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October 18, 2018

The No-Nonsense Guide to Sourcing Talent

sourcing talent

Because if your company isn’t proactively sourcing new candidates, your FOMO is real.

In today’s talent market, while time to fill just keeps going up (at last check, companies take an average of 45 days to fill a given open role) and top candidates get snatched from the job market as soon as they hit it (if they do at all), most recruiters don’t have the comparative luxury of waiting for qualified applicants to start gushing into their pipelines.

Now, with more information in our technological pinky fingers than in all of the 90s combined, plus tools that nab passive candidates before they even realize they’re up for a change, recruiters with a sourcing strategy can step up – filling and maintaining Candidate Pools full of nurtured relationships to choose from when the time is juuuuust right.

Here’s how to start sourcing —in seven simple steps

I know you’re tempted to fire up LinkedIn and go get your Boolean on, but I’m going to ask you to hold off a hot minute. Instead, you’ll start by defining what you’re specifically looking for, then spending as little of your valuable time as possible finding it, and then you’re welcome to jump into the fancy search tactics and advanced demo targeting before crafting some creative intros and follow-ups that get the job done (err, the job filled).

Let’s do the thing:

1. Summarize the need & target talent

If you’re only sourcing for one company or one client, this process is a heckuva lot easier than if you’re sourcing for a third party staffing or recruiting firm, with scores of needy clients.

In either case, you’ll need to check in with your talent acquisition folks or hiring authorities, and ask them fill you in on all the pertinent info that will impact your sourcing efforts (and your results). Ask straight questions, like if the compensation packages are competitive, if training and development programs are available … these kind of answers will impact how and who you search for, so it’s important to get concrete information down at the outset.

Then, go beyond getting an approval on a job description. Identify the specific skills, exact qualifications, and even the personality traits, seniority, and must-haves the ideal candidate would possess, then present them to the hiring authority. I can’t stress this enough: Get on the same page with whomever will be working with and hiring these candidates. Maybe it takes three sit-downs to get the target right, but that will be time well spent down the road.

2. Start sourcing in the most obvious place: Your Career Pages

Hundreds of interesting, passive candidates are browsing your website and culture or careers pages every day, but how many do you get to know? How many drop off with questions still in the back of their mind, or because no one reached out to say, “Hey, can I help you with anything?”

Breezy’s Hello 👋 Messenger gives you the smart little tool you need to start timely, proactive, human or AI-led conversations with them. It lives in a slick popup in the corner of any page you manage, perfect for engaging with passive talent that is obviously already intrigued by something about your company. Use Hello to collect details and store them right to Candidate Pool in Breezy.

I like to simplify wherever I can, and this? This is sourcing made simple, and quite literally personified.

hello messenger

3. Go right to the trusted sources to start your search

Your next stop should be the heavy-hitter sites among the sourcing community. Breezy’s simple Chrome extension lets you can source fantastic candidates straight from pre-curated, talent-laden sites right into the platform, but it’s just a few extra steps (ahem, headaches) to DIY up a spreadsheet of sourced talent.

Our single-click-import extension works well with and beyond the reaches of the infamous LinkedIn, so here’s a quick rundown of our other favorite sourcing sites:

Tech Talent: GitHub

Design: Dribbble

Startups: AngelList

International: Xing

Once you’ve found a viable candidate, click the extension to import them straight to your Breezy Candidate Pool for outreach and nurture. Or just copy of their deets to your favorite lightweight CRM.

4. Head to the watering holes

This is fun, so get your thinking cap on. We’re about to find us some unique, out-of-the-box candidates by reaching out in target-rich environments.

Note: As you’re going through the following questions, keep track of your results from each place for each type of role — you’ll end up with full-on resources for yourself and your colleagues on where to find top SDRs in Austin or stellar remote Graphic Designers — resources you’ll be psyched to reference later on.

  • What associations, Facebook Groups or Twitter chats do they join?
  • What companies already have the best of the best in this role?
  • Can sourcing from different industries give you appropriate candidates with the same, transferrable skills?
  • What blogs are they reading?
  • Who do they follow on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn?
  • What schools do they attend, or certifications do they pursue, to develop themselves?
  • What conferences and events will you find them at?
  • What Slack forums do they hang out on?

And those questions are just enough to get you started. Join, hang out, listen, and tackle (ok, don’t tackle) the superstars participating.

searching for talent

5: Optional: Quick and dirty Boolean Basics

Advanced sourcers use Boolean logic to find resumes, profiles, and ultimately candidates, faster and easier than scrolling through sites. It’s not necessary to know how to use it, but it can speed things up if you know what you’re doing.

And I’m going to show you what you’re doing. 😉

In search engines, you combine the logical operations AND, OR, NOT, with keywords, phrases, and other operators to form Boolean search strings. For instance, let’s say you’re hunting for resumes via Google. Here’s how you formulate a Boolean search string to look for CMO resumes right from the Google URL bar:

  • Start by looking intitle ← this just means you’re searching in the title of web-based documents, versus the body
  • Add your key phrases in “quote marks” ← like “chief marketing officer”
  • Restrict your search by adding ANDs. Bulk it up by adding an OR option. Remove needless hits with the NOT operator [in this case, we used the minus sign, which has the same function as the word NOT — note the minus sign isn’t officially supported by LinkedIn]
  • Use parenthesis to group search terms (like math! You remember math!)
(intitle:resume OR intitle:cv) (“chief marketing officer” OR “VP Marketing”) -job -jobs -sample -examples

Searching LinkedIn for a software developer? Try typing this into Google: (web OR software) AND (developer OR programmer)

Wanna get fancy and search LinkedIn directly? Let’s go back to our CMO example for this one, and type this into LinkedIn:

((Chief AND Officer) AND (Executive OR (Operational OR Operations) OR Marketing) OR (CEO OR COO OR CMO))

Those are some double brackets to group groups of terms! (mind … 💥)

Boolean searches for resumes, work samples from potential writers, past work from programmers and more can be useful, but not if they take you twenty minutes to generate and another thirty to whittle down to relevant candidates (if that’s the case for you, try Google’s Advanced Search to make your life at least a little easier). And if they work for your industry and candidate profile, awesome! If they don’t, fret not.

6. Get into their sightline

Most of your conversations with candidates will end up in email, but they don’t need to start that way. Try messaging your potential new candidate on their platform of choice, being mindful of the actual reason they’re on the platform and easing into the recruiting side. Sure beats a cold email.

  • Participate in online discussions (LinkedIn Groups, Slack Forums, Facebook Groups)
  • Comment on their posts on social sites
  • Share a status on LinkedIn or Facebook mentioning them
  • Tweet mentioning the person or retweet something that they‘ve said
  • Get introduced via LinkedIn
  • Invite them to a group or community on a social site.

You can usually touch base two or three times over a week or so, using your best judgement to decide if you should reach out on the same platform or try a few different ones.

Editor’s Note: I vote to avoid the stalker-ish aspect of following people to different platforms, but you may come across a less creepy use case for it.

candidate communication

7. Reach out with the right message

Whatever your initial base-touches, you’ll end up at a point where you introduce the opportunity to the candidate. Here’s the best way to get that done, and done right, right here:

  • Define the best aspects of your opportunity for that person

In a perfect world, you’d get to map your outreach to every person’s motivations, but some base characteristics of a job opportunity will matter to the masses. Hitting on some combination of these in your initial outreach and follow-ups increases your chances of catching the person’s attention.

What product(s) or service(s) does the company provide? To whom? What’s the impact of those product and services?

What technologies does the company use? What problems do they solve for the world?

What’s it like to work for the company? Summer Friday barbecues, a history of internal promotions? How well are they doing on the business side of things?

… and of course, the obvious: Role responsibilities, impact, leadership, etc.

  • Outline those aspects, clearly, at the outset of your email

No one wants to open up an email about a job, they want to open up an email about how their lives are about to get better. While I don’t recommend cheesy subject lines (I like simple ones, like “Quick question”, “[Company] + [FirstName]”, “Jump on a call later?”), I do suggest leading the email with one or two points that will most obviously excite the prospective candidate.If they’ve been endlessly expounding on the ability of graphic design to shape company futures, and you’re looking for a graphic designer on your marketing team, try something like this:

“You and I seem to be in perfect alignment when it comes to the importance of graphic design to brand identity. [One of my clients] [My marketing VP] agrees with you, too – she recently spoke at X conference about this very subject. You can see her talk [here].
Now, I don’t want to assume anything about your happiness at work, but given our mutual interest in this, I think you’d at least want to check out [opportunity] – I think you could really make an impact. Here’s why:”
  • Follow up

Have you ever been marketed or sold to just once? A single email, a single touch? Didn’t think so. Salespeople and sourcers alike know that it takes four to eight touches to see progress, with conversion rates steadily increasing as the amount of touches go up. Calling it quits after the first email is basically a waste of the time and effort you put into finding great candidates in the first place!

Space your emails a few days apart (or up to a week, depending on seniority), and keep ’em short:

“Bringing this back to the top of your inbox…”
“Did you get a chance to check out [company/role] yet?”
“Hey — have to give you another ping on this, it’s too perfect to miss …”
right candidate message

Ready to do this? 👍

As you can probably tell, a great sourcer is tracking literally hundreds of touchpoints in different stages in the process practically 24/7. It’s a superhuman feat to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.

I get it.

With Breezy, you can set up a simple schedule to automatically follow-up with prospects in your Candidate Pool, using templates that are easy to personalize on the fly as new information becomes available. Using Breezy Tasks, you can also set reminders for yourself or others to call, reach out on social, or attend meetups they’re likely to attend.

As the competition for top talent continues to escalate, your ability to understand where to find top talent, and how to communicate with them better than your competitors will be key to your success. Jump outside your comfort zone, and give proactive sourcing a chance—I think your pipelines will thank you.