Article main image
Oct 15, 2018

The thing about Jim Stroud is that he’s da bomb. Like as in mind explosion. He has done it multiple times with his presentations. The way he searches, the way he YouTubes, and the way it socks it to you with his keynote sessions. He’s one of the reasons I’ve built so many CSEs (Custom Search Engines) focused on pulling contact information.

Some of these strings I still use today when pulling profiles:

  • “Email me at: * “
  • “Call me at: * “
  • “Mailto: * “
  • “Phone me at: * “

Now what I did with those searches, were combine them into one search string, and in some cases plug them into a CSE:


LinkedIn CSE 

These were the first two CSEs I built three years ago, and they still work like a charm.

I also caught one of Jim’s presentations at NAHCR a few years back too. I remember because he came and sat at the table I was sitting at, pretending to be an unknown attendee in the mix. I took the chance to tell him, “I know who you are Mr. Stroud, your presentation at SourceCon helped me build several CSEs.” Yup Jim, that it was ME back then. So in SourceCon Vegas, I got to mention some of this while presenting on the Anonymous Track. And now I’m suggesting it here because his keynote sessions are always sessions you don’t’ want to miss. Whether it’s sourcing YouTube or unlocking contact information, his slide decks always bring humor, fun, and a ton of innovative sourcing.

Several of us caught him in real life (IRL) at SourceCon Atlanta. Here are his keynote session bomb drops.

Topic: Opposition Research in Politics and How it relates to Sourcing.

Mostly this is “connecting the dots” based on researching a competing entity. Trends, social media, polls, a candidate’s history and relationships are all analyzed to develop the next course of action. I like to think of this as the anti-persona, instead of looking for examples for marketing, these folks look for negative stuff or discord.

So how does this relate to sourcing? Research, we do this but I like to think with a more positive spin on it. Sourcers use competitive intelligence to target the right audience and connect them to jobs. We don’t want to smear the candidate; we want to reel them in. Oppositional Researchers are charged with finding and exploiting vulnerabilities in a system. Okay, that does sound like a few Sourcers I know (I plead the fifth).

OSINT, aggregating profile sites, finding a hack or I consistency that leads to a wonderland of data. Totally Relatable, Bro.

So what was the lesson, what’s the next big thing, what does this all mean?!

What companies want and genuinely need are skilled people with empathy. People with humanity, people like you and me. People with heart. People like my friend and teammate Arlene, who lives in Puerto Rico, who has been through a worse hurricane than I have, and while out dealing with a sick loved one, was worried about me and my workload while back her up. We check up on each other, even though we are on different teams now. Sure, I was a full cycle recruiter for two weeks while she was out, but I understood the why. The heart always trumps negativity.

This was exciting stuff Stroud, and not something I’ve seen or considered before.

Then the tools were dropped.

Jim dropped several tools used for opposition research and sourcing research; I scrambled to note as many as I could through his run through:

  • Factiva
  • Lexis Nexis
  • Shadowtv
  • Public Interviews
  • Courthouse Records
  • Video tracking (and use of hecklers)
  • Building a response matrix
  • Poll responses
  • Test resonance
  • Diving into school newspapers or
  • Student newspapers
  • Looking for awards or scholarships
  • Site searching (X-raying) student newspaper site
  • Finding award winners
  • Looking at school groups (Machine Learning Society, Robotics Groups)
  • Winning contests (for who created an app)
  • Political contributions sites (any job title)
  • Campaign contributions sites
  • State level political contributions
  • Searching political contributions by individual
  • Peer regression search (search associations, schools, etc. related to the candidate)
  • Podcast directory
  • YouTube – look for videos and comments for niche types

Trolling People

Oppositional researchers often heckle their target (at live speeches or on social media) for responses. Stroud flipped this idea and used Quora as an example. Quora is a forum site where anyone can ask questions or answer questions (similar to yahoo answers). So he asked a coding question, then worked to recruit the answerers. True, I’m the kind of person that would tend to look at profiles first or look for profiles with my Quora CSE

However, providing a question or service (tutorial video) can lead interested parties to your company. So for instance, if I’m looking for graphic designers, I can post a question on what platforms works best (Behance, LinkedIn, etc.). Some other examples of these forums are:

  • Stack Exchange
  • Experts exchange
  • Yahoo Answers
  • Reddit

He mentioned Onet online, which similar to Relink Labs, users enter a Job title, and 87 jobs like it will come up. So being stuck on a title is a thing of the past.

And he briefly mentioned, Pymetrics, a site that uses games and brain teasers to that assess people. So gamification in a sense. This is a fascinating idea, and something my team will be looking into in conjunction with hackathons.

Again, a different way to look at data, a different research methodology, stuff that keeps the gears of thought turning.

It’s taking something and expand on it.

Mr. Stroud, we know who are, and we appreciate the humor, the socks, and all the sourcing jazz you bring our way. Thanks for all you do. Keep it up brother, keep dropping the bomb on us!