Couchsurfing: A Secret Sourcing Channel To Spot Foreign Language Speakers

You’ve got to search where your candidates hang out… this evergreen sourcing advice cannot be truer if you need to find foreign language speaker agents or operators in a small city or village. The challenge with these assignments usually is that these folks are either not present (or not active enough) on LinkedIn (or you search in a country where LinkedIn is not yet supporting city or county searches), and Facebook is still not searchable against language capabilities. Then what? The two social network giants are out…

I’ve recently discovered the place where foreign candidates (mainly students and former graduates) often leave one other part of their digital footprint. In other words: they create a new online profile for themselves and add their name, nationality, language capabilities and so. Guess what is this “place“?

Yes, these are those websites where students (and other foreign citizens) are looking for rooms or apartments in a foreign location! One of the biggest of these sites is couchsurfing.com.

So. Many. Profiles.

On couchsurfing.com you create a profile in both cases: if you are a tenant or you are a renter. When creating a new profile you naturally add your language capabilities as you wanna make sure that you will understand your tenant/renter and that information is surprisingly still publicly available.

Check a profile like this: https://www.couchsurfing.com/people/andrin-tema. You’ll see that this gent is native Albanian but also speaks English and learns French and German. But there is more… you see his full name, age, his current job title, university… WOW! He currently lives in Krakow, Poland – and one of the other 39,000 in Krakow that are also have a couchsurfing profile.

The actual sourcing beauty just comes right now… when you click on “Find a host” a list of potential hosts will be displayed (in case of Krakow, Poland it’s 39,000+ people!). And this list… you didn’t dare to dream about it… no… I’m just too excited to tell you!

This list is absolutely scrapable!!!

You can easily build a DataMiner recipe on it (even the Navigation tab works like a dream) and you can scrape thousands and thousands of foreign language speaker people from this website. Isn’t it amazing?!

After scraping this information you can sort the language capabilities in Excel or whatever other information you wanna use in your search.

Editor’s Note

Besides the profiles listed on the “Local Hosts” page, you can also run a site: search from Google, if that is your preferred way of looking at results.  Looking at the URLs from the spreadsheet above (Column 5), you can see two patterns: /people and /users.

You can use these patterns and others hints to build out your string.  Although there is a profile field for where the user is from…

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…many users just put their location under their name:

So you can build a string to search to cover all instances of location using cities, regional names and countries (which helps account for lesser-known cities).

Also, you can focus on languages spoken.  Looking at multiple profiles show that the words fluent or speaks are being used.  Since some people speak multiple languages, use the AROUND() operator.  This will allow you to find 2 sets of words next to each other in Google by a certain amount.  In this case, 5 words apart.  For example, if you want to find English speaking users in Switzerland, create a string to find them:

site:couchsurfing.com (inurl:people OR intitle:users) (fluent OR "speaks") AROUND (5) (english OR englisch) (switzerland OR bern OR zurich)

For those of you who like to scrape, these results can easily be exported via Dataminer, Phantombuster, Google CSE API, or a number of similar tools.

Hope you enjoyed this piece of new research info.

Happy Sourcing, my friend!

Balazs Paroczay is a globally recognized Sourcing Leader, Keynote Speaker and Talent Acquisition Strategist. Over the last fifteen years, Balazs has been engaged with various global organizations helping them set up best-in-class sourcing functions and organization-wide sourcing capabilities. Balazs uses his experience helping Talent Acquisition teams improve their core sourcing and recruiting abilities to identify, attract and engage with critical talent. He excels at social networking and plays a significant role within the global sourcing communities as a sourcing thought leader, blogger and conference speaker (e.g. SourceCon, truLondon, European Sourcing Summit, UNLEASH, HRFEST etc.).

 

Mark Tortorici is the Editor for SourceCon.  He is a training, recruiting, and sourcing manager who has been providing expert-level training for sourcers and recruiters since 1997. Mark is also the founder of Transform Talent Acquisition, which specializes in training for high technology computer concepts, advanced active & passive sourcing techniques, and full life-cycle recruitment process. He has created and delivered robust training programs for companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, and Ebay.

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