Finding Alternatives to Google and Bing
Sourcing expert Ronnie Bratcher, who will be presenting at this year's Recruiting Trends Conference, explains why sourcers need to try new tools and approaches to find people who may not want to be found.
By Andrew R. McIlvaine
After spending 15 years in the retail business, including a stint as manager of a Target store, Ronnie Bratcher decided it was time for a change. He posted his resume on Monster and was contacted by someone who'd done a keyword search and discovered that Bratcher had some recruiting experience. He accepted the new recruiting position and ended up loving it. That was 17 years ago. Today, Bratcher is a sourcing consultant and owner of Arete Alliance, based in metro Atlanta. He's a strong advocate for the concept of a sourcing community, in which the people tasked with going out and finding passive candidates should be helping and learning from one other. In that vein, Bratcher will be presenting a session as part of the Sourcing Labs track at the Recruiting Trends Conference titled "Exploring Beyond the Google/Bing Search Engine Galaxy." Today's sourcers can't afford to rely on mainstream search engines to find the people who don't have LinkedIn profiles, he says; instead, they need to explore alternatives. We spoke with Bratcher about the field of sourcing, alternatives to Google and why it's so hard to find younger candidates today.
What do you consider to be the most exciting developments in sourcing within the past few years?
There are a lot more tools to use nowadays then before. When I started it was fax machines, then we moved to the Internet. I think nowadays what is exciting is there are lots of tools but there are other ways to identify people online. The diff tools, the different ways you can use the search engines -- that's exciting.
What are some of the common sourcing mistakes that sourcers and recruiters tend to make?
No. 1 is sticking to your "go-tos," for example, always going to LinkedIn and always using Google, which is fine, but you're not exploring anything different and you're playing in the same sandbox everyone else is. So I suggest spending five to 15 percent of your day playing in different sandboxes, trying different tools. Go out and explore these different avenues and getting different indexed results that the search engines just won't give you. So it's about being kind of explorative and taking a chance, and if it doesn't work then it doesn't work.
Where might you go looking for these different sandboxes?
I watch a couple of search engine lists, more for the researchers of the world, but I always talk about what's going on with search engines because there are so many of them. It's good to take a look at them and test them out. In my presentation, I'm going to look at 10 that I think are really cool and fun to use. And hopefully, that will move people to look at different things, because there's not one search engine that can let you search the entire Web.
What can these different search engines offer you that Google can't?
Google will tell you what they want you to find. But DuckDuckGo will give you different indexed search results from Google -- they're not ad-driven, so they'll show you different results. Google will give you results based on your search history. Other engines will also give you what you're looking for versus what they want you to find. Google's a great tool, mind you, but take a part of your day to try out new things.
What would you consider your most important "lessons learned" as a sourcer?
There have been so many lessons learned. First, be methodical in the way you approach people. In my younger days, you were given a requisition and immediately started looking instead of doing up-front research work and creating a searching strategy that, hopefully, included the hiring manager as an integral part of the conversation, as well as the recruiter, and making sure you're ready to go. If you're going on a business trip, you don't just pack and walk out the door but be methodical in deciding what you're going to wear, and you should approach sourcing the same way. Another lesson is to just continue to be involved and open to what is going on. Obviously, I'm an early-generation sourcer, the new sourcers have access to all kinds of stuff, so be open to that, and consider the sourcing world as a team and not be against each other.
How can you use the sourcing world as a team?
I've learned to be follow forums; I go to about four different conferences a year just to network and share and learn from others, see what they're doing, share what I'm doing, make new friends, meet mentors. Those are the things that people should be doing and keeping that positivity in the market rather than beating each other up and saying "I'm the greatest." And if someone needs help, help them out.
What's the hardest part about sourcing effectively?
What I've learned is that organizations don't understand sourcing; they don't really know what they want. They don't understand what sourcing really is because they think of it as getting applications from the ATS or doing some searches on job boards and LinkedIn, but sourcing is on another, deeper level.
What are the most important traits to have as a sourcer?
Creativity is one, being curious is No. 2, and a desire for continuous learning. And being open to understanding that you'll not always be succsful and learning from mistakes, being hoenst with u teanm, this is not working how do I fix it.
What are some key differences between candidates today compared to a few years ago that sourcers need to be aware of?
What I've seen over my 17 years in the business is that we've progressed from candidates being open on the web, having a LinkedIn profile or posting their resume on job board to today, where they are overly contacted by people doing keyword searches and not really researching this person. In the world I live in, candidates do not want to be contacted, so they're erasing themselves from certain areas. Instead of LinkedIn and Indeed, they're going to other places more specific to their world, like coding forums. The second thing is that, as the millennials graduate, they're not going to LinkedIn, they're using other things like Pinterest or Snapchat -- these are the places they're putting themselves professionally, they're going into different forums -- all these different worlds that we have not yet tried to explore. My most recent two projects have been looking for 22-to-26 year-olds, which is pretty difficult because they're not hanging out on LinkedIn or job boards, so you've got to track them down and see where they're socializing.