Screw Linkedin: Hire through Instagram, Product Hunt, Couchsurfing, Strava and Airbnb

Most articles about hiring through the upcoming social media are really lame and only say: ‘post relevant content on Snapchat’ & ‘be authentic on Instagram’. This is all fun and games when you are Facebook, Stripe or Uber but most of us founded / work for companies which only followers are your mum and a couple of randoms — if you are lucky.

While I agree that it’s good for (startup) companies to have some presence on these channels, the real benefit from it will only be in a much later stage when you already have someone managing social media for you. The real work has to be done by yourself, right now, and this all starts with your attitude.

disclaimer: you need to know basic x-ray searching with google and use your brain occasionally if you want to do this yourself.


When I talk attitude, I mean attitude towards the internet and how to use it to find your next colleague. Most of us have limited views on where you can find people. People massively flock to LinkedIn and only use this as their one stop shop for finding/hiring people. More advanced people (founders, tech-leads & good tech recruiters) put Github, Stackoverflow, Hackernews & Reddit to their use to find talent.

Because I was bored of being in the same places as everyone else, I started thinking. In essence the success of Linkedin is that they managed to get shitloads of people to sign up to their database and leave important data on their profiles.

However, the tide is changing. Quite frankly I don’t really care about previous work experience, or a nice chronological list of when & where you studied. The ‘resume’ style of presenting yourself is becoming obsolete. I’d much rather know what code you’ve pushed, what music you like and what you care about outside of work. A chronological list is just a nice to have, because I will find out those things when you get back to me because I found you on say, Couchsurfing.

With that in mind, think of the endless opportunities that snapchat, instagram and couchsurfing give us. A look into peoples interest and the best of all: they all have user databases where people leave info. Yeah, about the job they do or what they study.

Couchsurfing & Strava

Let me put this ‘attitude’ to use.

A simple google search like: "software engineer" London gives me 50 software engineers in London, who open up their houses to complete strangers. This says a lot about a person, and thats just what I am after.

The good thing is, I am a fellow couchsurfer so it gives me a great plus when I reach out to them. I have even sent Couchsurf requests when I could not find peoples private email and always with success.

This is also why I always cross reference check people with strava (runners / bikers community). My javascript bookmarklets I showed in a previous post are helpful here:


Since I am not big on the newer social media like Instagram, I am much more limited than the younger people out there looking for their talent. It feels lame to follow someone on instagram because I want to hire them.

However, if you have the following and use them new social media daily, it’s a whole different story.

The core of cracking these user-databases is knowing how they structure their urls to get to their users (eg. “/users”). Also need to know how to craft your search-string so that you will only land on user profiles. For Instagram, profiles always have “followers”, “posts” and “following” mentioned, so it’s smart to add these to your search string. Also, Instagram does not have a separate link like Couchsurfing for their users.

So a search like "computer science" posts followers followinggets you all the computer science people on Instagram, which are around 1800 profiles currently.

The fun thing is that you can do crazy stuff with Instagram, if for whatever reason you care that your hires like Man Utd, simply add manutd to your string and bang: 3 people left. (Says enough about ManU as well, :troll: ) "computer science" post followers following manutd

I think you get my point, be creative (how to add those emoticons in your search?) on your strings. Add stuff that is relevant to you and your company and single out people. When you find someone, look their name up on your favorite tool Linkedin.

Product Hunt

Product hunt became big! And it’s full of people who care about products. Or make products. People who make stuff are nice. People who make stuff are good hires across the board.

Same story here. But because I am obviously not going to do all the hard work for you guys. I write this stuff up hoping you go creative yourself. Yes, you can add something like this: "1..10 made" to your string to single out makers only. Stuff like that, go do it.


If you want engineers with a sense of moneymaking in them, Airbnb is a good one. Also, they give you a look into their house (which is frequently the equivalent of a look inside their brain).

If your startup has some money to spend go book nights with all the SF based Computer Science people: "computer science" "san francisco" gives you 1290 nights * $200 avg price = $258.000 to spend a night with all of them. Success guaranteed of course.

Probably there are many other sites like these that have a database you can search through. Things that are relevant for your business. Things that make it easier to connect with people through shared interests.

Let the stupid recruiters spam people through Linkedin. You, CEO of a business, founder of a startup, even engineers! Go out and do these things instead. Stand out from the rest, that’s how you get attention from the best.

Here at Improbable we have been applying these and much bolder tactics to hire our world class team. As a virtually unknown startup we managed to poach the best people from Google, Amazon, Goldman Sachs & Airbnb. Partly because of our ‘attitude’ we managed to build a team that got voted #38th smartest company by MIT & we are one of the only two EU companies that got an a16z investment — where obviously talent was a big influencer as well.

Currently I am trying to crack Snapchat for hiring. It’s been an awkward few weeks of trying as I never used it before. Stay tuned for that.

If you liked what you just read, share it with your friends.

Also, follow me on Snapch… errr 

Engage with candidates to create recruitment advocates: ASB Bank

Source: Shortlist News

Maintaining a dialogue with your candidates can turn them into passionate advocates for your business, says Mark Sumner, talent sourcing manager at New Zealand’s ASB Bank.

Speaking at the NZ Sourcing Summit in Auckland yesterday, Sumner said ASB used LinkedIn and other social media to create talent communities where it engaged with skilled workers – sharing information, showcasing its culture, and alerting them to opportunities.  By keeping candidates warm even if there wasn’t a specific job in the mix yet, the company built valuable relationships.  As an example, Sumner said that about a year ago a top banker had relocated to New Zealand from South Africa, and had joined ASB’s talent community.

“He identified ASB and [its insurance subsidiary] Sovereign as two of the key players where he wanted to work. Then he actually went out to market and told everybody this.  “We had people phoning up on the back of his referrals, wanting to come and work for us. Just because of him as a candidate, his passion for the brand.  “It took us nine months, but we managed to hire him into a role as well – and it’s those people who are the ones that you want to work with.”

Sumner said the company also used its own staff to promote its employer brand and open roles and it only took a handful of influencers to generate strong interest.  “Some of our EGMs share our jobs with their networks via LinkedIn – for us that’s a pretty big one.” A single influential person in specific job type could help the bank build a significant pipeline of potential candidates, he said.

What’s the point of a huge database that sits idle?

ASB head of talent acquisition Matt Pontin told the Summit ASB had some 5,000 staff in New Zealand and made about 1,500 hires per annum, with a strong culture of internal mobility and less than 1% of hires made through agencies.  Pontin said ASB valued quality over quantity when it came to sourcing.

In “the old agency days”, he said, the focus was on amassing a huge database with hundreds of thousands of candidates.  “Some applicant tracking systems still have that many candidates, and nothing gets done with most of them, so what’s the point?  “If you’re not engaging with passive talent, market mapping, knowing who’s who, putting them into your community, and getting ready to ignite them when you need to ignite them – then you might not be sourcing the highest calibre of talent.”

Recruitment managers need to be social media ambassadors

Sumner said ASB had worked hard to get its in-house recruiters to embrace social media.  “It’s taken a while – those recruiters that are used to filling roles by putting jobs up have taken a bit longer”, he said, but with the leaders of the recruitment function acting as “ambassadors” for social media, “I’m now proud to say the entire talent acquisition team is on Twitter”.

“They are still learning, but it is just about showing people that it works, and how it can work.”  The team had social media updates at its meetings, discussing what it had been doing, and what the outcomes had been.

“The results speak for themselves. If you are having to look at 50 people from a job board, to make one hire, whereas on social media we may only have to look at eight people to make one hire… I know what I’d rather do.”

Q&A with Brent Pearson

Founder and ‘Director of Cool Shit and Chaos’ at HRX, Brent Pearson is perhaps one of the pioneers of internet sourcing in Australia. Fed up with the low quality of metrics around sourcing and in particular social media, Brent is on a mission to improve them and show the real ROI of sourcing.

Q. HRX has had a dedicated sourcing team since the start. Where did the idea come from to set one up, and how did you go about it?
When we set up HRX, we designed it from the beginning around a tight candidate market. We believe based on the underlying demographics that the battle for top talent is not going to get any easier. This meant a fundamental shift in philosophy from selection to sourcing and marketing. Both Katrina and I had seen sourcing teams being established in the USA and believed this to be the future, so from the very beginning we designed a sourcing function for HRX. The challenge was building one and optimising the function. Experienced sourcers were almost non-existent, so we bought over one of the most experienced sourcers we could find from the USA to train our staff. We hired some very smart talented people and gave them the tools and training. Now we are on a journey to really optimise the function.

Q. You have been very vocal about, what you called ‘bullshit metrics’. At what point do sourcing & social media metrics become useless?
Most of the metrics I see (if I can find them) around social media and sourcing are rubbish! They do not allow meaningful analysis and comparison.  Lots of reasons for this, but I believe that metrics around sourcing candidates will continue improve to the point where good benchmarks are readily available and people responsible for developing social media strategies can get a good sense for what works and what doesn’t work.

Q. For something so critical and central to sourcing, ROI remains difficult to measure. Has progress been made to gauge sourcing investments?
Yes, At HRX we have launched an extremely exciting initiative around measuring and optimising the sourcing function.  I will be discussing this at the conference and laying out a framework that any organisation can use to measure both social media and sourcing effectiveness.

Q. What will you be speaking about at the Sourcing Summit?
The questions above are very aligned with my presentation. Sourcing is still the “wild west” in my opinion. It’s a young immature function and many organisations are grappling with how to make it work effectively. A central theme of my presentation is encouraging sourcing professionals to not become too focused on the latest greatest tool or technique, but instead think about the efficiency and effectiveness of the function from a business perspective and how to optimise this.

Brent is running a survey the results of which will be included in his presentation. It takes less than a couple of minutes, click here to help out

Q&A with Christian LeLoux, Oceania Talent Sourcing Leader, Ernst & Young

Christian LeLoux, currently Oceania Talent Sourcing Leader at Ernst & Young, talks about his initial foray into sourcing, past experiences and what his current sourcing toolbox looks like. He offers a preview of his presentation on ‘sourcing Matrix’ and why highly visible employer brands need to invest in sourcing.

Q. How did you get into sourcing and what sourcing projects are you currently involved with?
Put simply, if six years at University had taught me one thing, it was that I loved research. Often I’d ponder how wonderful it would be to get paid to do it…enter HRX. I’d never considered the recruitment industry, and to be honest had never heard of sourcing. However, working with the likes of Brent Pearson, Shally Steckerl and Paul Westmoreland helped me realise that sourcing is a very powerful and strategic enabler, not only for recruitment functions of all shapes and sizes, but also as a vehicle to help realise bottom line business imperatives.

Fast forward 5 years and I’m now fortunate enough to be a part of the Oceania Talent Sourcing Function here at Ernst & Young. The best thing about Ernst & Young is the diversity; not just in relation to the positions we get to work on, but also in the scale and scope of the projects. Currently, we’re building talent communities, assessing and introducing bleeding-edge technologies, supporting campaign recruitment initiatives across a number of geographies, developing internal training collateral for both the Recruitment function and business alike, optimising our CRM and developing a research platform via Mindjet aimed at increasing our understanding of the skills, profiles and experience each Service Line in the firm requires.

Q. You are going to speak about ‘sourcing matrix’ at the conference, can you shed some light on what it is?
Since becoming a sourcing professional there has been a single question which has reared its (often ugly) head time and time again; where does sourcing fit in the recruitment framework and who is accountable for managing the outputs? The sourcing matrix for me is a very simple, yet extremely powerful way to examine an organisation’s sourcing needs and to determine who is accountable for the various processes, outputs and decisions. When looking at an end-to-end approach it’s not difficult to pull out the component parts and nut out what resources you need to be efficient, and ultimately successful.

Our experience suggests that a myriad of skill sets coordinated on a project-by-project basis works the best; almost like “outsourcing” internally. We leverage strategic communication, employer branding, IT services, marketing, recruitment and the business to ensure that we have the technical infrastructure, the correct insights, the correct messages and the correct strategies to get a result; whether that be a great hire or a smoothly run Community event.

We do have a core set of skills making up the everyday genetics of the Talent Sourcing Function These skill sets would come as no surprise. We have sourcing specialists (“internet enthusiasts” or “technolopologists” as Andrea Mitchell likes to call them), engagement specialists (“people people”) and community managers (“keepers of the faith”)…and they’re all blending very nicely at the moment…! But more on that on the 11th of August

Q. Why do you think a highly visible and recognised employer brand like Ernst & Young need to invest heavily in sourcing?
Ernst & Young has an eclectic mix of competitors, all vying for the same skill sets across a diverse range of geographies and market sectors. Yes, we have a great brand which is instantly recognizable around the globe, though as we all know, a brand can only take you so far…

At Ernst & Young we quickly realised that there’s much more to sourcing than an eventual placement and a happy hiring manager. Competitive intelligence, market insights and the maintenance of a dynamic (and relational) CRM all produce the precursors for a more informed decision making process. We’re discovering that sourcing can successfully connect the dots between critical business needs and solid recruitment outcomes.

Q. Tell us what’s inside your sourcing toolbox. What tools works well for you?
In a word, lots! We try and keep a very open mind when it comes to assessing new tools. What’s working very well for us at the moment is a combination of AvatureCRM, Mindjet, the Boolean Bar, Linkedin Recruiter, Linkedin groups, Community microsites, Factiva et al. and of course Google. We have also created a number of templates to present information to our key stakeholders which makes the gathered “intelligence” very digestible. Having access to the right mix of tools is the most critical component of mobilising a successful sourcing function. Reach, awareness and automation in my opinion are key themes to consider when assessing any new “tool”.

Sourcing Report

What does a typical sourcer look like? What tools and techniques are most frequently used to find talent? Do practitioners prefer to be referred to as ‘Sourcers’ or ‘Researchers’? How much do sourcers typically earn? Is it a female dominated industry?

These and many other questions about sourcing and those who practice it remains largely unanswered. In fact, little data exists in Australia or NZ.

In the backdrop of the upcoming Australasian Sourcing Summit, we are taking steps to try and better understand sourcing and how it is practiced in the region. The study will attempt to shed more light on a growing and important profession.

Take our survey (only 3-5 minutes) and go into the draw to win a free ticket to the Sourcing Summit. Survey need to be completed by 1st August to be eligible for the draw. The results of the survey will be presented at the Sourcing Summit and will be available for download at a later date.