Friday, June 29, 2007

You May Be Sabotaging Your Internet Search Strategy

There are so many challenges to finding the perfect candidates on the Internet. First there is the size of the internet; just in case you hadn’t noticed it is huge. Second, there is the fact that all information on the internet is disorganized almost as if it was not meant to be searched. If that wasn’t enough we have hundreds of thousands of search tools, it would take a rocket scientist to learn how to use all of them effectively. It is hard enough as it is but even then we usually will make it harder on ourselves than it ought to be. You received your job order, you scan through it, you log on to your computer and then what? Just because you recognize the keywords, it doesn’t mean you are ready to begin you search or does it?

Often times we just see a job requisition and start typing our keywords into a search engine. We see keywords and assume that is what we are searching for. But if we see Oracle, UNIX, SQL, that can return anywhere from Database administrators to software testers. Just doing keyword searches is not enough. You truly may be sabotaging your chances at finding the very candidate you seek by failing to invest time in the beginning to set your search syntax right. The following are five suggestions to improve your queries.

1. Define what you are looking for not by keywords but by skills. If you focus on using the Keywords on the job description you will find the same resumes everyone is searching for. Try to understand what skills your candidate needs to have and develop those into individual concepts.

2. Identify the important concepts within the search. At this point we’re still avoiding keywords we are trying to narrow the list and we are prioritizing the concepts into a searchable list.

3. Identify search terms to describe those concepts. Remember we are trying to stay away as much as possible from the keywords listed on the description. You are not always going to be able to avoid them but the more you stray away from them the higher the chances you will find a different candidate than everyone else.

4. Consider synonyms and variations of those terms. The most useful place to begin is often with synonyms. The best synonyms provide relatively complete coverage for the concept you are searching.

5. Prepare your search logic. Be creative in writing your query, use as many of advanced search techniques as possible. Include such things as wildcards (*), the minus sign (-) to exclude words, the plus sign (+) to be sure a word is included, and quotation marks (“”) to designate a phrase whenever possible. Also use the Advanced Search features of the search engine you are using to maximize the search.

As you implement your search strategy be sure that what you meant is being properly understood by the search service. Increasing your ability to search for candidates in the internet can be a lifelong learning process. One that we, as sourcers and recruiters, need in order to remain employable.

Monday, June 25, 2007

A blast of synergy...

As bloggers we have some awesome opportunities. We have the opportunity to contribute and to build relationships and community. We voice our thoughts and we make people think, talk, debate, discuss and hopefully learn. And as a result we get to meet some interesting and at times downright special people.

This Friday I had one of those awesome instances; an opportunity to meet with someone extraordinary with whom I shared an explosion of thoughts. I had a very stimulating networking lunch with Alise Cortez PhD, who is a founding partner of Improved Experience. She is also a blogger who just happens to be here in the Dallas area and I couldn’t pass up a chance to meet with a fellow blogger so close.

Today, I’m feeling very reflective about the whole experience and thankful to have met Alise. She introduced me to a different niche of recruitment analytics which ties in amazingly well to sourcing.

If you have been reading my blog, you have heard of my musings on the need for more sourcing infrastructure. My belief is that the framework for the recruitment sourcing lifecycle has three majors clusters: First; identify & select needs, (which includes defining sourcing goals), second; planning (deriving both long & short term strategic plans); and third; implementation and continuous improvement (deriving both tactical & operational plans, determining effectiveness and efficiency, etc.)...

At Improved Experience they have developed a system to evaluate your recruitment processes. They pinpoint the areas that are crucial to unleashing your sourcing potential and turn them into benchmarks. Their system takes the guesswork out and presents you the internal mechanisms while addressing key performance areas for the purposes of process improvement. As Alise said in her blog “sourcing and recruiting intelligence have the same objective: to empower a company with actionable data that drives its lifeblood initiative of finding and keeping great talent”.

We met thru a stroke of cyber luck; we shared a brainstorm with an eye to sourcing and recruitment intelligence and discovered a friend with a shared interest. As I drove away from PEI WEI to my office I felt like the dizzy kid that’s just missed his last swing at the Pi├▒ata and, removing the blindfold, finds himself dizzy and facing a completely different direction then he’d expected. So if you have even the slightest bit of a geek inclination, you may want to take a look at improved Experience. And if like myself, you are looking to improve your sourcing strategies you might find they’re priceless.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Follow that link…

The Internet can be a recruiter’s dream come true. By browsing the Internet, much as you would browse the shelves of a library, you can easily access millions of resumes readily available for free. But possibly the biggest obstacle facing recruiters and sourcers on the Internet is how to effectively and efficiently access the vast amount of information available with the simple click of the mouse. With the Internet's potential as a sourcing tool, sourcers/recruiters need to learn and manage strategies for sorting through the abundance of information.

Sourcers regularly fall into the trap of clicking on any link that contains their keywords. It is easy to get sidetracked on fun or interesting links, either that or they get caught trying click on other “related” sites whenever a server connection times out. Sometimes in the mad rush of wanting to get something onto their screen they will click away from slow link connections even if the new page being viewed is not what they need.

Other ways of getting sidetracked include following interesting articles or video, music, or image files. As sourcers we have to keep our focus and remind ourselves constantly the purpose for our search. Ask yourself, “will I be closer to finding the candidate that I need by following this link?” There are many reasonable and logical reasons to follow links. As sourcers we are very much like detectives and have to follow every lead. But every time we stop to read interesting posts or listen to cool songs or view cool graphics it adds to the time we’ll be spending on our search. The search for resumes can be both overwhelming and frustrating enough without having to deal with wondering eyes.

As a Sourcer an important skill to acquire is to determine which and when to follow links. Link’s can offer the “dangling carrot” of the perfect candidate. So when should you follow the link? At the risk of sounding too obvious when it will take you to something useful.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

What tools do we need?

Anyone can get on the internet, choose a few keywords, click on a few of the results and stumble across some interesting resumes. But finding candidates on the internet is not nor should it be a matter of luck. Even though you can’t always find the ace candidate easily, you can certainly find him if you have an intuitive approach. In order for your search to yield the performance you seek you have to find relevant candidates in an efficient and timely manner. Once you learn hoe to effectively search, finding candidate on the net so much faster.

The easiest way to shorten search time and ensure success is to choose the right tool for the job. I read recently that there are over 400,000 search engines. That is such a large number, I truly can’t imagine that many, we don’t have to know them all, but in order to be effective as a sourcer/researcher we have to at least know the different types of Search Services available. I classify them as follows Search Engines, Meta-Search Engines, and Subject Directories. I don’t want to define nor create a listing of them. There are many such lists available in the internet. What I do want to do is emphasize the need to know what is available and how to use it.

You get much different results for a search engine to a directory. We just need to know what we want and let that help us define the search tools. Whether we are searching for association/conferences, company profiles or industry specific information, or plain resumes, knowing what search tools are available will help us find what we need efficiently.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Winds of change?

There is an interesting article titled “The Dirty Dozen Dangerous Online Job Search Assumptions”. It is riddled with comments about the job boards’ inability to ensure that the companies that advertise thru them are real or that the job positions for that matter are real.

The article went on to recommend the use of an identity suppressed or cyber-safe resumes. As I was reflecting on the issues involved I realized that this is a growing problem that may start affecting Internet researchers/sourcers if it hasn’t already. People are becoming more and more jittery about disclosing private information online and we can see a growing number of confidential resumes on the job boards.

To make things worse there are an increasing number of companies that are wising up to sourcing strategies such as "flipping" and "x-raying" etc. and are beginning to protect their employee information on the net and/or are monitoring employees blogs, adding to this the tightening market and it is not very hard to imagine the need for change. In this climate sourcing innovation is inevitable.

The first and critical change I can foresee is our approach to sourcing. I can see a change from the sourcers/researcher mindset to the mindset of master networker. We already see the social network scene expanding and contracting, the better we adapt to the networking tide the better we’ll be.

Networking is not about exchanging business cards but about developing lasting connections with people to take your career to the next level, it is simple and powerful. Networking cannot be just an after business hours activity nor is it an option that we chose not to exercise. It is a strategic harnessing or professional connections which we need to integrate into such a vital part of sourcing that it becomes second nature and forms part of everything we do. The key to our sourcing success lays in our ability to build a strong and lasting network.