A Holistic Approach to Search

Article main image
Apr 20, 2011

How phone research and Internet sourcing work together

Every now and then, a debate flares up in our business…or should I say, the embers smolder continuously. For example: What type is the best candidate: Active or Passive? What sourcing method is best: Phone versus Internet? So what’s the hoopla all about? Why the passionate arguments? In the squabble of one-upmanship we are forgetting the end destination. The goal is clear – get the best candidate for the position. Period. End of story. Yeah we all agree, nodding our wise heads. So if we agree on the final answer, let’s also agree to get there in the best possible way.

I am all about a balanced approach, a joint effort, a let’s-pull-out-all-the-stops tactic to “finding/looking for” (research & Internet sourcing) and “placing” (recruiting & candidate development) a candidate in their new, awesome opportunity.

Throughout my 10+ agency search years, a three-pronged structure existed: the Business Developer who brought in new searches, the Internet Sourcer/Researcher who found/identified the targets, and the Recruiter who worked to screen and/or place. We made good use of cold calling and the Internet on every search and used everything at our disposal.

At my current firm, AGResearch, we have a phenomenal team of Phone Researchers and a team of Recruiters/Online Sourcers. “Team work ROCKS” at AGR is an often heard sentiment and very much our motto. Sometimes our phone researchers uncover bits of information that is leveraged online by the sourcer or the recruiter on the search. Sometimes the sourcer will provide a data dump from ATS or other online resources that the phone researcher will use on their calls to weave the names into a meaningful and useful piece of organizational lace. This ‘handshake’ of human intelligence/phone/IT is what makes AGR successful.

Dissecting a Search

When we work on a project these days, it is almost impossible not to use the phone and the Internet. In the good ol’ days, the phone was THE tool; your first line of defense with printed directories, yellow pages, and well-worn lists as starting points if you were lucky to lay your hands on them. Today we have the World Wide Web and a plethora of online resources to bring to the party. In today’s world, there is no longer a question of “what came first.”

The process and technique of using the phone and Internet are intertwined and we thrive on that symbiotic relationship. How well you use information from the Internet to leverage your phone calls and how well you use your phone skills to eke out new competitive intelligence or org chart info will determine not only your search process efficiency, but also the efficacy and quality of your search.

Strategic Look Before You Leap

Once a need has been determined, an “opening,” a search is launched. Before you start the “looking” phase, however, you must strategize first. You will need to:

  • Educate yourself on the position
  • Educate yourself on the industry
  • Build your target list

Work the Wire Line and the Web Line

In order to satisfactorily achieve the above, you have no doubt used the Internet, examining all of the industry-related sites we are familiar with, such as Hoovers. In addition, I’m sure you clicked over to various locator sites for zip code and area code information like NANPA and Melissa Data.

But, you also use the phone far beyond the initial kick-off call with the hiring manager. You identify the department/function you need to call and make that first cold call. You may get lucky and hit a live, new, or naive operator and, with good manners and respectful tone, get him/her to reveal the names of the sales reps of ABC Manufacturers.

Dial in at odd times. A different switchboard operator/different personality may reveal, for example, that manufacturing is no longer located here or this plant closed down and all operations have been consolidated now at the Heavenly Valley location. If you call in with a name found off the Internet, they may be so kind as to reveal the person is no longer there but Mr. Know-It-All took their place and “Would you like me to connect you?” You bet I would!

Getting email addresses from operators is difficult. Even the most naïve operator is reluctant to hand over that information. And how often do folks leave their email address on out-of-office messages? Internet to the rescue! Try to uncover email domains from sites such as Jigsaw and there are plenty other fabulous sites that have a wealth of information.

Try the company website directly or leverage your search skills on the Internet. On the website, search for emails on each web page or search the investor or news release sections; locate a PR or IR name and use that format. When in doubt, or if you are hitting the wall after using all possible formats/variations, it’s time to switch to the phone again. Use one of the emails that failed and ask the operator for assistance. When you appear knowledgeable it increases the chance for better information exchange. As humans we love the give and take. You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.

Collaboration is the key

Internet resources along with the strategic knowledge (a.k.a. Boolean & Semantic) to use them correctly help lay the foundation of our search in a collaborative manner with the phone. To continue to grow your success, work collaboratively, draw upon the synergies of your teams, use your budgeted resources wisely, and let the phone and Internet complement each other to identify the best person. We are, after all, in the people business.

Get articles like this
in your inbox
Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting articles about talent acquisition emailed weekly!