Advanced sourcing: smart searching with more relevant keywords (tip #4)

More synonyms = more relevant search results. If you want to get more relevant search results, then you must work with synonyms.

Search engines are not very intelligent and therefore it is often difficult to find what you are looking for. Every Recruiter is by now familiar with boolean search commands but another tactic or approach can yield dramatic results.

In this series of advanced sourcing tips for Recruiters, I show some well-known and lesser-known search techniques and strategies.

Tip 4: Smart searching with more relevant keywords

Semantic search technology goes beyond traditional searching by using keywords. It recognizes synonyms, common typing errors and relevance of experience (recent experience gives a higher score).

With most search engines, like Google and LinkedIn are using, you can only find exactly what you’re looking because they hardly make use of semantic search technology. So if you search the keyword JAVA then you just get results with that word in it, However J2EE is a synonym for JAVA (J2EE stands for Java 2 Enterprise Edition) and in the Netherlands alone, you can find 450 profiles which contain the word J2EE but not the word JAVA!

J2EE JAVA search results

More synonyms = more relevant search results

If you want to get more relevant search results, then you must work with synonyms. As an IT recruiter you are probably already aware of a few synonyms for Java, but have you thought also about the next 20?

1. Java Web Start
2. IntelliJ IDEA
3. Eclipse
5. Maven
6. NetBeans
7. Mockito
9. Tomcat
10. JPA
11. Servlets
12. Ant
13. JAX-WS
14. JSP
15. EJB
16. Java
17. Maven2
18. JNI
19. GWT
20. Acegi

These skills come from the dynamic knowledge base of LinkedIn: Skills. This page can be found via the webpage (note: you won’t find this page anymore via a menu). The good news is that LinkedIn Skills contains tens of thousands of these dynamic lists of relevant keywords. If you’ve always wondered what you could do with these Skills pages, then you have found the answer to your question!

Example: searching with 20 relevant JAVA skills

Let’s move ahead with the example where we search for JAVA knowledge. Searching with the keyword JAVA in the Dutch LinkedIn profiles you’ll find 28,768 results. Adding only the word J2EE in your keyword, the number of search results rises to 29,218 (450 profiles more or +1.5%).

If you’re a bit handy with a text editor, you can quickly create boolean search assignments with the help of the lists in LinkedIn Skills e.g.:

J2EE OR “Java Web Start” OR “IntelliJ IDEA” OR “Eclipse” OR “JDBC” OR “Maven” OR “NetBeans” OR “Mockito” OR “JAXB” OR “Tomcat” OR “JPA” OR “Servlets” OR “Ant” OR “JAX-WS” OR “JSP” OR “EJB” OR “Java” OR “Maven2″ OR “JNI” OR “GWT” OR “Acegi”

It will cost you only 30 seconds extra to create this extensive boolean search string. If you run this query, you come to a total of 31.988 results. That are 3215 or +11% more profiles than your competitors have seen and approached!

Optimise this boolean search

This technique has the disadvantage that you quickly introduce false-positive results. The skill Maven is for example often used by Social Media Consultants. So be aware of that and remove such a keyword that produces an excess of false results. Also note that LinkedIn ‘only’ allows a boolean search string of up to 1,300 characters (half an A4).

Do you have any questions or suggestions for a search? Or do you want to share a handy sourcing tip? Let us know and we will include them in this series about advanced sourcing techniques!

About Jacco Valkenburg

Jacco Valkenburg is an international recruitment expert, trainer and author (5 books). He has more than 20 years experience in global recruitment strategies and execution spanning numerous countries for leading companies. As founder of Recruiter University and Recruit2 he provides companies with recruitment training and consultancy. His mission is helping companies ‘from good to great staffing’.

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