Using Your Profile to Attract Candidates

There has been quite the conversation about company branding in our industry and how this is helping drive candidates into the process. Why Coca-Cola or IBM need a branding team is beyond me, I am pretty sure they are well known around the world, but that is not what I am getting at here. Smaller companies who do not have a budget for marketing sure as hell don’t have money for branding, or do they? Let me tell you a little story, you know I love stories.

A few years ago I was speaking at a conference in Chicago. I like to hear other people talk at conferences to learn; I am an old dog that loves new tricks. I attended a session lead by SourceCon Atlanta speaker Craig Fisher, and his words hit me like a ton of bricks. 

You need to have a personal brand. Brilliant.

Branding gets a bad break, and I am partly to blame for it. I have always believed if the product was insufficient, no matter the amount of lipstick you put on the pig it’s still a pig. Same thing with a terrible company, if the culture is inferior or the management consistently cheats and lies there is no amount of cheerleading that is going to save it. Not in the internet age, that is for sure; I am looking at you

Do you know what a Honeypot is? This is not the jar of honey from the Winnie the Pooh stories no; this is what cyber guys used to trap hackers back in the day. Not to get too overly technical but when an IP address would ping the server, it would look for ways to get behind the firewall, so crafty defenders would set up a spot on the server that would let the attacker think they got it but they did not. Instead, like our lovable Pooh, their hand got stuck in the honey jar, and they could not get out. 

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Now there is another story that I want to talk about with honeypots, and it’s the story of how a CEO of a startup got some or the best recruiters to come work for her. Elaine Wherry created a “recruiter honeypot” to lure unsuspecting recruiters onto her side in the Silicon Valley war for talent. What she did was pretend to be a Javascript developer and made her LinkedIn profile look like she was the best in the business and waited for the recruiters to come to her! It worked, and she was able to, wait for it, RECRUIT the most inventive approached recruiters in silicone valley to come work for her at was once called Meebo. They were eventually acquired by Google; they seem to buy all the best tech.

I applied this process to my LinkedIn profile and instead of making my profile like a resume on the top, and on the profile page, I instead added the jobs I was looking to fill. The next part was to tell them that I was open to a conversation so they should contact me. I added my work email so they would not have to InMail me and make it more personal. I was a little overwhelmed by the response and am even to this day amazed at how many people want to connect with me. Developers, data folks, and even CEO’s of fortune 500 companies. I have received resumes from people that recruiters would drool for and have spent hours of Boolean searches and spam campaigns’ only to and candidates evade them time and again.

With all the privacy concerns out there and rules being put into place, like GDPR in Europe, it is time to prepare yourself that the salad days of scraping tools and ease of information may be looming, and a new fix could be in order. #truestory  

Derek Zeller draws from over 20 years in the recruiting industry. The last 16 years he has been involved with federal government recruiting specializing in the cleared IT space under OFCCP compliance. Currently, he is the Director of Recruiting Solutions for Engage Talent. He has experience with both third-party agency and in-house recruiting for multiple disciplines. Using out-of-the-box tactics and strategies to identify and engage talent, he has had significant experience in building referral and social media programs, the implementation of Applicant Tracking Systems, technology evaluation, and the development of sourcing, employment branding, and military and college recruiting strategies. Derek currently lives in the Portland area. Now, he is the Director of Recruiting Solutions and Channels with Engage.