How to Use Custom Search Engines to Find Niche Candidates

Banner image of Blog How to use custom search engines to find niche candidates

It is no secret that the job search can be hard. There are so many platforms for finding talent, but not all of them offer what you need at one time or another which makes it difficult to find someone specific when your company needs an expert on their project urgently.

A custom search engine (CSE) is a tool that helps employers find the best fit when looking to hire – not just within a single site like LinkedIn, but multiple sites simultaneously. By using this tool, companies can create their website with all of the qualifications they are looking for in an applicant.

It is a unique and powerful way to headhunt quality candidates in very specific niches. By indexing the pages from popular engines like Google or Bing, CSE creates search engines that go beyond basic web searches by being more specific in terms of results.

This way, when hiring managers are browsing through potential hires on Google or other search engines, they will be able to quickly narrow down their choices and efficiently find exactly what they are looking for.

Source candidates from CSEs in 4 easy steps

Step 1 – How to set up a Custom Search Engine 

  • Type “programmable search engine” into Google Search, or visit this link to get started.
  • Click the “Get Started” button.
  • Once you are on the CSE Dashboard, click on “new search engine,” and you are ready to start.

Step 2 – Add the sites you want to search

Add the page or website URL you want to include in the “What to search” section. You can search multiple sites and any sites you wish and not just ones that are directly related or owned by yourself.
Since we are building a CSE to scan LinkedIn, let us add the following text to the “search specific sites” textbox:

“www.linkedin.com/in*

Pro tip: Add asterisk * at the end of each URL to include all pages beginning with that URL.

For example, if you do not put an asterisk at the end of “www.linkedin.com”, it will only search for a page whose URL matches the exact URL you input. To ensure that you can access all pages whose URL begins with “www.linkedin.com”, add a “*” explicitly to the end of the URL.

Once the above step is complete, it is time to give your search engine a name; in our example, we have named it “Linkedin profile search”. Click on the “Create” button.

You now have the option to copy the code and embed it on your website to add a new custom search engine. If you are looking to test the engine first, you can click on the “Preview” button to see how the current iteration performs in a real environment.

Step 3 – Tell your search engine what to find (for profiles only)

Navigate to the Control Panel. Type “person” in the Schema Type box at the bottom of the page.

Schema types are simply a method for Google to recognize things (people, company, etc,). By selecting “Person,” we instruct our custom search engine to find only profiles. For other schema types and their contextual uses, you can visit this website

Step 4 – Test your custom search engine

Now, it is time to test the search engine for search. Let us look for a specific example: “data scientists in Houston”. With a custom search engine, you can remove the need for complex boolean operators by making targeted searches that will locate profiles. Boolean operators, however, do come in handy when it comes to searching across multiple databases, especially during recruitment – you can learn more about that here.

Instead of writing a complex boolean string into a Google search (for example, “insite:linkedin.com/in/* data scientists AND Houston”), you can make the search easier and use a much shorter string like “data scientists Houston” to search in a custom search engine.

Step 5 – Add refinements

With the free version of Google CSE, you have a limitation on your results set to 100. One easy way of overcoming this is by creating refinements that will appear as labels in your search engine; there is no limit to how many of these can be added. Remember that when it comes to adding parametric refinements, more labels often result in lesser, but more accurate, results.

If you want to add refinements, simply click on the “Search features” tab on the left from the Control Panel of your CSE and click on the “Add” button.

Let us add a refinement called “active candidates” and use this keyword to create a new label; this instructs the engine to return results of people that are actively looking for jobs.

The final step is to apply this refinement to the sites that you created. In order to do so, return to the control panel and select the Setup tab on the left side, then scroll down to the Sites to search section. Check all the sites you want to be associated with this label, then select the label from the dropdown menu and press the “Apply” button. It should look like this:

When you add a new label, you will see it as a new tab in your Google custom search engine:

Hiring the right candidate for a job is never an easy task. It can be difficult to filter through all of the resumes that you receive and find those candidates who are truly qualified. One way to make this process easier is by using custom search engines (CSEs) to narrow down your results and improve your chances of finding quality talent quickly. 

If you feel like creating a CSE from scratch sounds tedious and long-winded, you can try out Webbtree’s Search Toolbox! This is bundled with our free talent sourcing tool, Webbtree Talent Source. Utilizing Webbtree Search Toolbox has multiple benefits, including a user-friendly interface that helps you with boolean strings in search queries and an AI recommender for input keywords! 

The latter is especially useful in populating your boolean strings with relevant keyword inputs for accurate search results. This can be bundled with Webbtree’s free Chrome Extension – a tool that extracts candidate data (including their contact information, like phone numbers and email IDs) from any online profile present across the Internet to your candidate database at the click of a button! At the press of a button, you can manage your candidate database and CRM much more effectively.

Even once you have narrowed your search down, it can still be hard to identify those individuals who will fit best with your company culture. This is where Webbtree can assist. Webbtree provides you with a platform that connects you with the best candidates for your job openings. We have all the tools necessary to help you find, source, and close positions faster than ever before.

Webbtree’s ATS is powerful and robust. It manages all your talent acquisition efforts in one place, with virtually no effort required on your part. It recommends the most relevant candidates from within your database based on the job description and other details you have entered, too! Seamlessly schedule video conferencing interviews, set up customizable hiring workflows, and effectively utilize your candidate database – all from a single enterprise solution! Check out all of the features provided by Webbtree ATS here.

With Webbtree Talent Source, you can search for candidates from across the web, based on criteria such as skills, job titles, locations, or companies – for free! In addition, our free Chrome extension lets you view full profiles of candidates in just one click from any website, and add them to your pre-existing candidate database! You can download Webbtree’s Chrome extension here.

If this sounds like something you want to learn more about or implement at your business, contact us today!

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