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Finding the needles in the haystacks. A Google sourcers story.


One of the highlights of an excellent #truDublin was listening to Google sourcer Wojciech Smailinski talking about the type of candidates that he needs to source for the recruiters responsible for the engineering team in EMEA. It gave a fascinating insight in to how you can find what would be for many of us the unfindable.

Wojciech has been working for Google in Dublin for about a year, before then he had no recruiting experience but plenty of enthusiasm, and the excellent Blue Belt Internet Sourcing training from Johny Campbell at SocialTalent. He explained that his target candidates are hidden deep in the internet, well below LinkedIn or any CV database, in fact he went as far as to say that if any candidate had a prepared CV they probably wouldn’t be suitable for these roles.

Google receive 6000 CV’s a day globally. It’s a big pot to mine from, but the type of people they want to hire for specialist IT engineering roles are not looking for jobs. They are usually content and often working on their own products or projects. The last thing they want is a LinkedIn profile. The best they might have is a very vague one, because as soon as they put any detail, skills or qualifications on-line they get overloaded with calls and approaches from recruiters . The challenge is how do you first find the right target people and then approach them, when they are not hanging around in the usual social networks and places. 

One of the things that become clear when you talk to Wojciec is how he sees the sourcers role, and why a single focus is so important. This also illustrates the big difference between being a recruiter and a sourcer. The true sourcer concerns themselves with finding the people with the right skill set and experience to meet the hiring requirements. He doesn’t concern himself with detail like personality fit or retention in the business, that is the job of the recruiters. The sourcers find the people who meet the requirement, who are interested in talking to the recruiters, and the other detail is the concern of the recruiter. It makes sense, recruiters recruit and sourcers source.

Johny Campbell of SocialTalent has been both a recruiter and a dedicated sourcer. He talks of the need to shut himself away from the world and any distractions when sourcing. Physically plugging in the headphones, playing loud tunes before getting lost in boolean strings, starting with a very narrow search and working outward. it would seem that Spotify is now an essential part of the sourcing toolbox, and the ability to switch off and focus on the task is the key skill needed when hiring a sourcer. It was interesting how many times Woicech commented “that’s not my job.” This wasn’t in a jobsworth way, he is simply focused on his part of the recruitment process.

I can contrast this to a track at #truLondon about a year ago with Glen Cathey who writes the excellent Boolean Black Belt blog. Glen is probably the leading commentator on deep sourcing techniques, but he was quick to point out that despite his reputation, he is not a sourcer, he is a recruiter. Comparing Wojciec with glen, it’s easy to see where he is coming from. Whilst Glen identifies talent through just in time sourcing techniques, he is equally concerned with fit, candidate relationship and managing the process through to hire. He is the ultimate recruiter rather than a sourcer.

The big question then is where you find these people who are choosing to hide themselves away and don’t want to be found. During the track, a thought went through my mind. It as much about finding the haystacks as finding the needles. Identifying the on-line places where these people are likely to be hiding out. Listening to the sourcers in the room, these are usually the on-line forums. Both Github and StackOverflow got a few mentions, and the search in these forums was for the people answering questions rather than asking them.

SEO expert Ivan Stojanovic explained how he searches for the geek words rather than profiles. These are the unique words or phrases that one person might say (or post), to another that identifies the discipline they work in or the skills they have. He has used this very successfully to source from twitter, and of the 27 people who were placed from this exercise, only one had a LinkedIn profile. Ivan advises using the same geek words to source in these forums, and if you already employ the type of people you are targeting, they are going to be able to point you in the right on-line direction.

The other suggestions for locating those needles in the haystack:

> YouTube – Post technical videos or find specialist videos in  your target market. The commenters and likers are a good place to start your search.

> WordPress/Blogger/Posterous/Tumblr/Typepad/Jux/Posterous Places/Blogetry/Weebly/Live Journal – These 10 are blogging  and content sharing  platforms. Each platform has a search engine that enables search of all content. Finding blogs in your target market (using the geek words) enables  you to identify targets by author and also commenters.

> Flikkr, Instagram and other photo sharing platforms. – The photo sharers contain a wealth of names and job titles which are all searchable.

> Google profiles – Anyone with G-mail or any Google product will have a Google profile, and they are usually left open and searchable. This links in to Google+ which is the easiest of the social channels to search  through the “find people +” feature. This also allows for geek words for shared content in the stream. Anyone sharing content in your target area is worth investigating.

> Skype – The internet phone channel is one of the biggest on-line channels by users, few profiles are closed and are searchable. Whilst the detail might limited, when you find someone a message or call makes it easy to connect.

> MeetUp – Each week there are 100’s of meet ups going on across the world. You can search for meet ups going on by topis, tags, participants etc. Most of the meet publish an attendance list, and if the group is in your target area you might just find what you are looking for.

> Eventbrite/Lanyard/Plancast – Much like meet up, each of these event platforms are searchable and many events publish attendees and their contact details.

> Slideshare – The presentation platform is searchable and can be followed by presenter. If the content is in your target area then it’s another good place to search for talent.

These are few of the places that came out of the discussion as places you can search in when you’re looking for the hidden talent. The final challenge for the sourcers is how much requirements are changing by skill set. It’s a constant requirement to understand how skills are merging, and that the jobs Google are hiring for don’t necessarily exist in other companies. Some of the jobs did not exist even a year ago, It’s not about searching for one skill set in isolation but combinations. This means a sourcer needs to develop an understanding of the job requirements in detail skill by skill. and the priority of skills in each job. Different companies use their own internal jargon to describe skill sets. A modern-day sourcer needs to understand the market terminology and what skills mean what from one organisation to another. The other confusing factor is job titles, which are unique, anything from  chief nerd to disruptor have been hired in the last few months. The modern-day sourcer needs to ignore titles and interrogate skills to get the right combination.

It was a great track, with content worth sharing. It is about finding the haystacks first, then looking for the needle, and all the time with the right Spotify list blasting out.

Bill

10 comments on “Finding the needles in the haystacks. A Google sourcers story.

  1. Superb post, again Bill you set youtrself out as someone that m u s t be followed and read if one has anything to do with best and latest in class recruitment, – thank you

  2. This is fascinating, thanks Bill! Sounds like #TruDublin was a big success.

    It’s always interesting to see how differently other sourcers work.

    Rather than closing myself off with headphones and music, I like to be part of the buzz in an office, listening in to the recruiters on the phone to those I’ve found. I find it so helpful to hear what makes a candidate suitable, how they describe themselves, the kind of experience that really gets the recruiters eyes to light up.

    I also like to start my searches wide and then narrow them down. I know that if the info I want is out there somewhere, the wider the net I cast, the more likely I am to have it in what I catch. I prefer to get rid of the stuff that’s wrong rather than risk loosing a page that is right because I couldn’t think of a keyword.

    It just goes to show that there is no right way to research candidates online. I was only saying to a budding sourcer last week that the techniques are learnt in a moment but take a lifetime to master. It’s about finding what works for you.

    Katharine🙂

    • Thanks for commenting Katharine,
      I would agree that everyone works differently, and will take a different route to get the result. I think this is part of understanding the sourcers role, and every team will want something different.In the next track, I had an exchange of views over a business who used “sourcers” as trainee recruiters and felt that they would get rid of anyone who didn’t make the progression within a year.
      Bill

  3. Great info Bill. Thanks for sharing.
    Interestingly – I heard another Google Sourcer (Leadership Hiring) at RIS12 and he had no idea about what they are doing on social media side on enterprise level. Their sourcing efforts are 100% onto proactive sourcing and researching – as it suits their model of recruitment for niche skills. Stick to basics.

    Also, I think one of the most successful sourcers are introverts. They may not come in limelight as they put themselves behind firewalls to protect their sourcing da-vinci-code.

  4. Great post Bill, and sounds like it’s one of many tracks I’d have liked to have been in!

  5. […] Chrome now the no.1 web browser worldwide Meet a Sourcer – A profile of Wojciech Smalinski, Google Ireland. By Bill Boorman Share […]

  6. I do agree with all you mentioned here & i beleive that high performers & talented people are a fortune to any organization

  7. […] One of the most interesting tracks I have been involved in this year was hosted by a Google sourcer, Wojciech Smailinski at #TruDublin, and he made a really interesting point that really made me sit up and take notice of what he was saying. The point he was making was that the type of engineers he is recruiting for probably won’t have a LinkedIn profile, or at best a sketchy one. He needs to look elsewhere to identify the people he is looking for. You can find the full blog post HERE. […]

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