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Become an Internet Sourcer… Use Your Surfing Talent and Make a Few Bucks!

Written By: Edward B. Toupin

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.

* Peel Back Search

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.

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).

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.)

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!

— Becoming Proficient —

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.

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:

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

— Finding a Job —

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.

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!

— What’s next? —

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.

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@toupin.com.

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