Sourcing On Podcasts

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May 6, 2020

This morning I was thinking about different ways to find people.  I’m over LinkedIn. I’ve done Twitter. GitHub alone wouldn’t get me what I needed. This is not a job to post. What to do?

As a host of a podcast, it shouldn’t have taken me so long, but alas….In the shower, where I do my best thinking, I had the epiphany to look at podcast guests. There are about a zillion podcasts, they are about every topic out there, and guess what those podcasts have? Guests!

My specific search right now is for a Developer Advocate: someone who is very technical and can build community, speak with audiences of developers, and represent the product and company in the developer community. This person needs to be a coder and a speaker. A rare and powerful combination. A lot of people are out there building community, or developing, but few have the ability to do both equally well.

Sometimes the Simplest Explanation…

So, I turned to my pal Google. My client is in the devops space, so I carefully typed in DevOps AND podcast (fancy Boolean, I know….).  To my joy, this is what I uncovered:

In other words, come to Mama…..

Reminiscing about my post-college Sundays of Real World marathons and take-out pizza, I clicked on Real World DevOps. I went to the episode page and started scrolling where I quickly saw some strong industry names and I knew I’d hit a motherload.

I then went through the episodes, looked at the topics for people in our area of infrastructure tech, crossed referenced them with the list my team has been cultivating, and voila. In an hour I had a list of new names and info on each to write personalized reach outs and ask if they wanted to explore our opening.

Further Probing (because that’s what we do….)

When I found a potential fit, I would then cross-reference with their GitHub page to make sure they are contributing to the community.

I would then look them up on Twitter to see how many followers they had since we want people to be both active Open Source contributors and have at least 1000 Twitter followers. On Twitter and GitHub, I could also tell the difference between people who are more “DevOps famous” (aka they talk at a lot of conferences about the industry etc, but their code isn’t that deep) and those who are deep coders who can talk about it. I found links to blogs and those usually have email addresses, and I was really off to the races.

But Does This Work for Other Roles?

 I had to find out if I had just found a Dev Ad exclusive, so I tried my tricks for Accountants. Now, I haven’t had an accountant search since 2000, so I’m rusty, but hear me out.

Oh looky.

I went somewhere I would have NEVER expected to go. I explored Accounting podcasts. And I found guests. Who have CPAs. And LinkedIn profiles. And sometimes blogs. There are even fun accounting podcasts like “Two Drunk Accountants”. I bet I would like their guests….

Never quite convinced, I tried again with retail sales people. This time I did my search for “‘retail sales’ AND podcasts”, and while I didn’t get the same list as before, I came up with a list of retail sales podcasts, all of which had guests.

So then I took out retail, went for sales and got this list with my 2 word search:

Each of those podcasts have guests in sales, and those guests have online presences….

What About Location?

 I tried to do location specific podcast searches and I ended up hitting a wall. What I ended up with, generally, were podcasts that were recorded at conferences. For example, when I did Devops AND podcast AND Chicago, I got a podcast that was recorded at Devops Days Chicago. If I’m doing a more location specific search for this type of role, I’d much rather search local MeetUps, Facebook groups and seminar speakers.

In Conclusion

My conclusion was that podcast sourcing is good when you are looking for experts and leaders, and it’s more fruitful when location isn’t important. It’s less than ideal when looking for more junior people because they aren’t asked for their expertise and teaching as often as people who have been around the block.

That said, I bet any of these guests in ANY of these areas would have referrals or people to talk to where you could find some solid people to fill more junior positions.

Next time you’re feeling stuck in a search, especially in a search that requires expertise, give podcasts a try. And please let me know what you find.

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