Why Xing Should Demand Your Attention When Sourcing in Germany

Over the last couple of weeks I have been helping to conduct some market mapping for a client in and around one particular German city.

Out of 20 technology companies that were identified as being of interest to them, we started by gathering some rough numbers from LinkedIn and Xing. We were interested in employees within a 50 mile radius of the city center – this was easy using LinkedIn search parameters and Xing’s filters.

It didn’t take long to notice that LinkedIn did not stack up against Xing when it came to coverage of employees in our target area.

Out of those 20 companies of interest, Xing had more coverage in all but 2 cases. Here’s a graph to make that absolutely clear:
Xing v LinkedIn graph

According to Xing, they have around 13 million members worldwide – over 6 million of whom are based in German-speaking countries.

Is Xing a part of your sourcing strategy?

Feel free to connect with me on Xing if you have a profile.

We Have A Winner – Toby Culshaw Found Mother Christmas!

I can announce that I am happily reunited with my Mum this evening, due to the help of Toby Culshaw. My Mum and I have been out and had some mulled wine together to celebrate. I’ll let Toby tell you how he solved the UK Sourcers Christmas Challenge in his own words 🙂

As you will all know, on Friday 14th December, the gauntlet was thrown down by Katharine to find her lost mother. It read:

Dear Sourcers,
Please Help. I’ve lost my Mum.
She’s not been seen at home since she last went out to work.
Christmas just won’t be the same without her.
If you can track down where she was on Wednesday 12th December then I’m sure I can take it from there.
Please send an email to uksourcers@yahoo.com with my Mum’s name, where she was on Wednesday 12th December and a photo of her in a Santa hat (just so I’m sure you’ve really found her).
Thanks for your help and Happy Sourcing!

Now, being a kindly soul and also one that likes a challenge, I was happy to have a little look to see if I could help.

Although I love to be quick off the mark sadly, having just moved house, my internet access is at zero so I knew all activity would have to wait until Monday.

Firstly I looked at the text of the challenge itself for any hidden clues… nothing. I tried a quick broad Google search of “Katharine” AND (“mother” OR “mum” OR “mom” OR “mummy”) and stumbled across a review for a holiday house rental in Marseillette, France making reference to Paul’s mother Anne… still no use… although the holiday house looked lovely!

Then I saw a comment that Katharine had put in a discussion on the UK Sourcers LinkedIn group:

“Thanks for the “Like” Claire, I hope you’re taking part! No one has managed to find Mother Christmas yet”

I took “Mother Christmas” and ran with it… was it making reference to the Roald Dahl poem? Was it referencing “Mother Christmas’ Journey” a book written by Mary Martin and Valerie Stumbles (after all, I didn’t know about the marital status of either Katharine or her mother)? Is it connected to a short story titled “Mother’s Christmas” written by Elisabeth Robinson – possibly.. well the surnames match. After a little digging I decided these were dead ends.

I thought I needed to start from sctratch and get back to the last bit of data I knew to be accurate – Katharine!

Doing a quick look on Naymz I could see a fair amount of Katharine’s background but also looking in the tags section I could see one particular word standing out Henery. There seemed little relevance at first but I thought to note it down and see what came up later. Looking through Katharine’s Facebook profile (not usually a route I would take but my work’s firewall was being tricky on twitter and most other sites, so needs must) there were a number of names that stood out, all with the surname Henery, that I would later find out were some of Katharine’s cousins and aunts.

Looking at the profiles of these individuals on facebook, and doing some quick Google searches / cross referencing of their names on profileengine.com, I found an Angela Henery on LinkedIn.

Doing a few x-ray searches of LinkedIn, Facebook and WordPress, I had her LinkedIn profile in minutes (I may have also invited Angela to connect on LinkedIn as I originally thought I needed an email address as well). A rather nice looking recipe for a Cheddar and Red Onion Omelet and, most importantly, confirmation that both Angela and Katharine had lived in the same house at the same time and a Twitter handle (@AngelaH57).This is looking very positive… now all I need is to track Angela down to the 12th December and get a photo…

Having seen on Angela’s LinkedIn profile that she volunteered at the Averbury Manor, I thought I would do some digging in Google Images to see what they had released recently (and specifically around the 12th). Some lovely images, but nothing. From a conversation discussing imagery on a WordPress post about “The Manor Reborn”, which was filmed at Averbury Manor, I saw nationaltrustimages.org.uk I thought surely this is it… nope, nothing! Once again lots of lovely pictures but nothing useful. As before, I rolled back to the last thing I knew to be fact… Twitter.

The very first Tweet on Angela’s timeline was reference to Averbury.

No photo = no good.

Scrolling through Angela’s timelines I saw lots of interactions with @TheSourceress so I was reaffirming my choice as I went. Once I hit a tweet Angela had Retweeted from @AveburyNT I decided to investigate.

Looking at the @AveburyNT page, the images jumped out at me immediately… Christmas hats!!

Scrolling through, @AverburyNT had even kindly labelled the pictures for me so a few clicks later I had found the one I was after. It also rather conveniently confirmed where Angela was on 12th December by the date posted:

And there we have it, Angela and Katharine are reunited – safe and sound. The moral of the search being – don’t be afraid to run down a few rabbit holes because eventually you’ll find your way through.

Live Sourcing at Reconverse

Last week I was the guest speaker at Reconvers’ Direct Sourcing event in London.

Jamie had asked me to show the group what sort of candidate information is out there on the web and freely available if you know how to look for it.

I gave a very brief intro to sourcing, and Internet research in particular, followed by a live sourcing demo, just to show what you can find with a little knowledge of search engines and boolean logic. I asked the recruiters in the room to give a profile they were looking for and I started a search there and then.

Example – Interim Datastage Consultant in Watford

One attendee was looking for an interim contractor specialising in an old IBM product called Datastage. This person would have to work in Watford.

I started by using Google Maps to look at the area surrounding Watford and choose some appropriate place names to include in my search – something like this might work:

(London OR Watford OR “St Albans” OR Slough OR “Hemel Hempstead” OR Cheshunt OR Enfield OR Luton OR Harlow OR “High Wycombe” OR Stevenage OR Dunstable OR Uxbridge OR Amersham OR Hatfield)

Then because we were uncertain how candidates might write Datastage, we included in our search string some different permutations. I also added some job titles to help us find pages that were mentioning people:

(datastage OR “data stage”) (developer OR programmer)

We’re now running into lots of job postings, so I look to take out some words that commonly appear on job ads. I also include words that will help us find people willing to work on a contract basis. Giving us a final boolean search string of:

(London OR Watford OR “St Albans” OR Slough OR “Hemel Hempstead” OR Cheshunt OR Enfield OR Luton OR Harlow OR “High Wycombe” OR Stevenage OR Dunstable OR Uxbridge OR Amersham OR Hatfield) (datastage OR “data stage”) (developer OR programmer) (interim OR contractor OR freelance) -job -jobs -vacancy -required

Because the key difficulty with this search is that we need someone still working with an old technology, we need to look for people that are using Datastage in their current role.

You’ll notice on LinkedIn profiles that your current job is listed separately to your past positions. So if we tell google to search linkedin.com for UK profile pages with the word “current” near to the word “Datastage”, we should get what we’re looking for.

“Current * Datastage” site:uk.linkedin.com/pub

Google brings us LinkedIn profiles that look relevant. You might also choose to add our list of place names onto this string to make sure you are getting people in the right part of the country.

I had an excellent question from the Reconverse crowd about using search engines other than Google. If you put the search query above into Bing then you get some great results on the first page, but not as many results in total.

I always recommend mixing up the search engines you use and trying your strings on more than one.

I use brackets (or parentheses) in my search strings above. This is purely to keep my own thoughts in order – Google actually ignores brackets completely. Bing does not ignore brackets, but that is a post for another day.

For more details of my “Live Source” – check out this video recording. Unfortunately you can’t see what I am typing or the results on the screen, but the audio, despite being quite quiet, might prove informative.

Check out the Reconverse website for more great events. I think the glass of wine to one side of the shot above sums up the atmosphere nicely! 🙂

Capital Letters – The Key To Boolean Success

I’m about to share one of the most common things that people don’t realise about Boolean searching.

Boolean Ven

Boolean logic covers the operators AND, OR and NOT. The name comes from English born mathematician George Boole – his work with algebraic logic is the basis of the modern computer.

When were you last nagged about using capital letters? When you were in Primary school? Not if you’ve recently been in a training session with me.

When using these Boolean operators with a Search Engine, like Google or Bing, it is important to capitalise them.

A Search Engine automatically strips small words like and, or, if, but etc. out of your query. It only searches for what it considers to be a real keyword. By capitalising AND, OR and NOT we make sure the Search Engine takes notice of them as a Boolean operator.

Most job boards do not enforce this rule, so if you don’t usually capitalise your ANDs, ORs and NOTs you have probably still been having success when you search there. I tend to capitalise these operators as a rule – then my string will work everywhere.

The only problem is, I now automatically capitalise OR all the time – not just when I’m searching – Doh!

Are You Just Starting Out As A Sourcer In The UK?

Examining CloudsI’ve been approached a few times in 2012 by folks just starting out as Sourcers, Resourcers or Executive Researchers (a rose by any other name?).

I thought I would put together the advice I’ve shared with them (and some extras) here:

By far the best way to learn is to JUST DO IT! Everyone has a different style of sourcing, we’re all sourcing for different kinds of candidates and what works for one person will be useless for another. So just get stuck in!

I learned the most by joining Twitter and it still helps me learn new things most days. It’s a great place ask questions as well as network with people in both the recruitment industry and the niche you are sourcing in. Feel free to follow me if you join. If I don’t follow straight back and welcome you – please bug me!

Feel free to meet me for coffee – always happy to have my brains picked by new sourcers. You might choose to work with me too.

Tools and Resources

Take a look at the Useful Tools page on the UK Sourcers site. There’s everything there from in depth guides and custom search engines to Twitter search tools.

I’d also recommend joining the UK Sourcers LinkedIn Group where I’m happy to answer any sourcing questions if you’re struggling with a tricky assignment.


Keep an eye on the information coming out of these events in 2012 and try to attend if you can.

The Social Recruiting Conference
Crexia hosts the fourth Social Recruiting Conference in London on 28th June. This is a thought-leading Social Media in Recruiting conference, with case studies.
Follow on Twitter: @crexia and #srconf
Twitter chat every Wednesday: #srchat

#Tru Events – 2012
The Recruiting Unconference. You get out of these events what you put in and if you come armed with questions then there will be someone there to answer them. There is always a sourcing track on the bill. #TruLondon has already happened this year (I hear there might be another one in September) and it looks like #TruLeeds is soon to be anounced for July.
Follow tweets from this event: #TruLondon #TruLeeds

The Talent Sourcing Conference – 23rd August 2012
The first conference event in the UK to be dedicated exclusively to the topic of sourcing.
More info here: http://talentsourcing.eventbrite.com/

SourceCon – 20th & 21st September 2012
The original Sourcing conference will be back again in the Autumn, this time in Texas. Not always accessible to us on our side of the pond, but there is always a healthy stream of tweets from attendees and SourceCon often provide a live-stream of the event so that we can watch online.
Lots of great info on the blog, all from top sourcers: http://sourcecon.com
Follow on Twitter: @SourceCon and #SourceCon

The Onrec Conference & Exhibition – 4th October 2012
This year’s event focuses on how to harness the power of online recruitment, and the latest thinking in how to make full use of the UK’s online recruitment opportunities. Of particular interest to budding sourcers will be Laura Stoker from AIRS – the USA’s primary sourcing training provider.
Follow on Twitter: @Onrec

People to follow and learn from

Amybeth Hale (USA):
Amybeth was my introduction to sourcing. She’s been behind the SourceCon events and website for the past couple of years but has recently started a new Sourcing gig with Microsoft.
Blog: researchgoddess.com
Twitter: @researchgoddess

Andy Headworth (UK):
I learn new things from Andy all the time – he also asks me really difficult sourcing questions that I often can’t answer! He runs Sirona Consulting and mainly helps recruitment teams use Social Media more effectively.
Blog: Sirona Says
Twitter: @andyheadworth

Bill Boorman (UK):
Bill is the man behind #Tru and a font of knowledge about all things social recruiting. He’s a pretty good sourcer too! He’s especially good at new ideas.
Blog: Norton Folgate
Twitter: @BillBoorman

Glen Cathey (USA):
A sourcing legend from the USA. Glen is particularly skilled in searching LinkedIn – his blog posts are very in depth and thorough.
Blog: Boolean Black Belt
Twitter: @GlenCathey

Irena Shamaeve (USA):
Irena’s knowledge of Boolean search is legendary in the world of Sourcing.
Blog: Boolean Strings Blog
Boolean Strings Community: on Ning and on LinkedIn

Jim Stroud (USA):
Jim is a prolific blogger and video maker – he makes fantastic sourcing training resources.
Watch: The Jim Stroud Show
Circle Jim: On Google Plus

I hope you find this useful. If you have any other questions or you’d like to meet up, then do contact me or leave a comment on this post.

Happy Sourcing! 🙂

Image by katerha on Flickr

Event: #rcnvs Direct Sourcing – Thursday 14th June 2012

If you’re interested in advancing your direct sourcing model, you’ll love the next in the series of Back To Basics events from Reconverse.

Reconverse will be hosting a day on Direct Sourcing in Central London featuring a live-sourcing session from me.
What Reconvese say about the event:

In our unique speed meeting format, delegates will get a chance to meet a number of new suppliers that can help empower your recruiters and rely less on third parties when it comes to finding the passive candidate market.
Then after lunch, the afternoon session will start with an introduction to Sourcing from Katharine Robinson, followed by a live demonstration of what you can do using only Google as a sourcing tool. We encourage delegates to bring along roles they are currently working on in order for Katharine to find you some names and demonstrate the power of real sourcing. Katharine Robinson started out in Internet sourcing with an Executive Search firm; she has also had In-house sourcing experience with Capgemini Consulting. Katharine’s work as a freelance consultant has given her research experience across many industries and roles and we’re delighted to have her along.
We will then break into the round table discussion, where delegates can choose to be as involved as they like. Our round table discussions are now somewhat legendary in the market, having lead to heated discussions, innovative conclusions and real peer to peer learning.

If you need more convincing, here’s a video from a previous event:

Reconverse from Jamie Leonard on Vimeo.


Clone Your Talent

Stormtroopers in the liftAs it’s Star Wars Day (May the fourth be with you!) I thought I would put together a little sourcing advice from a galaxy far far away.

Clone your talent – Not literally, of course. I’m not talking about having hundreds of Jango Fetts confusing the security personnel on the door of your building but it can help to look at the great employees you already have and try to find more like them.

Talk to those doing the job already

If you’re an in-house recruiter or a sourcer then you have the advantage of being able to talk to those that are doing the role you’re recruiting for already. If you are a third party recruiter then the closer you can get to talking to the hiring manager or someone already doing the job, the better.

Where do they spend time online?
Do they use LinkedIn or Twitter, do they read and comment on any industry blogs? This will help you judge if you can take advantage of their existing online network. What industry news sites do they frequent? This might help you plan recruitment advertising or search for names of peers being quoted in articles.

What networking events and conferences will they be attending?
You can go along to these events too, or track them online via Twitter hashtags, attendee lists, LinkedIn events etc.

Look at CVs and Online Profiles

What sort of language do your employees use to describe what they do?
This can help you identify keywords and phrases to include in your search terms. If you’re an agency recruiter, don’t be afraid to ask your client for the name of someone that they think fits the bill – whether they’re a current employee or not.

Where did your staff come from?
Do your best hires tend to come from a particular group of companies? LinkedIn company pages can help with this – on the right hand side of your company page you will have the opportunity to “Check out insightful statistics about [company name] employees >>”. If your company is large enough, it will tell you the most popular companies that your employees have previously worked at and the companies that employees went on to work at after leaving you. These are good target companies for your talent search.

This is, of course, just one approach and not always appropriate. Do you look at your current employees to help you find future talent?

Photo by Jaymis on Flickr.

Sourcing Lessons From Hogwarts

I am a big Harry Potter fan and I am a sourcer – you might have noticed that I am part way through a monster Harry Potter marthon this week! I’ve tenuously linked the two together in order to impart a few talent sourcing tips – enjoy!


Alistair “Mad eye” Moody had a point – it doesn’t hurt to always be vigilant. I’m not talking about keeping an eye out for Death Eaters or dark magic, but for sourcing opportunities. I like to play a game when I am on the train where I try to work out what people do for a living. I feel it keeps me sharp – one day I’ll find someone I want to hire, and then I’ll probably panic and make a mess of it. There are sourcing opportunities everywhere – when checking in on Foursquare, when shopping on Amazon and while watching TV. If you can’t work out how – CONSTANT VIGILANCE!!


“Accio!” When Harry wants to find something, like his broomstick, he uses this handy charm to summon it. This isn’t the only charm he knows though; there are hundreds that will help him in his day to day life, his future career and any dragon avoidance he may have to engage in. Similarly, it’s important for a sourcer to know about lots of tools – it’s no good just using Google and LinkedIn all the time and never trying anything else. As handy as it might be to make a troll’s club float, sometimes it would be much more useful to know how to unlock a door or mend your glasses. So try out Bing and Ning and Xing as well.


If you mix ingredients together in the wrong way it can be dangerous. Why do you think Snape is such a grump? He’s trying to stop the dunnerheads in his class blowing his dungeon sky high! Nothing as dangerous will happen if you get your Boolean in a twist, but if you mix ingredients together in the RIGHT way – something Magical can happen. Sometimes you need to mix your search terms in a different way – or think of some new keyword ingredients. Sometimes you need to add another tool into your sourcing mix. Have you tried mixing followerwonk (to search twitter profiles) with knowem (to see if that twitter handle is used as a username elsewhere) and then following the trail of breadcrumbs? You might need to throw in a little pipl (people search) to cross reference some more, or you might not.


Some magical creatures, like hippogriffs, can be really dangerous if you don’t know how to treat them, but really useful (for transporting fugitives) if you do. In the same way, some websites can seem scary/complicated/useless when you first visit them. If you take the time to learn what they’re all about, visit the ‘help’ pages, poke around on their blog and don’t forget to bow, you just might figure out how to harness them in the fight against Voldemort (or at the very least, in the war for talent).


Working out where talented people might be hiding can sometimes seem a bit like gazing into a crystal ball while drinking tea and falling asleep in a warm tower… well, it does if you work in a tall office and get free tea bags that regularly split during the brewing process. Guess work is ok when you are sourcing – you are not expected to be all-knowing. Look under a few rocks. But remember, if something isn’t working – modify your approach rather than continuing too far down a rabbit hole.

Have you learnt any sourcing lessons lately?

Three Stages Of Internet Talent Sourcing

A lot of people ask me about managing my sourcing activity online. It can be so easy to get distracted when you are working on the Internet, especially when Social Media is involved.

I find it helps to have a somewhat systematic approach to my day-to-day sourcing in order to keep it manageable and relevant.

I break it into three phases;



It is important to map out your talent landscape before you go out looking for anybody. You might want to map information about;

  • Target companies
  • Events
  • News Sites
  • Social Media
  • Much more…


This is the fun part! Using the information that you gathered while mapping out where your talent might be found you can start some systematic searching. The people you identify through searching will then help you add to your mapping and give you more to explore later.


So that you don’t have to constantly repeat the search phase, use monitoring tools to bring any new results directly to you. You could;

  • sign up for email newsletters
  • use Google Alerts to have new search results sent straight to your inbox or RSS reader
  • subscribe to blogs
  • use social search sites like Social Mention or IceRocket to get alerts just from Social Network sites
  • follow people and companies on various social media sites.

If you too suffer from email overload, you might want to consider setting up an RSS reader. I use Google Reader. An RSS reader allows you to subscribe to feeds (news, blogs, google alerts) and have all that information brought into one place.

Then… Begin again.

Each phase above can inform the one before. As you search you will continually be presented with more information to add to your mapping. The information that you get through monitoring will also inform you mapping. Your monitoring may not continue to be relevant – you may need to go back and adjust saved searches and cancel subscriptions that do not yield helpful insights.

I talked in more detail about these three phases of Internet Sourcing in my Beyond The CV presentation at the Social Media In Recruitment conference on 7th April 2011.

How do you search systematically?


Two Events – April 2011

In April I will be speaking at two Social Media for Recruitment events in London.

Social Media – Friend of Foe?
Wednesday 6th April – Royal Society of Arts, London
From the Executive Research Association

Aimed at UK researchers and resourcers, Social Media – Friend or Foe? is aiming to educate about Social Media and its uses for both building your profile as a researcher and identifying potential candidates. I will be introducing the basics of Internet research.

I aim to demonstrating the sheer volume of information relating to people, and what they do for a living, available on the web.

Social Media in Recruitment 
Thursday 7th April – Congress Centre, London 
From Web Based Recruitment

Now in its third year, Social Media in Recruitment has built a fantastic community and reputation as a thought leadership event in Social Recruiting.

I will be talking about identifying and engaging people online rather than mearley looking for CVs. Here is an interview with me, conducted by Mike Taylor of Web Based Recruitment, telling you more.

Katharine Robinson