DIY: How To Build Your Own Custom Search Engine

CN CSE search boxHave you ever used a Google Custom Search Engine? I asked this question of 100 recruiters recently and not one person raised their hand.

The reality is that we have all used a Google Custom Search Engine. Most of the time when you search a website you are using a Google CSE which was set up to search only that site or a part of it, returning only the information you want.  A good example of a Google CSE on a major website is the search box at the top of

A Google Custom Search Engine that is very handy for recruiting is, a search engine that allows you to search the web by specific file types (Very handy for Brupt search enginefinding attendee lists in Excel, or resumes in Word or PDF).

Building Your Own

As recruiters and sourcers, you can build your own Google Custom Search Engine focusing it only on the websites you want to search. You can also add “refinements,” which are small pieces of Boolean code that will allow you to narrow down the results based on specific criteria such as geography, specialty, or file type.

A Google Custom Search that I built in the past would x-ray Linkedin, filtering the results based on the primary geographies where our recruiters were focusing. Additional refinements focused on candidates who claimed to have a security clearance. Another CSE we created searched the websites of all of our competitors and would identify press releases and bio pages within their websites. The possibilities are endless!

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How to get started

Go here and then click on “Create a Custom Search Engine.” Follow the prompts to complete the search engine. It will require intermediate Boolean knowledge and will take some experimentation to get it right.

Tell us about any interesting Google Custom Search Engines that you have created in the comments section. If any of them are public, please share the link!

Jeremy Roberts is a Senior Solutions Consultant with Seekout and was the Editor of SourceCon from 2013 to 2016. Prior to joining the ERE Media team, he spent over a decade working as a recruiter, sourcer, and sourcing manager.

This time was spent in diverse environments, including third party agency settings (retained and contingent), recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) providers, and internal corporate HR departments. His previous employers include the MHA Group, Ajilon Finance, Korn Ferry Futurestep, Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems, and Randstad Sourceright, US. He resides in Corinth, TX with his wife and 3 children.