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How to Find Technical Talent Using Google X-Ray and Boolean Strings

Written By Jessica Miller-Merrell | October 20, 2014

One of the most effective ways to source for technical talent online is using what is called Boolean search. Boolean allows you to combine words and phrases using the words AND, OR, NOT (known as Boolean operators) to limit, broaden, or define your search. It is an effective way of sourcing and searching for very specific skills, traits and qualifications of candidates you want to find on the Internet.

The Internet is noisy and extremely complex. The sheer number of information makes it hard to locate qualified candidates among the trillions or quadrillions of online profiles, communities and social networks. The internet is effectively the world’s largest haystack and your technical candidates is the needle you are seeking.

A search engine X-ray whether Google or Bing effectively allows you to search web pages for specific keyword combinations and information. By using Boolean, you can target your results without having to comb through thousands of pages of search results. It is an effective way to source for candidates who have specialized skills and keywords listed on social networks, websites and online databases.

Step 1: Select a Search Engine You Wish to X-Ray

Use a search engine such as Google you X-ray the site using the “site:” command.
Google site search example image
For the purposes of this example, we will be looking for results in a popular online networking and group site called www.meetup.com. This command works with most sites where you can access information that is NOT behind a password protected network such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Facebook and LinkedIn are not always search engine X-ray friendly.

Step 2: Setting Up Your Basic Boolean String

Type the “site:” command followed by the url of the website you are wishing to search. Omit the “www.” or the “http(s)” as shown in the screenshot below.

Google site search exampleStep 3: Add Keywords and/or Location

Next, add your keywords and a location if you wish to be specific in your search. It is best to make your search as broad as possible and over time narrow your search strings.
Google RoR site search example

Step 4: Further Narrow Your Results

To further narrow down your search using “RoR” or “rubyist” or “rails” or “rubyist.” The term Rubyist is a natural language or a spoken way of identifying someone who is familiar with RoR. From here, you can begin researching groups and evaluating profiles to connect you with qualified candidates.
profile examples for ruby on google site search
The key when it comes to Boolean search is finding url patterns that will help establish profiles. This is extremely helpful in X-raying sites and locating the contact data of qualified technical candidates on Gitub, Meetup and Stackoverflow. How are you using Boolean and X-ray to source and search for candidates at your company?

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