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My Top Tip for finding more candidates on LinkedIn (or any database)

LinkedIn TipsThis morning I had two emails from recruiters asking for some help in writing boolean strings for some urgent roles they were working.  We offer this service to anyone who completes our courses (over 1,600 recruiters have completed them so far) but alas, few recruiters can admit that they need a hand and instead they sink further and further into the black hole of frustration. The solution to both questions was the same and it is the most common error that I see when recruiters search LinkedIn, Monster or any database. Thankfully the solution is really simple, so here it is.

Sorry, I forgot to tell you the question! Basically both recruiters wanted to find more candidates with difficult skill-sets. They sent me the searches they were using and  I was able to improve the quality and quantity of results by focusing on one thing: the job title they were searching for.

LinkedIn Tips Advanced Search ExampleMost recruiters with even a cursory understanding of boolean operators and modifiers are overly keen to look for job titles as phrases, i.e. two words or more contained within double quotations. Here’s an example of one of the searches that was sent to me:

(“Campaign Selection Analyst” OR “Campaign Data Analyst” OR “Campaign Analyst” OR “Digital Marketing executive” OR “Data marketing executive” OR “Campaign Executive”)

The search is perfectly fine on the face of it. The Boolean logic used is sound, there are no errors and the recruiter in question is being insightful about the various job titles their target candidate could have. This is a UK role and at the time of me writing this post, if I run a search for UK candidates with this string in the “Current Title” field in LinkedIn Top Tips: 895 ResultsLinkedIn, I get 895 results. There are more criteria to this search but I’m choosing not to share them here as it might make it obvious whom is hiring for this role.

So what’s wrong? Well, because the recruiter used quotations around very specific job titles, our target candidate is limited to one of only 6 job titles. Real people have infinitely more variation than this but using quotations forces the database (LinkedIn) to only find exact matches. What if someone called themselves a “Campaign Marketing Executive”? Or what about a “Campaign Exec”? They won’t be showing up on our search.

So what’s the solution? Well, most job titles contain at least two parts, the functional part of the job (Marketing or Campaign in this example) and the level of seniority (Executive or Analyst). There are multiple synonyms for both and lots of candidates will have super long titles that have one or many words between them and in different orders. The best way to approach this search is to break down the synonyms of each part of the title and write a boolean string for each, combining them with an AND statement such as this:

(campaign OR campaigns OR data OR digital OR marketing OR mkting) AND (analyst OR exec OR executive)

LinkedIn Top Tips: 23,923 ResultsWhen I run this search I get 23,923 results. Wow, some difference! That solves the quantity issue but what about the quality issue? To be fair, this search includes many marketing people who don’t have any campaign or digital experience so how do we clean it up? The perfect candidate may not have campaign or digital or data in their current title but we still want it somewhere on their profile. Also, we want to make sure we are finding marketing people as otherwise we could find lots of Data Analysts who are actually IT people. To clean it up, we add the following to keywords:

marketing AND (campaign OR campaigns)

LinkedIn Top Tips: 4,945 ResultsNow we’re back to 4,945 results but the quality is at least as strong as the first search but with 5 times as many people. One of the popular titles that pops up in our new search is “Campaign Management Executive”. It seems obvious but we missed it the first time.

The search needs a bit more cleaning to remove people who are too senior or in the wrong sector (such as recruiters) but to be fair, so did the first search.

Bottom line, try to avoid using parenthesis/ double quotations in your job titles unless you really have to. Combining groups with different synonyms will nearly always bring back more results and greater quality.

Thanks to both recruiters for sending me their challenges this morning. If you’re a graduate of the Blue Belt in Internet Recruitment and you’re stuck on a role, email us (you know the address, keep it to yourselves!!).

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