google custom search for recruiters
Karolina Sokołowska
Karolina Sokołowska

Sharpen your Google skills – Custom Search for recruiters

For the large part of recruiting business LinkedIn is the place to go. However, there are some drawbacks.

First, here at Bee Talents we are specializing in recruiting IT professionals of all colors, and they are not always on LinkedIn. Second, even using LinkedIn the response rate varies largely for some. Usually it is between 30 and 60% depending on the type of approach. Ours consistently generates response rates of 60% and above, but sometimes even we hit a rock.

So at best, you get 60% responses from select candidates that are represented on LI. But there are so many more potential candidates that hide elsewhere on the web that they simply need to be found. I will show you in this text how to supplement your search with some Google tricks for recruiters.

Kasia was my Team Leader at the start of my recruitment career – and I still remember some of her advice. She kept telling me, that if I send an inmail (LinkedIn internal messaging service) to a candidate and do not get back a reply, I should ALWAYS send a follow-up message. If the follow-ups did not produce results, I should try again three times through different channels – like email or Twitter.

Now you can only imagine how time-consuming this process was. Personally, I always preferred to just find another group of people to contact. It seemed easier than searching for alternative contact channels with that specific person. But was it actually more effective?

Soon after, the Amazing Hiring extension arrived, and luckily I got a 6-month trial version. Currently it is one of the wisest possible investments in recruitment software, in my opinion. Unfortunately, at that time Amazing Hiring still had not covered our target market extensively enough. So there I was, struggling again!

There were a few other options left:

  • google first and last name of the person, inside “” marks.
  • use Pipl
  • search by name on Twitter, Github, Stackoverflow and elsewhere
  • make an x-ray search in google to double check above-mentioned platforms

All of those are quite simple and can be useful (we are speaking about those at length during our workshops), but they still take more time than this task ideally should. Using those tools I kept having the impression that I was working hard, instead of smart.

And finally, I found my preferred solution! It was hidden between google functionalities that most of us know of, but do not use anyway. I truly wish I had used it at the start of my career in recruiting. This tool is Google Custom Search (CSE). What is it exactly, and how does it work?

What is Google Custom Search

It is essentially a kind of x-ray search, where you preset some criteria and save those between searches. For example, instead of typing in a very long boolean search, like <<site:linkedin.com/in OR site:quora.com/profile OR site:twitter.com OR site:angel.co intitle:”Karolina sokołowska”>> all over again, I can simply define websites that I want google to check by entering their addresses:

Search options screen, where you select basic settings for your Custom Search.

Here are the websites I chose to search.

This simple action cuts time required to search social media profiles of candidates significantly over other methods. Google Custom Search can be also used during sourcing, as when, for example, you are searching for a Java Developer in Paris. All it takes is to put in your criteria and x-ray multiple websites in one action.

A tool that also comes in handy is the option to exclude websites from your search results:

Google Custom Search allows you to exclude specific websites from search results.

As you can see I decided to exclude angel.co/jobs from my search. I did that, because when doing a clean AngelList x-ray, most results are coming from the job board, which is not what I wanted. Same goes for Twitter statuses – I eliminated them to maximise the chance to get only profiles when performing the search.

Asterisk as a wildcard symbol

Another important piece of information is, that apart from defining specific URLs to include or exclude from the search, you can also predefine a search pattern, like *.linkedin.com/in/.


An asterisk in this query is an information to google, that any combination of characters or words can be there. This is important, when for example my LinkedIn searched from a Polish IP will usually be on the Polish subdomain pl.linkedin.com/in/.

In order to search for an URL pattern, and not the exact website address, you need to edit the site on the list by clicking on its address. You will see a similar popup appear, where editing can be done:

Asterisk informs Google that any set of characters can be in that place.

This is not all that Google CSE can do for you – it can also make sourcing candidates from a single webpage easier. For example, I have created a separate set of search criteria for AngelList:

 

Settings shown above will result in profiles from AngelList with Job board results excluded.

And to compare the results, check screens below. The first one is a classic google search inside a website:


Standard in-site search of AngelList.

And below there is a Custom Search with additional criteria set up:


Google Custom Search of AngelList.

So much better! Obviously you need to work out the kinks of the program and set it up to fit your style of work and preferences. Fiddle around with variables like which elements of URLs to exclude and which websites work best with CSE. But from my perspective, learning this overlooked tool allowed my sourcing on Twitter, MeetUP, AngelList and others much faster and effective. It is not the most powerful or that it solves all sourcing problems. However, it is customizable to your needs, free and very fast.

What are your top 3 undervalued recruiting tools that professionals may be missing out on? Is Google useful for you as a recruiter? And tell me how did it change your daily work!

 

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