Yes, You Can Network: How To Find People and Companies
Often I get the question, “Who should I be networking with?” Networking is very important for job search success, but it is often an overlooked part of the process. Just this week, I had someone tell me that she found a job by researching a target company and finding out that someone at that company went to the same college and was in the same program as an old boss of hers. She asked for an introduction and voila, she got a position.
From an Indeed survey from 2016, employee referrals accounted for 30% of all hires. Networking and becoming a referral can be a powerful tool in your job search, but job seekers are often stymied on how to find people to network with. You are told to find people using the internet. But how? Follow what recruiters do. Sourcing is a significant part of the job for most recruiters. Recruiters can’t just wait for candidates to apply. What if no one with the right skills does? No, recruiting professionals also go and find the people with the skills and attributes needed for success. They scour the internet for these folks. You can use the same tricks they do to find people.
Many people feel that a significant obstacle a regular job seeker has to finding names of people to network with is access to databases. Don’t recruiters pay to have access to databases? Yes, often recruiters pay to have access to resumes on Indeed or profiles on LinkedIn, but not all do and not all rely on that. Often, recruiters do a simple search of the internet using search terms to find people. Using Boolean Search terms is how they do this.
Think back to your math classes when you were taking algebra. You first learned about numbers and used operators such as plus and minus to look at relationships between numeric values. In Boolean Algebra, the focus is whether something is true or false or not. It is a way to think of logical relations instead of numeric relations.
Basic Search Terms
Remember Venn diagrams from math class. It was a visual representation of relationships. Boolean search terms use the same logic to sort through data sets.
The AND modifier is used to find data that has commonality. AND would represent the green area which is where circle A and circle B overlap (A AND B). If you are using an AND search, you want to find where items overlap. A common AND search would be title and location where you would want to find a person with a certain title in a certain location. An example might be Denver AND Architect. AND is assumed to be the modifier for the search by default, so you could also have just typed this: Denver Architect
The OR modifier is used to add two databases together. In the Venn diagram, it would be both circles A and circle B together (A OR B), the yellow, green and blue areas. A common OR search would be when one wanted to search a list of titles that might be similar, such as “Marketing Analyst” AND “Marketing Specialist.”
As the name implies, the NOT modifier is used to designate when you do not want a certain term in the results (A NOT B). In the diagram, this would only be the yellow shaded area. A common use of NOT for searches is to exclude titles such as NOT manager.
If you want a search to use two or more words in exact order, then you would use quotation marks around the words. This is helpful with job titles that are often more than one word. In the above example of OR, “Marketing Analyst” would be in quotation marks if you wanted to search that exact job title.
Parenthesis are used to help put order to how the search should be completed. Remember in math (2x3) + 4 would be 10 while 2 x (3+4) would be 14 because the first order of operation is always inside the parenthesis. Boolean search uses parenthesis to also order which modifiers are used first. An example might be to search different types of engineers with the search example:
(electrical or mechanical or chemical) engineer.
More Advanced Search Terms
The basic terms can get you started with trying to find people you might want to contact for networking purposes. There are others that also are helpful, especially when trying to find people. I have highlighted below some that might be useful when doing searches on Google, but there is a whole list here.
What if you wanted to search for something like a name or title on a particular web site. You can use the term “site:” in your search string. As an example, if you wanted to find a “Sanitation Engineer” on LinkedIn you could use this search string:
Site:linkedin.com AND “Sanitation Engineer”
Using intitle: can help you find specific words in the title of a document. As an example, if I wanted to find a human resources web page at a particular company like Amazon, I could use a search such as this:
site:amazon.com AND intitle: “human resources”
You might guess that this could be used when you are searching for a term in an URL. As an example, if you were interested in websites that has the word “association” and “mediation” in the URL, you could do a search such as this:
Wildcard or Asterisk
Sometimes you want to to do a search on variations of a word. As an example, you could have the word “speak” but know that you would also like to find search results for “speaking” and “speaker.” You could use the OR modifier and type all the words into your search or better, you can use the wildcard and get all variations of the root word “speak.” Here is how you would use it”
speak* AND inurl:association
There may be a desire to search by specific zip code or zip codes (use three dots to indicate a range). You can do this very easily. As an example, if you are looking for a type of industry in a certain zip code, you can construct the following search:
Minus sign (-)
Sometimes when you do a search you realize you are getting a lot of extraneous information that you would like to exclude. That is where the “-” comes in. In the above example, maybe I am getting a lot of search results from educational institutions and that is not what I need. Use the negative sign to exclude those results.
inurl:accounting 20007 -.edu
How else to use Boolean Search operators to find jobs
This article is a how-to guide for setting up searches to find people to network with. It probably has occurred to you that you can also use this method to uncover open positions. Use the same search process to find open jobs that you may not have uncovered using job boards. You can add the search term “job” or “jobs” to many of the above examples of search modifiers to find open positions. Not all positions are posted on the major job boards. Many are posted on niche job boards for a particular industry. You can discover these types of job boards with this method. Additionally, many open positions never get posted on a job board. This method will help you uncover them as well.
Now that you have found a name, what do you do?
Networking is part art and part science. I have just shown you the science part...finding people to contact. The art part is knowing how to develop a relationship that is mutually beneficial. As in my example at the beginning of the article, having someone help you make the connection is very helpful. I discuss how to do that in my blog post: How To Help Your Connection Help You In A Job Search. If you do not have any mutual connections, you will need to directly reach out and that can be tricky. I will write more about how to do this effectively in a future blog post, but until then, use these resources to help you craft your outreach plan:
You can do this, and you really must. Otherwise, you will miss out on a potential resource to find the job of your dreams.