Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Internet research tip-tagging for words

Here is another somewhat less than superficial look at another internet research tool. When you read the SEO blogs and commentaries there is talk about the metatags going away; that search engines are relying less and less on them. As real as this may be, I don’t see the metatags going away altogether anytime soon. While we wait for that day, just as we did a few days ago with the Plus (+) sign , I want to explore the metatags as a research tool.

At the risk of being to simplistic, first let me say that there are different types of metatags embedded into the code of any webpage. Many of the metatag fields provide information about file attributes, as well as content.

You might have heard of some of these, some of the tags include:

Author Metatag field
Comments Metatag field
Description Metatag field
Keywords Metatag field

Metatags look something like the screen shot below.

The original purpose of metatags was to provide a search engine with information about the contents of a page. Not all web pages have metatags in them as some search engines do not rely on them, nonetheless they can still be very useful tools.

Let’s go to http://www.gigablast.com/ now to see the tags at work. Gigablast is the only search engine indexing metatags beyond just the meta description and meta keywords that some others index. It is also the only search engine that can also display metatags in the results list. It will not only display the results it can display the metatags themselves in the results list.
First let’s run a simple search, enter:

resume java beans

into the search box.
This time instead of looking for the search bar we are will be focusing on the url bar. Now the query should look like this:


In order for us to view the meta-tags lets add a command to the url bar. Add the following command to the url:

The url should now look like this:
The results will look something like this:

Notice that after the description section there is a section that starts with “keywords:” (This is the red section after the description of the contents). This is the text that is found in the Keywords metatag field. Being able to quickly review the keywords metatag will help you see any keywords that the designer of this site thought would be important for search engines to identify the content of his page. In the case of the resumes that we are interested in, this metatag contents will give us additional keywords we can use to find similar pages.
If the “keywords” metatag isn’t enough; try adding +description to the url.

Now we should be able to review not only the keywords metatag but now the description metatag as well. As long as you can find a metatag title you can insert it there and if applicable it will bring back the results.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sourcing Juice from Concentrate

It’s getting ridiculous! I’ve been getting calls and emails asking for sourcer referrals. There are so many firms asking for sourcers, that part is good. The bad part is that most job descriptions look like this one below. I did a search on indeed.com and just typed sourcing specialist. This is the first one that came up.

Minimum work experience required: 1+ years experience professional/recruitment sourcing experience

History of success in sourcing candidates (both active and passive) with emphasis on IT
• Cold Calling, networking and Boolean search techniques
Special skills required:
• Flexibility, Creativity, and Initiative
• Customer focused
• Communication (written and verbal) and interpersonal skills
• Process Management - ability to follow process and procedures (detailed & organized)
• Problem solving skills and critical thinking
• Technical expertise and Internet skills
• Ability to excel working independently
• Passive candidate recruiting
• Sourcing plan development and implementation
Description of duties & responsibilities:
• Researches, develops and implements new candidate sourcing and search methods and strategies & tracks effectiveness
• Posts open positions on job boards
• Provides measurable, qualified, diverse candidate pool for client openings
• Ensures accuracy of data and timely information provided to management
• Assists management with special project assignments

This is a long wish list for a one year recruiter/sourcer. They are looking for someone who has had a history of success sourcing both active and passive candidates!!! Come on get real, what kind of success can you have over one year! The candidate also needs to have both cold calling skills and internet research expertise and they need to be able to develop and implement a sourcing strategy if that wasn’t enough they need to track and report accurate and timely data to management. Oh lets not forget special projects!!!
It is obvious to me that most companies do not know what sourcing is all about and even worse don’t know what they want nor what it is they are asking. They didn’t mention pay but I doubt they are willing to compensate.

Could you imagine if we were asked to source for this description but let's just change the title to any other line of work? Let’s say a programmer. It should read something akin to this: I need a programmer who can do code from scratch as well as using compilers. They need to be able to define system architecture and implement the project and have full life cycle experience. Expert level experience on java, as well as team leadership and project management experience . A minimum of a high school education and one year of experience required.

Even in the fantasy world I live in, this is far fetched. Backup not found: (A)bort (R)etry (P)anic.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The “AND” Operator with a punch.

There are some things that we use so regularly that we take for granted. That is the case with some of the tools we use for internet research. Have you thought of what the PLUS sign does for instance?
We all have used the “plus” ( + ) sign in our searches right? In many search engines, the plus sign can be used as a substitute to the Boolean operator “AND” that is because just like the “AND” operator it finds pages that contain all search terms, but that is were the similarities end. Here is the first difference; unlike “AND” the “PLUS” sign list pages which have the keyword terms immediately on the right side of this operator only.
The use of the plus sign may produce some other unexpected effects. Using the plus (+) sign directs the search engines to sidestep some of the programming boundaries. For instance it causes characters or “stop words” or “noise words” that normally would be excluded from a search to be forced in as part of the searchable keywords.
I can hear you now!! WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? It means that keywords like a, an, and, are, at, be etc.. can be included as part of your search.
Try running this query in yahoo (or whatever search engine you prefer):
Microsoft bites the apple

Now compare it to:
Microsoft bites +the apple

Isn’t it amazing. The plus sign is not the same as the “AND” operator after all is it?
Another interesting difference between “AND” + is that it produces yet another variation in the algorithms.
Try this simple query in Google:
resume develop vb

Now compare it to:
resume +develop vb

Did you notice the difference? What happened was that Google (as well as most other search engines nowadays) has an automatic stemming algorithm in place that allows for variations of keywords. In the case of the keyword develop it searched for develop, developer and development. Whenever you use the plus sign on a keyword it turns off the automatic stemming feature of the search engine.
Next time you use the “Plus” (+) sign in your queries notice the differences. There are times when may need the stemming features but isn’t it nice to be able to determine when it should be used?

The New Jim Stroud!!

I just spent a few minutes over at jimstroud.com. I like the new look. It made me spend quite a bit more time at his site than usual. Now that I think about it!! I don't know if that is a good thing. Just kidding. I specially spent more time on his comics. This one was funny, it was titled The recruiting life-3

If you haven't been to Jim's site lately, i'd say it be worth a quick look. Keep it up jim.