How I Won The Fall 2017 #SourceCon Hackathon

Warning! This article contains answers and insanely impressive sourcing hacks to  Sourcing Games. Reader discretion advised. 

The 2017 fall SourceCon conference was my third time attending and was as exciting as ever. It was SourceCon’s tenth anniversary, the largest SourceCon yet, and took place in the awesome city of Austin, Texas (Tex-Mex! Barbeque!).

Speaking of excitement, the most exciting part of any SourceCon is the Hackathon.

The Hackathon combines all the things I love about sourcing (getting to exercise my creative problem-solving muscles, playing with cool tools and technologies, teamwork and collaboration; plus, there was beer) into an atmosphere of friendly competition.

Having attended two previous Hackathons, I knew that speed and efficiency would be key (as they often are when keeping clients or hiring managers happy!). I made sure to prepare my laptop beforehand so that I wouldn’t waste any time searching for sites or logging into multiple tool platforms.

I had the following sites and tools ready to go:

  1. For finding candidates: Dice, Google, HiringSolved, HumanPredictions, LinkedIn (free and Recruiter), Monster, and my ATS
  2. For finding contact information: Prophet, Google’s “Search by Image” Chrome extension, Whitepages, MailTester, and Gmail + Rapportive

Ready to go, I eagerly awaited our host Mark Tortorici’s introduction of the three rounds of the competition:

Qualifying Round – Everyone would compete in a brand-new round of Sourcing.Games, released for the first time at the Hackathon! 

Sourcing.Games is a collection of online research games that test a Sourcer’s ability to dig for specific pieces of information online. It was created by Jan Tegze (who also just released an awesome new book you should check out called Full Stack Recruiter). A huge thank you to Tegze and Tortorici for the creative sourcing challenge. 

First Round – The sixteen competitors who made it through the Qualifying Round were split up into four teams of four for a team challenge.

Second Round – The eight players from the top two teams from the First Round competed against each other in a final individual challenge.

Read on for the questions from each round, and my answers (and don’t worry, I show my work!)

 

Qualifying Round (Sourcing.Games)

 

QUESTION ONE: Bo Liu is a well-respected Software Engineer at Pinterest. What is his work email address?

Finding someone’s work email address is often a pretty quick exercise, as many companies use one of a just a couple email formats (flast@company.com, first.last@company.com, etc.). Since this is a Sourcing.Games question, I assumed this one would be a bit trickier. Still, I started by using MailTester.com to confirm that Bo’s Pinterest email didn’t fit one of those formats

(it didn’t). Then, I moved on to Google. I ran through a couple of quick searches with different combinations of the following terms –

pinterest

“pinterest.com”

“bo liu”

“software engineer”

email

To try to find either Bo’s email address, or Pinterest’s email address format. This search:

pinterest.com” “bo liu”

I ended up getting me what I needed:

This is Pinterest’s company GitHub account, and we can see a repository for which Bo is the Maintainer, and there’s his Pinterest email address!

 

QUESTION TWO: Anthony Kingston works in the lab at Sage Science. What is his personal phone number?

The first thing I did was find and open Anthony’s profile on LinkedIn Recruiter. I didn’t see anything useful there, so I tried a couple other searches and tools, with no luck either. Eventually, I did end up on the PUBLIC version of Anthony’s LinkedIn profile (not the Recruiter version). I clicked “See More” in the Summary section, and there was his full resume, with a phone number, right in front of my face! Even though his resume was uploaded to his LinkedIn profile, it wasn’t displaying in LinkedIn Recruiter’s interface.

There are a couple of important lessons in this:

  1. Your tools can work against you!
  2. Sometimes what you’re looking for is right in front of you, or just a couple clicks away.

And this was an important reminder to me that no matter how many years of experience or expensive tools you have, it’s important to remember those basics.

 

QUESTION THREE: One particular Meetup user belongs to the Budapest Machine Learning Meetup and the Teszt & Tea Meetup. We think they call themselves Bogi, but what’s their real last name?

Meetup is a great site to find candidates who are interested in a particular topic. A good way to search Meetup.com is using a Google X-Ray search (using Google to search a particular site instead of searching on the site itself). My search looked like this:

site:meetup.com “Budapest Machine Learning Meetup” teszt bogi

This brought up Bogi’s Meetup profile, which includes a profile picture. I then used one of my favorite tricks – a reverse Google Image Search. This technique is based on the assumption that if a person uses a particular photo as their profile picture on one site, they might use the same photo on a different site. We can search for that photo and potentially find other profiles with new information.

Using the Google Image Search Chrome extension, I simply right-clicked on the photo:

I ran Image Search, and found this in the results:

 

QUESTION FOUR: I have the resume of an ASIC Design Engineer that lives in Chicago. They’ve worked at LSI and Agilent. What is the candidate’s name?

Article Continues Below

First, I tried a few searches on Google, LinkedIn Recruiter, and HiringSolved, but didn’t get anywhere. Next, I went to Indeed and searched for the following keywords:

lsi agilent asic

with Chicago as the location, and found the resume and name I was looking for.

 

QUESTION FIVE: I met a Software Engineer who mentioned he once had a job developing GIS software. He said that his resume is attached to his LinkedIn profile. His last name was Nguyen – what is his first name?

By the time I got to this question, the clock was ticking down to the end of the Qualifying Round! I quickly went to LinkedIn Recruiter and ran the following search:

  • Title: “software engineer”
  • Location: United States
  • Keyword: GIS
  • Last name: Nguyen

There are two assumptions I made in this search to try to save time that I wouldn’t necessarily always make.

  1. The first is that his actual title on LinkedIn would be “Software Engineer” based on the way the question was worded. However, in most cases when searching for a software engineer, I wouldn’t put that in – because there are many ways to refer to that function! Someone could have a title of Software Engineer, Application Engineer, Software Developer, etc. And if you limit your search just to “Software Engineer” you’re missing out on qualified candidates.
  2. The second assumption I made was that this candidate was located in the United States. This wasn’t mentioned anywhere in the question, but it helped cut down the number of results, so I went with it.

My search brought back 14 results. Since I was running low on time, I decided to stop my search there and try each of the first names that came up to see if they were correct (the answer for each round acted as the password to get to the next round). The second name on the page turned out to be the correct answer!

 

First Round

With that, it was on to the First Round! Myself and the other fifteen winners from the Qualifying Round were split into four teams. I was lucky to end up on a team with Sarah Goldberg, my colleague at Objective Paradigm, and a great sourcer (who I just happened to have first hired and trained many years ago…)

The assignment for the First Round was: each team needs to find two qualified candidates for the following requirement. The candidates had to have publicly-available resumes online (i.e., not behind any paid tool).

Embedded Software Engineer

  • Embedded software development experience (8+ years)
  • Developed software control for avionics
  • RTOS experience required
  • Must have a TS/SCI or FSP clearance
  • Location: USA

Sarah’s fingers started flying on her keyboard, and we soon had the following search string on Google:

related:cv embedded AND avionics AND rtos AND (“top secret” OR TSI OR “TS/SCI” OR FSP) -jobs -hiring -sample -apply

This found us two good resumes, and we made it to the next round. This just goes to highlight the importance of teamwork in what we do – whether it’s with other sourcers, recruiters, hiring managers, or others – teamwork is vital!

 

Second (and Final!) Round

The top two teams from the First Round advanced – but this round switched back from a team challenge to an individual competition!

We again had to find two candidates based on a requirement – but the challenge was, this time we COULDN’T send resumes (OR social profiles). Tricky! So I knew we were looking for other kinds of profiles (conference speaker bios, company “about our team” pages, etc.)

Here’s the requirement:

Animal Care Manager

  • Must have experience with endangered species
  • Experience studying environment impact/sustainment
  • Degree in Biology, Zoology, or similar Animal Sciences
  • Location: USA

Having worked in the world of IT recruiting my whole career, this was way beyond anything I’ve ever worked on. Fortunately, the fundamentals of sourcing and research are the same no matter what you’re looking for.

I ran the following search string on Google:

“animal care manager” endangered (biology OR zoology OR “animal sciences”)

This search helped me find the listings of the members of advisory boards of two different non-profits in the zoological space – and each had a relevant Animal Care Manager on their board. One of these two pages was on the third page of Google results – never stop at the first page!

The final round came right down to the wire – a few other contestants got their answers in before me, but the judges didn’t like one or both of their candidates. Ultimately, my name was announced as the winner. I was proud and humbled to have competed with such an incredible group of Sourcers. I can’t wait for the next Hackathon!

Ben Solomon is Director of Research at Objective Paradigm, a premier recruiting firm servicing innovative companies by connecting talent with opportunity. In addition to overseeing OP's sourcing team, Ben is responsible for leading all sourcing and research initiatives in-house and with OP clients. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn.

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