Free and Low-Cost Candidate Sourcing Tools for Internet Recruiting

If you’ve read my last two monthly columns for the Electronic Recruiting Exchange, then you know I’m a big fan of advanced (Boolean) search strings to target candidates with just the right skill sets and locations, and doing so for free. However, I’m the first to admit that if you need to search for numerous candidate profiles, then running these strings on a regular basis, saving the resumes to your computer, and finally getting them into your resume management database systems for subsequent applicant tracking is time-consuming. It might well be worth paying a little to reduce those burdens. With the latest crop of Web-enabled products from Internet recruiting software vendors, all of these steps can be largely automated. The main problems ride on a continuum of cost vs. performance: Anything that resides on your company’s network will require systems integration, customization, and other unforeseen expenses. Anything that is completely Web-enabled puts the programming and hardware burden on the vendor, but you usually compromise in terms of performance. Hybrid solutions have pluses and minuses of both extremes (where typically one or more layers of the application are installed at your end to improve performance, but it appears to the user as if it’s all on the Web, because they access all the features from their Web browser). Earlier this year, the Electronic Recruiting Exchange published a comprehensive study reviewing 38 software packages and application service providers (ASPs) that provide applicant tracking capabilities to large and small companies. Depending on the particular company’s needs, at least one of those systems will suffice, but we’re talking anywhere from four to six figures to purchase and implement these products. The steps leading up to that?primarily, sourcing the resumes in the first place?also have a cadre of vendors eager for your business. If your company is large enough or you handle a large volume of resumes, it’s worth taking a second look at these vendors. They’ve come a long way in the last six months, and some new folks on the scene have leapfrogged the veterans technologically. There are also service bureaus like NetRecruiter.net and Recruiters-Aid.com that will do the searching for you and deliver resumes. Some of these bureaus, as well as career portals like CareerPath.com and WorkSeek.com, guarantee that they’ll deliver a minimum number of candidates within a given time period of high enough quality/relevance that you’ll want to interview or you don’t pay any fee. As with any agreement, read the fine print (e.g., how do they verify the candidates behind the qualified resumes are really in the market, vs. just some great resume that hasn’t been circulated in over six months?), but this may provide an extra comfort level to those recruiters who have no trouble getting lots of resumes, but do have trouble getting resumes that are qualified for the positions they are trying to fill. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*> In this article, however, I’ll look at a few categories of the free and low-cost tools that can save you time in the area of candidate sourcing. If you have success with these, you’ll have some metrics to use as ammunition with those who approve expenditures at your firm to take it to the next step and implement one or more of the higher-end solutions referenced above.

  1. Resume and news spiders: BullsEye from Intelliseek.com, Copernic2000 from Copernic.com, and WebFerret from FerretSoft.com are probably the three best known spider products in a crowded category. Fundamentally, these work the same way as if you did Boolean searches yourself, but they have built-in filters to make sure your results only include resumes, or just news about a particular competitor company or industry niche, or whatever. Ferret’s Power User Pack is a free suite of eight Internet search utilities from ZDNet: WebFerret, EmailFerret, FileFerret, InfoFerret, IRCFerret, NewsFerret, PhoneFerret and AuctionFerret. They search for general news, Web pages, newsgroups, files, phone numbers, email addresses, online auctions, and chat groups. Results are displayed in sortable lists in a clean, clear interface. The Pro version includes more search engines and data sources, but the free version is fairly robust. BullsEye has a full-functioning, 30-day free trial of its new Bulls Eye Pro version 2.5 release (make sure you download BullsEye Pro 2 and not the regular BullsEye product). Copernic’s permanently free download is not nearly as full-functioning as the paid version. BullsEye supports the most, with over 800 search engines organized in over 120 categories. The advanced search features let you hone in on what you need, duplicates are automatically removed, and results can be saved as reports. If you select ‘Jobs’ from the program’s left-hand ‘Search’ menu, searching for resumes is a pre-set query-you just need to add keywords-though if you click the Customize button, you’ll see only about 10 sites are simultaneously searched. If you select ‘News’ from the ‘Search’ menu instead, and build a specific, resume-related Boolean search string in their Query Wizard, you’ll be tapping many more data sources and, as a result, generate many more resumes.
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  3. E-newsletter management software: To understand the use for products like eGroups.com, Listbot.com, etc., a little background first: E-newsletters are a great target marketing tactic. Think about your favorite business or personal hobby site on which you’ve registered as a member. You get an email from them regularly reminding you of the new resources on their site, special deals, etc. In fact, all leading community sites (as well as those aspiring to be portals) use weekly or monthly emails as reminders of all the great things on their sites, as well as news blurbs with other relevant links. That’s what maintains top-of-mind awareness among likely customers for these sites and leads to sales. Why not adapt this for recruiting? After all, recruiters are really salespeople whose product they’re selling to potential customers (i.e., workers) is their company, and whose competitors are other companies. So you need to market your product like a brand. E-newsletters are an effective, no-cost way to do that. As for newsletter content, you can get timely news on what’s happening in any industry from sites like Individual.com, via any of the spider news tools described in section #1 above, or directly from people you’ve placed/hired in the candidate niche(s) that your newsletter targets. Prepare the content in the same format as popular e-newsletters (for each item, a headline, short blurb, and link to original source online for more details) and you can use any of these email newsletter management systems to send it with a mouse click to as many candidate email addresses as you have. Note that only one or two blurbs should discuss jobs at your company: remember, you want the majority of content to be editorially-objective, useful information to both active and passive job seekers. Otherwise, most recipients will want to unsubscribe from your newsletter. What eGroups.com, Listbot.com and the like do is maintain your registrant email database, allow new automatic signups and unsubscriptions, send out the newsletters you write, etc. Unlike Listbot, even if your member list gets huge, eGroups is still free.
  4. Multi-Database Resume Extractors: Though they’re in a higher price category than the products above, specific resume-sourcing tools are big time-savers. In fact, two that I like?Resume infoFinder Gold from InfoGist.com and Skillbot from Skillbot.com?offer full-featured trials with no obligation (14 days for Infogist, 30 days for Skillbot). Using Infogist’s as the example, here’s how they work: Resume infoFinder Gold simultaneously searches dozens of resume databases to find candidates meeting your search criteria. (Over 40 of the sites available are free databases, but you can add your password for any accounts you have with paid databases, such as Monster.com, etc., to include those in the search results, or eliminate any third-party resume databases you don’t want searched.) Beyond that, here’s where this class of product stands out: As the resume results load, they’re sorted automatically based on your search criteria. Then you can export whichever resumes you want (all those over a certain score, just the ones you’ve viewed, etc.) in whatever format you want (ASCII text files to any folder on your computer or local network drive, email attachments to any internal or external recipients desired, etc.) so the resumes are ready for database storage or to be acted upon by the appropriate individuals. For best results, I recommend you start the search before you go out for lunch, a long meeting, or?ideally?at the end of the workday. When you return, all data sources have been mined and your results are already sorted.

Glenn has been developing innovative sourcing and recruiting strategies, techniques and tools in scalable, cost-effective ways since 2015 at State Street, one of the world’s largest custody banks, focusing on diverse talent for North America.  From 2010-15, he was Group Manager, Sourcing Center of Excellence at Avanade, a $2 billion IT consultancy owned by Accenture and Microsoft. He led an online-focused offshore team and junior onshore calling team, plus some global training and talent sourcing initiatives.  In 2009, he conceived and implemented the Sourcing Lab series at SourceCon, which soon became its most popular track.  In 2017, he devised and proposed the Programmers track, which debuts at this SourceCon.

In the 1990s, Glenn created Recruiting-Online.com, a pioneering Internet recruiting seminar which remains the world's longest continuously-running, self-paced online talent sourcing course.  He has trained recruiters from hundreds of companies from the Fortune 500 to small staffing firms.  His popular "Beyond Job Boards" presentations have helped job-seekers tap the hidden employment market via innovative methods around search, social networking, and personal brand enhancement activities.

Glenn was a senior Internet researcher for Microsoft from 2005-2008, focusing on competitive intelligence and proactive international recruiting, following 2 years in a similar role at IT solutions firm, Getronics. Besides presenting at recruiting industry conferences, he co-founded the Boston Area Talent Sourcing Association (BATSA) in 2014 which he still runs.

A Yale University graduate, Glenn discovered recruiting in 1996 by founding the first newspaper chain-owned regional resume/job board in Massachusetts, JobSmart, which won the industry’s two most prestigious awards in 1998: the EPpy Award (Editor & Publisher) and the Digital Edge Award (Newspaper Assn. of America).

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