Advanced sourcing: Reverse Engineering of a Search (tip #1)

This is the single most important tip because it is the foundation of a high quality approach in sourcing; reverse engineering of a search. Learn more.

Sourcing refers to the identification and uncovering of candidates (or talent) through proactive recruitment techniques. All articles will contain some lesser-known search techniques and strategies that go beyond the standard Boolean searches. Why? Because another tactic or approach can sometimes produce surprising results.

Tip 1: Reverse Engineering of a Search

This is the single most important tip because it is the foundation of a high quality approach in sourcing; reverse engineering of a search.

The temptation is to immediately start to enter a few keywords from a job description into a search field and, with trial and error, build a fairly good (boolean) search string that produces results. But it is worthwhile to think first before you do. With a bit of extra desk research about (former) employees, you can learn which requirements of the job are really essential. The goal is to design a search string that includes the search results from (former) employees, who exercise the job.

Not only do their online profiles provide a lot of information about the job itself, but also a lot of useful clues to find similar profiles. And as you know, most hiring managers want to hire the same person who’s leaving! Moreover if you cannot find those employees with your search criteria, there may be something wrong with your search.

An example:

A watchmaker has commissioned a recruitment agency to look for a Technician Qualité sur Mouvements in Switzerland. If you search on LinkedIn for people with this job title you’ll get no results. But that does not mean that no one has ever been performed this job!

If you are looking beyond that job title, you’ll find out that the employees of the company itself use job titles such as Konstrukteur & Entwickler Werke or Watch Movement Engineer (or Designer).

In short, the profiles of (ex-) employees provide rich information about:

  1. Synonyms of Job Titles
  2. Preferred Language in the LinkedIn profile
  3. Industry (this is not always the industry in which it operates)
  4. Relevant LinkedIn groups
  5. Relevant Skills
  6. Typical career path, before and after this job!
  7. Courses and certificates
  8. Similar or relevant profiles (People Also Viewed)
  9. Labour market information, such as the companies with the most employees with the required expertise or experience.
  10. The LinkedIn Company Profile also reveals the companies from which employees are recruited most (= a pool of successful applicants)

With all this information you can build a better search, improve the hire ratio or be more successful in placing candidates at (key) customers. Use it to your advantage!

Do you have any questions or suggestions for a search? Or do you want to share a handy sourcing tip? Let us know and we will include them in this series about advanced sourcing techniques!

About Jacco Valkenburg

Jacco Valkenburg is an international recruitment expert, trainer and author (5 books). He has more than 20 years experience in global recruitment strategies and execution spanning numerous countries for leading companies. As founder of Recruiter University and Recruit2 he provides companies with recruitment training and consultancy. His mission is helping companies ‘from good to great staffing’.

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