Kudos! If your recruiting process was the Oregon Trail game, you have managed to identify everything you need to purchase at the general store by building a strong role description. Your conestoga wagon is hooked up to your oxen team and ready to roll west, but now you need to know where to hunt for buffalo. You need to find food for your reserves before the dysentery sets in. You need a sourcing strategy.
Until 20 years ago, sourcing was a straightforward process driven by the three F’s: Family, Friends and Favors. Have an opening in your finance department? Cousin Jimmy knows how to count to 100, so just hire him. Need a salesperson? Old neighbor Withers once loaned your dad some cash, so it’s time you repaid him with a job!
Gradually over time, as jobs differentiated, skill sets specialized and our workforce grew, companies realized there was a wealth of prospective employees out there beyond their immediate social circles. Rather than grant favors, employers shifted to asking for referrals of great people who would be an asset to the team. Career centers and alumni networks from colleges and universities started receiving more funding, and with that funding came preview days, resume books and internal career advisors who often acted as unpaid double-agents for companies using their positions to recruit from the inside. However, despite these broadening mindsets, a rolodex and a phone remained the tools of the trade.
And then the internet happened.
Referrals, networks and career centers continue to play key roles, but now the sourcing landscape has been redistributed. The earliest manifestations of this were company-specific job pages and the advent of the job board. All major advancements in candidate sourcing since have been driven by our good friend the internet.
So how does this impact your sourcing strategy? Well, as the internet was changing, so were the processes companies use to identify candidates. The world wide web opened up a communication channel previously unavailable to these companies. Rather than focusing solely on candidates who were eager to land a job, these new internet tools allowed companies to look for candidates who were not actively looking for work. It was not so much the rise of the digital job board that changed the way we source. Rather, it was the rise of access to passive candidates that has changed the sourcing game.
Your sourcing strategy should target both active candidates—those who come to you—and passive candidates—those bison of the Oregon Trail you go out to hunt. And how will you hunt them? Let’s look at a few options.
Post to and Mine from Job Boards
Job boards remain an excellent source of both passive and active candidates. Most job boards allow you to post your role for a small fee. In exchange, they will leave your role visible to anyone who accesses their site for a set amount of time. Further, many of these job boards now take a cue from those college career centers, providing recruiters access to a treasure-trove of resumes submitted by candidates looking for work and other savvy candidates who have their feelers out “just in case.”
Recruiters can also use job boards to see what roles other companies are trying to fill, and therefore go chase down those previous employees with the skill sets they need. This data can also be used to poach candidates from other companies who may have the skills sets you seek. After all, larger companies’ role descriptions are usually designed after their top-performing current employees.
If you need a few suggestions to start your job board efforts, I recommend the following boards.
- LinkedIn: The best-known job board, though many recruiters find their recruiting tools that allow access to passive candidates more beneficial than the actual job board feature.
- Indeed: Job seekers love Indeed because it is one of the few job boards that allows the seeker to limit job postings by pay without having to purchase premium access.
- Simply Hired: No resume database means passive candidate searches are limited. However, Simply Hired will post your role on their own board and push it to several others without your having to do the grunt work.
- Idealist: Is your company a service-oriented company or social venture looking for like-minded souls? Then Idealist is your go-to job board.
Data Mine the Interwebs
Put all those years of Google-fu to practice, and apply the same principles you would use to “borrow a movie” from an open directory to your sourcing strategy. Boolean searching is an excellent way to find candidates. Just add in your search terms and appropriate operators, and off you go with real-time results. Need a refresher on those terms? Google is here to help.
Another trick of the trade that builds on Boolean searching is called flip searching. Find people who link to sites that you found in your planning to be of interest to the type of people you are seeking. If it sounds complicated, it is actually quite simple. For example, using these parameters (link:startupsoutherner.com AND title:resume) I can find people and organizations who link to Startup Southerner. I assume they link to Startup Southerner because they are interested in entrepreneurship. Therefore, if I’m looking for someone with that mindset, I just found over 1,000 leads.
Get Social on Social Media
An extension of networking in the digital age, social media tools allow recruiters to expand their networks and target potential applicants with low to no overhead. Sponsoring Twitter posts or using targeted Facebook advertising are just two of many available options that should be part of any recruiter’s’ toolkit.
Slack, the current darling of employee communications, is also a great outlet to post jobs and find talent. Many Slack channels exist to build communities of like-minded people that want to discuss lifestyles, tools, careers and more. A quick search will help you identify those Slack channels that may fit your needs. Then, it is just a matter of joining and posting.
One note of caution: If you join a Slack channel or other community like a LinkedIn group, be prepared to give as much as you take. Contribute to the overall goals of the group, and do not just use these communities to solicit or source. You risk damaging your and your company’s reputation among the very people you are trying to woo.
Many early roles in startups are location flexible. While there are some disadvantages to bringing a remote workforce on early (i.e., culture is harder to maintain), there are tremendous benefits to expanding your sourcing horizons. Here are a few recommended job boards to start your sourcing should remote work be an option for you.
Congratulations! While you haven’t quite made it all the way to the Willamette Valley, your food reserves look much more promising for the rest of your time on the Oregon Trail. Next up, we will explore how to bag the big game candidates while avoiding that snakebite or random broken arm that will plague your party, err, I mean, company down the road.