Back to the Basics: Pure and Simple Candidate Sourcing Tips

Sourcing can be a tricky thing. It’s both an art and a science, and can be defined differently by almost anyone who practices it. It’s not always glamorous, and rarely sees the spotlight. And each practitioner has a methodology that works for them.

The words Back to Basics written on a clear glass wall by a man

It often appears intimidating to those not familiar with things like the deep weband can also be seen as cumbersome and time-consuming to the untrained eye. Those of usfamiliar with the practice often wonder if we’re missing out on something – a new hot tool or a shiny new object. But the question begs to be asked – particularly for new sourcers – Is sourcing all about Boolean strings, cold calling and the hottest new tool to come out of the valley? Is there more we can be doing to pay attention to other areas of sourcing that we do on a normal basis?

These are the things that don’t seem like “sourcing” (depending on who you are speaking with), but really are a form of seeking out potential candidates in the most pure and simple form.

Are you using your ATS to its fullest potential?

Are you using your ATS to source candidates? The answer to this should unequivocally be yes. No longer is the ATS a place to just stash resumes and run reports out of. With the robust nature of Applicant Tracking Systems today, they now function as a core search tool in addition to their ability to act as marketing tools and a CRM. There are gems hidden in that mystical cloud box on your laptop.

Think about all the people that you didn’t talk to for other roles. Those resumes that came in just as you filled another role, and were giving the “not reviewed, not selected” disposition. Those should, without a doubt, be the first resumes you go back and look at when a new role opens up. This is assuming that those candidates not selected were informed, and will be open to taking your call next time. In another scenario, what about when we are targeting specific companies for a role – a competitor perhaps. Being able to harness the search capability within the system right in front of you is priority number one. At least, it should be. After all, you’re paying anywhere from $5,000 to $150,000 per year for that tool. You need to be able to justify that spend.

The easy way out on this for many recruiters and sourcers is a simple “My ATS search function sucks”. And there’s a pretty good chance that might be true. The issue there is that the vast majority of people screaming this from the mountain top are the same ones that have only tried 1 or 2 searches. Your ATS contract likely has support features that will either provide pre-recorded training, live webinars, or at the very least some quick guides that allow for self-guided training. Keep in mind that your ATS wants to keep your business. It’s in their best interest that you become a super user. The more you become wedded to that system, the longer you’ll be a customer. On that note, be sure to scope out and have live demos performed as it relates to sourcing inside the system when selecting an ATS. If they can’t do it on the demo, run for the hills.

Who’s Watching Who?

As recruiters and sourcers, we’re constantly looking for other people, trying to find out more information about them and to get them to respond to us. Ask yourself this: When was the last time I looked at the “Who’s viewed your profile” section of LinkedIn? Take an honest assessment of this. If the answer is anything other than “today”, you need to put the brakes on what you’re doing. This can be a fountain of information, because it can provide information on a few things

  • Who is interested in your company, but maybe hasn’t applied yet? Perhaps it’s time to reach out them.
  • What about the people that you may have already reached out to? If they look at your profile, there’s a chance that your initial reach out at least piqued their curiosity. Especially if you went to the Steve Levy school of email introductions, you’ve probably at least piqued their curiosity. Maybe it’s worth a follow up message to them, so they know you’re serious.

Who you’re seeking out is vital to your candidate search, but remember to keep an eye on who’s watching you. You’d be surprised about what you’ll find in there.

Case in point: recently I had a candidate from a premier business school looking at my profile. And let’s be real here, I went to a New York SUNY school. I’m not exactly in high demand from an academia perspective (much love, Oneonta). When I opened her profile, it was like I’d found Chester Copperpot in the flesh. Great analytics background, Ad Tech experience with one of the top 5 companies in the world, and 3 degrees. One in Comp Sci, and one from arguably the best business school on the planet. So yeah, I reached out. And she turned out to be a solid candidate. She wasn’t a fit for one of the roles I was actively recruiting for, but we can find a home for her here, without a doubt. What if I don’t look at who’s looking at me? I miss out on someone who might have a tremendous impact on our company.

Look and Listen. 

Sometimes it’s not about complex Boolean strings, social web spinning, and writing custom search engines. Sometimes it’s about standing on the sidelines and listening to the discussions that are taking place to see who the contributors are. Who are the people answering questions in your LinkedIn groups? What about on Quora where people share all types of expertise and industry information?

Are you specifically hunting tech talent? Look at who is active on StackOverflow and Github. This is where the real warriors are. They spend their time here, not on LinkedIn. You can bet the farm on that. In addition to seeing who is active and being privy to the knowledge they possess and share, you could be looking at potential high performers. These are the people who have an aptitude (or is it instinct?) for helping others, mentoring, and being active contributors. You also get a sense for how they communicate. You’ve now discovered a few things about this person that just isn’t evident on a LinkedIn profile or resume. Start following them, or reach out and reference what you saw them talk about. Everyone has an ego, and that’s not always a bad connotation.

The same goes for Twitter. Who are the people who are active in their field? Are they just retweeting things (which is not inherently a bad thing) or are they contributing original content to share with others? Are they just trolling, or are they on the front lines? It’s worth a follow to at least get a glimpse of them, so you have some introduction fodder later on.

These things won’t solve all your talent problems. Far from it. But, these should be the foundation of what we’re teaching the next generation of recruiters and sourcers. If we immediately jump into writing complex strings, navigating chrome extensions, and other advanced techniques without teaching about the low-hanging fruit, we’re doing a disservice to the next generation. And we’ll need them to carry the torch long after we’ve closed our LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter accounts and are racing to the blue-plate special at the retirement community.

image credit: bigstock

This article first appeared on SourceCon on December 3, 2014.

 

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