I've spent many thousands of hours on the Internet searching for information, jobs, contracts, people, and other items of interest.

Become an Internet Sourcer... Use Your Surfing Talent and Make a

I've spent many thousands of hours on the Internet searching for information, jobs, contracts, people, and other items of interest. You can literally find out anything! The trick is learning how to find relevant and hidden information in an efficient manner. This is the job of an 'Internet Sourcer.'

--- What is an Internet Sourcer? ---

The Internet Sourcer is a relatively new position for many organizations. The most common use of a Sourcer is in the recruiting and talent-search fields. Usually, a Sourcer scours the Web for resumes and candidates using several search techniques to ensure their searches are complete and accurate. Some of the better Sourcers come from the computer industry and work independently as well as have an extreme amount of focus, patience, and inquisitiveness.

--- Data Mining ---

Data mining uses various techniques to examine data and organize that data into a meaningful presentation. This is also a part of an area known as Knowledge Management---an entirely different world and best left for a later tome.

* Finding Information

As applied to Internet Sourcing, data mining consists of a set of search techniques (i.e., Flip Search, X-Ray, Peel Back) to acquire information. These techniques allow you to locate relevant and hidden information on the Internet that would otherwise be out of your reach. Each of the techniques, mentioned shortly, can be applied to any of the larger search engines such as AltaVista (http://www.altavista.com/) and HotBot (http://www.hotbot.com/).

* Organizing Information

Once you locate the information, you have to organize it by relevancy. This can be accomplished with various tools, including, Correlate (http://www.correlate.com/). This tool allows you to organize links, text, and documents in a tree format to better view and understand the information you've acquired.

--- Various Search Techniques ---

Locating information on the Web is not as straightforward as you might think. Of course, you can always do a simple keyword search and locate a few thousand links, of which only 25% to 50% are truly relevant to your specific search. To really dig into the Web, you need to understand the three search techniques explained below. To present valid examples, the following explanations use the techniques for searching potential candidates and resumes on the Web.

* Flip Search

Flip Search locates items by link association. For instance, instead of searching for potential candidate pages based on specific keywords, the Flip Search returns pages that are 'linked to' a target Web site. Links might be personal homepages, colleges, industry organizations, companies, publications, or associations. Each of these 'linkers' represents a potential of providing candidates or related information.

Two of the primary search engines that support various Flip Search mechanisms are as follows. Once you understand the premise for this search, you can determine the specifics for the other major search engines on the Web.

- AltaVista: On the 'Advanced Search' page, in the Boolean Query text field, enter 'link:host.com AND homepage AND "java programmer"' and press Enter. With this search string, you're searching for all links that are associated with the keywords 'homepage' and '"java programmer".' You can refine the search using skills, job titles, and any term that might refine your search target.

- HotBot: On the 'Advanced Search' page, enter the URL or domain name in the Search text field. In the Look For drop-down box, select 'links to this URL'. Refine your search by entering skills, job titles, and any term that defines your search target in the 'Word Filter' text fields.

Examine the results as you work with different searches to see how this search works. It is extremely powerful and can generate numerous relevant links for any given search condition.

* X-Ray Search

Most sites have documents that aren't accessible through links on their site's pages---hidden from view, yet publicly available. The X-Ray technique searches files in a server and lets you view most of these 'hidden' documents.

To try this out, go to AltaVista's 'Advanced Search' page and type 'host:tripod.com' in the Boolean Query text field. Like 'link:', 'host:' tells the search engine to look for keywords in documents on the specified Web site---the Web site for the 'tripod.com' domain.

When you click the 'Search' button, you could end up with several million documents from your target host. To obtain a more manageable group of results for this example---look for freelance writers. For example, enter the following search string into the Boolean Query text field: host:tripod.com AND "freelance writing" When I did the search, I got about 100 results. Consider that, intuitively, many people name their resume page 'resume.' With this assumption, let's fine-tune the search again to look for resumes using the following search string: host:tripod.com AND title:resume AND "freelance writing" The word 'title:' tells the engine to look for keywords in the tag in the header of a Web page--- the text that appears at the top of your browser's window.</p> <p>* Peel Back Search</p> <p>Let's say that you've used the X-Ray technique and found 400 links. One of those links (e.g., http://www.host.com/group/members/mybio1) points to a corporate site on which several individuals have their biographies. Of course, you can guess that if this one biography matches your needs, there might be other biographies with similar qualifications.</p> <p>At this point, you can use the Peel Back technique. This technique takes one result from the previous two searches and drills down into the site. It not only reduces the amount of time you spend looking at each biography, but it also bypasses any specific walls in place that prevent you from prowling the site (e.g., a 403 browser error).</p> <p>Look at the 'members' path in the URL. There may be other members of the group inside that folder. To take a look, "peel the URL back" until it reads http://www.host.com/group/members. In hopes of viewing a list of pages, you press the Enter key. Instead, you get the '403 Error Message' that tells you that you're forbidden from viewing the directory. This usually happens when the Web server is setup to prevent 'directory browsing' and there are no default pages (e.g., index.html, default.html, etc.)</p> <p>To resolve this, you peruse the directory indirectly. You already know that the biography page is on 'host:host.com' and you know that there is a folder named 'members' in the URL. Using this information, you can go to AltaVista and perform an X-Ray search using 'host:host.com AND url:members'. This will return all pages on 'host.com' with 'members' in the URL. Viola!</p> <p>--- Becoming Proficient ---</p> <p>It is important to use and understand the techniques presented so that you can become a proficient Internet Sourcer. The best way to exercise your new talent is to locate various job descriptions on the numerous job-posting sites. Prepare a set of keywords from the job descriptions and execute the various search techniques. Try to fine-tune the search to acquire as many specific and relevant resumes as possible.</p> <p>Additionally, it's important to follow a set of guidelines to provide a professional presentation when looking for and performing various Internet Sourcing opportunities. A subset of some of these general rules is listed below to give you a jump-start on your new career:</p> <p>- Don't search to find out what you're searching for. To make better use of your time, make sure that you have a solid grasp of the target search and the expected results.</p> <p>- Many times, when performing the search, the keywords at the target links are available as used in the search keywords. In other cases, however, you'll have to translate the search criteria to find the most possible returns.</p> <p>- Start with a small search string that returns a large number of pages. By tuning the search iteratively, your string grows and the number of returns decrease. Make sure that as the string grows, it doesn't become convoluted or contain misspellings. However, also take into account misspellings as some words are misspelled in common ways at target Web sites.</p> <p>- Assemble your resources to ensure that you can perform a successful search. These resources include bookmarks to search engines, a method of tracking searches, keywords for the target search, a list of competitors and their URLs, association sites, universities, company profiles, industry resources, and sites specific to a given discipline.</p> <p>- Understand and use your techniques for effective and efficient searches. Use the advanced search services at various search engines and understand how to apply each technique to each engine.</p> <p>- Continue working with and learning new search techniques---it is imperative to your success as an Internet Sourcer. Also, visit recruiter-specific sites to read on their latest trends and requirements so that you can stay up to speed with the industry.</p> <p>--- Finding a Job ---</p> <p>As far as jobs are concerned, once you acquire some experience, go to Jobvertise (http://www.jobvertise.com/) and search for 'Internet Sourcer' and 'Internet Sourcing'. From the returned job list, you'll be able to either locate a position or find other keywords that can help you fine-tune your search.</p> <p>As an added bonus, from the information presented, you now know how to best organize your resume to reach the largest audience and announce your new profession as an Internet Sourcer. Prepare a searchable resume based on this information and, pretty soon, every recruiter will know your name!</p> <p>--- What's next? ---</p> <p>Obviously, in a short article there is no way I can make you an instant expert, but I did provide you with the basic information to get you started. Now, you can go out on the Web and search the information presented here to find additional references and enhance your knowledge of this new position! >From my own experiences, Internet Sourcing is a lot of fun and you can make a reasonable amount of money performing contract Internet Sourcing services.</p> <p>About the author: Edward B. Toupin is a freelance consultant, writer, and published author living in Las Vegas. He currently handles technical writing tasks for various companies in New York, Chicago, and Denver. Edward also provides quality Web site design, development, and marketing as well as writing, document design and planning, and e-book publishing services. You can visit his Web site at http://www.toupin.com or contact him at etoupin@responsiblenetizen.org.</p><div style="padding-top: 12px; padding-bottom: 12px;">Author: Edward B. 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