Understanding The Search Versus Understanding How To Search

Understanding The Search Versus Understanding How To Search

One of the things we say internally at Frederick Fox is that there are two major components to search and these are:

  1. Understanding the Search
  2. Understanding how to Search

It is important to combine these two components because our understanding of the job will dictate our understanding of the candidate talent pool.

Therefore, we must first seek to understand the components of the job, so that we can apply the proper components to our search strings. Our search strings need to match our logic and our logic needs to be logical.

Understanding the Search

 One of the fundamental starting points to doing search effectively is to understand the search. This entails having a sound understanding of the actual job function, leveling, technical components, and cultural influences. It is the understanding of the job that sets our logic and our logic dictates our search strings. Our search strings and the platforms we apply them to will dictate our addressable candidate pool.

Understanding the job sounds simple, but in fact, this is where recruiters often get in their own way. As recruiters, we need to drop our preconceived notions and humble our subjective intuitions when taking on each and every new search.  Our clients (hiring managers) and us (recruiters) are better served when we (recruiters) ask effective questions and listen. By asking good questions and listening, we can start to create an objective search scope.

 Recruiters can be ineffective to their clients and themselves when they assume their understanding of the job and when they set a subjective search scope. It is better to research your understanding of the job before beginning to research the addressable candidate talent pool.

***If you don’t understand what you are looking for, recruiting will feel like trying to nail jelly to a wall**

To have an effective service, recruiters must seek to understand the search first so that we (recruiters) can effectively do what we do best which is the recruiting functions of the profession.

Understanding how to Search

 What recruiters should be most effective at is understanding how to search (recruit). We (recruiters) are oftentimes not Accountants, nor engineers, nor C-Suite; rather, we are recruiters. We should be humble and constantly stay a student of the craft.

“Recruiting” has many facets but they can really be broken into the following tranches:

  1. Sourcing

  2. Messaging

  3. Interviewing

  4. Matching

  5.  Acquiring

  6.  Retaining

Each of these steps is equally important to the recruiting process. I will quickly touch on a few of these at a high level.


The very basic thing every search professional needs to have is an expert understanding of sourcing. One of the fundamental, entry-level principles of sourcing is mastering Boolean Logic. The basic Boolean terms include [ AND, OR, NOT, “ “, *, () ]. Boolean is fundamental in building search strings or code and if our code doesn’t match our logic, then we can’t honestly tell our clients we ran an effective search based on the criteria our clients gave us (remember the client sets the scope).

Our Boolean logic sets our inclusive and exclusive search strings. Our search strings and code need to align with our understanding of the job so that we can market to the addressable talent pool. Our search strings are only as good as our understanding of the job.

***Tip: Using keywords is as effective and they are ineffective, if not more ineffective at times***

Once we learn how to source and code effectively, we (recruiters) must understand which platforms to apply our search strings to so that we can effectively know who may or may not be in the addressable market. It is important to always question the platforms we engage our search strings on for each particular search because not everyone is on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. They may be on GitHub, ZipRecruiter, Indeed, Monster, CareerBuilder, YouTube, Vimeo or through X-Ray search on Bing OR Google to name a few other platforms that can yield addressable results.

Sometimes the top candidates may choose to be on 0 social media sites and old-school networking is needed to find them 🙂

Once we have our logical code and have applied them to logical platforms for our target audience, recruiters still need to message effectively, interview, match, acquire, and retain candidates to the set job openings.

Although the client is paying the recruiter fee, recruiters in reality serve two masters (The company and the candidate). Recruiters must know their audience to effectively message to candidates and they must have the emotional intelligence to listen to their candidates so that they can assess if the candidate would benefit from the job opportunity.

***Tip: Perfect on paper doesn’t always mean the job is perfect for the candidate or that the candidate is perfect for the job***

Besides sourcing, messaging, and interviewing an effective recruiter must also know how to listen to candidates. By asking effective questions to candidates in the interview process, a recruiter can understand the variables at play and assess if the variables will match the job specifications.

***Tip: Experience recruiters learn you cannot jam a square peg into a round hole***

To conclude, in order to understand the job, we must ask questions and listen. In order to understand how to search, we must ask questions and listen 😊