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Morphing Sourcers into Full-cycle Recruiters Starts with This 5-Minute Course on Boolean

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This is an extract of a recent ERE article addressing the importance of merging the roles of sourcers and recruiters. As we become more interconnected, sourcing and recruiting activities need to be fully integrated. By separating the two functions, recruiters miss the sourcing opportunity available through networking, and sourcers miss the heavy recruiting involved in convincing passive prospects of the merits of the opportunity at hand. Now that LinkedIn gives their premium recruiter users the ability to search on their first-degree connections, separating the two functions represents lost opportunity.

I think it’s easier for a good recruiter to become an excellent sourcer, since LinkedIn makes it so easy to find people. On the other hand, sourcers who are able to convince people who aren’t looking to become serious prospects are already handling some of the most difficult challenges involved in recruiting top-notch people.

In our Recruiter Boot Camp workshops we spend about 15 minutes going through the basics of Boolean. Quite frankly this is all that’s necessary to begin finding great people using LinkedIn’s advanced search tools, since networking is how you’ll find all of your best candidates. Here’s the five-minute version of the Boolean part of the class:

1)    Understand the basics of Boolean. Realistically, from a Boolean standpoint, all you need to know is how to use the OR, NOT, parentheses, and quote functions as part of your keyword searches. LinkedIn’s Recruiter version provides 20+ filters to find profiles, so you don’t need to be too skilled in Boolean to find suitable people down the block or with a specific degree from a target competitor. In the keyword box, you’ll use the OR (embedded OR firmware) if one or the other terms is essential, and the AND (Ruby AND scrum) if both are. The parentheses are needed to separate the phrase from the rest of the stuff in the search box. Use the quotes if you use a search term that has multiple words, e.g., “Performance-based Hiring.” Use NOT in front of anything if you don’t want it in your results. For example, if you’re looking for directors for a job, but don’t want someone who has been a vice-president, you can narrow your search results by including NOT (vice OR VP) in your keyword search.

2)    Be clever at selecting keywords. Being a Boolean guru is becoming less important in a networked world, but you do need to become more clever. Given the lack of time and increasing search workloads you also need to become more productive and more efficient. One way to do this is to shrink your focus and deal only with “worthy” people. I define a worthy person as someone who is either an ideal prospect for your job opening, or is directly connected to someone who is. As part of starting the sourcing process prepare a list of keywords or terms that indicate your prospect possesses the Achiever Pattern. These are recognition terms the person would include on their resume or LinkedIn profile. For example, for technical people it might be obtaining patents, being a speaker at a specific trade conference, or preparing a whitepaper. Just using the term awards or honors in a keyword search helps narrow the search. Recognition could also include being awarded a work-study fellowship, earning a scholarship, winning a prize, or given an honorarium. Also search on specific job-related honor society names like Beta Gamma Sigma for business people or Tau Beta Pi for engineers. During the intake meeting ask the hiring manager what type of industry or academic recognition a top person in the field would likely obtain. Then add these terms in your keyword searches using the basic Boolean search functions.

3)    Find worthy nodes. In a networked world, it’s important to think in two dimensions when starting a new search project: direct and connected. The direct approach of course is developing a list of names for people who are possible candidates for the job. I find this less effective than getting warm pre-qualified referrals by finding people who are connected to these people. I call these people nodes. For example, a headmaster in Ireland can lead you directly to great instructors in advanced high school math, a scrum leader can tell you about the great Ruby developers that were on her last team, and a buyer at Home Depot can tell you about the best national account managers they know in the DIY tool market. To try this out on your next search, prepare a 360° work chart with the hiring manager during the intake meeting. On this work chart list the titles of the people your ideal candidate most likely interacts with on a day-to-day basis. The nodes will stand out. Then use the simple Boolean techniques noted above to find the names of some of these people. Then contact and connect with them. Once on the phone, don’t ask, “Who do you know?” Instead, search on their connections and ask about the best people listed. This “cherry-picking” networking technique is how you can find some great passive prospects within a day or two of taking the assignment. In my opinion, this is the real value in LinkedIn Recruiter.

Other than the 15 minutes devoted to the Boolean basics in points 1 and 2, the rest of Recruiter Boot Camp is devoted to contacting, recruiting, and networking with these people using the Golden Rule of Recruiting. Learning and applying this Golden Rule allows a recruiter to build a slate of 3-4 high-quality and interested prospects ready to present to the hiring manager in 72 hours. Of course, there’s some work you need to do during the intake meeting to meet this goal, and a lot of skills afterwards to assess and hire the person. All of this before and after stuff is covered in our full Recruiter Boot Camp program. Sign up for one of our upcoming audits if you’d like to preview this program. You’ll discover not only what it takes nowadays to be a great sourcer, but also how to become a great full-cycle recruiter. Sourcing and recruiting on every call to direct and indirect worthy people is what the Golden Rule is all about. More important, it’s how you find and hire the best people on the planet.