The Science of Search

When I started recruiting back in 2002, I worked in a niche firm covering a regional base and our office had just one computer to maintain a basic contact database. Candidates would apply to a newspaper ad by the way of fax or a mailed resume (yes, that’s mail without an E). As a “recruiter” I would spend time digging through the incoming resumes and going through old applicants from our filing cabinet.

Oh, how that has changed.

I like to say it’s grown to be a science. As you probably remember from middle school, there’s a method scientists use to turn ideas into laws.

Today, I’m going to walk you through the Science of a Search.

Step one: Before any scientific research can get started, there has to be a problem or idea. Something that is identifiable and needs a solution. In the case of recruiting, the “problem” with old-school recruiting is that it’s much closer to a game of chance than a science. Finding the right candidate without any tools was very, very difficult.

Step two: the hypothesis. As I learned more about recruiting, my hypothesis was that technology, especially on the search front (think Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc), was far better than traditional recruiting methods.

Step three: the theory. I spent time testing my idea. I learned the ins and outs of boolean search. I learned to create search strings that were paragraphs long to help me find the exact person I was looking for. I learned to use all of my resources: not just traditional job boards. It’s no secret that the best candidates are typically currently employed– aka, passive candidates. They’re not submitting applications and they don’t have their resumes sitting on career boards. You have to have a process in place that allows you to find them.

Step four: law. Something becomes a law when the process is so defined, that it’s absolutely repeatable. In the case of recruiting, it’s about learning to find the best candidates, faster. You can’t sacrifice on either end.

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