Love Writing Boolean Instead of Recruiting? Then Don’t Read This Post

There’s nothing like crafting a Boolean equation to find a software engineer with every single requirement and a few of the “nice-to-haves” only to discover that somewhere in those 193 characters you’ve got a tilde instead of a minus and now your list includes tons of coffee industry IT professionals, who may also know Java.

Even writing  a perfect Boolean string the first time isn’t quite so satisfying when you consider the time it took.

Scavado (nee AutoSearch) shortcuts all that string writing to cut to the chase, which,  (need it be pointed out?) is to find prospects that meet your hiring manager’s needs.

That’s kind of how Lori Fenstermaker came up with the original AutoSearch. A recruiter and sourcer who founded her own boutique RPO six years ago, she got tired of spending more time writing search strings than calling prospects. But instead of shrugging it off or surrendering to pure keywords, she hired a development company to build an automated search tool. It became AutoSearch, which she eventually licensed.

AutoSearch has now become Scavado, a name change that signals the launch of a campaign to move Fenstermaker’s creation into the mainstream of corporate recruiting.

An early user of AutoSearch, Jim D’Amico, strategic staffing manager at Bissell Homecare, Inc., said the tool is one of those things you wonder how you managed before it came along.

“I love sourcing,” D’Amico said, but he prefers spending his time on the phone courting prospects. Scavado, he says, “shortens the sourcing cycle.”

“It’s a big time saver for in-house recruiters,” he says. With multiple reqs to fill at any one time, they need to source, qualify, and recruit prospects without delay. Scavado, D’Amico says, makes sourcing much more efficient for his recruiting team.

If all it did was to take keywords, integrate choices of things like geography, skills, and such from pull down menus, and generate a list of prospects, it would still be a valuable addition to any recruiting toolbox. But Scavado (Italian for excavate and suggestive of hunting) does so much more that Fenstermaker and her partner, Daniel Estrada, say it also has business intelligence implications.

One of its many features is the ability to search a site like jobs aggregator Indeed to see who else is looking for the same people you are. Check on your competitors and find out what kinds of jobs they’re offering. Scavado may have started out as purely a sourcing tool, but it’s been used by a private investigator to track people and by some companies for sales leads.

Simplicity of use is perhaps what recruiters like best, Estrada says. Skilled recruiters can enter a full Boolean string if they choose; most simply enter the job keywords. Either way, Estrada says, “There’s not a very steep learning curve with Scavado.”

It’s obvious, even from a quick demo, that Scavado was developed by an experienced recruiter for recruiters. Many vendors claim that, but Scavado delivers. For example, once Scavado develops a list of prospects, you get to review their basics and develop a list of “persons of interest” that, among other things, includes comments, and which can be exported.

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It’s versatility, as much as its simplicity and time saving, are among the reasons Bissell’s recruiters find it so useful. One of his favorite features, says D’Amico, is the ability to generate alternative job titles. “That’s actually helped me a lot because we have ridiculous titles that correlate with nothing in the real world,” he says. Scavado will look at the job requirements to generate lists of other titles with the same requirements.

Another of his favorites is the email verification. After seeing a Scavado demo last week, I can see how it would make anybody’s list of favorite features. Once you generate a list of prospects, Scavado helps you figure out how to contact them. Emails, for instance, can be tricky and because no one wants to encourage spammers, contact information for passive prospects isn’t always available. But someone at their company has an address floating around. Scavado’s pattern finder will capture corporate email addresses so you discover the naming taxonomy. Figured it out? Now Scavado will verify that it’s a live address without you having to send an email.

From D’Amico’s point of view, Scavado has few shortcomings. Eliminating duplicate entries is one enhancement he’d like to see. A second, he offered, rather tongue-in-cheekly, is an auto-dialer “so I didn’t have to do anything.”

One feature I can see as a benefit is to enable customization of the sites Scavado searches. Google, LinkedIn, and a few others are  searched; Facebook, however, is not. Fenstermaker says that’s because FB is constantly changing its security settings. As much of a hassle as it might be, Facebook is becoming such an important part of the recruiting geography that it really shouldn’t be overlooked.

Nor will Scavado search the corporate ATS. Ideally, it would, even if candidates in the ATS are not the passive target group for which Scavado was developed.

Fenstermaker and Estrada said ATS integration “is on the radar,” as is giving users more control over the sites to be searched. Because Scavado is a SaaS product, as features are improved and new ones added, everyone gets them immediately. And implementation can be as quick as logging in.

What’s it cost? At $1,999 a year per user, D’Amico described it as “ridiculously inexpensive. The ROI is so fast.”

John Zappe is the editor of and a contributing editor of John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.


3 Comments on “Love Writing Boolean Instead of Recruiting? Then Don’t Read This Post

  1. Hi John,  I hear what you are saying.  It seems to be a recurrent theme.  However in my experience for the last 10-12 years writing effective Boolean search strings to fill complex technical positions has been the most accurate and fastest way to find quality candidates. Below are a couple of URLs you might want to check out.

    All the best,


  2. @John For talented sourcers who’ve already been down this road a few times, you’re probably right. All it takes is a clear req and a binder full of strings that you can couple together to find just exactly who you need. Flash Boolean scripting is not a simple skill. For the rest of us, Scavado and tools like it (are there many?) is the perfect solution.

  3. While I happen to be pretty good at and thoroughly enjoy writing Boolean queries for talent mining, I actually love the entire recruiting life cycle. Sourcing is a means to an end, not a means in and of itself – effective sourcing enables faster and better talent identification, referral recruiting and networking opportunities, and ultimately (of course) talent acquisition.

    Pre-configured search strings and static pick lists have serious limitations. Although I’ve built a large library of searches for my entire firm to use, admittedly, they are of limited use because each position is unique – or at least the positions we work on are. We don’t have the luxury of hiring for the exact same profile over and over again.

    I especially enjoyed the comments on the ERE version of this post, which inspired me to write this article on Boolean search strings, referrals and source of hire:

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