Using Google Alerts to Support Relationship Recruiting

If you haven’t used the news alert services provided by Google or Yahoo! as a recruiting tool, you’re missing a great opportunity. These services provide notification via email or text message whenever a news item that contains search terms you specify is uncovered.

While many individuals use alerts to keep themselves up-to-date about current events, alert services can also be used to enable powerful relationship-recruiting capabilities. Some of the possible uses include:

  • As a prospect-monitoring service (CRM functionality).
  • As a competitive intelligence-gathering tool.
  • As a prospect-sourcing spider.
  • As an internal employee visibility-monitoring service.

Global alerts have successfully been utilized in college athletic recruiting, and they can be equally as beneficial in corporate and third-party recruiting. Other factors that make them perfect for use in HR are that they’re quick to set up, free, and easy to maintain.

Using Alerts as a Prospect-Monitoring Service

Relationship recruiting can be a powerful form of recruiting, but it is rarely used effectively due to the tremendous amount of effort required to maintain hundreds of associations with prospects spread throughout the world. Many recruiters already accept that the most effective way to recruit an individual who is fully employed and engaged is to identify him before he is needed and to then build a relationship of trust with him. However, establishing that trust is not always as easy as it sounds. Alert services such as those provided by Google and Yahoo! can help make relationship recruiting more feasible by providing a trigger for personalized communications.

In relationship recruiting or relationship sales, look for opportunities to contact and communicate with prospects in order to show your interest in them. Whether you call them, have lunch with them, or just drop them an email periodically, the more meaningful contact that you have with them, the better. The key phrase here is “meaningful contact.”

The prospect-relationship management approach can’t work if there aren’t enough legitimate opportunities to communicate with the prospect. Granted, you can call or email on a random basis, but the best relationship building occurs when you contact the individual at a credible point in time. Alert services can be set up to monitor a prospect’s name, company, profession, etc.

Whenever an alert arrives in your inbox, you have a credible opportunity to reach out and make contact. For example, if you are targeting “John Doe” at IBM as a future engineering recruit, you can create a customized-alert search on his name, plus some identifying factors that make sure the alert focuses on the right person, such as “John Doe +engineer + IBM.” Once the alert is set up, you will be notified about significant news events that mention this prospect.

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What this means to a recruiter is that whenever John Doe gives a talk, has an article published, is quoted in a major publication, receives an award or patent, or writes a new blog entry, you will be notified. Depending on how you word the alert, you might also get notices of personal events that are happening in his life, including weddings, child births, and completion of certifications and degrees, all of which are credible reasons to contact him and further build the relationship. Google’s variation of the alert model allows you to use up to 32 different keywords, making it easy to narrow down the alert search so that you will only be notified about the specific type of life events that you care the most about.

Using Alerts as a Competitive Intelligence-Gathering Tool

Savvy recruiters also seek out competitive intelligence that may improve their recruiting efforts by enabling them to leverage the weaknesses of a talent competitor in search of strategy development and execution. Obviously, individuals who are not interested in leaving a strong firm could change their minds quickly if their firms were to experience a severe negative event. As a result, it makes sense to use the alert feature to track companies that you compete against or poach for talent for news relating to executive departures, turmoil, scandal, product failures, lawsuits, stock price volatility, etc.

Using Alerts as a Prospect-Sourcing Spider

News stories, blog posts, and the like from professional publications can be full of information that identifies potential prospects, often by name. Because no recruiter could possible stay on top of all written forms of communication that relate to your profession, alerts can be set up to help make sure you didn’t miss a lead. While many tools exist to help you find online resumes, there are not as many tools to help you get at the remaining 80% of the workforce that is happy being relatively invisible.

Alerts can help you identify individuals who win awards, are issued patents, give talks at major conferences, or who have a certain job title. In addition, an alert can also make you aware of those who have recently been promoted. Setting up a search alert for employees at IBM might include such phrases as “IBM promotion” or “new role.”

Using Alerts as an Internal Employee-Visibility Monitoring Service

The same alert process that can help you identify desirable candidates at other firms can also be used to identify which of your own employees are most visible on the Web. By tracking the exposure and visibility of your top employees, you can get a pretty good idea of which individuals are being targeted by other firms as potential recruits. Obviously, if you can find a lot of positive information on the Web about your employees, other firms’ recruiters can do the same. Incidentally, when one of your employee’s visibility increases dramatically over a relatively short period of time, you should be aware that this can be an indication that he is purposely increasing his visibility, most likely with the purpose of attracting external recruiters’ attention.

Final Thoughts

Recruiters are constantly complaining that there is nothing new in recruiting. However, that perception is probably caused by a lack of information about the wonderful new tools that are now available to recruiters on the Web. In the last three years alone, recruiting opportunities have exploded with social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook. It has now become quite common to place recruiting videos on sites like YouTube, as well as to recruit via video games and virtual worlds like Second Life. News alerts offered by Google and Yahoo! are just some of the expanding tools available to the advanced recruiter who is willing to try something new. And, you can’t beat the price.

Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website and on He lives in Pacifica, California.



2 Comments on “Using Google Alerts to Support Relationship Recruiting

  1. John,

    As always great article. Did you know that AIRS has been talking about Google Alerts for almost a year now? Both their ExtremeLab and Googling classes encourage the use of this great technology. They have allowed me to allow technology to source for me and freed me up to do the contacting.


  2. Google Alerts have been there for some time now. It can act as your resume spidering tool dropping new resumes to your inbox for the query you created.
    It can keep monitoring your brand (personal and co).
    Other than Alerts; recruiters should be using RSS feeds which Yahoo and allows you do.
    You can intergrate feeds to your Outlook.

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