5 Recruiting Lessons From Sherlock Holmes

great mouseMy name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people don’t know.”

I have recently started reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  After years of skirting around the book with various interpretations such as Disney’s The Great Mouse Detective and the BBC’s Sherlock, I have finally come face to page with the man himself; Sherlock Holmes.

For those of you who don’t know (have you been living under a rock?!), Sherlock Holmes is a fictional, London-based “consulting detective” whose crime and mystery solving abilities border on the fantastic and along with his sidekick Dr. Watson they take on a plethora of cases for our reading pleasure.

It’s a great read and one that I would highly recommend, but one thing that struck me particularly while reading was the number of lessons the infamous super sleuth can teach any recruiter.

Elementary, My Dear Watson: 5 Lessons Every Recruiter Can Learn From Sherlock Holmes

I have trained myself to see what others overlook

Sherlock states boldly in “A Case of Identity”, and indeed he has. His ability to quite literally read a person and a situation has always fascinated Dr. Watson and it has now fascinated me. Sherlock does in his line of work, what every good recruiter should be able to do in his/hers. Holmes’s primary intellectual detection method is abductive reasoning or as it’s dubbed in the books”Holmesian deduction.”

In order to conduct their own bit of “Holmesian deduction“, smart recruiters must go above and beyond what their counterparts will do. Easier said than done you might say, but not when you stop to consider what other recruiters actually overlook. Let’s face it, most recruiters rely heavily on one medium and one medium alone; email. They overlook the abundance of other ways to communicate with candidates. Ring if others are emailing, tweet if others are ringing; you get the idea!

Take a page from Ted Goas’ playbook and “go fishing where the fish hang out“. Find out where the candidates you want to contact are communicating and how they are communicating. Approaching them in a way that is preferable to them will be viewed more favorably and hopefully allow you to secure candidates over and above your email reliant competitors.

He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment

Holmes is a great advocate for using one’s senses and resources to their fullest potential in order to make fully mindful decisions, and in turn, we as recruiters need to ensure we use all the tools and sources available to us to their fullest potential in order to find the best people for the roles we have. We have simply never had more options to search for talent then we do right now.

LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ these are all free tools that are at our disposal as recruiters at this very moment. But it’s all well and good having them there to work with, the trick is knowing how to use them; for example harnessing the right searches in LinkedIn. Invest time in getting to know each of the websites and how other people use them, which are formal, which are casual and how they can be used to get to the people you need to connect with.

sherlockA man should keep his little brain attic stocked with all the furniture that he is likely to use

Holmes is also a believer in using lessons learned from previous cases to help him solve others. This is something recruiters can do very easily if they take the time to record previous jobs, Boolean search strings they have undertaken and case studies presented at conferences.

By taking note of how you or even someone else managed to fill a difficult role in the past, you are already one step ahead if a similar case arises in the future. Keeping a document with all the strings you have ever used is a great strategy.

An even better one is to encourage your colleagues to do the same so that the knowledge can be shared. Events like unconferences and meetups where you get the chance to listen to other recruiter’s experiences and advice, are also excellent venues to take note.

After all, as Holmes says, “it is necessary that the reasoner should be able to use all the facts which have come to his knowledge“.

There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.”

Baker Street’s most infamous resident has the uncanny ability to pay attention to and derive answers from what isn’t there and not just what is. The same can be said of a great recruiter. Some information will be obvious and available to every recruiter out there, but a smart recruiter can look beyond the obvious and delve further. Your job is to look beyond what is presented and mindfully interact with it. Dig deeper and probe for what isn’t there.

So to summarize, here’s what Holmes would have done:

1. Try to see what others overlook – whether that’s sifting through data scraps or reaching out the old fashioned way!

2. Do things that others are to lazy or complacent to do

3. Use the tools that are at your disposal, and if you don’t know how to use them properly, learn!

4. Keep records of your past recruitment efforts by saving Boolean searches, reviewing case studies and learning from colleagues

5. Look beyond the obvious and get to know the candidate. Having a depth of knowledge about a candidate will make them easier to talk to and rule in or out of your selection process.

- See more at the Social Talent Blog

About the Author: Siofra Pratt is a Digital Marketing Executive at Social Talent, which she originally joined as an intern in May 2013. In her current role, Siofra manages inbound marketing & content creation, social media management and advertising for Social Talent and is the voice of the Social Talent Blog.  A former banker, Siofra holds an honours degree in Commerce and an honours Masters in Creative Advertising.  Follow her on Twitter @sioffy or connect with her on LinkedIn.



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