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Mar 2, 2017
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

This article is the second installment of a four-part follow-up to Talent Sourcing in the Digital Era: Talent Sourcing is So Much More Than Boolean. In the original article, I proposed a contemporary model for Talent Sourcing.

The second pillar focuses our attention on the tools that help us discover the target talent that will map to our client’s (internal or external) workforce plan. This has been the traditional hunting ground for talent sourcing. And discovering talent is no less important today. The only difference is that with the tools, technology, and social media, identifying target talent is easier today.

At the dawn of the digital era, I enrolled in my first AIRS training. I remember sitting in the audience and watching with amazement as the trainer showed how to find an internal list of employees by XRay a site and performing a domain search. Then, we were shown how to find the profiles and resumes of people linked to a domain by conducting a FlipSearch. Finally, we were shown the first aspects of what became known as the PowerSearch using Boolean operators and keywords. I just could not believe the power to discover information. At that time I worked in the executive recruiting world and imagined how the Internet could disruptive to talent sourcing. I just could not wait to get my office and try it for myself.

Have you ever experienced energized incompetence?  That was my story the next day after my training. Upon returning to my office (and my dial-up Internet connection), I attempted to replicate what I had observed in the AIRS training. I wanted to tap into this new source of information. I wanted to access the power of this new tool. But it just did not work the same way the trainer demonstrated it just the day before. I was very frustrated, disappointed and a little angry. Unfulfilled, but not undaunted, I continued to pursue the mastery of this new tool. The next AIRS training, I sat behind a computer and found the experience much more fulfilling. I discovered that I could gain competence in digital talent sourcing by trying out those things for myself.

Caution: You can become addicted to tools.  We euphemistically call it chasing bright shiny objects, but it can become disruptive to your career. My pursuit of tools continued with abandon. The Internet era produced new and exciting solutions. There was always something new, and it needed to be tested. At some point, I realized that I was spending too much time trying to be more efficient at talent sourcing and forgot to do the work itself. The side effect of my interest in tools is that I lost sight of the real function of the tools which was to make me a better talent sourcer. I determined that I needed certain tools in my talent sourcing technology stack; a tool that would scrape and parse data, a tool that would aggregate the data discovered and a tool that would allow for email and keep me organized (aka CRM). As technology has evolved, I have added some additional tools (discussed below) to my technology stack, but in many cases, I have used the same tools for years.

The tool that no one uses.  One of the simplest and most valuable tools for me is a talent sourcing checklist/roadmap. This talent sourcing list identifies the websites that must be visited, the tools to employ and the resources utilized in a talent sourcing initiative. I use it to instill rigor and discipline in the talent sourcing approach. In other words, this tool allows me to create a repeatable process.

Talent Sourcing Checklist/Roadmap — a map to where the talent resides based on the talent supply data and the competitive intelligence information, and the knowledge base of talent sourcing activities. No bright shiny objects, but a list of tactics that will make up your talent sourcing strategy on a project.

The ideal talent sourcing technology stack is user and budget dependent. I have segmented the tools into functional areas. Jim Durbin recently remarked that recruiters and talent sourcers “worship at the altar of free.” Most of the tools described are free or have free (albeit tuned down) versions of their products. Special thanks to my friend and colleague, Dean Da Costa who added his input and perspective to the tool selection. I must confess that I did not know so many chrome extensions existed. Now when I view a LinkedIn profile, six tools pop-up and offer to find the email address of the person. I feel an addiction coming back.

Data Segmentation and Aggregation — bringing together all possible pieces to complete the puzzle picture for the target talent. The tools of the talent sourcing trade fall into several categories. Tools that a talent sourcers may want to include in their technology stack are:

Begin with the end in mind.  The late great Stephen Covey had the right idea. The purpose of the Discover pillar is to uncover the talent that will be the target of outreach. So if we follow the Covey principle, we would segment and aggregate the data in a form that we could easily use with the tools of our outreach.

Target Talent List — the prospects that will be the focus of the outreach and engagement. The raw input/data about the target talent and turn it into an accurate list of target talent complete with profiles and contact information. There are free tools like the HubSpot CRM that could offer an excellent solution to managing your engagement of a target audience. Also, there a couple of free Gmail CRM’s-CRM for Gmail and Streak CRM.

Those of us that grew up in talent sourcing during the era of rouse calls, Rolodexes, and rotary-dial phones will tell you that identifying talent is simple today. Those of us that grew up in talent sourcing during the Internet age will tell you that identifying talent is easy today. Those of us that grew up in talent sourcing during the social revelation will inform you that identifying talent is not a difficult task today. The potential for talent sourcing in the digital era has been realized; we have evolved from the early days to a time when the right tools are employed, we can crunch the data, sleuth cyberspace and discover purple needles in haystacks. Talent sourcing has realized the power over information that I saw two decades ago.

The digital era has as hoped, afforded most talent could be found. The social data that is voluntarily provided provides transparency into most areas of the talent market. Unlike previous eras, the real challenge has shifted to engagement, which is the next pillar. Until then, happy hunting!


You can catch Marvin Smith in person and learn more about this series on Talent Sourcing In the Digital Era in our Innovation Labs at the 2017 Spring SourceCon Conference March 13-15 in Anaheim, California.


This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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