There are all sorts of tools that will build search strings for you (like RecruitIn or the Boolean Bar) to help you find candidates online. In my opinion, it is really better to be able to write your own boolean search strings and not totally rely on these tools.

If you can write your own strings to use with Google or Bing then they will be looking for exactly what you want to find and you will know how to edit them if they don’t give the results you expect.

Sometimes it is useful to get inspiration from other people’s search strings – everyone has different ideas and different ways of constructing a search.

So here are three search strings that hopefully will inspire you to write some of your own and find a few names.

1. Search London marketeers on LinkedIn

site:linkedIn.com/pub “marketing manager” London

This string is looking for the linkedin profiles of marketing professionals in London.

The results for this search include a lot of profiles that just mention London – ensure that you se

arch uk.linkedin.com to just see UK profiles.

You may also see some directory pages coming up in your results, you can get rid of these on Google using -inurl:dir
Your string will then be site:uk.linkedin.com/pub “marketing manager” London –inurl:dir

Use different job titles and industry keywords to look for the types of candidates you are interested in. Add more skill or qualification keywords to narrow your results.

You might want to add more location names too – London for example could be expanded to (London OR Barnet OR Croydon OR Ealing OR Bromley OR Enfield OR Wandsworth OR Southwark OR Lambeth OR Redbridge OR Lewisham OR Hillingdon OR Brent OR Westminster OR Newham OR “Tower Hamlets”). Those are the largest London boroughs by population as listed on Wikipedia.

Bing is very good at finding LinkedIn profiles without polluting the results with too many directory pages and the like. This means that you see better results with less need to be too exact with your Boolean skills.

If you’re using long lists of place names like the one above, you might be better to use Google. Google will take 32 search terms but Bing limits search queries to 150 characters in length.

2. Search London marketing event attendees

google

list (conference OR expo OR workshop OR seminar) (London OR UK) Marketing

This string is looking for lists of people from marketing events in London. This could be lists of attendees or speakers etc.

The brackets in these strings are not strictly necessary – Google totally ignores them and the strings follow Bing’s natural order of operations anyway. I like to use them though, if only to keep my own thoughts organised.

This string returns lots of interesting information about marketing sites, networks and events but not much in the way of rich people data. You could include people keywords like (attendee OR delegate OR member).

You’ll then notice that some of the actual delegate lists in your results are pdf files. Delegate lists are often in pdf or SpreadSheet formats – so adding something like (filetype:pdf OR filetype:xls) to your string will probably bring back lots of rich results. Even if events aren’t marketing focused, the people on the list might have “marketing” in their job titles.

To make the results relevant to you, start by changing the industry and location keywords as appropriate. You could try using a job title of interest along with a broad industry keyword.

3. Search for CVs Uploaded to Scribd

site:scribd.com (CV OR Vitae) (UK OR “united kingdom”)

This search string is looking at pages from the document hosting website Scribd. I think of Scribd as a YouTube for documents instead of videos. People upload all sort of documents like reports, magazines, presentations and even CVs.

I found a lot of template and example CVs on Scribd so it helps to add -template -sample -example to your string to eliminate these.

Add industry keywords or job titles to the string to see if there are any CVs of interest to you on Scribd.

Google seems to get to the CVs of real people much easier than Bing does. I found that the results I got from Bing were dominated by documents from just one Scribd user.

There are lots of document sites like Scribd, you could also try site searching issuu, docstoc and SlideShare.

If all this Boolean is gibberish to you, why not take a look at my Search Engine Guide for Recruiters.

Image credit: Google Search Tips

Katharine Robinson

Katharine Robinson is an Internet talent sourcer, trainer & social media addict. She started her career in Executive Search and has also worked as part of in-house recruitment teams. Katharine now runs Sourcing Hat Ltd and is putting on the Discover Sourcing event in September 2013. For more about sourcing from Katharine, see the UK Sourcers blog.