When sourcing and researching candidates during the hiring process, setting up a great Boolean string is critical for building a pipeline of talented, qualified candidates. If your searches go anything like mine, the hardest part about researching high-quality talent is writing the initial Boolean string which, at times, can be frustrating.

The quality of your initial research is critical to calibration, allowing you to fill your pipeline quickly so that more time can be spent on outreach and following up with the candidates that are already in process.

Challenge 1: Understanding the Role You are Filling

When looking for high-quality talent, it is imperative that you understand what the role you are looking for will actually do. What will a typical day in the role look like? Understanding exactly what the company expects of this hire will help you fix your Boolean string and even potentially open your search to candidates currently in roles with job titles you wouldn’t expect. 

Here are a couple of ways you can get the correct understanding of the role:

1. Keep the Job Description in Front of You

Getting your hands on the job description will do a few things for you. First, it will help you get an understanding of the role from a basic level and second, it will keep the information in front of you so that you can run new strings without missing important qualifications. 

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It can be easy to forget key information when running multiple Boolean strings or trying to get a large pipeline of people in a short period of time. Having a job description in writing will allow you to get creative with your search while still staying within the boundaries of the correct criteria. 

2. Get a Job Description in Layman’s Terms

Sometimes job descriptions can be too formal or black and white. When that’s the case, the best thing a recruiter can do is have a clarifying conversation with the hiring manager. He or she may know exactly what they are looking for, and it’s not always communicated well in a job description. 

Sometimes, however, the hiring manager may not really understand what they are looking for and a detailed conversation can help them uncover what they really want. In turn, this clarification can allow you to open up the search to new candidates you hadn’t previously considered or conversely, eliminate search criteria from the original job description.

Challenge 2: Learning the Exact Job Experience Expected from Candidates

Often, candidates are expected to have some level of previous experience in the role you are searching for, and understanding the correct amount of experience can help make your search much easier. Weeding out people with too much, or too little, experience will ensure you are only researching the highest quality candidates in your candidate pipeline.

1. Salary and Team Involvement

If a role requires 10+ years of experience, but only pays like someone with 3-5 years of experience, then your chances of filling the pipeline with the correct candidates are next to none. Understanding the market of the role you are researching will help you match experience with salary. Often, recruiters need to counsel hiring managers and TA leaders who may not understand the current salary expectations of top candidates.

Another consideration is whether or not the role is a leadership position. Understanding if the role requires someone to lead people will certainly change the criteria in your search. For example, if the job description indicates the role is a leadership position, but in reality, the person will actually be an individual contributor, your years of experience and/or salary search parameters may change.

2. A Little Bit of Math

Unfortunately, algorithms aren’t perfect, and searching specifically for years of experience may not always be accurate. Internships are counted as years of experience a lot of the time and not every company cares about internships or even counts them.

In addition, if someone has switched companies in the past, the titles they had may be different, even though the work is identical (think software developer vs. software engineer). If that is the case, you may have to quickly add the combined years of experience to get the true amount of experience that the candidate has. It’s not ideal, but sometimes it is necessary.

Part of the job as a recruiter is to also be a consultant and data analyst! Research may need to be done on our end for things like salary, job responsibilities, and job titles to determine who the ideal candidates may actually be. It may not always be the same candidate that the job description or hiring manager initially described.

Challenge 3: Calibrating the Ideal Candidate

Even with a great job description and multiple conversations with the hiring manager, it can be challenging to get an idea of the “perfect” candidate. You can do a few simple things to speed up the process of understanding the ideal candidate. 

1. Find a Calibration Profile

Not much will help you get an understanding of an ideal candidate like having the hiring manager give you exactly what he or she is looking for. Getting the profile of this “perfect” candidate should help you identify some of the details that may have been a bit murky at the start.

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Modeling your research on the ideal profile will help you add, or completely remove, some of the search criteria that are preventing you from finding the best passive candidates. A model profile could change your search completely and have you looking in a completely different direction.

2. Who Currently (or Previously) Holds That Position?

If an ideal candidate is not provided, or if you want to just get an even better understanding of the role, look at the company online and find out who currently, or previously, held that role. This will allow you to see what the hiring manager has liked from previous candidates. 

Often, the person who currently holds the position wouldn’t even come up in your Boolean search if they were a candidate today. 

Using ideal profiles is one part of the IQTalent Partners’ “Diamond Recruiting” process. We use this proprietary process of Collaboration, Calibration, Candidates, and Culture to allow us to create Boolean searches that align directly with what hiring managers are seeking. It expedites the process and serves up top talent as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

Challenge 4: Figure Out What You’re Missing

No matter how many times you read the job description, you may always be missing something in your research. When all else fails, here are some final things you can do to clear up your Boolean. 

1. Using Keywords

Pay attention to your conversations with the hiring manager and look for any repeated words on the job description; they may be the key to figuring out your Boolean search. Adding those words to the end of your string can take your list from thousands of potential candidates to a couple hundred, so you don’t spend hours wasting time looking at profiles that don’t match what you’re actually looking for. 

2. You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

This may come as a shock to some, but one of the best things you can do to improve your search is to have a conversation with the hiring manager and ask them what you need to know. They may be able to provide some insight into the position that isn’t on the job description. I can’t stress the importance of communication with the hiring manager enough when it comes to searching for candidates to add to your pipeline.

Boolean strings, and candidate research in general, can be difficult, but one thing to remember is that your initial search won’t be perfect. It may take some time and refining your search parameters and Boolean strings to fill your pipeline with candidates that are a good match. Keep having conversations and asking questions until you feel you have a good understanding of the role.

If Boolean strings and candidate research just aren’t your thing, check out IQTalent Xchange. IQTX will do the research for you and curate a list of top candidates for you to start your outreach. You can spend your time on the fun stuff and leave the research to us!