The secret to writing super queries.

The secret to writing super queries.

This is the second post in the Writing Super Queries series.

The common assumptions is that searching is about identifying and selecting the right keywords. Another closely related assumption is that keywords are individual words that describe the skills of candidates.

If you believe like many that these statements are true, today I’m going to burst those two bubbles.

There is a secret to writing super queries.

Every successful sourcer knows this secret, and most others … well, they don’t.

And that’s what contributes to the mystique around the magical search string powers that some seem to have.

Well, today I’m going to share that secret with you.

The secret to creating super search strings isn’t inspiration or brilliance, It is not in identifying and selecting great keywords.

Many Recruiters get hung up on keywords without realizing that candidates can be found without using those cherished words. They believe that finding candidates is about finding those keywords mentioned in a page or profile; it is not.

Let me pause here as a parenthesis to state that while the keywords you select may describe skills, databases don’t match the keywords to the specific skills you describe.

Because of that, focusing on keywords is kind of like staring at your car dashboard instead of the road and expecting that you will safely arrive at your destination.

So, if searching is not about keywords, what is it about then?

Writing effective search strings is about delivering your search intentions effectively to the database, not listing keywords.

The basis for a successful query is about setting the right expectations from the start.

The way to develop the clear expectation for the search string is through the creation of a search objective.

So, what is a search objective?

It is a description of what you intend to achieve with your search strings. It doesn’t describe what they will be doing, and it isn’t a search string in and of itself either. Instead it is a statement that “centers you.”

It centers you on the skills, knowledge, and attributes that you will be attempting to produce through your search strings.

The search objective:

  • Is a clear, precise statement of what your database should deliver.
  • It is specific.
  • It describes a context that defines the skills and attributes of your candidate. It forms the basis for the search approach and selection of keywords and tools.

A good search objective is one that succeeds in communicating an intended result to the database. It is useful if it conveys to the database a picture of what a successful candidate will be able to do.

In selecting a search objective we are making a conscious decision to focus on these concepts at the exclusion of all others.

This is so that we can keep a clear picture of what we need to find. From this point forward, until you finish your search the objective will set the parameters that hold your search strings together.

Once you have selected a search objective, clear the others concepts from your mind. Ignore any keywords that do not relate to your search objective.

If the keywords that you are considering don’t address one of the key concepts of your objective, then it is not a fit. Set it aside. If you were to use it, it would only serve to confuse your database.

That is why it is critical that the search objectives describe the intended results. To be useful to you they need to be specific so that they will help you to make sound keyword decisions later in the query writing process.

If you want to craft super queries, you need to have clearly defined concepts to target.

Defining you search objective is not about the selection of keywords. The search objective is about creating a distinction of what precisely your query needs to achieve before starting to run queries.

Once the search objective is defined it makes it easy to isolate specific meanings or context to increase the precision of your search strings.

Establishing the objective will help you gain your control, deliver precision, and to get results coming back timely.

The power of the search objective is in its ability to create or craft out your a message in a way which your database will understand. It creates search strings that educate and control your database.

It is important to begin with determining the search objectives, and then decide on the most effective keywords, NOT the other way around.

This is part two of the Writing Super Queries series. 

This post is just one part of a series talking about the steps for crafting Strong Search strings that deliver results. To get the full series, just stay tuned here at The Sourcing Corner. If you haven’t already, why not subscribe by email so you’ll be sure you don’t miss any of the posts.

You can read the first post here:

Writing Powerful Queries is like making a cake.

Now over to you …

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And then tell us … what search string strategies are working well for you? We can discuss below.


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