The Magic of Search Engine Sourcing

Screen Shot 2013-09-26 at 11.27.00

 

Delegates to the Discover Sourcing conference and workshops were treated to a feast of tools, techniques and tips to help with their sourcing.

Over the two days, two speakers looked at search engine sourcing and between them shared a wealth of information. On day one, Karen Blakeman, a freelance consultant at RBA information services, ran a sourcing workshop looking at a range of less well-known search engines as well as how to get the best out of Google, Bing and Yahoo.

And on day two, Laura Stoker (pictured), executive director of global training at AIRS, shared her favourite search engine tools.

In this post, we pull together a list of the search engines Laura and Karen discussed in their sessions. You can see Laura’s presentation here and Karen’s here.

Google maybe the dominant search engine for sourcers, but it is worth noting how search engine market share differs across different regions. For example, Google has almost the entire market share in the UK with 90.36% whilst Google has only 61% market share in the US. Understanding geographical differences and the range of search engines that operate across geographies is key to effective search engine sourcing.

Screen Shot 2013-09-26 at 11.08.54As Google is a dominant force, it is imperative sourcers know how to use it to search effectively. Both Laura and Karen shared insights into how to do this in their presentations – their slides show how to Xray sites and use a range of other filters. Check them out as they are packed with examples, as is this video of Martin Lee’s closing keynote in which he looked at how to use the major search engines to source.

So what other search engines are useful for sourcing candidates? Here’s a list generated from Karen and Laura’s talks.

DuckDuckGo

This search engine compiles a list of results from around 50 sources including Wikipedia, Bing and its own web crawler. It is great if you want a range of sites in your search results and you don’t want Google spamming your results with lists of pages from two or three sites.

MillionShort

This search engine is great for finding results that are usually buried beyond reach within Google. You can remove the top 10,000 sites from results and you can change that number so you could, for example, remove the top million. You can also put sites back into search and you can block them. You can also search within a country.

Yandex

The Russian search engine is available to anyone as it has an international version. Its advanced search function enables you to search for terms within a website, search across different languages and search different format types. It was launched in Russia in 1997 and supports advanced Boolean logic.

Other useful search engines include:


Microsoft academic search

Microsoft academic search is useful for finding journal articles, conference proceedings and reports. It is free to use but you may be charged for the full text of some papers. It is also worth looking at academic blogs because many academics and researchers are active bloggers. This is a great way to identify experts especially within new and innovative technologies and industries. Use Google blog search to help find relevant blogs.

Twitter

Twitter is great for following events, identifying speakers and finding out more about someone’s interests. Twitter search enables you to filter using operators and Karen provided a list of Twitter search instructions and advance commands which you can find here.

Other Twitter search tools include:

Facebook Graph Search

Facebook Graph Search works using US English so if you are in the UK you will need to switch into that to use it. There’s a demo worth watching here.

Other general people search engines

Google Custom Search

Google CSEs

During her conference session, Laura told delegates, “If you do nothing else,  spend 10 minutes to set up a custom search engine.”

You select the sites you want to search, and hey presto, Google builds a search engine that crawls those sites for you. Laura recommended delegates create a search engine for 10 to 15 companies in their industry sector.

For some delegates these tips and demonstrations of search engine sourcing felt a bit like magic.

As @Claire_Recruits tweeted from Laura’s session . . .

Just learnt how to build a custom search engine! Never knew it was so easy! Feel like I’ve entered Hogwarts and learnt magic.

Visit our content round-up for all the content and resources from Discover Sourcing.

Making The Case To Attend Discover Sourcing 2013

To help you put together the case for attending Discover Sourcing next month, we have answered a few Frequently Asked Questions and summarised all the vital information in this post. You can print this page and show it to your boss, or just send them a link.

Discover Sourcing Banner

Discover Sourcing 2013

When: 17th & 18th September 2013
Where: Prospero House, 241 Borough High Street, London

Who Should Attend?

Attend both days of Discover Sourcing if you work in a sourcing role, are a recruiter and do your own sourcing, or if you want to learn more about how to source.

Managers who oversee sourcing professionals, consultants, thought leaders and recruitment business owners should attend the Discover Sourcing conference day only.

Who is attending?

So far we have a real mix of in-house recruiters and sourcers, executive search consultants and recruitment business owners.

What will I learn?

The Internet Sourcing Workshop on Tuesday 17th September will be run by Katharine Robinson and Karen Blakeman. The workshop is split into four sessions; How to get more relevant results from Google, Alternatives to Google, Unlocking LinkedIn and Sourcing from industry events. Take a look at our post on the Day 1 Workshop for full details.

The conference on Wednesday 18th September will consist of “How to” sessions (from the likes of Martin Lee, Oscar Mager, Shane McCusker, and Laura Stoker), case studies from LV= and Avancos, sessions on the history and future of sourcing, trends in job advertising and, of course, social media. Why not check out the full agenda so far?

What is the background of the event?

UK Sourcers have been running a few tiny free events wherever they can scrounge space and free wifi for over a year. It has been our dream to do something bigger, with unrestricted numbers, for quite a while.

This is the inaugural Discover Sourcing event. Organised by Katharine Robinson and the UK Sourcers community to bring sourcers from around the world together in a location convenient for us Brits.

Magical things seem to happen when people passionate about sourcing get together. The primary mission of this event is to get lots of like minded people together and give them plenty of inspiration and space to allow that magic to happen.

What are the benefits of attending Discover Sourcing?

Here are just some of the things that you could gain by attending the sessions on offer at Discover Sourcing;

  • Detailed instruction in Internet sourcing techniques from leaders in the profession
  • The opportunity to try out new cutting edge sourcing tools
  • Exposure to a wide range of candidate generation strategies and techniques
  • The opportunity to discuss your challenges when sourcing across Europe
  • A chance to understand how to better maximise the effectiveness of your job advertising activities
  • An understanding of the impact social media is having on the way we do business, find jobs and make good use of our networks
  • The chance to explore some of the biggest challenges faced by sourcing professionals, and how these might be solved, as we look into the future
  • How recruitment businesses can employ their sourcing skills to uncover business development opportunities
  • Hear from well known brands like Ernst & Young and LV= about their approaches to sourcing talent
  • Gain an understanding of how sourcing as an activity and sourcers as professionals currently fit into recruitment teams in the UK
  • Realise the impact that your sourcing activity has on your brand
  • Bring your new knowledge back to your colleagues in order to benefit your whole organisation.

There will be multiple sessions running at any one time at Discover Sourcing on 18th September, it is up to you to choose the sessions most appropriate for you and your business needs.

What is the cost of attending?

Tickets: £345+VAT (for the conference day on 18th Sept) or £495+VAT (for a full 2 day pass to the workshop on the 17th Sept and the conference day). Do get in touch about discount rates for multiple tickets.
Accommodation: Hotels from about £95 (this might be applicable if you attend both days of Discover Sourcing)
Other Costs to Consider: Travel, food (we will be providing lunch and refreshments on Day 1 and breakfast, lunch and refreshments on Day 2).

Register for Discover Sourcing here, or contact Katharine Robinson via email or phone on +44 (0)7779 716 147.

Click here to tweet about Discover Sourcing.

Recruiting and Sourcing in Germany – Global and Local Perspectives

Kai DeiningerFor anyone with an international perspective, recruiting in Germany for the first time is an experience that will not be forgotten quickly. Germany is a complex market, large and fast-moving on one hand, alone the revenues in a market with at present more than 1 million unfilled jobs and unemployment at historic lows for several consecutive years now underscore that. However, due to the complex regional structure of the market, the still high relevance of print at least in the regional recruiting markets, the difficult situation with engaging with and motivating candidates to move, both employer as well as location, pose challenges to recruiters that explain why time to hire in Germany is often not measured in weeks, but in months.

Large opportunities

Germany has yet to embrace social media and active sourcing as integral strategic parts of day-to-day recruiting across the board. Large companies with international recruiting needs have been exposed to the benefits of professional networking already, but often times don’t utilise these tools & services locally, ironically. The usage of RPOs for German companies is almost non-existant (with very few exceptions), on the other hand German subsidiaries of large IT firms have been using RPOs in Germany for a few years already. Both facts highlighted explain why there is massive potential for both employers as well as service providers to tap into this gap.

Leader or fast follower

Ironically Germany is seen broadly as a country with leading, sometimes even cutting-edge skills: the most prestigious automotive manufacturers almost all are based in Germany, construction and engineering knowledge is often a dominant skill Germany is known for, and as the world’s second-largest export economy Germany undoubtably has a large international presence, both physically and via connections to customers, partners, and representatives in the countries where German goods and services are sold to. Yet when it comes to recruiting media, technology, openness to new trends and the adoption of cutting-edge skills and expertise German employers often are cautious, hesitant or traditional, waiting for proven success by others, and extremely fast to adopt once someone else has proven that the innovation actually delivers value and success. This poses significant challenges to pioneers that want to charge forward, expand the boundaries, or revolutionize the current status quo. It obviously also explains to a large extent why success in Germany requires extensive preparation and both local adaption and presence.

Critical success factors

Convincing the cautious, sometimes even reserved, German that embracing something new is worthwhile takes time, requires proven success, and can be time-consuming. However, once the willingness to embrace change or pursue new paths is present the execution or migration is efficient, rapid, and seamless. The transfer from the German Facebook StudiVZ clone to the US original within months is as much an example as the rise of Monster to number one in online recruiting following the acquisition and integration of jobpilot, or StepStone’s rise to the number one slot in the near past due to a more successful local focus vs. the largest international player. Success in Germany is defined by being able to understand and satisfy local market needs first, and then the ability to leverage these internationally, which is somewhat unique. Another wonderful example of a German recruiting peculiarity is the fact that German candidates will prefer to apply via the company career page, obviously ideally in local language. Integrating the readily available background information about the potential employer is a value to the candidate, wonderfully highlighted by the extremely successful online jobs platform jobstairs, which has emerged quietly and steadily as one of the top destinations where more than fifty employers of choice in Germany jointly market their vacancies, linking directly back to the jobs on the respective company career sites.

Future perspective

While German recruiters undoubtedly have some catching up to do regarding use of professional networking resources, both locally and globally, and while there are significant untapped opportunities for HR service providers in a broader context, one thing would appear certain: due to the high focus on very skilled resources the German labour market will continue to struggle to satisfy its recruiting needs, both locally as well as from international sources. Likewise there is significant potential for success for employers that are willing and able to rise above the current status quo via innovative recruiting campaigns and strategies, as well as integrating better and more effectively the various elements of what constitutes an attractive employer brand, recruiting excellence, and being a great place to work in general.

Discover Visual Sourcing – Exploring the Value of Images for Talent Sourcing

Visual Sourcing

In our increasingly visual world photos tell the story. Social networks have been early in recognizing this, together with the human urge to post, share, view, like and comment on photos. Images have become the driving force behind social network growth – helped by (auto) tagging and awesomizing features.

On average 300.000 images make their way to Facebook alone every minute, on New Year’s Day and Eve this nearly doubles. A rough estimate brings that to over 300 billion photos on Facebook alone. Now that’s Big Data.

Big – Cold – Data

To host all these pictures Facebook expanded their data centers, building ‘cold storage’ data centers for less popular or outdated pictures. All these pictures are indexed. And that’s not all. Social networks not only index the pictures, from their computer vision systems backend – machine learning systems that have the power and intelligence to identify what’s in an image, what a building looks like versus a face versus a landscape – they know exactly what’s in these pictures.

And it doesn’t stop here. More camera’s, phones, apps and social networks now have GPS enabled so users can display their photos by location with a mapping feature, utilizing the device’s geolocation abilities to visually showcase where photos were taken. Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Foursquare, to name just a few, have this all enabled. Also EXIF (Exchangeable Image File Format) data – small data files embedded in pictures – can show exact GPS location – revealing where photos have been taken and where people in these picture have been hanging out.

A Sourcer’s Goldmine

So if social networks know who and what is in these pictures and where they’ve been taken, sourcers should be able to find out as well. After all, since sourcing is about finding people, every online trace gives us more information about the whereabouts of our potential targets. And believe me, with the amount of pictures people have floating all over the internet, sometimes without even knowing of their existence, there’s enough traces to give sourcing a whole new dimension. Images have become a sourcer’s goldmine.

Avatars or profile pictures usually give fantastic results for visual sourcing. Many people online have the habit of using a single picture for different online profiles, making it fairly easy to find them in the different social networks they use. Reverse image search in Google Image Search of a person’s profile picture will easily point to profiles with identical pictures.

Interestingly, one of the benefits of visual sourcing actually is that it can deliver more relevant results as opposed to just name searching. Especially for more common names, images prove to better identify a unique person.

But there’s more than just profile pictures. Think of pictures on company introduction pages, event pictures, pictures used for online check-ins on Foursquare, photo sharing websites like Flickr and much more.

Face Recognition Technology

And then face recognition technology was introduced. Fascinating technology, already heavily used for finding criminals. People who frequently travel have had their faces being recognized by advanced computer systems while passing international boarders. Just imagine the data that governments collect with that. Face recognition technology is already being used commercially, to adapt product offerings in digital commercials for men or women passing high street stores, checking in using their online profiles or to accept payments.

Facial recognition technology can already identify people with 99 percent accuracy under the best circumstances. Best circumstances for facial recognition technology still mean having an ideal probe image and a database of similarly ideal images for comparison as possible matches, like headshot photos similar to those seen in passport photos or mug shots, however the power of machine learning systems and improvement of facial recognition techniques will quickly decrease dependability of best circumstances. Faces then will be recognized in all circumstances.

Facial-recognition algorithms can already be pared down and streamlined to run on the limited computing power of a smartphone or Google Glass devices.

OK Glass, Source Now!

And yes, that’s where we could be now. Having face recognition technology available in a high-tech device called Google Glass would give us sourcing superpower, making true spies of every single sourcer. If it wasn’t for privacy concerns, this would be a major breakthrough in talent sourcing. Finding information of people based on the visual evidence they have available online through the sources mentioned above, triggered by the OK Glass, Source Now command. Sourcing will never be the same.

Oh, and if we ever pass those privacy concerns and Google Glass becomes part of your standard sourcing equipment, it’s highly recommended to not have your hiring manager touch your Google Glass. Ever. Just for the sake of staying employed. After all, if Google Glass will be capable of doing all the Visual Sourcing, what would be left for you?

More on the topic of Visual Sourcing – including a deep dive in sourcing techniques, tools, best practices and examples – will be discussed at the Discover Sourcing Event taking place on September 17-18 in London.
Oscar Mager - Google Glass

Sourcing In The 21st Century

Future City by Sam Howzit

 

“Sourcing is the proactive searching for qualified job candidates for current or planned open positions; it is not the reactive function of reviewing resumes and applications sent to the company in response to a job posting or pre-screening candidates. The goal of sourcing is to collect relevant data about qualified candidates, such as names, titles and job responsibilities.” (From the US based organization SHRM, the Society of Human Resource Management)

To better understand where we are; let us take a gander back at where we began.

I can recall reading of recruiting in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Individuals (let’s call them Candidates) would document their skills, experience and education on a piece of paper, usually with a typewriter. These resulting documents were called Resumes or CV’s. These CV’s were handed out, snail mailed and dropped off in the hopes that someone (let’s call them Employers) who needed their combination of skills, experience and education would find them. The fax machine expedited the process, allowing for further distribution, slightly increasing the chances of a match of Candidate and Employer, resulting in a Job.

Engineering Department employees, 1962People called Recruiters, figured out in the 1970’s, that if they could convince Candidates to create these CV’s they could actively market said Candidates to prospective Employers. For a fee of course. Some of the, shall we say, nerdier Recruiters leveraged whatever technology that was available to expedite the finding of the Candidates and the distribution of the CV’s. Fax machines got better, lists were found, cold calling became prevalent. Phone systems were developed with automated directories, Recruiters “hacked” them.

HADOOKEN-ROM

Services were developed, like CD-ROM’s with lists of gathered potential Candidates. I started in recruiting about then. Email was starting to take hold. Once a month the new CD-ROM was delivered and we all clambered for it. Of course the data was six months old
when we got it, but it was DATA. We’d add it to our lists and our organized file cabinets of organized CV’s. It was wonderful. It was cutting edge. And recruiting stabilized a bit. But some of the nerdier of the nerdy Recruiters, got really good at finding Candidates using the available technology. We’ll call them Sourcers.

So, you have the Data that leads to Candidates and the delivery mechanisms, whether it be fax, or email, or snail mail or hand delivered; and that’s about how it has stayed. Continued stabilization.

Throughout the 1990’s and the 2000’s, new sources of Data evolved and new delivery mechanisms evolved, but the basics of the whole thing didn’t really change.

Waiting QueueWell, here we are 2013. I was quite hoping we’d have flying cars by now, or at least rocket packs. But less those wonders, we have connectivity. For the first time in human history, we have access to real-time Data. Gobs and gobs of it! Everyone on this planet can be found and categorized according to some basic qualification.

Now the rub… how to leverage all of that. The job boards are still here. They are a continuation and automation of the delivery mechanisms of ye olden times, but Social Media allows us to message individuals and contact them in new ways. So that’s better right? Sure, it’s a step forward, but isn’t it just another delivery mechanism?

I was speaking to a technical architect the other day whose skills are in high demand. She’s been recruited extensively throughout her career. She joined LinkedIn to network with other technical architects and she joined Facebook to stay in touch with friends and reunite with long lost ones. But she explained that something has been happening the last year or so, something she didn’t expect. Showing me her LinkedIn inbox, there were 236 messages from recruiters. She logs into it monthly now and deletes them. Via Facebook, she gets friend requests from… recruiters, and messages suggesting that there are opportunities to network… with recruiters. It’s driven her away from social media to say the least. Social Media, with all its promise, has become another delivery mechanism.

I’ve been working on Talent Intelligence, an offering from Avancos that uses the abundance of data now available to us to identify a candidate pool. Slicing and dicing this data allows for companies to make strategic decisions on where to recruit and how best to approach candidates. Analyzing this data and its flow allows for the creation of unique, purpose driven Talent Pools. Our clients use this Intelligence to determine business growth, market expansion… the options are nearly endless.

How can we do such a thing? Come visit us at the Discover Sourcing event and find out how…

Images from Sam Howzit, Seattle Municipal Archives, Bohman and chumsdock on Flickr

Influence From Within

go-to-personRecently I have been speaking to a range of audiences about how social media technologies and practices can be used inside an organisation.

The use of social media inside an organisation is more commonly being referred to as social business.

In many of the workshops I have lead lately, one of the most common discussion points has been what about the people in our organisation that will never tweet or blog. The question is always asked, how can we enlist them using social inside the company?

Until recently, it has all been about social media – Twitter, Facebook and the like.

Those early adopters such as myself (on Twitter since 2007, using LinkedIn and blogging since 2004) find themselves completely comfortable sharing their every thought and movements, to the bemusement of those that find this a totally foreign practice.

External vs internal influence

The online influence industry, while still in its infancy is dominated by platforms such as Kred (where I am CEO), and Klout.

As well as finding real online influencers, a culture of those who try and game these platforms and become “more influential” has also sprung up. I wrote recently about how to spot a social media faker.

In my role, I see first-hand those who think they are influential try and convince brands of the same. Only when you have actually become an influencer (accidentally in my case) can you really understand how online influence actually works.

While platforms such as Kred can help you find people to connect with and promote your product or service, we may be missing a trick.

People are your greatest asset

Inside every organisation is an army of influencers, subject matter experts and “go to” people all waiting to be found, that can help us with our day-day jobs, and in turn provide better experiences for our customers.

I remember when I worked at the largest telecommunications company in Australia, Telstra in the late 90s, there were over 54,000 staff (now around 36,000). The internal directory did not list the expertise of staff members, so it was always a case of being well networked internally to get your job done and find the right people.

Amazingly, when I was working on an online portal opportunity for small businesses at the telco, I discovered through my networks that there were 6 such initiatives being run at the same time. Needless to say I was quick to convene a meeting (in a small room with no chairs so we all had to stand), where those assembled agreed to work on just one small business portal.

Had I been able to use a tool to find all of the small business people in the organisation, I could have saved weeks of effort.

Becoming a social business

Social business takes over from social media when we use the same techniques and technologies used in a very public way, and bring those inside an organisation.

Where publicly I tweet, internally I might use Yammer, Chatter, or a product from IBM called Connections. These internal social networks are secure in that you cannot see what is being said outside the organisation.

The question is how do we get people to use them when they are not natural users of social media?

Ginni Rometty, the CEO of IBM gave a presentation recently to the Council on Foreign Relations where described how in the future, IBM might pay a bonus based on how well you share information with your co-workers, and how your customers and partners rate you as well.

At the same event, she also talked about how today’s workers now have a secret weapon, to be used in conjunction with the “big data” that everyone talks about. Today’s workers now have access to each other.

In the video below, she says

“You might have forgotten this: Peter Drucker coined the word “knowledge worker.” It was actually 1959 – 1959, so I was a little toddler at this time.

Now, non-routine work – but what’s changed? Obviously, I said tons of data.

The tools are different today than they were then. Billions of different interfaces. But today’s knowledge workers have access to something around the clock: The have access to each other.

That’s what’s different. And in a social enterprise, I will also assert that your value will be not what you know; it will be what you share. And that is a very different paradigm.”

Ginni has really hit on one of the key benefits of social business – allowing those inside an enterprise to use the same tools and techniques we use when networking socially, to network internally.

Putting the social back into social business

At a recent conference in London, I was speaking on a panel about the next stage of social media.

A question from the audience asked what metrics can be used to look at the adoption of social media inside an organisation. My response, shown below explained how Ogilvy in London used gamification techniques to encourage their staff to get more involved with social.

In summary – make social inside an organisation fun and inclusive and then people are more likely to use it.

Isn’t this just spying on our employees?

Those more concerned about data sharing and privacy may not be entirely comfortable with the notion of sharing at work. I see it differently though.

Imagine there has been a safety issue identified at your company that makes children’s toys.

Instantly, horrified mummy bloggers hit social media condemning your company for selling unsafe toys and demanding that your CEO resigns.

Just as quickly, your internal networks swing into action, and those from R&D through to customer service and even HR chime in with what they are hearing, along with possible solutions from subject matter experts, and then the facts emerge quickly that it is a minor fault that can be easily fixed thanks to the collaboration happening in real-time with people from across the company.

As a result of the great feedback, the product development department work on a solution, and then share exactly what is being done to fix the fault, and everyone is kept informed.

In this scenario, those people managing the company’s Twitter and Facebook pages as well as those on the end of the phone to outraged mothers are able to quickly distribute the facts, and a crisis is averted.

What happens next is those mummy bloggers turn from being outraged, into strong advocates because your company dealt with this issue in real time, were transparent and got the message out quickly.

In the same scenario, applied to the way many companies operate today, the whole company might be waiting for the PR department to release a statement, and those within the company able to provide specialist advice might be overlooked as the situation unfolds.

So in the future, when we talk about influencers, don’t forget those in your own organisation, which if armed with the same tools that help make ordinary people into influencers online, could be your greatest asset inside your organisation.

Andrew will be presenting on “Talent In The Age Of Social Business” and the implications for resourcing at Discover Sourcing.

3 Things Agency & In-house Sourcers Can learn From Each Other

UK Sourcers meetup - July 2013

I’ll be honest, when I first started writing this post I was pretty sure it was a good opportunity to show the clear divide between agency and in-house sourcing professionals and the very distinct opportunities each party had to learn from the other. As I got writing I became less sure. This was compounded when I went to Katharine’s recent UK Sourcers’ Meetup which had a fair split from each party and, guess what… There was no big divide in the room, just similar challenges and the sharing of ideas.

So, what things are exclusive to the domain of each group that can act as a learning opportunity?

Always Be Learning

If you want to learn, and get better at what you do, you need to understand that good ideas can come from anywhere – so always be open to learning. This holds true for both parties but… Sometimes this is easier for the agency sourcer. Why? Well, a roundtable like a UK Sourcers’ Meetup, an event like a Tru unconference and, I’d wager, the average viewer of a SocialTalent or South African Recruiters’ webinar is more often than not an agency recruiter. Typically they have a little more control over their day than an in-house recruiter!

The Brand – A Mixed Blessing?

This is the biggie, but not in the way that you might be thinking. Typically, when someone talks to me about moving from agency sourcing to in-house, they want a different career structure, one client, and often to work with/for “a brand”. Imagine how much easier life will be with that name behind you? Well I tend to disagree.

There can be a honeymoon period for a sourcer, when you first move in-house, around brand but it tends to be formed by your own confidence in it and in the newly found pride you get from a new role. What I actually find tends to happen, a few months down the line, is that in-house sourcers start talking about their frustration with potential candidates around the brand. This doesn’t hold for all and if your brand is loved congratulations but… If you are seeking, as most are in the current market, experienced professionals from direct competitors (as is everyone else for that matter) they will already have a perception of your brand. If that person has been working for 10-20 years in a direct competitor that perception may well be negative and will certainly not be the same EVP that your brand ambassador demands you take to the market!

So, after a while a great in-house sourcer tends to do one thing well. Create a style of approach (either in writing or over the phone) that is personalised, driven by the opportunity not the employer, and hangs the employer on in the background as an additional benefit but not the be all and end all.

It’s not you, it’s me

So this is the point in sourcing to my mind where things get very different, letting down the candidate and to date this is something that seems to weigh heavily in favour of the agency sourcer or recruiter, so what can the in-house sourcer learn? The “break-up” is a very difficult scenario for those working in-house, after a candidate has been ruled out for a role, there’s no place to go. While corporately there should/might be a talent pool, the reality for all the in-house sourcers and recruiters we train is that they say they have little time or capacity to deal with any genuine aftercare or ongoing communication, yet this is often where the agency sourcer comes into their own. For the agency sourcer there might always be that other opportunity, therefore a reason to keep open the conversation for both parties and to stay in touch.

But is there anything here that the in-house sourcer can learn from their agency counterparts? Well firstly, it’s time dependent (and to a certain extent budget dependent which you may not control/have access to).

Three Lessons Learned

One: First tip for in-house sourcers (and agency if necessary); find time to learn online and research your role!

Typically your working structure can be more prescribed than your agency counter-parts but if you can make time at work, or on your journey, get in front of some good webinars and implement what you can.

Two: First tip for agency recruiters. Do not be put off or believe your candidates will be put off by your agency brand or the lack of employer brand.

You need to create your own style and engagement in an approach that is personal to you and the service that they can expect from you as an individual.

How do you do this?

  • Don’t send a generic InMail – “want a job”, “I’m working this job”, “I want to talk to you about a job”. I know this sounds obvious, but I’ve seen some horrors!
  • Do seek to engage – Explain why you have chosen to make contact, give clear avenues to communicate back at a time that will suit them and play to your strengths. This is the start of your conversation with this potential candidate and you should be looking beyond this single opportunity, something your in-house peer cannot always do.
  • I’m aware these tips should work for both parties, and often approaches are too bland, but I think too often the agency sourcer lacks the confidence to support their approaches appropriately.

Three: Finding a way to stay in touch is important if your role is to build a “talent” pipeline, community or whatever other phrase your firm has come up with and this is where you need to be a bit clever.

For it to work and become a potential source of further candidates beyond your original intro it needs to become about more than jobs and about what the candidate pool delivers.

Here’s some things I’ve heard people doing recently that might work for you;

  • Offering webinars with your business leaders/technical geniuses/brand advocates on a topic of interes
    • While we’re on this point, do avoid the obvious here; for instance suddenly thinking about doing something on D&I to offer directly to D&I potential candidates and show what your business is doing in the field may be futile. It’s something everyone is trying to do and much as with random poorly planned initial approaches if there’s too much of something it becomes spam! Instead maybe think of someone who in your organisation demonstrates the success of D&I but get them to speak about what they do day to day or what makes them brilliant for your firm, that wider engagement will be far more interesting for a far bigger pool than making it a single issue event.
  • Can you offer any kind of check in service?
    • Again this is something we see discussed in theory for recruiters/sourcers and in our training but time is an issue. That said you can sometimes do something relevant, potentially make use of a spare hour for an online Q&A to which you invite former candidates; if you want to think about what might work talk to your colleagues in graduate recruiting, particularly if they have a good alumni network and see what works for them. This is something the US tends to be great at but over here we’ve still got some way to go.

Finally

I’d suggest that the biggest thing any sourcer can learn, wherever they work and whoever their employer is, is to listen and then implement what they think will work for them. Sound basic? Maybe, but too often sourcing is focused on being in the back room and being a transactional service, focused on solving yesterday’s problem of a candidate shortage in-house or in an agency.

Get your head up, watch and listen to people who are good at what they do and then work to personalise and implement that in your own world. Agency and in-house sourcers aren’t so different, most started in one world and ended up in another, what stands out about the good ones is their ability to learn and then take those new founds skills and competencies and put them into a personalised framework of their own.

The Sourcing Jigsaw

Studying the puzzle by Liza

I was having a conversation recently with a colleague and one of the things that really stuck out in my mind is that they said that I probably know more about the organisation than they do. Of course, being bashful, I brushed the comment off and just grinned. However, upon reflection there might be some truth in that statement.

I began to think about it and began to make the connections between recruiters and their stakeholder groups. If you think about it, usually recruiters have a set group of Business Units (BUs) that they service. As a result, they become very focused on specific skill sets. So how are sourcers different? Well, as a sourcer your portfolio of work is totally variable, you can expect to jump regularly from project to project all differing in BU’s, regions and specialisms.

Where does the skill factor come into play? Speaking to different BUs, you need to quickly get to grips with how they operate within the business/ greater market, how do they fit, whom are they dependant on and what intricacies are unique to your business unit that might not necessarily be reflective of the greater market? Once you know the answers to these questions, you can intelligently have conversations with the Line Manager/Recruiters about where to look and how to find these candidates. Never assume that recruiters and line managers are bad at candidate generation, but assume they are time “poor” and explore with them the avenues that they have not been able to cover. This involvement is crucial as they know their markets and can offer insight through their experience that otherwise means you might chase dead ends.

The skilled sourcer; aside from the actual candidate finding skills, needs a thorough understanding of levels and organisation structures and how they relate to their own business. This jigsaw can be very difficult to put together, especially if you do not know how everything within your own company fits. How could you possibly try to decipher another firm’s structure without a solid base of intelligence/knowledge?

This clarity will reap great benefits, especially once you are sourcing and identifying candidates. You can then visualise where they sit in other organisations and make educated assumptions. If you can’t answer basic questions about where people sit in a company, it usually means that they are not relevant. I have an example of this; I was doing a search for a specific type of actuary, however in all my searches a specific term kept coming up. I wrote an email to the Line manager and asked him what and where this term would normally be found. He explained to me that although I was on the right track, this term typically was related to a specific type of insurance that was not of particular interest for us. It was in fact a crossroads situation where actuaries chose to specialise more in one skill than the other. The point I am trying to make, is that I learned and identified an irrelevant skillset that would have skewed my results and ultimately wasted time.

On the flip side, this intelligence is not particularly useful to our recruiter as it is not part of the BU they are covering. It will go into my memory banks though, in case we ever need one of those special actuaries to fill in another piece of the bigger picture puzzle.

What is sourcing? #DiscSource

I put this question to some of the speakers of Discover Sourcing a few weeks ago.

In this video Oscar Mager, Shane McCusker and Ralph Meyer give me their thoughts on the subject;

I think of sourcing as the first phase of the recruitment process. It could refer to any activity that gets a candidate into process. A sourcer might be a brilliant researcher that knows how to interrogate information sources like databases, search engines and social networks. They might have an affinity for advertising and marketing, writing fantastic job ad copy and focusing on employer brand. A sourcer could also be a powerful networker – both online and in-person – focusing on relationships and connections within their industry. Some might even be a blend of all those things.

Everyone seems to have a different take on what souring is and what makes a great sourcer, here’s a few thoughts from other Discover Sourcing experts:

“Sourcing is… opening one door to find a hundred more behind it. It’s also about constantly updating our door opening skills and being interested and curious in what is behind every one of them. It’s not just about clever Boolean strings, hacks and technology it’s about people and the art of matching the right jobs to the right people at the right time.”
Martin Lee, socialmediasearch.co.uk

“To me sourcing is about bringing new candidates into process whether in-house or in an agency. Sourcing as opposed to research goes beyond identification, this is about finding someone new who is unknown to you before, engaging with them directly (ideally speaking with that person) and building enough rapport to have that potential new candidate trust you to consider them for roles in the future with clients or your organisation and be happy to maintain a relationship.”
Andy Mountney, Aspen In-house

“Sourcing is like mining for precious stones. Sometimes you can pick them up off the ground and other times you need to move 500 tonnes of earth to find a single one. Sourcing is very similar to this in the sense that intelligent searching and using the right tools determine how easy or difficult a search is going to be. Once you fully understand what you are looking for it becomes a lot easier to know where to look.”
Ralph Meyer, Ernst & Young

What does sourcing mean to you and what skills make you a great sourcer? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.

I look forward to continuing this discussion at Discover Sourcing in September.

Click here to tweet about Discover Sourcing.

Discover Sourcing Day 1 Workshop – Find Out More #DiscSource [updated 09/09]

Day 1 of the Discover Sourcing event on Tuesday 17th September will comprise of an afternoon Internet Sourcing workshop for a limited number of attendees.

This workshop is aimed at active recruiters, sourcers and researchers.

You should attend if you would like to expand your knowledge of Internet search techniques, improve the quality of your search results and get a little competitive with your peers.

Katharine and KarenThe session is being run by Karen Blakeman and Katharine Robinson. Between them they have a wealth of knowledge on Internet search tools and people sourcing techniques that it would be difficult to match.

You will receive detailed handouts for each of the sessions and there will be some great prizes for those that perform best in the challenge elements of the day.

The Sessions will include:

  • How to get more relevant results from Google
  • Alternatives to Google
  • Unlocking LinkedIn
  • Sourcing from industry events

See here for the Discover Sourcing Agenda so far.

You will need to bring a laptop with you if you decide to attend this workshop. In order to get the maximum benefit from the day and take part in the sourcing challenges you will need to be able to get online. The venue will be providing us with excellent wifi access. You will get lunch on arrival at the venue on Tuesday 17th September and refreshments mid-afternoon.

ERA LogoThe person who performs best in our workshop challenges will win a Kindle! This prize is sponsored by The ERA.

If you want to attend the Day 1 workshop you will need to buy a ticket to both days of Discover Sourcing. Do get in touch about discounted rates when you buy multiple tickets.

Click here to tweet about Discover Sourcing.