The Big Three - Resumes for All

  By Mark Berger  |    Posted on Tuesday June 27, 2012 at 05:00:40 PM

Category: Automation



No, we are not talking about the Detroit automotive industry. We are talking about the three largest and most productive Internet search engines…Google, Live, and Yahoo. Many recruiters favor Google when they think of going to the Internet for the resumes of passive candidates, as it is the best known, has the most press, and has the largest “index” (database). However, in order to do the best job you can of locating as many resumes as you can for your open assignment, you will want to take the extra steps involved and broaden your search methodology a bit.

There is a good reason for this. All search engines use their own proprietary technology to “crawl” or “spider” the web going from one web page to another. They look for keywords and other criteria then create indexes of what they find for you to search. Since each engine is using its own proprietary web-crawling technology there is no guarantee that each engine will index each and every web page. Since there are billions of web pages that change daily, I can tell you they absolutely don’t. No engine has the ability to cover the entire Internet. There are simply too many pages. Not only do they each cover just a percentage of the entire web…there is not as much overlap as you might think.

If you run the same exact search string in all of the big three what you will notice is that a small percentage of first page results that are common to all three engines. A greater percentage will appear in the first page results of at least two of the engines. In recruiter terminology…if you go to each engine and run the same string and get ten resumes on the first page of each search only 2-3 resumes will be common to all three engines. May another 3 or 4 will be common to two and the rest can be found in only one of the three. These numbers are a simplification but you can see that if you use one search engine exclusively for your resume searching you will be leaving a lot of good information for your competition.

The good thing is that all three engines use similar syntax for simple searches. For example, you can run this string without any problems:

intitle:resume java programmer (missouri OR MO) (314 OR 636)

In the above string I am telling the engines to search for web pages with the word resume in the title of the page AND java AND programmer AND either missouri OR MO AND either the number 314 OR 636. This is a string that looks for the keywords and telephone area codes for the St. Louis, Missouri area.

The string above is fairly simple and will only look for resumes. On the Internet not all resumes are called resumes. I and others call these resume words. To broaden my search I could also use in all three engines the string:

(intitle:resume OR intitle:homepage OR intitle:bio OR intitle:profile) java programmer (missouri OR MO) (314 OR 636)

This string catches all of the results of the first string but also looks for other web pages with the keywords homepage (which is very common) OR bio OR profile.

Other commonalities between the big three are that all use a space for AND’s, so you don’t usually spell out that operator as I was doing in my examples, and all support the word OR spelled out for the OR’s. Whereas Google requires the use of the minus sign (-) for NOT words…Yahoo and Live also support the use of the word NOT in front of the word you wish to remove from the results (often jobs, apply, submit, and other job posting type words). All three engines support the use of quote marks to force the engines to return pages with an exact phrase (“public accounting”) but on Live you can use a period in between the words to force a phrase (public.accounting), maybe the others as well. Yahoo and Live require the use of parentheses for OR statements and although you can use them in Google (as I do), they are not required.

Luckily, all three engines also support the use of intitle, inurl and site searches. These searches are integral to any search using more advanced methods. I showed an example of the intitle method above.

For example, a inurl method might look like this:

(inurl:resume OR inurl:homepage) java programmer (missouri OR MO) (314 OR 636)

This tells the search engine to look for the keywords java, programmer, the state and area code keywords but only look for them in either the url (web address) of the web page. This is very common way to search for the resume of passive candidates.

The syntax is very simple for the site search (some call this xraying as you are looking inside an entire website for keywords) and all three engines support this method.

site:www.linkedikn.com java programmer

Running this string in all three engines will give you all of the pages on the LinkedIn site that also have the keywords java and programmer. You would simply replace my example keywords with those of your choosing.

There are differences as well. Although Google can support very long keyword strings of up to a couple dozen or so components, the other two are limited to simpler strings. Actually, they are limited to a certain number of characters. Only Google can handle the long, sophisticated strings so when using all three it is best to keep your strings as simple as you can. Only Google supports the use of Number Ranges. This is a simple grouping of two numbers with a low and high number and Google searches for all numbers in between the two. This is a superior feature to allow recruiters to search for resumes within specific geographic areas (zip codes). With Yahoo and Live you must use the state and area code keywords only. The link command can be used in Yahoo and Live but is not support fully in Google. This is a great trick to find resumes of individuals that have a link on their resume to a specific site. Typically this might be a current or past employee.

To wrap this up, this article was in no way meant as a training session to instruct the readers in advanced search methods. Although I tried to highlight a few simple techniques that anyone can use, to do much more is beyond the scope of this piece. More than anything I wanted to let you know that resume searching does not begin and end with Google. Not only should a thorough searcher expand the scope of his or her search to all the major engines, there are also dozens of other search engines to try. To fully understand the capabilities and limitations of each engine, there is always a Help section available. Searching for resumes or anything else for that matter is more art than science. There is simply a lot of trial and error involved in getting the results you need to fill your next job.


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