The Meaning of Life, the Universe, and Sourcing

In the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, a supercomputer by the name of Deep Thought takes millions of years to answer the question of all questions, “What is the meaning of life, the universe, and everything?”

The answer is 42, but the author, Douglas Adams was a bit of a computer nerd, and there was a deeper meaning in the satire:


I mean, I read the series in middle school, I had no idea the profound perspective it may add to a Google Hacker. 42 is ASCII for an asterisk or a wildcard. Long story short, the meaning of life can be anything you want, you just have to say it, URLs are the same way.

The answer is whatever you want it to be; you just have to ask the question with the right formula.

Is it six times seven,

F o r t y – t w o


site: (keywords)*

or syntax is written into a CSE like:


You are a supercomputer, and here’s how.

One of the key aspects of using a tool or technology is using it to its greatest extent. For example, I use Google a lot, but you can search in very dynamic ways with a few asterisks and site operators. For instance, when searching for X++ experience, Google This:

site:* “x++”

You’ll see the following list, including a community forum:

Notice this long URL and also take note of the keywords contained within:


Now I build what I call a GRID, or a series of URL syntax or site searches to target specific data. I usually add these variations into a spreadsheet, hence the grid analogy.

This is the main community URL:


Here is a site search on the main site:


You pull the following results list

Including profiles like this one:


This is a major clue, mainly because now we know the pattern of all the forum member profiles. So if you manipulate the site search and URL syntax a bit, and add a keyword…

site:community.dynamics.com/members/* “x++”

You get this

Surprisingly, this works pretty regularly, even on membership sites I’ve found. Do you want niche talent? Search the forums this way.

Now pair this search with a set of keywords or chrome tools like Multihighlight, Autopagerizer, Dataminer, and Hiretual, and you’ll be a pipelining machine!

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There are many other ways to unlock a profile site, especially using the other operators like inurl, intitle, or inanchor. So tinker and experiment with your searches and concepts.

Use the extensions, aggregators, people finders, and other search engines and sites you come across. The tools are out there, and pinning them all down can be overwhelming. That’s another reason I built the HRSourcingToolbox because sometimes it’s hard to know where to even begin.

Whether you are an extension guru, a site search ninja, or a master builder, use what makes sense to your process and keep learning new tricks.

Before I was using site: and *, I was simply telling google what I wanted to find:

(“professional engineer” OR “p.e”) mechanical tulsa -jobs

I used it back in 2012 when the darn thing still finds me people without all the fancy syntax.

This is just one way; there are tons of other ways to get to the information, you just may need to tap into some mad science or phone a friend.

The best thing about the Sourcing Community and being at SourceCon is the different mindsets, variations of search and sheer creativity in everyone there. I’ve seen many of my cohorts write articles, present, and ask me for advice on how to deliver info….me, the guy who has an intense fear of public speaking.

It’s not about what you say; it’s about sparking a thought.  The spark can come from anyone, and yes, I mean you, don’t ever forget that.

If you can attend, stop by the Welcome Wagon and say Hello.  If not, I’ll see you on the boards with the rest of the Circle Of Sourcing!

Greg Hawkes is a Strategic Talent Sourcer, Speaker, Author, and Founder of the HRSourcingToolbox. He has worked as both a Technical Recruiter and Sourcing Analyst for healthcare, engineering, biotechnology, manufacturing and many other industries. He has been in the recruitment field for over 10 years, and got into heavy sourcing and headhunting back in 2012. He is an ongoing contributor to SourceCon – with topics ranging from Site Searches and CSEs, to Deep Dives andURL Sourcing. While preparing to speak at SourceCon 2017, he built the HRSourcingToolbox with a large inventory of Free Recruitment and Sourcing Tools. He has recently joined Houghton Mifflin Harcourt as a Strategic Sourcer and loving every minute of it! He is a huge fan of emerging technologies and Boolean Syntax and always willing to share a technique or hack to find the elusive purple squirrel.