What does X-ray Search Mean?

What is the meaning of X-Ray Search?

By | Search Engines, Sourcing Tools | No Comments

X-ray search should be a key part of any recruiter’s talent sourcing tool kit. But what does it mean?

X-ray search is one of the things I’m asked to explain most often. Many experienced recruiters don’t know what it means, or why you might use it. That’s OK, I’m here to help.

It’s one of those terms that gets thrown around, along with search strings and boolean, to mean “complicated stuff you do on Google”. But all these terms do actually mean something, and they’re not that complicated either.

A search string is whatever you’ve typed into Google (or whatever database you are searching). Even if it’s just one or 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.

X-Ray Search gives you a way to find pages from just one website

An X-Ray search, sometimes called a site search, is a technique you can use on search engines, like Google and Bing.

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 really simple but don’t be fooled – it’s a ridiculously useful search technique that I use all the time.

5 essential X-Ray Searches

Search sites with lots of user profiles
X-Raying LinkedIn is an important skill for all recruiters and sourcers but you can X-Ray search lots of websites that have user profiles, like About.me, Branded.me, Github, Goldenline, Stackoverflow, Viadeo, or Xing.

Search industry news websites
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 company websites
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 for personal webpages
Did you know that you can also do an X-ray 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”, add some of your own keywords, and see what you can find.

Take certain websites out of your search results
I use this a lot when cross-referencing a person I originally 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:

I think you’ll agree, the X-ray search meaning is simpler than you expected.

If you’d like to learn more about X-ray search, or other sourcing techniques, please get in touch with me.

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