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Pulling Boolean Strings: An Interview with Irina Shamaeva


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Irina Shamaeva mosaic

Should SourceCon become the site of a British murder mystery, never fear. We have our own Hercule Poirot or Inspector Morse to solve the case. Irina Shamaeva, Partner and Chief Sourcer of Brain Gain Recruiting, is as persistent as a detective. We’ll get more evidence of Irina’s expertise during the paid resource panel discussion at the SourceCon conference on October 14.

You were once an engineer. In 2003, you started BrainGain Recruiting. What made you change direction?

I wouldn’t say this was a long-planned change but it fits my personality really well. Software engineering was fun but not social enough for my taste. I had loved referring friends to jobs, had positive experience being placed by recruiters, and did well searching for employees as a hiring manager. I tried recruiting as an experiment back in 2003. It has allowed me to use my intuition, along with technical skills, resourcefulness, and creativity, and the change happened.

From an engineering perspective, what could most sourcers do differently to be more productive?

Sourcers could warm up to thinking out of the box vs. using pre-packaged “Boolean strings.” A sourcer needn’t be technical but some concepts of what’s going on underneath a search could help in getting better results and

enjoying the process. Sourcers could also look into productivity tools for collecting and parsing information; this side of sourcing is often neglected. Automated matching or searching rarely works, but automated sorting and parsing does.

You also run several communities for sourcers, Boolean Strings LinkedIn Group, Boolean Strings Network and the Twitter for Sourcing and Recruiting Group. You also write a blog. How do you find the time to be so generous? Do you think it is important to contribute to the sourcing community?

In 2009, when I started the first Boolean Strings group, I realized how huge the need for this type of knowledge was; it still is. This coincides with my desire to express myself, be creative, and be helpful. Since I source hands-on daily, it doesn’t take any extra time to invent new tricks; they just pop up while working. I’ve met some great people in the industry and appreciated the exchange of ideas. By now the Boolean Strings community has over 15,000 people from 65 countries.

Let’s talk Twitter for Sourcing (one of my favorite topics). Do you find proactively searching Twitter to be productive for most searches?

Sorry, I almost never use Twitter for searching. I do use it for cross-referencing candidates and also for branding my services and chatting with fellow sourcers. Cross-referencing and exploring “distributed profiles” is one of my favorite topics.

Please share a favorite Twitter sourcing tip.

The “Find Friends” function is a favorite tip. One can upload a list of email addresses (using a dummy gmail account) and discover those people on Twitter. The same trick works wonderfully on other major networks. I will

stop here, not to say too much .

Tell us a bit more about Irina. When you’re not sourcing, leading communities and running a business, what do you like to do for fun?

I love spending time with my wonderful children, the outdoors, free-form dancing, yoga, and watching British murder mysteries.

You won the SourceCon challenge in 2010 by being tenacious, digging deep, and being creative. Do most sourcing projects require such tenacity and creativity? What inspires you? What would you recommend to the average recruiter to improve creativity?

Thank you! That was fun. The SC challenges seem to be the perfect place for combining the right and the left brain; kudos to their creators by the way! Challenges inspire me. I am also very happy for my partner Julia Tverskaya who won the first challenge in 2011.

My recommendation regarding sourcing tools and creativity would be to be unafraid of experimenting, be open to change, and try not to control things that can’t be controlled anyway.

Anything else you’d like to learn from Irina? Ask in the comments below.

Stay tuned as we bring you more interviews from the presenters for the upcoming SourceCon conference in Silicon Valley, October 12-14. Don’t forget to register – we’ll see you there!

Carmen Hudson wears several hats. She is currently Engagement Manager, Sourcing and Social Media Strategy for Recruiting Toolbox and Founder and CEO of Tweetajob, Inc. Carmen draws from over fifteen years of recruiting experience with a strong focus on helping organizations attract, source, and recruit top talent. Carmen’s expertise is in helping clients build the right sourcing and recruiting strategies, and then implementing them in the real world of limited budgets, competing priorities, and highly competitive recruiting environments. She consults and trains companies to help them leverage high ROI solutions for big sourcing, social media, and technology implementation initiatives. Carmen is a self-described “recruiting geek” who has spent years learning, creating, and sharing best practices around sourcing. She gets that technology – for all of its hype – is still a means to an end, not an end itself. Her corporate experience includes working at Yahoo!, where she was Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition. At Yahoo! she led the strategic sourcing team, revitalizing the employee referral program and Yahoo’s employer brand. The team was awarded a coveted Yahoo! Superstar Award, an ERE Excellence award, and advertising industry awards. Prior to joining Yahoo!, she was Manager, Global Strategic Sourcing for Starbucks Coffee Corporation, where she developed sourcing strategies and recommended resources and tactics to support U.S. retail management hiring. She has also held senior talent acquisition roles at Microsoft, Amazon.com, and Capital One. Carmen is a regular contributor to recruiting industry publications and is a frequent speaker at recruiting events. True to her passion, she blogs and tweets about the recruiting industry, social media, job search, and recruiting technology.
  • http://twitter.com/Sarangbrahme Sarang Brahme

    Interviews of successful sourcers is a great idea to get an insight into sourcer’s mind. I think SC should do it more often which can help sourcing community to know each other from across continents.