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Recruiter Radiology! Here's How to X-Ray LinkedIn, G+, and GitHub

July 16, 2014 at 6:00 AM Rob Stevenson

LinkedIn, GitHub, G+. A sourcer's searching is never done. But if you're relying only on these site's native Screen_Shot_2014-07-15_at_7.31.22_PMsearch boxes, you're missing out on top candidates. A far more comprehensive and specific way to scour for talent is to build boolean strings and use them to X-Ray sites, meaning, search every page Google has scraped from any site you choose, based on filters like location, title, skills, and more. Here, I'll break down what goes in to a proper X-Ray search, and how you can bend the knowledge of Google to your will.



First, let's talk about structure. If you're not familiar with Boolean search, an X-ray search string could be overwhelming. Here's a sample search search terms replaced by the the specific search criteria represented in that area of the string you'll past into Google:

site: URL  "position" skills "linkedin specific modules" "location * City"

So, for example:

site: linkedin.com “engineer” java hadoop “people you know” “location * San Francisco Bay Area”

LinkedIn Specific Variables: It's important to note that LinkedIn's pages have many different modules and areas they list profiles based on different criteria. A couple examples of these are "People you know", "People Also Viewed", and "Latest Activity". I'm sure as you browse LinkedIn, you'll notice others, so plug those into your search string and see what you get.

Asterisk: The asterisk character effectively works as a variable in Boolean search. Here, entering the asterisk along with the location allows you to search areas included in the San Francisco Bay Area, even if "San Francisco Bay Area" doesn't appear exactly in someone's profile.


X-Raying Github is a bit trickier, as typically users aren't listing their titles or positions anywhere on the site. As a result, it's better to narrow down the field by looking for active users with a given amount of followers, or specifically within the repositories or activity tab. Here's an example:

site:github.com "location" ("3..50 followers")(jquery | hadoop)

This string will give you a jumping off point, but there's a great deal more customization to be had. For example, whittle your results down further by including a pipe ( | ) after the 50 followers and adding a range for favorites. Then, you'd have:

site:github.com "San Francisco" ("3..50 followers" | "10..500 starred") (jquery | hadoop)

If you have specific details about the types of projects your candidate would eventually be working on at your organization, consider including these keywords paired with Github's "Contributions" or "Public Activity" tab. 
site:github.com "San Francisco" ("3..50 followers" | "10..500 starred") (jquery | hadoop) tab.activity


Many people scoff at Google+, but every week it seems I see a new post explaining why we can't ignore it. So I'll just assume that you, like many of the best recruiters, DO take Google+ seriously, and I'll jump right to the string:

site:plus.google.com ("lives * san francisco"|"lived * san francisco") (recruiter|sourcer|"talent acquisition") -inurl:(posts||photos|videos|plusones)

A few things stand out about this search. For one, including "lived * San Francisco") is a sneaky way to widen the net you cast. Even if someone isn't currently living in SF, if they've lived there in the past, they may have a soft spot for the City by the Bay, and be more open to a move.

In addition, you must take into account G+'s various tabs, in the same way you factor in Github's profile sections and LinkedIn's various modules. Here, it's important to make tabs negative search parameters by including them after the minus (-) sign. This is because many people share content regarding many different topics, some of which might not be their area of expertise. With the above example, all but the 'about' section are left out, meaning you'll only be searching the material in the relevant area of the candidate's profile.

What are your X-Ray tips? Leave a comment or tweet at @EnteloRob!

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