You don't find any talents despite LinkedIn-Recruiter-Lite and want to enlarge your pool? Or you start as a freelance recruiter and don't want to spend thousands of dollars on recruiting tools? Then the following article has a solution for you: Google Sourcing. Because the free Google search can also be used for the Active sourcing if you know how. And how that works, I'll show you now.
How does Google work?
Google is a search engine that is used to search the Internet for information. In order to provide this, Google uses crawlers that automatically read and index web pages. This means that web pages are scanned and stored in a database. With each search query, Google matches the query with the available web pages in the database and displays the most suitable results. In order to be able to provide suitable results, Google analyzes the web pages, for example, for the frequency of certain search terms, the quality of the web page and the linking of other trustworthy web pages. In this way, the estimated 200 million active websites can be made accessible.
Google Sourcing: Relevant Operators for your Recruiting
For our Google Sourcing, we essentially search on two websites - LinkedIn and XING. Depending on the settings of the user profiles, the profile data can be viewed publicly and thus found via Google. In order to facilitate our search and to filter for profiles in a targeted manner, we make use of various operators.
In the first step, we limit the search to one page. We do this with the site operator, which looks like this for our two target pages:
The site operator is always replaced by site: is defined and supplemented by the target page searched for. In the case of LinkedIn this is en.linkedin.com/in. So we are not only limiting to LinkedIn as a website, but directly to profiles located in Germany (en.) and on the criterion that only profiles (/in) are displayed and no company pages (e.g. /company) or similar. We can also narrow down to other countries using the country abbreviation. For example, Poland (pl.linkedin.com/in), France (fr.linkedin.com/in) or Spain (es.linkedin.com/in). For your target country, simply find the corresponding abbreviation of the country-specific domain extension and insert it into the operator.
In the case of XING, this results in the searched target page xing.com/profile. Since XING is only active in the DACH region, we are already designed for profiles in German-speaking countries. We achieve the narrowing down to the profile search via /profile.
With our first step, we told Google to show us only the LinkedIn and XING pages and only profiles in them.
In the next step, we can, for example, narrow down by job title. The intitle operator searches the title of the page. When you visit a website, the title is visible in the tab of the respective page. LinkedIn and XING often show the job title of a profile here. So we can add the following to our search string, for example:
site:en.linkedin.com/in intitle:(frontend engineer)
In the first example intitle:frontend we narrow down the LinkedIn profiles to show all those that are "Frontend" in the title. In the second example intitle:(frontend engineer) we limit it so that "Frontend Engineer" must be included. A "Frontend Developer", for example, would not fall under this. Note that if you want to search for two words in the title as an AND function, you have to use parentheses. Otherwise, only the word directly following the colon (without space).
Text search operator
Another way to search for a specific term is to use the text search operator, consisting of quotation marks. Everything you write between the quotation marks should be searched for in exactly the same way. Again, word combinations can make sense:
site:en.linkedin.com/in "TU Darmstadt" Computer Science Java
In this example we are looking for profiles that Computer Science and Java as a keyword in their profile and participate in the "TU Darmstadt" have studied. Single words like Computer Science or Java, can simply be written out. Word combinations are put in quotation marks. It also applies that a space is automatically evaluated as an AND function.
If we want to insert multiple words as an OR function, we make use of parentheses. Above, they can already join an AND function in the intitle operator. But they also give us the possibility of the OR function:
Advantages of Google Sourcing
With Google, we have a tool that is free of charge, but at the same time also has a very large range of profiles. Very few profiles have stored in their settings that they cannot be found publicly. As a result, we have a pool at our disposal that corresponds to almost the entire LinkedIn and XING reach. For LinkedIn alone, that's over 850 million users worldwide. XING contributes around 21 million users in the DACH region. We can filter these precisely with simple operators and, as always with Google, get the best results first. So we can search for profiles, but also for companies or groups.
Disadvantages of Google Sourcing
However, Google Sourcing also brings disadvantages compared to classic active sourcing tools. However, if you understand how the playing field is staked out, you can react to it in isolated cases.
A disadvantage of Google Sourcing is, for example, that Google reads the entire page, i.e. also profiles that are displayed in the side menu or in the recommendations. This means that on advanced page numbers, profiles are sometimes displayed that do not really have anything to do with the search string.
Furthermore, it is not possible to filter by work experience. For entry-level jobs, this can be filtered using keywords such as "working student" or the graduation year 2023. However, this does not work as reliably as with common active sourcing tools.
Another disadvantage is the consideration of the current location and language. Narrowing down a city or language skills is sometimes difficult. It can happen that profiles from other cities are already shown on page 1, who may have worked in the searched city in the past, but now live and work somewhere else.
From my experience it is still difficult to really exclude terms via the NOT operator. For me this is not a shortcoming, since I rarely if ever work with this operator, but for those who do not want to do without it, an important info.
Google Sourcing: Build search strings
(approx. 4,000 search results)
Of course, we can also develop more extensive search strings with locations, such as:
(approx. 11,000 search results)
(approx. 2,000 search results)
This gives us a good number of possible profiles that we can source for free.
The search is of course feasible for any recruiting area, even outside of tech recruiting. The results are always somewhat dependent on the previous search behavior on Google.
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What is a sourcing tool?
A sourcing tool is software that enables the identification and active approach of talent to fill positions. These are, for example, LinkedIn Recruiter or XING Talent Manager.
What is Google Sourcing?
Google Sourcing is a free active sourcing tool that is performed via the freely available Google search. With various operators, pages such as LinkedIn or XING can be specifically read out.
How do I do active sourcing?
In Active Sourcing, we use various sourcing tools, such as LinkedIn Recruiter or XING Talent Manager. With the help of these tools, we can use Boolean operators to narrow down our search for potential talents. In this way, we find a suitable pool of potential talents that we can actively approach.