How to use semantic search to expand your candidate pool

Sarah Sipek

Sourcing databases are a great way to gain access to millions of candidates. But if you’re not searching a database correctly, you’ll end up losing out on a lot of highly qualified talent.

Boolean searches are the original way recruiters went hunting for candidates. The technique refines candidate searches by combining or limiting search terms. Resume databases or CRMs then take your search string parameters and scan all content for the exact word or phrase matches, and serve up only the relevant results that meet your specific criteria.

While Boolean searching will help you find qualified candidates, it requires an in-depth understanding of Boolean logic to provide any real recruiting advantage. It’s most effective for narrowing down candidate pools, not expanding them. If you’re aiming for a wider pool of candidates, you’ll need a different approach.

Semantic search offers that possibility. When sourcing candidates, semantic search technologies apply related keywords — such as job titles and skills — to each search term used, broadening your relevant results and exposing you to all the potentially relevant talent. More importantly, it bridges the gap between how job seekers describe themselves in their application materials and the keywords recruiters and sourcers use to search for them.

Job Title

Keywords Needed for Boolean Strings

Semantic

Sales Representative

Sales assistant, sales agent, sales and service associate, salesman, sales advisor, lead sales, sales lead, sales rep, sales person, sales associate

Sales Representative

Java Developer

Java Architect, J2EE, Java Programmer, Java Engineer, J2ee Developer, Java Software Engineer, Java

Java Developer

Customer Service Representative

CCR, CSR, Customer Support, Customer Service, Member Service, Customer Care, Service Rep

Customer Service Representative

Warehouse Worker

Warehouse associate, shipping and receiving, palletizing, warehousing, material handler, stockroom, packing, knitting, forklift, warehouse clerk, warehouse, pulling order, receiving associate

Warehouse Worker

Registered Nurse

ER Nurse, Advanced practice registered nurse, RN Case Manager, RN, Nurse, APRN, Nursing, Registered General Nurse

Registered Nurse

This chart shows how semantic search applies related terms to each keyword in order to expand the results to all potentially relevant candidates.

For example, if you’re looking to fill a sales representative position, you no longer have to limit or expand the search criteria on your own. You simply type "sales representative" into a semantic search engine and it will automatically apply additional search criteria, such as sales assistant, sales agent and sales and service associate to your search to expand your pool of possible candidates..

The right technology boosts the effectiveness of semantic search in expanding your candidate pool. Some solutions allow you to personalize the results of your search by editing and adding terms to the list the search engine generates. Others employ smart technology that learns from aggregate search behavior over time and continuously improves results based on the recruiter’s search input.

While semantic search is a great way to refresh your recruiting approach and broaden your candidate pool, Boolean searches still have their value. It all depends on your needs.

Check out our guide to using the two techniques in tandem to boost your recruiting strategy.

 

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