3 "Crazy" Ideas For Sourcing Talent (Not Using LinkedIn)

Ever think "There just aren't any more candidates out there!"? Sooner or later, we all have been in that situation.

But how exactly do you determine it's the end of the line and there is no more talent in the pool? Is it when your job postings don't pull? Is it when résumé databases run dry? I would argue that many recruiters and sourcers come to this conclusion when LinkedIn can't provide the profiles you’re looking for. After all, it's 300 million people, right?

Yes. And no. While LinkedIn is a great sourcing tool, it's not the be-all, end-all of who is out there. This is true for many reasons.

Potential candidates that are in high demand tend to avoid LinkedIn (OR edit their profiles to make them more difficult for sourcers to find). Imagine getting 5+ inmails about jobs per day. Can you blame them?

Additionally, those who are hesitant to fully dive into online social networking are not on LinkedIn and probably won’t be anytime soon.

There's a third reason. How many times have you heard at a dinner party, “Yeah, I really should update my LinkedIn profile”? That's the trick with passive candidates. Some haven't updated their profiles in years. It's not a priority. After all, they are passive candidates, “happily” working away.

In the spirit of pushing the envelope, here are some ideas for sourcing outside the "usual" places, when the 'ol standby isn't cutting it.


1) Learn to x-ray. It's not nearly as difficult as some folks think. Blogs by Glen Cathey (@GlenCathey) and Irina Shamaeva (@braingain) are fantastic resources to get your feet wet. Shane McCusker (@1ntelligence) has some great videos on YouTube. Start off with some very simple strings targeting bios and/or content on websites that may shed light on where your talent may "hang out". For example…

Looking for programmers? I recently went to a developer career fair where many technical candidates listed GitHub.com profiles instead of LinkedIn. One of Shane’s videos covers x-ray sourcing with Stack Overflow – another great source for IT talent. Did you catch that? They're not on LinkedIn! But you know where they are now.

Looking for highly specialized construction managers? Kelly Dingee (@talentsourcer) was, and presented some fantastic ideas for seeking exactly that type of talent at SourceCon. She found that wedding sites such as TheKnot.com list newlyweds’ titles and companies in their wedding announcements - that you can x-ray! Bam! New leads.

Looking for killer sales reps or leaders? X-ray Amazon.com for reviews of sales books. Ask what your Hiring Managers read and evangelize. Look up reviews for those books, and cross reference any names, handles, and/or other details you can glean from their reviews or bios with Twitter, YouTube, Google+, etc. Boom! Sales professionals that speak your Hiring Manager’s language.


2) Infiltrate non-professional networking groups. While sourcing aerospace engineers, I found during the intake that many were model airplane enthusiasts. I then "infiltrated" online model airplane enthusiast groups in various places (Reddit, Meetup.com) and posted group announcements that we were seeking to connect with engineers, and included a Talent Network invitation. Zap! I had prospects to reach out to, and soon, hires to boot.


3) Try "reverse sourcing" your top performers. Go beyond previous companies and where they went to school. Google them along with other critical candidate variables to see where they pop up. Pay attention to the details. For example, notice what events or professional organizations they participate in. What are their hobbies? What websites might they frequent? Now target those sites for more top performers like them. I did this for sales professionals recently and found my top sources in a given market were not only industry websites & associations, but also press releases. Say what!? Awesome sauce! Go get 'em!


Hopefully some of these strategies will not only help you with your sourcing, but encourage you to similarly get creative. Always be thinking about who your candidates are and where they are "hiding". Where do they “hang out”? On what sites might they be listed? If you were an advertising executive, no doubt you'd do extensive demographic research, right? Why not for your sourcing? Profile talent, get inside their heads, and utilize your findings in not only finding professionals but engaging them as well.

Lastly, have fun! Try new things. Share some ideas below. If you have thoughts or comments, or additional musings, please comment!




Views: 9032

Comment by Vera Gavizon on September 22, 2014 at 9:34am

Interesting ideas that can help my business. You can also track talented professionals on Talent marketplaces such as Workhoppers.com. Thanks for the insights.

Comment by Jeremy Roberts, SPHR on September 24, 2014 at 3:20pm

Great post, Nathan.

Comment by Natalie Morgan on September 24, 2014 at 4:05pm
Never would have thought of looking at places like the Knot or Amazon! Very creative ideas - thanks!
Comment by Sandra McCartt on September 25, 2014 at 3:59am
I retained Nathan to work with my top recruiter. First session this morning. Her feedback is outstanding. You should hear a texas gal who never heard the word boolean until today try to pronounce it. We can't help it, it's a Texas thing,It comes out.. Boolin.

She was pleased with the concise and understandable tutoring as well as material provided. I can recommend Nathan for fast and effective training.

Mitch, :) I have been called a lot of things, pussy cat has never been one of them. More like a chateau mouton Rothschild 41' , somewhat crusty, sometimes dusty and one never knows whether it will be vinegar or nirvana.
Comment by Jacob S. Madsen on September 25, 2014 at 4:35am

Simply OUTSTANDING Nathan and goes to show that there are truly many many ways to 'skin a cat' It is the always thinking outside the box that makes the difference, the asking questions about how and where that does it, and that wins the battles. This ought (but is not) to be mandatory reading for a n y recruiter, I rate seriously high on the top 100 of 'things you need to know about in recruitment'  

Comment by Nikki Hayford on September 30, 2014 at 8:32am

Love the inventive ideas! - I used to do a lot of Scuba Diving in the UK as part of the British Sub Aqua Club - it takes a certain type of person to want to get up at ungodly a'clock all year round and be obsessively technical about their diving (plus a lot of money) - and therefore they were all high level engineers/software developers (to a man/woman!) - I've always thought what a great way to find talent and wondered what other sports have the same sort of following?

Comment by Marcus Ronaldi on September 30, 2014 at 12:21pm

This is a fantastic idea! Was able to find a number of people at target companies on the Knot that are not searchable on LinkedIn.

Comment by Nathan Vance on September 30, 2014 at 12:50pm

Jeremy, Natalie, Jacob - thank you so much. Really glad you enjoyed it! Marcus, you can thank Kelly Dingee for that tip! 

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