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Sourcing Alchemy: How To Transform Your Search Into A Hire

Turn Your Searches
Into Hiring Gold

Alchemy is the study of focused transformation. I have always been fascinated by Alchemy because the aim is to take some low value resource, like lead and turn it into a high value resource like gold. In a way, a production line is an alchemical process. We take raw material through a specific, repeatable process and we transform it into something more valuable.

Boolean Search: The Raw Material

One of the raw materials of sourcing is Boolean search strings. A good search string can return valuable information. But often this raw material is too difficult refine. The information returned, while valuable, requires too much effort to extract.

For example, a search string for attendance list may produce a document with 20 pages of good contact information. There is only one catch. The list is in a PDF file. If you have been a sourcer you know the pain. You have great, detailed information locked in a PDF file. If you have ever tried to extract information from a PDF file and convert it into Excel you will know that the cleanest way to get the information is to manually copy the information into Excel.

We want to take the raw material of a Boolean search and transform it into actionable information that results in our being able to make additional hires. Hires are our gold.

How To Transform Your Search Into A Hire

So how do we transform our searches into hires? First, we create a string that will give us lists of useful contacts. Most sourcers are familiar with how to create a search string that will return lists of information so I won’t go into detail here. However, too often our searches return PDF files. A PDF file and in the past would have most likely been disregarded. However I have created a process to turn the information locked in those PDF files into actionable information. First download the file to your hard drive.

Below is an example of an attendance list in PDF format:

Attendee List

Next you need to find a tool called Tabula. It can be found by clicking here.

Upload your PDF file and select the range you would like to extract data from as in the example below

I then select “repeat this selection.” This will select the same selection on every page for the rest of the document after the appropriate fields have been selected. Next select “Download All Data.” This will download the data into an Excel spreadsheet. The data should look something like this.

From this point is it simply a matter of formatting.

Once the data is in this form it can be used to create a mail merge email campaign, uploaded into an applicant tracking system or matched into LinkedIn Recruiter via their data stacking tool that is called Talent Pipeline. To import the connections into your LinkedIn Recruiter seat simply follow the instructions below.

Lists can have as many as 5,000 contacts. Fill out the required information and select continue.

And Now...

LinkedIn will automatically identify the candidates that already have a LinkedIn profile. You can then tag your list and put the contacts in a project folder. The first name, last name and email should automatically match fields. This will allow you to validate the data you have acquired and it will match the information against a LinkedIn profile. This means that we are not solely dependent on Inmails.

Even if you do not have a LinkedIn Recruiter seat you can manually search for the profiles from your personal account. You can then reach out to them via the information you obtained from your search string. From here we can email and call our prospects. Following this sourcing alchemy process we can turn our led Boolan search strings into prospects we can contact and ultimately convert into golden hires.


Why HR is Being Left Behind in Business

HR is Being Left Behind in Business

HR and Resourcing often talk about utilizing data analytics, but are we really using them? Predictive analytics is paramount to the success of other departments such as Supply Chain and Logistics… so why not in HR?

HR and Resourcing is unique because we get to work with and have an in-depth insight into every other department. We see how accurate and efficient they are, the systems they use and their automated processes. These systems and processes allow other departments to make decisions based on facts and data.

Could you imagine asking a supply chain/production function to base their yearly plan on ‘rough’ figures they did last year? They would be laughed out of the boardroom! Most other departments are expected to base their yearly production forecasts on scientific predictive analytics, using granular detail predicated on things such as trends, current stock, material availability, future orders by individual customer and market fluctuations in order to produce an accurate plan.

So they have a plan, they set out in earnest and things work out perfectly? No, situations change throughout the year. The most successful departments (and ultimately companies) recognize that conditions are never perfect before embarking on a journey. They adapt. They fix and move on as and when it is needed.

Now consider asking your HR function to create a resourcing plan for the next year which will impact the business by millions of pounds. It will affect what every business claims are their most prized assets—their people—and be based on instinct rather than scientific data. It seems crazy, right!?

If it is crazy then why do only one in six companies use any form of data/talent analytics?

The proportion of organisations which are immature in terms of data analytics is astounding. I’m sure you’ll agree.

There are easy-to-use tools in the market that gather data and help predict talent needs, but whether its capability, culture, or fear, HR is reticent to use them. Some companies fear that the use of data analytics will replace rather than enhance the human element. Other HR functions are simply resistant to technology.

The talent acquisition function is generally one with a reactionary culture. Historically they haven’t had access to the necessary information to plan their yearly forecast, but with the right tools, HR can transition from reactive to proactive within a short timeframe.

Much like other departments, such as Production, the key to HR’s adaptation of data analytics lies in the front end of the process. While some companies invest a lot of time in the strategic workforce planning, or the three, five and 10-year plan, many overlook the one to two year plan, or tactical workforce planning (TWP). Companies are now recognizing more advantage in the TWP which enables the talent acquisition team to add more value and operate more strategically. This focus leads to faster hire times, lower cost to hire, improved job satisfaction, enhanced quality of hire and better retention rates.

With innovation in the resourcing world focusing on more unique and wonderful ways of finding talent this genuinely means companies are treating the symptoms; they’re not treating the problem. These innovations are important, but they are still used in the middle section of the resourcing lifecycle often after the horse has bolted.

This is creating a major gap and loss in functionality, productivity and profitability. True, HR is a people—not things—driven environment, so operating carefully is paramount. It may make sense to move more slowly, but it doesn’t have to stagnate.

Other functions are racing ahead and optimizing efficiency by using data analytics. However, HR has been rogue for too long. Now, HR has to be careful. If they don’t start showing some commercial awareness and savvy, they’ll be left behind while competitors with more data-driven HR departments give their businesses a competitive advantage.


Sourcing, Analytics, Branding: Three Roads Diverge in a Career

3 Roads to one Career

At your desk in the morning you read Google alerts, at lunch you browse LinkedIn, and by dinner you realize you must call your ZoomInfo rep again to add contacts. At this point in your career, you’ve developed a six-cups-of-coffee-a-day habit that has ruled out your fallback job as a surgeon. Congratulations, you're a Sourcer. What does that mean and what does a career in sourcing look like? Well there are three different roads in this career: all of them less traveled.


The first road is right down the middle. You are part researcher, part sales, and part psychologist, sans the expensive couch. You work tactically on roles that are open today. Your task is to augment the active candidate pipeline with a stream of “passive” candidates where you initiate first contact. You are the proverbial purple squirrel hunter. Armed with LinkedIn and Entello you bravely ask the currently employed to consider a lateral move for less pay.

Sourcing is tactical and similar to the function of a perm placement agency. The Swiss Army knife of recruiting, Sourcers fill transactional positions, acting as screeners when the applicant volume is high, finding prospects with a very specific skill set.

Research and Analytics Sourcer

First we identify the proper talent pools, then research to turn this pool into a talent pipeline. We identify contacts—who, when and how to reach them. Employing research and analytics tools, we compile prospects from multiple sources (employing aggregators to automate the process) creating a single, searchable user interface which gives us an overall view of the labor market supply side. This information provides an idea of the size of the pool, confidence in its accuracy and can give us prospect contact channels. The researcher then locates email addresses, phone numbers, twitter handles and other methods of outreach for these prospects using tools like ZoomInfo and

To single out receptive prospects for this message, the Sourcer enters predictive analytics tools. Originally intended for use in workforce planning, these were designed to give HR departments early warning about who might be exploring or at risk, informing companies about turnover, helping to prevent resignations and retain key employees.

The tool, which lets a company more accurately plan ahead, assists HR with retention and more efficiently targets the Sourcer’s outreach, thus bridging the chasm between workforce planning and talent acquisition.

In large organizations, researchers lay the groundwork for identification, qualification, and engagement of talent pool prospects, giving the Sourcer more targeted and receptive daily outreach. The information has been cross-checked by multiple sources, there are a variety of contact avenues and the predictive analytics tool has indicated receptive prospects.

Employer Branding and Talent Attraction

But why employ predictive analytics when you can attract the best talent before they enter the market? In 2015, talent attraction and employer branding are creating social media campaigns with stories that inspire, inform and entertain prospective candidates. Instead of using commercial branding to influence consumers, employer branding positions companies as the employer of choice.

This first, large scale effort, makes work about more than compensation. Social media messages increase reach and authenticity, developing a community where prospects interact with a company in a meaningful way before formally entering the application process.

I experienced this first-hand working for a grants management software development company—not perceived as the most exciting place to work. A story shared in the halls was the essence of the culture the company sought to create. One of our products was used by law enforcement agencies to apply for grants to acquire bullet proof vests. We received a letter from a law enforcement agent shot in the line of duty, thanking us for helping him get the vest that saved his life. Employer branding demonstrates that your company is more than a paycheck and destination—it is a meaningful place to grow a career. A successful social media campaign communicates a company’s core values to a target market attracting talented people who share those values. Employer branding and talent attraction are valuable new sourcing paths that will continue to grow as dependable fields in their own right.

Three roads diverge in a career. All three are roads less traveled. You have decided to take one…and that will make all the difference.





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Hudson is a global talent solutions company. We help transform the workplace and unleash the full potential of organizations and individuals. Our expert team and proprietary tools provide you with unique insights and services that help you maximize your success. Across 20 countries, we deliver a range of recruitment, talent management and recruitment process outsourcing solutions to get you and your business where you want to be.