When we are kids, we always asking the questions like “Why?”, “How?”, “When?” etc. And through these questions, we are trying to discover the world while also sometimes driving our parents crazy. When we get older, we stop asking them that often because people around us get somewhat annoyed by the continual questions. It bothers them a lot because they don’t know the answer and/or they don’t want to admit it. I am not a kid anymore, but I am still a big fan of these questions because these simple questions help me to learn a lot about so many things in my life. And yes, sometimes the “Why?” gets me into trouble.
During summer 2016 I started hearing rumors about how the LinkedIn was going to change and how they were planning to “improve” it. So I started thinking about how close we recruiters are connected to LinkedIn. Can we all stop using LinkedIn and try to source people elsewhere? Most recruiters will tell you that they can survive without it, because they are looking for people everywhere, but is this really true?
And the one question popped in my mind: “Are all recruiters really using Google for sourcing and if yes, how?”
So, I started asking recruiters how they are using Google for sourcing. Most of the answers were of course “Yes, I’m using Google” and any similar variant like that. I learned that they are using Google to find contact details on candidates that they find on LinkedIn. But are they using it for sourcing the whole resume and not only for the contacts? I decide that I would test this out.
The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity. — Ellen Parr
The tricky part of my plan was, how can I test it if recruiters are using Google for sourcing and how can I track this so I will collect the data that I need and validate it.
Preparing this test required some new tools that would help me to track it, so first I spent a few weeks looking for the right tools and preparing the plan so I would not miss any visitor/recruiter who opened or downloaded that resume.
The best way to test if recruiters across the globe are using Google was to create a resume of some person that everybody is looking for. And because my expertise is mostly in IT, I decided to create a resume of Full Stack Developer. And I had to find a way to get the resume to as many recruiters possible so the testing group will be big enough. I went on Indeed and checked in what cities companies are looking for similar profiles and added these locations to the resume to help raise the possibility that the resume would be discovered. I also added various roles so even if the recruiter was looking for a developer with some specific technology, this resume should pop-up in the search results. And I also filled the resume with all the latest buzzwords and hype technologies (keywords) so that this resume would become a honeypot for any recruiter out there.
I had the resume created, but how was I going to track it? Even if somebody finds it, how can I know that somebody will open it or read it and how can I find out from what location?
The first thing I did was that implement tracking code into the DOC file, so I could easily know who opened that resume, how many times and from what location. So, every time somebody opens it, I will get an e-mail about it. I also tested that approach on a PDF file, but I used a DOC file because is more friendly for crawling bots, and the second reason is that due to changes to Adobe, the tracking code could stop working after some time. It also gives me the opportunity to track if somebody downloaded this resume and put it into their ATS without any consent or just send the resume to their clients without letting me know first.
This tracking tool did not work every time so I started thinking how to add some other tracking that will work as a backup if the tracking code didn’t work. And I also had to figure out how to track the resume if I was going to upload it on Slideshare because the tracking code wouldn’t work there. The next tracking tool that I used was a special URL shortener and it also gave me the opportunity to see the location of the every visitor who clicked on that URL. But what URL was I going to put there?
The URL that I used was a LinkedIn profile of a friend who asked me to help to create a LinkedIn profile for him. I explained my test to him and he agreed that I could use it for this test. I created a blank profile without any special info and I added only one thing — that he is working as a Developer and I didn’t add anything else, any other position or information.
So, I had a LinkedIn URL that I used for the URL shortener and when somebody clicked on it, it would be redirected to the LinkedIn profile where I could see in the “people viewed your profile” the profile of that visitor. This was my third method in how I can track people who find that resume. And to be sure that visitors click on the link, I put the info that they need to click on that LinkedIn profile before they contact me.
And the last thing I used for tracking was the email that I had in that resume, so if anybody sent the email to this email address, my plan was to ask where that person found this profile.
Getting the resume on Google
I was thinking to add the resume only on one website, but this may mean that some recruiters will not find it because of localized Google search results and other limitations. I decided to upload the resume in more places. I used only the sites that I tested before that I know are scraped by Google bots and other crawlers and resume will be indexed.
I uploaded that resume under one of my domain, slideshare.com, I also created a WordPress site that was SEO optimized so it should be easier to find it, put that resume on blogger.com and five other websites that are indexed by Google bots. Some of these websites are also used by pirates for sharing various files etc. They were designed for sharing files (not warez) and that’s the reason why people are also using them for storing and sharing their resumes. And as recruiters, we always need to be where people congregate. And these places are a great source of resumes, so I decided to use them.
To be sure that I am tracking all the sources correctly, I used unique tracking code for every source and I did the same with the URL shortener. So, every source got their unique short URL that could easily show me how many people had come from which source. After a few days, Google indexed all the URLs with all my files.
During this test, I also randomly tested if all the links were still in Google and if they were still indexed, and if there was some problem, I re-sent the Google crawler bot so all files were still online.
How many people found that resume
I was expecting some real big number, but after three months, only a few people found it. Two people reached me on my email. One person was a recruiter based in the Philippines, working for a recruitment agency in the US. And the second person was from the Czech Republic. But to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I hid the resume that well because nobody else was able to find it. And that was the reason why I was not seeing any visitors on the LinkedIn profile or not receiving any alerts from my tracking codes. So, after two months, I taught my team members how to find these resumes through Google. So, that one person from the Czech Republic who found this resume through Google was, in fact, a person from my team. So only one person found that resume through Google during 3 months.
On Slideshare, two people from US visited the resume, one was a Google bot, the second was a person visitor was the recruiter working for the US agency. One person who visited my profile on Slideshare was from India, one was from Australia and one from United Kingdom. The profile from India also downloaded this resume and based on her LinkedIn profile, the profile was a fake profile, it looks like it was just a harvesting bot, collecting e-mail addresses.
And one person found the resume through Docdroid, but never reached me, only visited the LinkedIn profile.
Other sites that we also indexed didn’t send any visitors for the resume at all.
I started this test to find out if recruiters are using Google for searching candidates, but at the end of this test, I had more questions than I had at the beginning. Based on the data that I collected during a few months, it appears that recruiters are not using Google in the way I was expecting or how I use it when I am looking for candidates. Maybe I didn’t create a really tempting resume, or maybe I put it on the wrong websites. Or maybe my assumption was correct and LinkedIn is the main source for recruiters and they use Google only for finding an email on a candidate that they found on LinkedIn and they are not looking for resumes on Google. Or I did everything correctly and the statement that “The best place to hide a dead body is page 2 of Google search results” is also applicable on a resume.
I believe that not only recruiters, but many other people always stick with the things that bring them results and they are too busy to innovate. They don’t go and try to explore new ways and new methods. That’s why I think most recruiters stick with LinkedIn and LinkedIn has become the comfort zone for recruiters
Google is great source of candidates, but sometimes sourcing there will take a time, but there are lots of interesting people there that don’t have any profile on LinkedIn. If you are recruiter who is using only LinkedIn for your sourcing, you are fishing in the same pond as everyone else. And if you are using the same pond as everyone else, doing the same Boolean searches as your competitors and contacting the same candidates. You will get the same results as them. You are spending a huge amount of time in the fight where you are competing with hundreds of competitors. Try to go fishing in different ponds where you have fewer competitors and try to evolve your sourcing skills using some other sources.
With all the changes that LinkedIn is doing and planning to do in the near future, we have a choice to accept it or just adapt and start looking for new ways and try to leave our comfort zone. Those who will try to leave this “LinkedIn comfort zone” will get ahead of other recruiters.