X-Ray Search: Out-Recruit Your Competition

The best ideas normally become businesses. Or products. Typically, they start because of a frustration.

In order to get round a problem or deficiency, some bright spark produces a shortcut. A way of arriving at an end result, by any means necessary.

That’s what today’s article’s about.

Let’s say you’re looking for a French Java Developer, have they used the English word for Developer or the French Développeur? Have they spelt it correctly?

There are candidates that purposely mis spell their job title so as not to be found. Which may be great for them, but what if you’ve got an opportunity they’d love? How do you find them then?

Equally, even for the most niche of Recruiters, one day you’ll get a requirement that’s a real melon scratcher.

“Hi Tom, can you go and find me someone exactly like the person we hired recently? One thing though, they need to be ever so slightly different and have a skill that, to be honest, we’ve only just heard of. It’s actually only been out for 6 months. They need that. And they need to be brilliant at it. Cheers.”

So, what’s a Recruiter to do?

Chances are your LinkedIn groups are useless. Your last search is useless too – unless you want to start calling them all, asking if they’ve used this skill? If you’ve got four Researchers under your wing, go for it.

You could use LinkedIn Recruiter, but what if they haven’t been endorsed for this skill. Or more crucially tagged themselves for it?

Your chances start evaporating by the minute.

Unless… you ‘go nuclear’.

And by nuclear I mean running a search that scans an entire website, scrutinising keywords, delivering an unbelievably precise result.

A search that brings up information even the most meticulous of booleans couldn’t find.


Welcome to X-Ray Search

X-Ray Search isn’t a quick tool. It’s a long-rooted, often drawn out process that takes time to mould and perfect. Which is what makes it so powerful.

For the regular every day searching you’re doing, your LinkedIn Recruiter licence will fit the bill.

But for the ‘Purply, Squirrelly, Unicorn-type’ characters, this is your key to unlocking the magic.

The wizardry that helps you find candidates no one else can. Whether those characters are on LinkedIn, Jobsite, TotalJobs, Monster or Stack Overflow.

Using an X-Ray search will help you uncover candidates, leads or information that your competitors can’t find.

Or you, if you look normally.

It’s a technique that focuses on searching specific sites via search engines, or even the whole internet. You can use it to find CVs with hidden mobile numbers. You could use it to find hiring managers. You could use it to find incorrectly spelt Developars. Or simply people that don’t (think they) want to be found. You can find jobs too.

In fact, you can pretty much find anything, as long as you have the desire.

What’s the catch?

Time. That’s the catch.

You can’t unlock the secrets of the universe without having to work for it.

And X-Ray searching takes time. And patience. Which is why a lot of people don’t use it, or perhaps don’t view it as necessary to their every day recruitment life.

You won’t be breaking any fundamental rules. Technically, all you’re doing, is using your nouse to get more information.

In fact an X-Ray search isn’t done within a product too much at all. Even by searching TotalJobs or Monster you can effectively hack the ways you find out when someone’s available or starts a new job.


Teach me how?


To effectively and successfully put together an X-Ray search you have to write a search string. The length and content of this will depend on what you’re looking to find, and which website you’re using.

For example, if you’re trying to find Developers with PHP skills in London you can type the following into Google:

inurl:cv OR inurl:vitae OR inurl:resume PHP Developer London “07000..07999 100..999999” -template -sample

If you look at this carefully you’ll notice the URL will be searched for the words: CV or Vitae or resume.

Then you’ll be searching for PHP Developers in London.

Followed by a number range, in this case relating to UK mobile phone numbers.

The last part will take out any templates or samples so you know the CVs are real.

Simple, huh? 

If you’re looking to find decision makers at London companies, here’s another search for Google.

The top result (in this case at Grant Thornton) gives the email addresses of likely ‘decision makers’ with email addresses.

Probably a pretty powerful search for you to run?

intitle:”our people” OR intitle:”meet the” Director email London

There are a large amount of iterations for an X-Ray search which is where the time comes in. It’s also highly unlikely the results will come first time. Meaning you’ll have to tweak and edit as you go.

The best thing about X-Ray search however is the ability to manipulate information on virtually any website. Stack Overflow will help all the Tech Recruiters. But there’s also Meetup (a website people use to meet people in real life). Rapportive. GitHub. Twitter.

Basically anything you can think of.

Here are some more advanced search terms you might find useful in the construction of your own X-Ray search:

site: Search specific sites only eg. site:us.linkedin.com or a particular location site:co.uk

inurl: Return results where the URL must contain certain words. Eg. inurl:profiles

-inurl: Excludes terms from results eg. -inurl:jobs

intitle: Don’t search the specific page eg. -intitle:jobs

-intitle: Don’t search the specific page eg. -intitle:jobs

intext: Forces Google to return the word you include

filetype: Forces Google to return the word you include

1..10: Searches all numbers between 1 and 10 (you can obviously change these numbers to your required result)

“Head * Analytics OR Data”: Returns: Head of Customer Analytics OR Head of Data –OR statements within  “ “

Space: AND

Now… I have more good news for you. I know a lot of Recruiters’ work is time sensitive. I was a Recruiter for a long time, and I’m aware many just won’t have time for this type of thing.

Luckily for you, one of Hunted’s pals, SourceBreaker is the business behind making this tool accessible en masse.

Meaning you can get this functionality with a click of a button, if you don’t want to manually run a search.

And there’s no need to feel slow if you’re struggling to put one together. It’s complicated.

If you want to see what the deal is and make all of this available to you at one click, here’s the link for them. It’ll be money well spent.

However, because the Founders of SourceBreaker are legends and want you to be better, they’ve authorised me sharing this PowerPoint presentation that instructs you in more detail how to construct a search. Share it with your colleagues, friends and boss. They’ll all thank you for it.

Just remember Hunted when you’re the most famous Top Biller in the world.