DIY Network: The Case For Building Your Own Sourcing Tool

diyI love a good throwback Thursday post. Who doesn’t love seeing an adorable picture of our younger, happier, care-free self? As a veteran, I also always love to see the old military photos, too. Finding out that someone else in recruiting is a soldier makes me proud and feel like I’m getting to know them even better. Throwback Thursday thrives on that feeling –  deep down, it helps all of us feel like we’re getting to know each other better. We’re vulnerable and probably a little vain.

Back in the day, we actually got to know each other by – well, meeting? Talking? Pulling out all the old photo albums. Now, when we find a funny or adorable old photo of ourselves,we snag a photo on our phone instead of stealing it from an album. I get it, and I’ve posted a ton of my own old school photos. But every once in awhile, I can’t find that one picture I really want to show my wife or friends.

Then I’m that guy –  sitting at the table with my head down, scrolling through my photos, photos I’m tagged in and other people’s posts. I just wish it was as easy as grandma’s house – just picking the album you recognize. I hate to say this outloud but, paper is better than digital in that moment. It feels weird to actually prefer the old school but I guess I favor the fundamentals.

Sourcing Tools Come and Go

Have you ever taken a look at the Dead Pool  (thanks Aaron Lintz for this link)? You’d be surprised how many recruiting technologies are lying in this graveyard. They all promised to be the next big thing, the silver bullet, the cure to your recruiting woes. It only leads you to the common conclusion that we all have eventually: there is no silver bullet in recruiting.

If you are anything like me, I happen to love tools. I have tried and use anything ranging from niche websites, bookmarklets, chrome extensions, and even full installable programs to help me automate my sourcing. But we have to realize that tools are like tides; they come and go. And sometimes, it’s even better to just build your own. 

Why not? You don’t need any programming skills – just a little ingenuity, time to test, and some sourcing know-how to get exactly what you want. It’s 2016 and yes, we I’m about to bring up Boolean. I’ve heard the critics who said boolean would die a painful death, but look. As tools and extensions get bought, sued into oblivion, or join the Dead Pool, Boolean still swoops in to save the day. Rather than relying on one tool and potentially losing access, invest a little time to build your own. 

Anyone can make their tool customized to them. A few of the advantages include:

  • It’s yours and customized to how you search/source
  • Adaptable to changes on Google
  • Store results, search data, and research
  • Use it for reporting/CRM
  • My favorite reason: It’s free

DIY: How To Build Your Own Sourcing Tool

Look at the string below. What emotions does it invoke in you? Fear? Dread? I look at a string like this and my hands start cramping up thinking of having to type that over and over again.


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site:linkedin.com/in -inur:dir -intitle:profiles (java OR j2ee) angular “Buffalo/Niagara, New York Area”

There had to be another way. I originally turned to tools like RecruitEm and SourceHub (by far the best one on the market) but I found that sometimes, it didn’t include what I wanted or it included too much and I had to edit the search anyway.

Deep down, I have a bit of disdain for these off the shelf Boolean generation tools. They’re trying to take the critical thinking and research piece out of the recruitment process which is critical for anyone and everyone. I mean, if you’re thinking “Why research the difference between javascript and java when the tool will figure it out for me?” – you’ve got recruiting all wrong. I actually had a new recruiter ask me that in training and had to explain that at some point, you’ll have to actually talk to these prospective candidates. You might want to know what you’re talking about and have an inkling of knowledge to fuel a conversation. I’m not saying you have to be an expert, but at least have a clue. I digress.

So late one night, I decided to try and figure out how to work smarter and not harder. How can I not type as many boolean strings, repeat them for any role I work, and scale it? Enter the excel spreadsheet.

At the time, I was using excel to house data like many of us have (and still are), but I never experimented with data manipulation. Here is why I built my own vs buying a new sourcing tool:

  • You can run searches directly from your spreadsheet
  • No Boolean formatting issues
  • Formulas can reduce typing
  • It won’t get bought out
  • I can add sources that I use regularly

Here is what you’ll need:

  • Two excel formulas: CONCATENATE and HYPERLINK
  • Boolean knowledge
  • A website of interest
  • Notepad or a program to temporarily hold text with no formatting (not Microsoft Word)
  • Small amounts of patience and creativity

To see the step by step instructions in a downloadable PDF, click here.

Arron DanielsAbout The Author: Arron Daniels is a sourcing geek and Senior Recruiting Sourcer for H-E-B. Google Custom Search Engines, boolean string slinging, and scouring the web is just another day at the office for his talent identification process. He’s a heavy user and sourcer of social media and loves the thrill of the hunt.

Arron Daniels


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