How Sourcing a Dating Site Got My Groove Back

Sourcer of Love Seeks Software Stunner

Every Sourcer knows they must utilize multiple diverse resources if they want to stay ahead of the competition. As many of us have frustratingly come to realize, using various methods to find new candidates is only one part of the sourcing equation. In order to truly be competitive, one must also be able to independently identify new sources of candidates.

This issue has recently been causing me a bit of a sourcing-existential crisis: Where else am I going to find people that nobody else is already pillaging? I always hit the job boards, I constantly use LinkedIn, I am not afraid to use Facebook’s Graph Search, I love search engines, I scour Twitter and blogs, I’ve examined patents, read journal articles and white papers, watched video resumes, and conducted image searches. What else can there possibly be?

I recently had a bit of an epiphany which helped remedy my crisis – sometimes you just have to be willing to accept the most seemingly absurd ideas to generate candidates.

Allow me to explain.

I was in the midst of running a blog / personal website search via Google. I wasn’t particularly thrilled with the idea (as this would be about the 10th time I’ve run one this month), but I had a new req and I wanted to get profiles quickly submitted to my Hiring Manager.

Now, if you’re asking why I would jump to something like a blog search before hitting the boards or LinkedIn it’s due to the aforementioned fact that I work for a large organization with hundreds of other Sourcers and I can guarantee that 96 out of 100 correct local candidates I find through those avenues will have already been claimed, contacted, screened, interviewed, rejected, or hired. Stop me if this sounds familiar.

For my search, I decided to run a string like this:

“about me” microsoft (“software engineer” OR “software developer” OR coder OR programmer OR developer) AND (distributed OR hadoop OR mapreduce OR “map reduce” OR soap OR soa OR rest OR restful) (seattle OR bellevue OR lynnwood OR redmond OR renton OR issaquah) (c++ OR java OR c#) -“web developer”

Everything looked as it should, but after scrolling through the first 20 or so results I noticed there was one result that didn’t quite make any sense: An OkCupid profile.

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I was incredibly curious to know why this random person’s online dating profile showed up in a search for a Software Engineer’s blog, so I did what any good Sourcer would do. I clicked on the link.

It turns out this person is a Software Engineer at another large company in Seattle, graduated with a Master’s Degree from a respectable university, and will always remember his anniversary. The light bulb went on and I was in love – in a strictly professional sourcer / candidate sense.

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At first I was little embarrassed. Should I really be looking at these online dating profiles as candidates? Am I violating some moral code? Is this more than slightly creepy? What will my Systems Administrator think if they pulled my browsing history? My initial reaction was to back away slowly.

I quickly got over it when I saw all the goodness a typical OkCupid profile contains: Location, Education, Occupation, Interests, Salary Range, and (if your company utilizes them) the ability to pass a drug test. The only thing it doesn’t provide is an actual name. Instead, profiles display a username, but using a tool such as Namechk can help you get around that or sometimes you get lucky and a user reveals their actual name in their profile. Either way, having an employer, location, occupation, interests and a username is generally enough information to do further useful research on a candidate.

okcupid3

Perhaps I had just stumbled onto something awesome. I knew nobody on my team was sourcing OkCupid and I highly doubt there were very many people in my company who were, so I decided to test it out.

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This was my test string:

site:okcupid.com (seattle OR bellevue OR redmond OR renton OR lynnwood OR issaquah) “software (engineer OR developer OR programmer)” (c++ OR java OR c#) (microsoft OR expedia OR ibm OR facebook OR google OR “real networks”)

This string returned just over 100 results, which is more than easy enough to sift through. The results were definitely Software Engineers working at large companies and I feel like I had enough information to at least find out more about these candidates.

One thing about the results was only a few were actually local. Many simply had the cities in my string listed in their profile. This was not ideal but it could also work in my favor. If they had previously lived in, visited, or had the desire to visit the Pacific Northwest, perhaps they would be more inclined to relocate than the average American. I could focus even it by chaging my cities grouping to something like:

(“in seattle” OR “in bellevue” OR “in redmond” OR “in renton” OR “in lynnwood” OR “in issaquah”)”

Is it practical to use an online dating site as a source of candidates? As far as any other online resource in which you’re only given a little bit of information about a person,why not? After all, you’ve got access to a candidate’s skill set, location, employer, and passions. That seemed to me exactly what I look for day in and day out. Will this become as useful or popular as Sourcing from StackOverflow or GitHub? I shudder to think it would.

I do think it wonderfully illustrates the solution to a challenge most of us face: Getting over the roadblocks we sometimes face when finding new sources for candidates. It really only takes imagining anything can be a source of candidates and being creative enough to look in unorthodox places. For me, getting into that mindset was all the difference.

okcupid4

Will I use OkCupid as Sourcing Tool often? Probably not, but the process of Sourcing it certainly helped spark some creativity, which is exactly what I needed. Also, should I end up contacting a candidate I find on OkCupid I will have a huge leg up on knowing what makes them tick.

Maybe that’s a little creepy.

Cupid image is from BigStockPhoto.com

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