Full Scale Frontal Assault

Fordyce subscribers know me as the monthly Internet Recruiting columnist but I have said before and I will say again that I was a non-Internet recruiter for many years before I ever had my first PC, much less did any recruiting on the Internet. Today’s candidate market is tightening up and as much as I laud the Internet for being an appropriate sourcing tool for most recruiters, I am always first in line to say to those who ask, do not rely exclusively on the Internet for your candidate pool. There are many insurance and car salesmen today that used to be recruiters that relied virtually 100% on Internet candidates for their job orders. I have always advocated a well-rounded, multi-dimensional approach to candidate sourcing. Here are my thoughts on the subject.

Candidate sourcing is a broad function that is just one part of the overall duties and responsibilities of any recruiter. I have broken this function down into six basic categories of sourcing your next candidate.

Database / Contact Manager

By now, the vast majority of us are utilizing some type of automation to keep track of our candidates, job orders, interviews, placements, etc. As most of you know I am an advocate of each and every one of you doing so. Whether it is a simple home grown database application such as Goldmine or Act, MS/Outlook or a more sophisticated ATS product or service, this resource is your best source and should be first in line every time you get a new job order. If you and/or your employees control the candidates that are entered into the system (as opposed to candidates entering themselves in a web-based application or resumes being automatically “inhaled” every time a new one shows up in your Email) then this group of contacts already knows you. You have credibility with these people. You have probably talked with most of them in the past. You know their strengths and weaknesses. You know their compensation. You can make an informed decision on the suitability of this candidate for your new job order just by running a search against your database. Most of your placements should come from existing records in your database if you have had one for any appreciable length of time.


Do you ask for referrals every time you talk to a candidate? If not, you are losing out on a valuable source of new potential candidates. This should be a standard part of your candidate interview process. If you do ask for referrals and are asking who they know who is “on the market” you are probably not getting as many referrals as you can. You should be asking who they know that “is qualified,” not who “is looking.”

When they tell you they do not know anyone on the market your response is that looking for another job is often a confidential process that is often kept from co-workers for obvious reasons. By asking who is qualified, you bypass that problem. You will always offer anonymity for the referring individual, which will result in more referrals. Again, ask the question every time. You won’t get a referral every time but you would be surprised how many you will get just by asking.


Are you asking each candidate you talk with for three professional references that can attest to their vocational acumen? Again, if not you are missing out on another wonderful resource for potential candidates. When getting close to the end of the call. Simply tell the candidates you would like the references but may not be calling them until the appropriate time. Aside from the reference name, be sure to note the relationship to your candidates, the references’ job title and function, current employer, contact information, and any skills of importance. File these references in your database and let them come up in your results from future job order searches. If the reference is a co-worker, you have a possible candidate. If the reference is a former manager, you now have a job order contact you didn’t have before. You can’t lose here. Again, you won’t get the cooperation of your interviewed candidate 100% of the time but many will be more than happy to offer references just for the asking.

Active Internet Candidates

These are candidates that are actively seeking employment. Most recruiters I know belong to at least one Internet job posting / resume database type service. Monster, Careerbuilder, and HotJobs remain popular but there are a number of other national services that can benefit most of us. We all know, or should know, the pitfalls of using one of these services. Wide candidate exposure. Competing against the client’s own ads. There are several others. Despite these negatives, these services have value. A national database typically has millions of resumes of candidates just waiting for your call. Those candidates who do not wish to put their resume on a national service will often to respond to carefully worded ads placed by a recruiter. Although many recruiters consider this type of resource to offer strictly “B” type candidates, many are very placeable and you should not automatically rule out this method of sourcing, especially when other sourcing methods are not yielding acceptable results.

Your website can also be a great source of active candidates. You do have a website, don’t you? Often when a candidate decides to go on a job search they will go to a search engine and look for recruiters. Yes, they often go to the boards but, as an active candidate, they are typically looking to cover every angle they can. To this day I notice many recruiter Emails that end in earthlink.com or aol.com and I always assume that means they do not have a website. Please revisit this resource. They are so inexpensive now that cost should no longer be a big factor in obtaining your own.

You have pick a name for your website and register it. This costs about $10 a year or maybe $20 if you want Email service, which of course you would. The next cost is hosting. One of the largest domain hosting companies is offering service for about $7.00 a month if you take a one-year contract.

The next step is getting a design and some content. With MS/Frontpage or Dreamweaver and a template you can sometimes do this part yourself. For those not up to the task there are many companies willing to do a simple design for a $100 or so. I am not advocating anything fancy or that requires constant maintenance. Just a page or two to announce your existence, your specialty, maybe a couple of job profiles, and some contact information. Once the website is up and running you register it with a few of the larger search engines and sit back while the candidates come to you.

Niche sites are another often-overlooked Internet resource for active candidates. There are literally thousands of job posting and resume database services, most of them you’ve probably never heard of, that cater to almost every recruiting vocation imaginable. No matter what your specialty, there is undoubtedly a service out there. There are several resources available to research job board specializations, or, simply type your needs into an Internet search engine and see what results you get. The resumes from these boards are typically a bit higher quality than those in a national service. The ads also draw not more, but better quality candidates. They are not inexpensive but this is a great way to get more involved in your recruiting specialty.

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Passive Internet Candidates

Another logical and inexpensive weapon in your candidate sourcing arsenal. As expensive as the active candidate recruiting services can be, passive candidates are often free for the taking, as long as you know how to get the most of your Internet search sessions. Most people use Google to search for resumes, as do I, but don’t overlook MSN Search, Yahoo, or others that may produce results. The key to obtaining the results you desire is to take some time and learn how to get the most resumes that match your job order in the least time possible. This is typically done by utilizing advanced techniques and methods. Are you performing Intitle/Inurl searches? Number Range searches? Are you searching the Internet Communities and/or ISP’s. Are you conducting Synonym Searches? If not, take a class or read a book and learn how to utilize these advanced methods. There is nothing more frustrating and time consuming than typing a few keywords and getting back hundreds of thousands of results. Sure, there are resumes in there but you’ll never get through enough of them to find your perfect candidate.

There are also commercially available tools you can use to automate the passive candidate search process. Many of us use Talenthook, AIRS Oxygen, InfoGist, and / or ZoomInfo to assist us in locating this type of resource. Yes, these services are expensive but can increase productivity dramatically.


As far as candidate sourcing goes, there are two types of advertising. Print and Email. There are plusses and minus’s to both. Print advertising can be in the form of an ad placed in a trade publication, which can serve as public relations function as well as a recruiting function or print advertising can be in the form of a printed mailer sent to a list of potential candidates. Mailers are typically very expensive when you consider the cost of the mailed item plus postage. But…they have staying power. You could get a reply from a mailer months after it was mailed as the recipient keeps it on the desk and responds when the time is right.

Trade publications are less expensive than mailers but also have a long shelf life. Typically, people hand on to their expensive trade publications and also pass them around. Email campaigns can also be productive but are fleeting. First, many of them end up in the junk folder so, unless you are dealing with an experienced Emailer who knows how to word these Emails properly so as to keep as many of them as possible out of the spam folder, you are wasting a lot of time and resources. If your Email happens to make it to the inbox and hits the recipient at just the right time, you could have a new candidate. Generally, Email response rates are no better than other types of mass mailings. Just a very small percentage of the total would be expected to reply. I would suggest a combined approach, selecting whatever you think would work best for your target group.


Next time you get a tough assignment, broaden your search methodologies. Don’t rely on one sourcing method exclusively. Do the best job for your client that you can by using every resource you can.

Mark E. Berger, C.P.C., AIRS CIR has been in recruiting since 1979. He is currently a partner in Ramsey Fox, Inc., an IT services firm and its predecessor, M.E. Berger & Associates since 1986. He has been heavily involved in Internet recruiting and is an expert on recruiting and sourcing products, services available on the Internet and how these products add to the bottom line. Mark’s interests include successfully integrating both computer and Internet recruiting technology into a traditional recruiting environment. He has taken AIRS I and II training and has obtained the AIRS CIR designation. Mark is also on the board of directors for the Missouri Association of Personnel Services. He can be reached at mark@ramseyfox.com. His website is: www.swatrecruiting.com and we recommend you visit it to see archives of his articles and information offerings exclusively for recruiters.

Mark E. Berger, CPC has been in permanent placement since 1979 and has been a partner in Berger/Nowlin, Inc. since 1997. Previously, he owned M. E. Berger & Associates, a permanent placement firm. He has been heavily involved in internet recruiting since 1996 and has successfully attained the AIRS CIR (Certified Internet Recruiter) designation. He is on the Board of Directors for the Missouri Assn. of Personnel Services and can be reached via email at mark@swatrecruiting.com.


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