database, or your ATS. How you actually type your query may need to be different though.

My tips for getting your search to work anywhere:

AND

What you should do: Don’t bother typing it, just leave a space between your keywords.
Note: A few job boards require you to type it in, but it doesn’t take long to click a help button on the search page and find out. Reed.co.uk will even type the ANDs in for you if you forget them.

OR

What you should do: Type OR in capital letters.
Note: Some job boards will accept both lower and upper case  ORs. Tools like Google and LinkedIn need you to type OR in capital letters, although they are getting a little better at guessing what we mean and helping us out if we make a mistake. Capital ORs will always work though.
The exception: When I say always… the Twitter search tool Followerwonk requires you to use the pipe symbol (|) in place of OR. Google will also understand that too. e.g. uk|england|london

NOT

What you should do: Use the minus sign (-). Type it right up against the term you don’t want to see in your search results. e.g. -jobs or -site:linkedin.com
Note: LinkedIn tells us that NOT (typed in capital letters) works more reliably than the minus sign. I have not seen this to be the case, both seem to work intermittently for me.

My best advice is to know what you are expecting to see in your search results. That way, if your results don’t look right, you can attempt to diagnose your search string. This is good advice even if you are confident with the language used by a search tool, as they do sometimes change the way they work without telling us.

A male technician taking an X-ray of a female patient in 1940

What is X-Ray Search anyway?

By | Hat Tricks, Search Engines | No Comments

I get asked about X-Ray search all the time. The question cropped up again at the UK Sourcers meetup in Leeds this February.

It’s one of those terms that gets thrown around, along with search strings and boolean, to mean “whatever it is you do with Google to get those impressive search results that I can’t get”.

Well, all these terms do actually mean something.

A search string is just whatever you’ve typed into Google (or whatever database you are searching). Even if it’s just two words, that’s your search string.

Boolean is a type of mathematical logic. All databases use Boolean logic to return results for the search strings you enter. Boolean pretty much covers using the concepts AND, OR and NOT in your search strings.

An X-Ray search, sometimes called a site search, is a technique you can use on search engines like Google and Bing. X-Raying is a way to finding web pages from just one specific website.

If I type the search string site:sourcinghat.co.uk into Google, it will show me all the pages from this website that Google has indexed and has stored in its database.

X-Raying is actually very simple but don’t be fooled – it’s a ridiculously useful search technique that I use all the time.

My Top 5 uses for X-Ray search

Search company sites
If you have a list of target companies, why not run a quick X-Ray search on their websites? Look for job titles, contact details or news.

Search industry sites
Industry news sites can be a great source of names. Don’t forget associations and events too. Some of these searches can be useful when teamed up with Google Alerts.

Search sites with lots of user profiles
X-Ray searching LinkedIn is key skill for all recruiters and sourcers but you can X-Ray search any site with lots of user profiles like About.me, Branded.me, Github, Meetup, Stackoverflow, Viadeo, Xing.

Search for personal webpages
Did you know that you can also do a site search on a top level domain? Lots of people use .me domain names for their personal websites. Try searching something like site:me “download my cv” with some of your own keywords and see what you can find.

Taking sites out of your search results
I use this a lot when cross referencing a person I have found on LinkedIn. Sometimes LinkedIn is all over the search results I get on Google. To take them out and see what else is out there, we can use the minus sign with the site operator like this:

Goole search - LinkedIn cross reference

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