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Finding Candidates on Google: Picking Which Keywords to Use

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Picture this: You’re trying to attract the best talent and find candidates in not-so-traditional ways. You hop on Google to look for the right fit, but your search only turns up the same old LinkedIn profiles. Wait a minute, you think. I thought Google was supposed to be the magic bullet here. Why am I relying on a search engine that serves up the same result over and over and over again?

Good news: The issue is probably you, not Google. And, ultimately, that’s a great thing. Google can be an excellent tool for folks who know how to construct the right search. It all comes down to finding the right keywords and creating a search that leads you to the right candidate. The process can help you narrow down exactly what makes an ideal candidate for the position you’re trying to fill. Follow these five easy steps, and you’ll find the best untapped talent in no time.

1. Figure out your basic keywords

Always start with the basics; luckily, this step is easy to get out of the way and is a great place to let your job description be our guide. Look for basics like skills, past positions, location, and education to help find your ideal candidate.

2. Figure out what your ideal candidate may have done

Okay, you’ve imagined your ideal candidate’s qualifications, but what would they have done to get those qualifications? This is where you drill down to the specific skills that make your search worthwhile. Examples include writing papers or blog posts, attending certain conferences or belonging to associations or groups that pertain to the job in question.

3. Figure out what to exclude

Don’t forget to think about things from the other perspective, and decide what qualifications and characteristics you DON’T want in a candidate. For example, if you’re looking for a growth hacker, you’ll want to exclude candidates who have attended black-hat conferences for real hackers. Sometimes, deciding what you don’t want can narrow down your results even better than keywords relating to what you do want.

4. Construct your Boolean search

Using the keywords you discovered above, construct your Boolean search. Let’s use the growth hacker example again. If you’re looking for a growth hacker in the Maryland area who doesn’t attend black-hat conferences but does blog and did attend the Growthathon conference in Silicon Valley, your searches might look something like this:

  • “Growth Hacker” Maryland
  • “Growth Hacker” blog + “Growthathon”
  • “Growth Hacker” MD – “black hat”

Don’t be afraid to get specific with your Boolean search, but be flexible too. It’s unusual to find exactly what you’re looking for in just one search, so be ready to get creative and spend some time culling through the results and tweaking your search terms.

5. Keep on tweaking!

Use your initial terms as a building block. Your search results will differ depending on how you construct your search, and you should change them as you add more dimensions to your ideal candidate. For example, in researching growth hacking, you might decide to tweak your search to include words like creativity, metrics or scalability.

With a little bit of thought and planning, you’ll find candidates that you only could have dreamt about finding before. You’ll find folks who suck at using LinkedIn but speak at industry events, or others with common names but unique skillsets. Happy searching finding!

Jenn Steele

Head of Growth at RecruitLoop. Previously at Amazon & HubSpot. Passionate about growing humans and companies, working out, and wine. Also blogs on leadership at leadinggeeks.net. Follow her @jennsteele.

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