The key to unraveling your search results

Proper understanding of keyword elements is the key to unraveling search results.

Proper understanding of keyword elements is the key to unraveling search results.

Many recruiters seem to think that keywords are individual words that describe the skills of candidates. While that may be true for them, to a database keywords are quite different. Databases don’t recognize them as either abilities nor do they match them to the specific skills you ascribe to them.

Databases update, modify, and retrieve keywords amazingly fast but they have their limits.  Keywords are neither seen nor read by databases and search engines in the same that way we see or read them. To databases a keyword is just a string of characters. Databases can’t distinguish between a string of symbols, numbers, or actual letters. To a search engine a keyword is just a string of characters. Using something like “@#$#&)”, or “7364639”, or “keyword” are all the same to it. A database doesn’t recognize that when you enter a word like “kids” that a good result might also be “children”. To a database “kids” is just a string of characters. It only matches each character in your keyword to bring only those results that include the letters “k”, “i”, “d”, “s”.

Databases and search engines don’t understand meaning. They have no concept of meaning of keywords no more than they can understand sarcasm or wit. In other words databases don’t match the meaning of your words nor the ideas represented by them. They can’t associate meanings to words or infer concepts from them. They can’t identify the sarcasm expressed in them. Knowing this puts a different spin on keyword doesn’t it!

So if a database doesn’t understand keywords, what does it do? A search engine just looks for records that match the characters typed. To the database algorithms, keywords are only bytes of data to be processed. That is to say, it will not read the word, rather it will try to match the characters that are strung together.  This bytes could take the form of a group of symbols, words, or even phrases.

Rather than skills, keywords in and of themselves are the rules and instructions for databases to follow. Keywords serve to give the database or search engine clues about the type of information you need. From the keywords the database seeks to unravel the significance of what you are seeking for. It also seeks to deliver appropriate results.  These instructions to the database or algorithms direct how the search is to be handled. Together they that hold the key to unlocking the vault of your search intentions.

When keywords don’t bring good results it doesn’t mean that databases are flawed or broken. In fact, they are working perfectly. Think about it, in the fractions of a second that it took to get your results, the index was scanned for every instance of your keyword. Misspellings were checked and added to provide wider results. Synonyms were discovered and included. The relevance of each word used was calculated individually. The relevance scores for each word were ranked in the order that would make better sense to you. And finally, the results were compiled into a list for you to see. All of these and many other thing are done in less than that the second that it takes for you to pick up your cup of coffee. As hard as it may be to believe, these algorithms work not only fast but also with razor sharp accuracy.

Don’t misunderstand, the fact that the database follows the algorithmic instructions accurately doesn’t mean that you get perfect results. This would be kind of like saying that since a car works perfectly that it will take you to where you need to go. Getting to your destination, among other factors, has to do with your driving abilities as much as with the car itself. Just like you need to drive your car to get to where you need to go, you need to maneuver the database to give you the results you need.

If you would get out of your car after a long trip only to realize you are at the wrong place you wouldn’t blame your car, right? Yet we tend to blame either the databases or the keywords for not acheiving the results we need. They are bringing the results that they were designed to bring. Both the database and the keywords did what they were designed to do.

Keywords are such a basic part of searching that it is easy to overlook how important they are in the search process. It is also easy to see how important a role the right keywords can play in the overall success as recruiters.

As important as keywords are, it is hard to know which is the right one. Because of it, recruiting success is often precluded by keyword selection. That is to say the keyword selection will usually prevent recruiters from reaching the search success they could otherwise attain.

It can be time consuming and even difficult to identify and select the correct keywords. Like anything worthwhile though, building a functional knowledge of how keywords work takes thought. It takes a deliberate effort and earnest focus.

Developing a functional knowledge of keywords is necessary for establishing a good keyword strategy. Persevering to gain an expertise in the use of keywords allows you to articulate your search strings more forcefully. It provides the tools to tweak, and troubleshoot even the most complex of queries. It saves you time and frustration. Once you understand why your keywords choices are giving you the results that you see you will be equipped to easily find the very candidates you need.

The proper understanding of keywords extends you the ability to better integrate new technologies into your tool belt as well. It makes you a more meaningful contributor to your team and a more active and aware recruiter.

The level of online search mastery anyone reaches depends on the level of understanding of the concept of keywords. A strong search strategy is simply a product of good keyword choices fueled by a concrete and correct knowledge of keywords.

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