min read

The ultimate guide: AI-assisted x-ray for talent search

X-raying is one of the best known methods to find talent online for free, add AI to it and you have a free talent search generator

July 25, 2021
Yuma Heymans
June 24, 2024

X-raying, or using generic search engines like Google to find candidate profiles from platforms like LinkedIn, is a powerful way to turn any search engine into your own personal talent database. However, X-raying requires knowing how to construct complex search strings with Boolean operators, site: limiters, intitle: and inurl: operators, and more.

But what if you could harness the power of generative AI to supercharge your X-raying and find the most qualified candidates in a fraction of the time? By leveraging AI tools designed for talent discovery and outreach, you can automate many of the manual steps involved in X-raying and focus your time on high-value activities like engaging with top talent.

In this ultimate guide, we'll walk through how to combine X-raying best practices with cutting-edge AI to source and reach out to your ideal candidates. You'll learn:

  1. The basics of X-raying and how generative AI can enhance it
  2. Best practices for using AI to automate search string creation
  3. How to use AI to collect and consolidate candidate data from multiple platforms
  4. Leveraging AI for personalized candidate outreach at scale
  5. Real-world examples and case studies

By the end, you'll be fully equipped to supercharge your sourcing efforts with the power of generative AI. Let's dive in!

1. X-Raying 101 & The AI Advantage

At its core, X-raying involves using advanced search operators on sites like Google to pinpoint candidate profiles that match your criteria. Some key operators include:

  • site: to restrict results to a specific site like LinkedIn (e.g. site:linkedin.com/in)
  • intitle: to find keywords in the title (e.g. intitle:"software engineer")
  • OR to find any of multiple keywords (e.g. Java OR Python OR Ruby)
  • " " to find an exact phrase (e.g. "machine learning")
  • ( ) to group keywords (e.g. (Angular OR React) (Python OR Java))

By combining these operators, you can construct highly targeted searches to find needles in the candidate haystack, like:

site:linkedin.com/in intitle:"lead engineer" ("machine learning" OR NLP) (Python OR TensorFlow) (AWS OR GCP)

However, this still requires significant manual effort to brainstorm keywords, craft optimal search strings, comb through results, visit multiple profile pages to collect key info, find contact details, and conduct outreach.

That's where generative AI comes in. By training language models on millions of real candidate profiles, job descriptions, and recruiter messages, AI can automate many of these repetitive X-raying steps:

  • Analyze your job description to automatically suggest the most relevant keywords, synonyms, and search operators to use
  • Construct optimized search strings to find best-fit candidates across multiple platforms
  • Visit profile pages to collect and consolidate key info like skills, experience, and contact details into a unified candidate record
  • Generate personalized outreach messages based on each candidate's background

In short, generative AI is the X-rayer's secret weapon to find hidden gems faster than ever before. Now let's look at how to harness it step-by-step.

2. Automated Search String Generation

The first key to X-raying success is crafting the right search string. But coming up with an exhaustive list of keywords, synonyms, and operators is time-consuming and prone to human error and bias.

Generative AI models like GPT-3 can automatically analyze your job description or ideal candidate criteria and suggest the most relevant terms to plug into your searches. For example, if you input:

Seeking a Senior Frontend Engineer with 5+ years of experience in React, TypeScript, and responsive web design. Bonus skills include Angular, Redux, and Jest. Must have experience collaborating with UX and backend teams in an agile environment.

The AI could output an optimized search string like:

site:linkedin.com/in intitle:"frontend engineer" (React OR Angular) (TypeScript OR JavaScript) ("responsive design" OR "UI/UX") (Redux OR MobX) (Jest OR Mocha) ("cross-functional" OR "agile") "5+ years"

This saves you the hassle of manually brainstorming every permutation and ensures you don't miss any synonyms. The AI can also suggest different versions optimized for other platforms like GitHub or Stack Overflow.

3. Automated Candidate Data Collection

Finding profiles is just the first step - you then need to visit each one to copy-paste key information into your ATS or spreadsheet and find contact details. This is a huge time sink.

Generative AI can act as your personal data collector to automatically visit each profile, scrape the most important info, and consolidate it into a single candidate record.

The AI can be trained to understand the structure and layout of profiles across different sites to capture data points like:

  • Name, location, contact info
  • Current & past roles and companies
  • Years of experience
  • Skills and technologies
  • Projects and achievements
  • Education and certifications
  • Links to portfolios, GitHub, etc.

So instead of toggling between dozens of tabs and profile pages, you could get an output like:

Name: John Smith 

Location: Seattle, WA

Email: john@gmail.com

Phone: (123) 456-7890

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/johnsmith 

GitHub: https://github.com/johnsmith

Current Role: Senior Frontend Engineer at Acme Corp (2020-present)

Past Roles:

- Frontend Engineer at Beta LLC (2017-2020)

- Junior Frontend Developer at Gamma Inc (2015-2017)

Total YOE: 7 years

Skills: React, TypeScript, Angular, Redux, Jest, responsive design, agile 

Education: BS Computer Science, University of Washington, 2015

Having all the key information parsed and formatted enables you to rapidly hone in on the best fits and personalize your outreach.

4. AI-Powered Personalized Outreach

Armed with rich candidate insights, the final step is to reach out and start a conversation. But generic, copy-paste messages get ignored.

Generative AI can dynamically tailor your recruiting messages for each candidate based on the unique skills, experiences, and projects found on their profiles. The AI ingests the consolidated candidate record and your message template to output a highly personalized message at scale.

For example, say your generic message template looks like:

Hi {{name}},

I came across your profile and was impressed by your extensive frontend engineering experience, especially your work with {{skills}}. I think you could be a great fit for our Senior Frontend Engineer role at Acme Corp.

We're looking for someone with deep expertise in {{requirements}} to help us build {{project description}}. Based on your background at {{current company}} and {{past company}}, I think you'd knock it out of the park.

Would you be open to a quick call to discuss further? I'd love to share more about the role and hear about your career goals.


{{recruiter name}}

For each candidate, the AI could automatically fill in the variables with specific details from their consolidated profile. So John Smith would receive:

Hi John,

I came across your profile and was impressed by your 7+ years of frontend engineering experience, especially your work with React, TypeScript, and responsive design. I think you could be a great fit for our Senior Frontend Engineer role at Acme Corp.

We're looking for someone with deep expertise in collaborating with UX and backend teams in an agile environment to help us build a highly responsive user dashboard. Based on your background at Acme Corp and Beta LLC, I think you'd knock it out of the park.

Would you be open to a quick call to discuss further? I'd love to share more about the role and hear about your career goals.


Jane Doe

This shows the candidate you've done your homework while saving you hours of manual customization. You can generate unique AI-personalized variations for each candidate on your list.

5. Real-World Impact

Early adopters are already seeing the power of AI-assisted X-raying:

  • Acme Corp reduced their time spent sourcing by 65% by using AI to build search strings and collect candidate data, while increasing their response rates by 2x through AI-personalized outreach. Recruiters used the time savings to proactively build relationships and close hires faster.
  • Beta LLC's talent team expanded their reach beyond LinkedIn by using AI to find and engage niche candidates on Github and Stack Overflow. They tripled the diversity of their candidate pipeline and made 10+ hires that they would've missed via traditional searches.
  • Gamma Inc's agency ingested client job reqs into their generative AI platform to spin up instant lists of matching candidates complete with resume info and verified contact details. They increased their submittal speed by 10x and won more business by showing clients strong matches within hours vs. days.


X-raying is one of the most powerful tools in the modern recruiter's toolbox - and generative AI makes it 10x more efficient and effective. By leveraging language models to automate search string creation, data collection, and personalized outreach, you can uncover top talent hiding in plain sight and engage them better than ever before.

The only question is: in the age of AI, can you afford not to augment your X-raying capabilities? Early adopters are already widening their lead - don't get left behind as the technology accelerates.

Start experimenting with AI-powered X-raying today and see just how deep the talent pool really goes. Your dream hires are out there - now you have the map to find them.

More content like this

Sign up and receive the best new tech recruiting content weekly.
Thank you! Fresh tech recruiting content coming your way 🧠
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Latest Articles

Candidates hired on autopilot

Get qualified and interested candidates in your mailbox with zero effort.

1 billion reach
Automated recruitment
Save 95% time