Learning to Source And Sourcing to Learn

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Jul 16, 2020

When we get new roles as sourcers and recruiters, it can be very tempting to jump straight into building a quick search and pull some candidates back without too much thought. It can be a particularly strong temptation when we have plenty of work piled on our desk and too few hours in the day to get to it all.

Whether you believe to know exactly what you’re looking for or not at all, at least some of these tips and tricks will be useful for you to find better candidates and search more efficiently. Many industries are continually changing, and you never know what you could have missed.

Giving in to the temptation to jump into a search can cost a ton of time result in a massive loss in the quality of the candidates you pull.

The Mission

I am a sourcer with less than a year of experience, and a new role was dropped in my lap. I pondered for a moment as to where I should start.

The role was for a financial consultant manager for the AEC (Architecture, Engineering, Construction) space. The official title was AEC Manager. I doubted that I would find many if any candidates with the title AEC Manager, so I started an extremely broad search. I needed to source to learn. That way, I could understand what I needed to target without accidentally eliminating the profiles that could have been a great fit.

After some brainstorming, I searched for some general titles, along with requiring an accounting or finance-related degree or CPA certification. Below is the title string I used in Seekout.

cur_title:(“Manager” OR supervisor OR consultant OR sr OR senior OR lead)

I came to find out that many candidates who had a very similar job as the role had the title of simply Manager or Supervisor.

Example Profile Results

This woman describes herself as managing a team for engagements, which sounds ambiguous on its own. However, I can put the rest of the pieces together very easily. She has a CPA, went to school for accounting, talks about taxes, and auditing employee benefit plans. One of her previous titles at this company is Staff Accountant. She also mentions in her summary that her “primary focus is accounting and tax work for construction contractors.”

Even with a profile that has no summary, job description, or skills, you can look for clues in the places I described like past titles, certifications, degree major, and type of company.

After discovering this profile could be a fit, I had a new task ahead of me. With people using titles as simple as Manager, I knew I would have to focus heavily in my boolean on keywords and other requirements specific to this type of role to weed out profiles I didn’t want to see. Otherwise, I would waste far too much time sifting through way too many profiles.

Beyond that, I discovered that many candidates with titles like Sr. Auditor or Senior Associate listed heavy people management responsibilities in their job descriptions. I won’t lie, that was extremely surprising to me. Most of the time, people with just a Senior title have limited mentoring responsibilities at most.

The Discovery

If I had limited my titles to include only Manager or Supervisor titles and finance specific keywords, I would have missed so many valuable candidates – precisely 22 out of the 100 candidates that I delivered to our client. If I just jumped into the search buzzword bingo-style with my job description, I would have spent hours looking through off-target profiles.

It’s not just important to see what a candidate calls themselves, but how they talk about what they do. I’ve gone into detail on this in my Natural Language Search article.

Sure, my job description has a keyword of AEC, but do any of the candidates I’m looking for use that abbreviation? Do any of them use terms like Architecture, Engineering, or Construction on their profile to describe what industry they serve as consultants?

It turns out none of them use that acronym, though one gentleman did use ECA or something of the sort to refer to the same three things. Very few used the term Architecture or Engineering, but plenty of them described themselves as working in the construction, manufacturing, or real estate space.

I also discovered that searching by industry wouldn’t work either. When I tried my three AEC keywords in the industry search, I returned very few candidates. They also all worked internally at construction-related companies.

I needed candidates working for other consulting firms instead. Unfortunately, my ideal candidates all listed their industry as Accounting, or Financial Services, which does make perfect sense.

An alternative approach to starting very broad with your search would be to look at the job descriptions of competitors in that space.

  • Use a platform like Hoovers to find competitors to your company or your clients
  • Navigate to their website and look at their job postings.

Going to their company website to look at job postings instead of searching Google for a role title and job posting will make sure you don’t miss something if they use a unique title.

  • What kind of titles do they use?
  • How do they describe the core skillset that you’re looking for?
  • Does their “Senior” level role have management responsibilities?

If you do this research, you’ll be able to identify what a specific title means at different companies. It is extremely valuable when you’re coming across a lot of profiles that don’t give any information on their current responsibilities.

Mission Accomplished

The last thing I’ll leave you with is this: be efficient but remain observant. You can still quickly weed out profiles while keeping an eye out for any information you can utilize.

While screening profiles for this search, I noticed a certification that someone had – CCIFP: Certified Construction Industry Finance Professional. That was exactly what I was looking for! I double-checked the requirements of the certification to see if it meant anything (it did) and used it in my next search to get dozens more qualified candidates.

Hopefully, the next time you receive a role, you’ll explore the industry to gain some valuable tools for your search. Then share the knowledge with a fellow sourcer so they too can benefit. After all, a great way to ensure you know the information is to teach it to someone else.

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