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Tips for using CV databases to source candidates

Written by Kimberley Startup | September 19, 2012 | 1 Comment

As has been mentioned in previous webrecruit ( blog posts, effective staff recruitment does not just depend on sourcing candidates who are actively looking for work. That is not because of any deficiency in skills amongst such a group, but simply because adopting such a narrow focus does not allow you to target a huge proportion of potential candidates for your role. One rich source of more passive candidates is the CV database.

Such databases are firm features of the websites of many recruitment agencies, and bring you closer to those candidates who may not be actively searching for a job. However, the sheer volume of such databases across the web can make it difficult to determine, firstly, which ones you should search, and secondly, precisely how you should search them in order to pinpoint the ideal candidates. That is partly why webrecruit offers to search multiple CV databases on your behalf, to save time and source quality.

However, there are still several things that you can do yourself to make the search process easier. The immense volume of CVs in databases can often be best narrowed down with keyword searches, especially those that use the Boolean method. This method involves combining phrases and keywords with the Boolean operators AND, OR, NOT, brackets and speech marks, which can variously define, narrow or even widen your search.

If, for example, your online recruitment strategy depends on finding someone with both sales and marketing experience, you may want to separate the words ‘sales’ and ‘marketing’ with ‘and’, which will return CVs that include both words, and no others. For CVs that mention either word, you can swap the ‘and’ for ‘or’, while using the term ‘not’ will allow you to retrieve CVs that, for example, mention ‘sales’ but not ‘marketing’. You can also use speech marks around your query if it really matters to you to find multiple words together as part of a key phrase (for example, “marketing assistant”).

Although the Boolean method can be made a bit more complicated to suit individual needs – for example, by searching for ‘marketing AND (executive OR assistant)’ or ‘”account manager” AND (sales OR marketing)’ – there are certain drawbacks with depending on a keyword search. A candidate may, for example, merely lie or stuff their CV with keywords to make themselves more noticeable, or they may not use the same words that you have in mind to describe their skills, experience and accomplishments.

This naturally brings us back to the problem that CV databases are supposed to solve – the lack of time that many recruiters have to actually use all of the different search methods to cover the largest possible ground when using databases to source candidates. Nonetheless, when combined with other techniques, CV databases and associated searching services from a recruitment agency such as webrecruit ( can certainly be a cost-effective and efficient way of sourcing highly suitable candidates.

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