Back to the Basics – Thinking in Variations by @MatthewJLeBlanc

Many moons ago I was listening to a presentation by Glen Cathey and the key take-a-ways was the notion of thinking in variations and the possibilities it presented when coupled with some good old fashioned Boolean.

The concept is simple really – how can you search on and find what you are looking for without directly saying what you are looking for (i.e. how to uncover cloud engineers without using the word cloud in your search).

This is especially effective when you are running into dead ends and feel like you have seen every profile and resume ten times over. By expanding your search (initially at least) in four ways – by skill, certification, employer, and tools – you can sometimes find the unfindable.


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If you really want to get into thinking in variations you can go down all of the spelling and grammar errors that can be found in every resume and profile of the self proclaimed “detail oriented” (think of clout and could engineers in the cloud space) and abbreviations (biz dev, bizdev, etc)

What say you – how do you think in variations? How do you search for the right person without directly looking for the right person? Look forward to your thoughts in the comments.


1 Comment on “Back to the Basics – Thinking in Variations by @MatthewJLeBlanc

  1. Nice post Matt!

    I fear many might overlook your piece because of the “back to the basics” angle, most don’t realize and appreciate that “the basics” are not the child’s play of sourcing, but rather “the essential facts or principles of a subject or skill.”

    Thinking in variations isn’t actually a searching skill – it’s a critical thinking skill, and critical thinking is perhaps the most important aspect of sourcing.

    I continue to see so much interest in esoteric hacks that will not yield any appreciable volume of hires while there seems to be little interest essential principles of information retrieval that apply to practically any sourcing or research effort involving text/data.

    It would be interesting to see the results of a poll of sourcers/recruiters to see what percent leverage thinking in variations/conceptual search in their sourcing efforts.

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