Sourcing Talent: Helpful Tips For The Digital HR Specialist

Digital HR“Great people are hard to find.”

Yes, they are.

And the trouble is… great people usually have a job somewhere else where they are a key member of a team. If they have any “game” at all, they’re invested in their work (even if it is unpleasant) and the prospects of looking for or entertaining a new job can be hugely distracting to them.

A few ideas on finding these new recruits…

Buy ‘em

Have your company buy another company with great people.

Many companies exist with great people but a less-than-perfect, going-nowhere business model. Hey, everyone makes mistakes and they’re looking for a way out, so show ‘em!

The benefits: It looks respectable for both parties (your company is an M&A “player” and the target is suddenly “attractive”); the acquisition may not require a nickel; you can promise the employees a comparable salary once the deal closes as well as stock options in your bigger, better, more valuable company; and finally, they can keep their high-tech, desk chairs. If they balk, tell them, “Better desk chairs than deck chairs.”

Try ‘em

This one isn’t without pitfalls, but hiring somebody on a per project basis can be good for both sides with less risk. The short term employee can see what it’s like to work at your company and figure out its “Bozo quotient.” And your company can do the same.

The “Bozo quotient” isn’t the number of people with big red hair, floppy shoes and unmistakeable laugh. But these Bozos are clown-like and too many Bozos at a company make a circus. Not good. New employees don’t like a circus. Unless they’re a Bozo, too, of course. In that case, they’ll fit right in.

A company with a high Bozo quotient (BQ) is said to be “a Bozo company” (BC) –and a summertime company outing at one of these companies is known as a “BBQ at a BC with high BQ.”

The Dinkasaurus

Speaking of executives, at some companies, executive leadership may be challenged by what is known as “The Dinkasaurus.” In fact, you may be working with one and are still charged with hiring underneath them.

For candidates, the Dinkasauraus or “Dink,” for short, can be difficult to spot visually. Candidates may need to feel them out a bit to find the Dink -but definitely not feel them out literally as much as some Dinks may like that.

As an HR specialist, you may feel hamstrung by the Dinkasaurus and his or her loathsome qualities. In this case, keep the Dink out of sight during the recruiting period, if possible.


The Silicon Valley universities on the West Coast of the United States seem much better as a funnel for future digerati than what you see on the East Coast. For example you don’t hear too much about NYU or Columbia filling up the digital ranks at least as it relates to media. But, Penn, MIT and the Princeton “mafia” are tilting the hiring potential East-ward as media goes tech.

Harvard does not count in the tilting analysis. Those types go everywhere.

Job Boards

Selectivity and patience is key for job boards. Some attractive jobs can yield an avalanche of submissions that will require weeding. There are many weeding techniques including identification of the “Hover Letter.” The Hover letter is when you receive an email with cover letter and resume attached – and the cover letter text is not pasted in the email. You will now have to click the attachment and risk digital disease (malware). It’s easier just to delete – this candidate wasn’t thinking.

Connect “Out-of-Band”

Where do these future employees like to lurk? A local tech meet-up, marketing conferences, whaling expeditions? The high seas may be a bit beyond your HR travel budget, but staying abreast of the local and global conference and meetup schedules is a good way to go. See them in the field.


There is always the dark art of recruiting to which you can turn. Bear in mind that recruiters are expensive if you hire one of their candidates. The theory is that finding the right person for a company is a valuable skill – particularly in the executive ranks where discretion is important. For example, how did Lexi Reese move from Google to Facebook? That process must have been the clandestine stuff of a James Bond film. Surely trench coats were involved. Let’s hope everyone was fully clothed.

About Us-sing

Visit your competitors “About Us” section and target at-will. If there are pictures, start by targeting the ones with the biggest smiles as they are most likely to leave. Another note – if an exec at your company wants to swap out her pic on the company website with another pic with a bigger smile, you know you’ve got trouble on your hands.

So, there you go. Recruiting in digital has more options than you thought.

By John Ebbert

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