A Sourcer’s Take on #Talent42

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Jul 3, 2013
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

Editor’s Note: Alaina Rivas won a ticket to Talent42 on SourceCon. Below are her notes from two of the sessions. Next week she will share her takeaways from Glen Cathey’s keynote presentation about the current and future state of sourcing.

For those of you who were unable to attend this year’s Talent42 in Seattle, an opportunity for honing ones skills and strategies was missed. A comprehensive cast of sourcers, recruiters and IT professionals led a fantastic discourse on how to approach the moving target of talent acquisition. A broad spectrum of topics and breakout sessions covered a ton of content, but two primary themes seemed to be repeated again and again, like a mantra: understand your audience, and the importance of digging beyond the surface. Although Talent42 is a technical recruiting conference the methodologies and tips covered below can translate to all disciplines.

Joel Spolsky

Joel Spolsky of Stack Exchange asked programmers, “What do recruiters do that drive you crazy?”. Within one hour he received 400 responses!

Two items topped the list:

1) Recruiters spam me. Stop shot gun blasting and make your outreach personal. Don’t use terms like ninja or guru – they find this annoying.

2) Recruiters don’t “get” me. Programmers and recruiters naturally have different personality attributes. We need to do a better job of understanding our target talent pool and how to best engage them. Game nights and hackathons are cool, but awkward steak dinners with strangers, not so much. Programmers hate the phone – they prefer text, social media, email… basically anything other than a verbal conversation.

Recommendations for dealing with this perception:

  • When crafting your outreach method focus on what makes your target tick. A saying on my team is “to catch a thief, you must think like a thief”. Joel says techies are attracted to organizations that offer free food, creative and quite office environments, casual dress codes, good equipment, independence and a continuous learning culture. <- Sounds like an ideal work environment for Sourcers.
  • In addition to understanding our target audience we must have a solid understanding of what it is we’re recruiting for. It’s almost impossible to source and recruit for a position if you don’t understand what the candidate will actually be doing. To add insult to injury candidates can tell when you have no idea what it is you’re talking about.

Mark Tortorici

Mark Tortorici of Net Polarity demonstrated how technical knowledge and good research are invaluable when sourcing and screening candidates.

Mark starts with research (research is king!). He suggests using multiple sources in your research and looking at profiles and resumes of individuals that currently work or have worked in the role. Mark used a Test Automation Framework Developer position as an example. He will ask questions like “Is this a QA Engineer or Developer?” “What languages are used?”  Once he knows what the hiring manager is looking for, he organizes the search terms and variations of those terms into columns.

Test FrameworkDeveloper Perl
“test framework”developPerl
“automation framework”developer
“qa framework”developed
“qa tool”developing
“sqa tool”
“perl framework”

Once he has the profile mapped out he begins to form his search string.

(“test framework” OR “qa framework” OR “automation framework” OR “qa tool” OR “sqa tool” OR “perl framework”) AND perl AND (develop OR developed OR developing)

Once you’ve found the talent, the next step is screening the candidate. Mark recommends a who, what, when and why method. Who is the company and group that this job is for, what tools or method software did you use to complete the job task, where and why? This method will solidify your understanding of what attributes your candidate will offer the hiring manager and will also offer insight into transferrable skills that may or may not be on the resume.

I hope you all enjoyed my top takeaways! Summarizing two days of intense learning and 20 pages of notes is near impossible so stay tuned for a follow up post focusing on Glen Cathy’s keynote presentation on the current and future state of sourcing.

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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