How do I harvest resumes from online databases?

Much like all the topics we've covered in this chapter—free online recruiting sources, fee-paid Web sites, online job ad creation, and Web page development—mining resumes from online databases should be a staple in your virtual recruitment campaign. Employers have a lot to gain by harvesting resumes stored on all Web servers on the Internet—not just the resumes in their proprietary databases. You can develop a very active Internet recruiting presence via harvesting, even if you don t post ads or have your own corporate Web site, by mining other sites.

Many employers are comfortable with the idea of posting job ads on the Internet and providing links to their corporate Web pages. However, without dedicated staff to pour through stored resumes on the Web, corporate recruiters tend to steer clear of this lucrative ''mining option. Different databases require different ways of accessing resumes, so in the interest of time, data mining activities have been put off. Truth be told, if you know how to refine your search criteria and you ve got a speedy Internet connection, harvesting should become a simple and regular part of your recruiting regimen.

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Probably one of the most powerful yet least understood aspects of keyword searches on the Web is the challenge of writing a Boolean Search String (BSS). Don't panic; it sounds more complicated than it is! BSSs depend on ''logical operators and modifiers'' to describe what kinds of pages you want to see. When writing a BSS, remember that:

1. Boolean operators are ALWAYS capitalized, and

2. Search terms should generally be in lowercase.

For example, a search string that reads ''resume AND programmer AND (Florida OR FL)'' will return resumes of programmers who live in Florida or FL. When using an OR operator, it's important that you always close parentheses or else, in this example, you could get a listing of all resumes in Florida! AND, OR, and NOT are the key operators that you'll encounter in Boolean syntax. Some search strings will alter these somewhat—it's not uncommon, for example, that you write NOT as AND NOT in certain arenas. However, Boolean operators are logical and fairly easy to manipulate once you get the hang of them.

In addition to operators, there are also modifiers. Parentheses as seen in the example just given are a kind of Boolean modifier. Similarly, quotation marks act as Boolean modifiers. When used in pairs, they define an exact phrase and hold that phrase together, meaning that all the words must appear in the document in the exact order described. You've seen search strings with quotation marks like ''software engineer'' that are fairly straightforward. However, if you want to find a programmer with C++ experience, you'll need to write it as ''C ++'' in your search string. Otherwise, the search engine might interpret the + sign as another symbol for the word ''and.''

With your Boolean syntax rules in hand, you'll be ready to begin harvesting resumes at some of the sites listed earlier in this chapter. Once you arrive at a given employment Web site, go to the ''Employers'' tab. Follow the rules listed on the site regarding how you should document your search string criteria, and then click ''enter.'' If too many resumes appear, modify your search string criteria by making them more restrictive. If no resumes appear, then remove some of the modifiers so that you can launch a more general search. You'll find that fee-based Web sites will often allow you to save frequently used queries and create search agents to automate your sourcing process. Wow—just be careful not to get too hooked on all these neat functional sourcing capabilities. You have other work to do!

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