3 Ways to Stretch Your Sourcing Muscles

June 29, 2016 Glen Cathey

Today, recruiters have more access to more people than ever before, which makes finding potential candidates easier for everyone. With the barrier to entry for sourcing at its lowest point, anyone can put together a basic search string and pick the low-hanging fruit. While it’s easier than ever to find people, however, as the volume of human capital data grows, it becomes more difficult to find the best people. Because these people often aren’t at the top of search results, they can actually be excluded from basic queries. If you want to find all the needles in the haystack and uncover the best talent in the same sources as your competitors, you need to take a different approach than most.

The good news? Your best weapon in the war for talent isn’t expensive, or even something you need to buy: It’s all in your head.

The ultimate candidate sourcing hacks center around the way you think. Though people often ask me about the “right” or “best” way to search, it really comes down to critically thinking about the different levels of talent mining, rather than a specific search string or particular formula.

You must first appreciate that human capital data in the form of resumes and social media profiles is user-generated content, and as such, will always have limitations and pose challenges to your sourcing efforts. Second, you need to be aware that the very way you think about approaching your sourcing efforts and crafting your queries may limit you to finding and reviewing only 20-30 percent of all people actually available to be found by you.

So how can you gain a competitive advantage when you have the same data set as many of your competitors?

1) Focus on being more inclusive.

The people you’re looking for an choose words to describe their skills and experience using terms you typically don’t search for, and if it’s not included in your search string, the only way you can retrieve these results (and find these candidates) is by pure luck. You must also be aware that when you search for specific titles and keywords, you are actually excluding results of people who may be just as qualified, but who use different titles and terms. It is critical to take the time to think of all of the various ways your target talent pool could describe their experience, as well as all of the various titles companies might use for the professionals you’re seeking. By doing this, you can craft more inclusive queries, giving you access to more people and making better use of your data assets.

2) Start searching at the bottom of the list.

Inclusion limitations aren’t restricted to the types of queries you run – they can also come from how you process results.

If you’re like most people, you probably only look at the people at the top of your results. Just because someone is on page 5 or 20 (or 40!), it doesn’t mean they’re worse than a candidate on page 1. In fact, they may even be better! Great people don’t always have super keyword-heavy resumes and social media profiles. After all, unless you’re searching for professional resume writers, don’t expect your target talent pool to have resumes that jump out at you as super obvious matches mentioning all of your keywords many times. Some candidates will only mention a particular keyword once in their resume, while others will stack the deck. Neither method is necessarily right or wrong – but keep in mind the results you’re seeing at the top of your list are there primarily due to keyword frequency, which has nothing to do with the quality of the candidate’s experience. I often recommend starting at the bottom of search results for this very reason, and an added bonus is that these folks typically have a higher response rate as they aren’t seen and reached out to as often as those that crowd the top of search results.

3) Think and act outside your comfort zone.

While you don’t have to start at the bottom of your results or with the least likely candidate with respect to the number of keyword hits, it is imperative that you examine and challenge your assumptions and deliberately change your sourcing behavior from time to time. Indeed, critical thinking is perhaps the ultimate sourcing “hack.” If finding the very best talent is really your priority, you simply must invest time into continually improving your sourcing behaviors and methods to figure out new and different and more effective ways of finding and recruiting the best people available. Comfort and routine can be the ultimate impediment to achieving top-tier sourcing effectiveness and results, so it is essential to push yourself outside of your comfort zone.

Bottom line? If you’re comfortable, you’re not growing.


Want to be more productive and effective when looking for that perfect candidate? Master these 7 Recruiting Fundamentals


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