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 

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 Nicole Cain

Nicole Cain’s early career was spent as a corporate librarian, followed by business research for firms like Ernst & Young, McKinsey, Cap Gemini & Deutsche Bank, before she made the shift to finding people in the executive search sector. She shared how her past experiences as a librarian and knowledge manager has shaped her approach to sourcing. Nicole will talk about best-practice referral sourcing at the Sourcing Summit.

Q. Can you shed some light on your background and how you stumbled into sourcing?
I’ve always had a passion for learning, sharing knowledge and a desire to help people so a career in librarianship and information management was a natural fit. I knew I wanted to apply my skills in a business context and access the latest tools and technologies so I spent the earlier part of my career honing my skills as a researcher supporting client-facing teams within professional services and management consulting firms. Seeking a change in direction and wanting to be closer to the coalface I made the transition to a research role within executive search four years ago. It was then I discovered that sourcing was developing as a viable and rewarding profession.

Q. How has your past experience as a librarian affected how you approach sourcing? Are there lessons we can learn?
My experience as a librarian has certainly influenced how I approach sourcing. Whilst my training was in librarianship and information management I chose to work initially in corporate libraries and later as part of a business research teams within large global businesses. When I started out corporate libraries were going through significant change and were shifting to a more proactive service offering with researchers starting to sit directly in the business and work more closely with client service teams.

In terms of past experience I’ve found that having a sound discipline around the research process and combining that with a broad knowledge of relevant sources has been of value when planning any search. Knowing where to go to find the information you need so you’re maximising time spent and then ensuring that you’re managing the capture and storage of that information also plays a critical part in how effective you are as a researcher. Understanding the information needs of clients and being in a position where I’ve been able to exercise judgment has also affected how I approach sourcing.

I think the main change has been that previously I was searching public and subscriber-based sources of news and business information and now I’m in a position where I can complement that by leveraging new media and engaging directly with people in the market to gain real insight and that is where I find both the challenge and the satisfaction.

Q. As a researcher in executive search how have you seen the growth of sourcing, in particular Internet research, affect research practices?
The growth in sourcing as a profession has followed the growth of the Internet, which has accelerated even further through shifts towards more user-generated content and rapid uptake of new technologies. From a research perspective the internet has put the world at our fingertips, fast-tracking the name generation process and in many instances granting us direct access to what was once considered hidden or hard to find talent. It’s important to remember however that Internet research can only take you so far. Qualified referrals continue to be one of the most effective sourcing channels as they provide greater context to potential candidates’ backgrounds. Recruitment remains a relationship driven business and the ability to engage confidently with talent and form long term relationships is key to becoming a successful researcher or sourcing specialist.

Q. What will you speak about at the Sourcing Summit?
I will be speaking about how referrals are a critical part of any sourcing strategy. I’ll also be sharing best practice on establishing networks and developing trusted relationships to source referrals.

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”.

Q&A with Jason Timor, Adviser, Indigenous Recruitment Qantas

Jason Timor, a Badu Island man from the Torres Strait, is an accomplished recruiter with significant agency and in-house experience under his belt. He currently assists Qantas with their aboriginal recruitment strategy. We caught up with Jason to discuss about his personal journey, his current project with the aboriginal community and the stories he will be sharing at the Sourcing Summit.

Q. Tell us a bit about your background and how you ended up in your current role?
I grew up in a small regional town in Queensland and soon found there were limited opportunities for me and decided to study for a short period before moving to Sydney. I wasn’t quite sure what it was I wanted to do but I knew it had to be people focused. After a few customer service and sales roles, I landed into recruitment and did my ‘apprenticeship’ with Hays before moving on to Engineering desk with Hamilton James and Bruce and then onto an in-house role with Caltex.

What I found most rewarding in recruitment was the aspect of changing someone’s life offering them the opportunity they might otherwise would not have come across. As a proud Indigenous Australian and my drive to give back to my community I now have a great opportunity to make a real difference and contribute to Qantas’ Reconciliation Action Plan.

Q. You are currently advising Qantas on indigenous recruitment, can you shed some light on the state of employment in the indigenous community?
It is more a case of the state of unemployment within the Indigenous community being three times higher than non-Indigenous. Its also important to note that 29% of young Indigenous Australians are not employed or studying compared to around 9% of young non Indigenous people. At Indigenous Careers @ Qantas, we have a strong emphasis on the Education to Employment journey and invest alot of our efforts in our School Based Trainees, Cadetships and other entry level roles across our businees.

Q. Is it hard to find indigenous talent? What are the main challenges facing employers who wanted to increase their indigenous headcount?
Indigenous talent is an untapped resource that has numerous commericial benefits for any business beyond a philanthropic message. This talent is not hard to find provided you have multi-faceted approach to this market.

Challenges facing employers wanting to increase their Indigenous headcount can vary but it is very important to engage with the Indigenous communities coupled with traditional sourcing strategies. It is vital to have strong contacts in the Indigenous communities where you recruit so be prepared to get involved rather than just recruiting behind a desk.

Q. What sourcing channels do you find most effective in your experience?
One of the surprising channels that has been quite successful for us has been our Indigenous Employee Network – We capitalise on this network to send our job alerts and we find these get forwarded on to Indigenous communities/organisations/agencies . Our Indigenous staff are very passionate and pro-active in getting involved and as Indigenous people, we have a strong sense of family and community which allows a far reach into this unique candidate market.

I run information/ pre-assessment sessions for bulk recruitment for areas such as Cabin Crew, Ground Crew and Airport staff to prepare Indigenous candidates before they enter into the mainstream recruitment process – Indigenous staff who are actually in the relevant role eg. Indigenous Flight Attendants attend to co-facilitate a Q@A session and give realistic job previews. These sessions are run even when we do not have those particular roles live as our aim is to get these candidates ‘job ready’ for when the opportunities become available.

Careers Fair complement our long term strategy of Education to Employment and Classroom to a Career as the Indigenous population is getting younger, we take Qantas on the road and present a full range opportunities from School Based Traineeships, Cadetships and direct entry roles.

Q. What will you be speaking about at the summit?
I wanted to really highlight the great work Qantas is doing as an Indigenous employer and what strategies we have adopted to increase our Indigenous headcount from Employer Branding to Community Engagement. I also am keen to share what we have learnt along the way and challenges we face in this rapidly evolving area.

Q&A With Andrea Mitchell

Google anything to do with sourcing in Australia and it’s hard to not come across Andrea Mitchell. An industry veteran and founder of the Australian Researchers’ Network, Andrea has two passions – applying new tools & techniques to sourcing and raising the profile of local practitioners. We caught up with Andrea to discuss her background and upcoming talks at the Sourcing Summit.

Q. As an early practitioner and founder of the Australian Researchers’ Network, what changes have you witnessed with the sourcing profession in Australia and NZ?
Sourcing has gone from something that only a few people were doing to something that almost everyone in recruitment is aware of and talking about. Five years ago the title of Sourcer wasn’t really used and now they’re in high demand. Companies are recognising that sourcing and research in recruitment is a specialist role and are treating it as such. Most importantly, sourcers and recruiters are no longer solely influenced by what is happening in the US, people are innovating and working out new ways to source based on local conditions.

Q. Considering advances in technology, not to mention the explosion of social media, are people easier or more difficult to find?
With the rise of social media there are more profiles on the Internet and more personal information than ever. This makes things easier and harder. While the information you want is more often there to be found, there’s a lot more noise. As researchers we have to be a lot smarter in the way we search in order to sort through the noise and get to the most useful information. Sorting through noise is one of the biggest challenges we face today.

Q. What advances in search technology do you think will have a major impact on sourcing? Are there any particular tools that the sourcing community should keep track of?
When it comes to search engines the technology that runs them is constantly evolving with new features being introduced all the time. Rather than keep an eye on a few specific technologies (e.g. semantic search has been a hot topic for a few years) I think it’s important to watch how these are integrated into the tools that we already use. Google and Bing have both added social search, and their algorithms constantly being tweaked so we also have to tweak the searches we do. When it comes to tools I think that a big thing, once teams get established and build expertise, is to look at automating some basic search tasks, there are some great tools from eGrabber, Broadlook and Outwit that are worth looking at.

Q. Boolean search has been around for as long as computers have been in existence, is it still relevant for sourcing?
We use Boolean search pretty much every time we type something in a search box, so I think it will always be something we need to use. As a trainer I always cover basic Boolean because it is core to search. I think over time this will change as people will probably learn these skills at much younger age! With regards to using search engines and operators to search for profiles I think this will continue to be worthwhile, even though so much information is on sites like Linkedin or Facebook etc if a search engine crawls those sites it can be easier to search them using Google or Bing for example.

Q. What subjects will you be addressing at the summit?
I will look at how Internet search is core to your sourcing strategy, and how you conduct targeted online research based on the the profile of the person you are trying to find. By building a strategy around the candidate profile you target the places that those people “hang out” online, where they have profile information, and communities they are part of.

Andrea will lead a workshop on 10 August (Tapping into Niche Communities) and also speak on Advanced Internet Search on 11 August.

Q&A With Gad Weinbach

As a former criminal investigator with the Israeli army Gad Weinbach spent a lot of time trying to ‘find people who don’t want to be found’. He now spends most of his time in executive search and experimenting with new ways to source talent. We spoke to Gad about his background, current work and his upcoming talk at the Sourcing Summit.

Q. What’s your current role and how did you get into sourcing?
I have been a member of Talent Partners, the Board & Executive Search arm of Talent2 International (ASX: TWO) since 2007. My functional expertise includes the appointment of Managing Directors, Chairmen, Non-Executive Directors, Chief Executives and their direct reports. I work with Boards, CEOs and HR Directors to manage succession. I learned how to source information and people as part of my training to be a criminal investigator during my military service. Years later when I entered the Executive Search space, I was exposed to Sourcing in the HR world.

Q. You have a colourful work history including a stint with the army as a criminal investigator. How much of your past has influenced your current role? Do you think anyone can be a good sourcer/researcher?
My past has influenced my current role without a doubt. Back then I was looking for people who didn’t want to be found for various reasons; now, I’m searching for people with good reputation.

I think anyone can become whatever they want to become. There is a mix of skills, experiences and personality traits that makes a good Researcher. I rate credibility, natural flair for investigation, innovation, tenacity, analytical & commercial, with high level of responsiveness and confidentiality.

Q. What do you think is the biggest mistake companies make when looking for talent?
I think the greatest opportunity for leaders in organizations is to be committed to a succession plan and to a future Talent strategy to match the company’s vision. The Executive team of every government and public company needs to make sure they are proactively managing their ability to deliver future and present growth plans. Managing ‘your’ risk is making sure you have the right people with the right skills and capabilities at the right time. The biggest mistake companies make when looking for talent is forgetting they are dealing with people.

Q. What will you speak about at the Sourcing Summit?
I will speak about the art and science of Talent Mapping as part of corporate succession. I’ll talk about who should consider it, why, when and how to conduct it.

Hear Gad Weinbach speak about Talent Mapping at the Sourcing Summit (Afternoon Session 2.30-3.00 PM)