Turning Over Rocks … Without the Work

Aug 5, 1998

“Recruiters spend half their days searching for resumes and not doing the job for which they were hired: to recruit.” That’s the downside of using resume databases, according to Tom Murray, President and CEO of ITTA, the Information Technology Talent Association ( He calls it the “fishing hole approach” to on-line recruiting. Many recruiters simply aren’t and don’t want to be professional Internet database search experts, so their efforts to find resumes drag on forever and, at the end of the day, often leave them frustrated and, worst of all, empty-handed. The alternative is a class of tools called resume search agents. These tools scurry around the Internet to find and collect the resumes of both active and passive employment candidates. Sometimes called a “robot,” “spider,” “walker” or “crawler,” resume search agents do the grunt work of finding candidates. As Rick Miller, President & CEO of CareerCast (, puts it, “They give a one-stop shopping capability to recruiters, so they don’t have to spend 8-hours a day running around the Net.” Resume search agents are software programs that either travel to designated sites or wander into any open site along the Information Superhighway. Once inside, they look around for resumes that may be posted there, copy any that are found and bring the copies back to a home location, where they are then processed, usually in one of two ways: (1) they are compared to criteria that you have previously specified and those that match are forwarded directly to your e-mailbox or to your company’s candidate database or resume management system, if you have one; or (2) they are cleaned up–many resumes become garbled in their journey through cyberspace– converted to a standard format and indexed–so they can be easily located and retrieved–and then stored in a database at the vendor’s site. With the e-mail option, you’re likely to be reading tens or even hundreds of messages each day, but those messages will contain the resumes of candidates with qualifications that match the requirements of your position vacancies. With the database option (whether it’s your own or one maintained by the vendor), you’ll still have to develop a working knowledge of Boolean operators, but hopefully you’ll be searching a database with which you’re both familiar and comfortable. In either case, however, you only have to look in one place–on your desktop or in a single site’s database–to find the resumes you want; no more wandering around the Internet, sorting through its multitude of sites to find those which offer the best prospects for your open jobs. Indeed, these agents often search small, niche sites that are not well known to recruiters generally but which often post resumes for very high caliber candidates in select fields, as well as the larger public domain sites, including those operated by search engines, cities, associations, colleges and universities, and user groups. Some of the agents even examine the growing number of individual home pages or mini-personal Web-sites that candidates are launching on the Internet. Equally as important, resume search agents sweep the Internet frequently (some daily, others weekly), ensuring that the resumes they collect are as fresh as possible. Gregg Booth, President of Net-Temps (, notes: “We’re finding close to 10% change–either in new resumes added or old ones deleted–on a week-to-week basis, so keeping resumes current is essential to effective recruiting.” There are some downsides to these tools, however. First and perhaps most important, at least a portion of the population of prospective candidates is being missed. Because some sites are open only to clients and others only to those who register with the site, the resume search agents cannot enter every location on the Internet with a candidate database. Second, your candidate search is only as good as the resume search agent. You have to rely on the capability of that software program to read all of the candidate resumes accurately and to match correctly the words it finds with the qualifications you specify. And third, using a resume search agent isn’t free. You pay a fee for the service. Nevertheless, if your hunt for quality candidates on the Internet feels like a seemingly endless process of turning over rocks strewn along the roadside of the Information Superhighway, resume search agents offer a capability that you may want to consider. It is offered by a number of sites, including CareerCast, CareerMosaic (, Net-Temps, PassportAccess ( and ITTA/The Pro-Active Recruiter.