Types of Searches for Sourcing Pros

Can your search rely on just one recruitment tool or technique?

We think not. It’s about the combination of efforts across your team, your tools, the AI factor, and how you continue to evaluate and share what’s working and what’s not.

This Spring, a few team members and I attended SourceCon: We Control The Robots – after absorbing and dissecting what we picked up at the conference, we began incorporating our takeaways into training modules for our team.

Sarah Goldberg, Sr. Sourcing and Research Specialist at OP, said it best, “Remember – the skills you need to get a job are often very different from the skills you need to be good at a job, and sometimes, great candidates do what they can to avoid getting hounded by recruiters! This means that we need to get creative as we search for candidates.”

Whether you are a recruiter or a sourcer, you’ll want to stay creative and ahead of the competition. How are you searching for and reaching out to qualified candidates? Get back to basics with our recap of Glen Cathey’s* five types of searches:

Keyword/title search

  • This is the most basic kind of search. Just the minimum of what you are looking for.
  • For example, “software developer” AND java, and that’s it.

Conceptual search

  • This is taking a keyword/title search one step further and searching for multiple ways of saying something, but all the ways you can think of to represent a particular concept.
  • For example, build your search for “developer AND java,” using synonyms – try “(developer OR dev OR engineer OR eng OR programmer OR software) AND (java OR jee OR j2ee).”

Implicit search

  • Search for people who don’t say the thing you’re looking for, but who say other things that imply they have it.
  • Glen’s example cited a search for EMC storage engineers. He searched for people with the term EMC on their profile but couldn’t find the right candidate. Then he looked for data storage engineers who DIDN’T have EMC on their profile, but talked about data storage. He then called them up and asked if they had EMC – and that’s how he found the candidate he ended up placing.

Semantic search

  • Searching based on how people use language.
  • Instead of individual keywords, think specific phrases/sentences that people might use on their resume/profile. Think about noun/verb combinations.
  • For example, (implemented OR implement OR configure OR configured) AND SAP.

Indirect search

  • Searching not for people who are a fit for the job, but for people who might know a person who is the right fit.
  • For example, if you can’t find a BA with a specific technology, search for PMs with that technology and ask if they know any BAs who work with it.

*Follow Glen Cathey on Twitter and check out his blog at http://booleanblackbelt.com/

Part of staying creative when maintaining and updating a search process is just that, maintain it and update it and share insights with your team to keep momentum going. There are also a bunch of professionals, like Glen, that share their thoughts on Sourcing and Recruiting for technology for your reference.


Ben Solomon, Director of Research at Objective Paradigm, oversees research while leading and developing OP’s Sourcing Team. Ben is passionate about using recruitment tools to increase recruitment process productivity. He is a graduate of Northwestern University.