I “reach out” to hundreds of candidates on a weekly basis. And every so often I do get asked the inevitable, “How did you find me?”
Sometimes I’m a smart-ass and want to say “Duh… the internet…” but, in reality, I think most candidates realize this. Most times they’re just not sure where I found them. And that’s a much different question from how.
If I were to really answer how? I can guarantee they’re going to think, “Eww… stalker!” Or their eyes are going to glaze over when I utter the word “boolean.” But answering where I found them is much more relevant.
Do I tell them where? Absolutely. More often than not, the people inquiring want to know if their LinkedIn profile piqued my interest, or if I found their resume on Docstoc, or if I rifled their companies Executive Management profiles. I even own up if I found them on an attendee list or directory. And if they were a referral? I definitely let them know who sent them to me.
It simply helps to build rapport and trust. I don’t believe in being vague. I’ll let you know the company I’m hiring for as well as where I found you. Sometimes people forget they placed a profile online, or had an old resume floating or that they could possibly appear in an attendee list from that last conference they attended. And I’ll even own up if I surfaced their name off of a company letter that was stored on their company website. Why not?
It’s all in the public domain. All of it.
Even when I tweak my strings just so that I sift through correspondence, it’s all out there. It’s not hacking, after all. I don’t go beyond your security or firewalls on your site. I’m just working with Google, Bing or the search engine flavor of the day to extract the information indexed.
But how do I know where each and everyone came from? Well, first of all I have a kooky memory, especially if I find someone on GitHub or some other lesser known social networking site. But I also am fairly meticulous about tracking. Fee or free, I want to know what resources produce, so I have all that information at hand. It takes me two seconds to look up where I found someone. And just as I feel entitled to find anyone, anywhere, anytime with the search resources available to me, I see no need to not provide full disclosure to candidates.
So do you ‘fess up? I challenge you to. I want you to bring your game up, not down and I think there’s nothing more frustrating to a jobseeker than getting a recruiter on the line who has no idea how they found their profile or better yet, makes up an answer.
Kelly is the Recruitment Manager for Westat, a leading social science research organization headquartered in Rockville, Maryland.