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Build a keyword strategy to find the best candidates

By ZoomInsights staff

As a recruiter, you have more information sources than ever at your disposal to help find candidates for open positions. However, to use them effectively, you need solid keyword skills, of the sort your high school librarian may have taught you. Chris Murdock, senior partner at IQ Talent Partners, can help if you’ve forgotten those long-ago lessons.

In a webinar called “Keywords: Your Key to Finding the Right Candidates,” Murdock laid out his strategy for finding the best candidates quickly and efficiently. As Murdock said, even with the best information resources at your disposal, “if you don’t leverage that information in an effective way, you’re not going to get the search as close and as quickly as you could.”

The search string strategy

The key to making the most of your searches when using a tool like ZoomInfo or any other information database is having a strategy that you can apply every time and yield the best results. Murdock says his strategy looks like this:

  • Overload: Start out by using as many keywords as possible to get a narrow field (15-30) of the best-matched candidates.

  • Contact: Contact those candidates and determine which ones are interested in applying.

  • Prioritize: Expand your search by prioritizing your search criteria and eliminating the least important.

  • Contact: Reach out to your expanded pool of another 30-50 people.

  • Learn: While reviewing your search results, be sure to note things like commonly used abbreviations or misspellings that may be excluding qualified candidates from your search.

  • Syntax: Be sure to review your keywords so you aren’t overlooking people whose Web profiles might say that they “engineer software” but whose titles are not “software engineer.”

Use searches to bring your tools together

Chances are, you don’t just use one tool when searching for candidates. Though different tools have different interfaces and search boxes, Murdock has some tips on how to standardize the process.

On ZoomInfo, Murdock suggests searching by industry directory from the list provided, but also searching industry keywords from the provided list (as some people may classify themselves wrongly); then search those same keywords in the free form keyword search box. You can translate some of these searches to other tools, as well.
Murdock also recommends reusing some of the same search keywords for all of your tools. Title, school, degree, company and geography can all be used to find candidates in ZoomInfo and other tools.

Save and share your strategy

Once you’ve figured out the search strings that work for you, Murdock stresses that it’s important to save them. Recreating the same searches over and over is inefficient. You can often save them within the tools you’re using, but he also suggests sharing them with your colleagues. By sharing and categorizing your searches, you can save everyone time and energy, and drive better results in the end.


If ZoomInfo Pro is not yet in your candidate search toolbox, it’s time to add it! Search for passive candidates using any combination of more than 20 criteria. Learn more.