Pulling Boolean Strings: An Interview with Irina Shamaeva

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Oct 4, 2011

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!

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