Have you ever taken on a role in your career, because it would “grow” you? Whenever I make that brilliant decision, I cycle up and down on the challenges and the wins. I’ve done it several times in my career, and when on the other side, I’m always relieved I survived it and chose to do it. It’s often rigorous. Quite often all the challenges are included in the wins, if not only to change how we think a problem can be solved.
How does that relate at all to keywords and sourcing your next great hire? It’s everything. My current role offers the opportunity to provide sourcing consulting within our organization, whether strategically or tactically. I enjoy the deep dive end of sourcing, the research, leaving no stone unturned, building a repository of candidates that I can reach into with a few quick keystrokes and turn into a slate. It often feels like I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole and emerged triumphant with potential hires.
But even more than that, I really love “quickfire” challenges. You have 1 hour or less to create a list of viable prospects that can turn into a viable slate. Quickfire challenges are even more appealing when you’re handed the list of what has already been done, as well as the standard job description with intake session notes. No, you aren’t accessing the hiring manager. You more than likely are not diving into your repository of developed names and contacts, and you don’t have time to flip through your network to see who might “know” somebody. This is quickfire. You needed results 10 minutes ago. The clock started ticking as soon as the consult mentioned in passing the need for assistance.
All recruiters can develop quickfire challenge skills. Anyone who has had time-to-fill tied into their comp, or served in a third party agency, really gets it. Time is of the essence.
What to do? Panic. Adrenaline is everything. Then, quickly review what has been done, who has been sourced, what keywords have been used, and make your plan. Quite often the solution is the opposite of everything done so far.
Opposite? Yes. Here are three key aspects to quickly review and revamp to survive the quickfire challenge:
Keywords used. There are two schools of thought when developing search strings: start broad and get specific, or start specific and get broad. I favor starting broad and narrowing, focusing on the keywords after I’ve laid the foundation. Every so often I find recruiters hone in on one word said in an intake session. It’s the one that just blows them away, and often, it’s not valid, it’s a red herring. It’s also vitally important to remember that not every search engine is as smart as Google, nor does every potential candidate write the way your organization does. Neither may have a well developed AI tool at their disposal. With this in mind, it behooves all to quickly review all of the possible keywords and create a “similar to” list to craft search strings.
The Recruiter dived into a database. I’m going to X-ray the same site if I can. Why? I find that most sites are very focused on keeping us on their site for an interminable amount of time and really don’t think about leveraging the data they have and presenting it in a premium fashion to make recruiting easier. When you manually search a database, it’s like hand-to-hand combat, weeding through each potential candidate, there’s no “quick” in that. X-ray with a data download to a spreadsheet is so much faster, providing easy access, trackable results, and a cross-reference tool. If I run 5 searches and see the same names populating, those are the potential candidates I’ll reference first.
The Recruiter dived into a database and X-rayed the same database. Quickly fish in the same pond. But within 2 minutes of confirming you’re retreading the same ground, pop your search into Google (or engine of choice) and just look. What surfaces in the top 50? LinkedIn profiles (remove them). What’s left? Bios? Profiles? Resumes? Lists? Dive into those resources. Those are the names not seen yet. Can you scrape that info into a spreadsheet? Do it now.
If I was hiring a sourcer, I’d throw out a quickfire challenge. If I managed a sourcer, I’d make the quickfire challenge a regular part of their week. Even if it’s for the “anticipated” hire. As we move forward in 2018, the employer that moves the fastest will have the upper hand in securing the hire.
Kelly is the Recruitment Manager for Westat, a leading social science research organization headquartered in Rockville, Maryland.