Internet Sourcing Guru Glenn Gutmacher

Glenn Gutmacher King of String Internet Sourcing Today, I am honoring the work of the King of String Glenn Gutmacher in recruiting. I’ve attended a number of his Internet Sourcing presentations (and co-presented with him in Boston). I have always come away humbled by the intricacy of his Internet sourcing search strings and by the depth of his expertise used Internet recruiting research.

Why should you care? Well, if you take a moment to sit at the feet of Glenn (which you can do by taking his course ) you will find candidates you would not have been able to find otherwise. And then you, too, can assume your rightful place in the Court of String.


 Like The Bourne Conspiracy

As the founder and CEO of the next-gen retained search firm The Good Search and our recruiting research division Intellerati  –our expertise in Internet sourcing is pretty hardcore. To put it bluntly, I am not easily impressed. In a former career, I was an investigative journalist and data nerd. I have been surfing the Internet since before there were browsers. As an early adopter of personal computers, I experimented with ways to investigate stories using a predecessor to social networks called a BBS, a Bulletin Board System that allowed users to dial into the system over a phone line.
Apple IIe

Investigating the CIA

Back in the day, after befriending a few technologists who showed me the ropes, I fired up my Apple IIe, dialed into a BBS, and networked my way to soldiers of fortune. The Soldiers of Fortune magazine happened to be published in Colorado where I was living at the time, a morning news anchor for KUSA-TV.  Trolling for stories, I had taken its owner Bob Brown to dinner at a local steakhouse to learn more about that usual line of work as freelance soldiers.

My networking online eventually got me in touch with two former GIs who claimed to have been contracted by the CIA to invade Grenada in October of 1983.  (I still have my notes from my conversations with them.) I got them to agree to having me tag along with a videocamera. However, just as I was about to fly out to meet them with our camera crew, I got a phone call. Suddenly they reneged. They claimed a stranger in a suit had approached them at a local shopping mall with the warning, “Don’t go public.” They said they were so freaked out they were now sleeping with an Uzi machine gun. (I am not making this up. ) Because they bailed at the last minute, I concluded I was probably being catfished until October 1983 rolled around– surprise-surprise — the U.S. invaded Grenada.

Invasion of Grenada Wikipedia Photo

Investigating Iran-Contra

Then there was the time I flew to Mena, Arkansas where townspeople noticed a stranger frequenting local establishments who looked a lot like Colonel Oliver North — before anyone knew who he was. Around that same time, a local sheriff’s deputy told me he observed strange activity at the local landing strip — drugs coming flying in and arms flying out. So he did what any decent law enforcement officer would do: he investigated. He was hot on the trail of investigating Iran-Contra — before it hit the headlines — when he was poisoned by anthrax. When I interviewed him, I had to look up what anthrax was because this took place before 9/11 and many anthrax scares.

Why We Take Research Seriously

In other words, I have investigated the CIA and odd clicks on the phone left me with the distinct impression that the CIA investigated me in return. So I know a thing or two about expert research. I notice when others do serious work. Glenn is one such person.  His search strings are worth studying and bookmarking.

Sourcing Bookmarklets

Speaking of bookmarking, Glenn was among the first to pioneer the adaptation of bookmarklets for talent sourcing/recruiting purposes.  Bookmarklets are browser bookmarks that can reside in any folder along with your other web favorites, but they do more than simply take you to a webpage because they have javascript embedded in them.

A popular category of bookmarklets for sourcing generates an on-screen prompt. The prompt asks users to enter keywords, such as job titles or skill terms. However, all the other boolean logic and search criteria are already baked into the bookmarklet. Once you type in your answer to the prompt, the bookmarklet takes you instantly to very targeted search results that include your keywords.

For example, a bookmarklet could embed a Google query that searches just the StackOverflow website for profiles of developers who have answered questions tagged .NET. The bookmarklet prompts the user to enter a location name, at which point the relevant subset of Google results is displayed.

Other types of bookmarklets highlight keywords on a page in color; find the domain owner of the website you are viewing (no dialog prompt needed for that), or search by a prompted name/location combination on several directory sites at once. Recruiters frequently share bookmark folders by emailing a compressed .zip file or they use online bookmarklet tools such as Bookmarklet Combiner.  Glenn explains how bookmarklets are used in a sourcing summit presentation.

 Web Scraping

Another sourcing topic that Glenn often presents at recruiting industry conferences is how to scrape the web.  Web scraping is a great way to harvest profiles or other useful data from a specific website. Web scraping is especially useful when the information is hidden deep within the site when the formatting makes it hard to wrangle, and when it would be too time-consuming to capture the data manually — copy/pasting profile-by-profile.

Such tools, many of which are free or negligible cost, allow you to gather this data unattended in real-time, and auto-compile the results in an Excel spreadsheet-compatible format, with the desired subsets of data in their own distinct columns (e.g., First Name, Last Name, Title, Company, Email, Location, Phone, Bio, etc.) so that when you come back from lunch, hundreds or even thousands of records are calling list-ready!

Web Scraping

Glenn also explains web scraping in the context of real-world sourcing/recruiting in another free webinar, which also includes the example source files. While there are a growing number of paid software tools that make the above kinds of sourcing automation easier, it’s nice to know that you can do it for free (or nearly) in a very customized, flexible way.

In other words, spend a little time with King of String and the next time you fire up your browser, you can really go to town. Oh, and for the record, this works not just for staffing level recruitment. We recruit senior executives and luminary technologists levels and often the heaviest hitters are not listed in the most obvious places online. You need to venture into the land of the King of String to find them  . . .

 *Note – this post is an updated version of a post we wrote for the ERE Community.  ERE.net eliminated that feature, so we moved the post to our website here and updated it for our readers.

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