The Candidate Pin Cushion

Published: Sep 15, 2010

The Candidate Pin Cushion
By Peter Weddle

Put one hundred recruiters into a room and ask them to describe the way they source at social media sites and job boards, and you’ll probably get two very different answers. Most will say they do networking at social media sites and recruitment advertising at job boards. Such distinctions are definitely the conventional wisdom, and they are definitely wrong.

What we’re actually seeing today is best described as blended recruiting or mashing together multiple sourcing tactics at a single recruitment site. We often don’t recognize we’re doing it, but there’s no doubt that it’s happening. And, there’s a very good reason for it.

We live in an era with two imposing dynamics:

• The workforce is increasingly segmented not only by the sites that individuals choose to frequent, but also by the medium or media they choose to use at those sites.


• The pressure to make every penny and every minute count means that recruiters must wring every possible advantage out of every single site they use.

These dynamics force us to be more deliberative about which sites we select for our sourcing and more careful about using each site to its fullest capability.

For example, research over the past year or so has confirmed that we recruiters are using social media sites for more than networking. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are now also targeted with recruitment advertising and probed with data mining techniques. Why are we doing that? Because we know that not all candidates use those sites in the same way. Therefore, the only way to be sure that we’ve identified all of the qualified candidates at a site is to probe all of the possible places they might be on that site.

The Candidate Pin Cushion

Think of the candidate population as a huge pin cushion. Some of those prospects are true networkers and can only be reached by connecting from one person to another, but many others are better uncovered by a well written job posting or a well constructed Boolean search string. For that reason, the only way to maximize our return on the investment of time and effort we make in using social media sites is to blend several sourcing tactics into a single integrated sourcing campaign. In effect, we need to poke the pin cushion in multiple spots.

Although not as many of us realize it, the same is also true with job boards. While many of the first generation of these sites were little more than recruitment advertising platforms, today’s job boards increasingly offer multiple channels for poking the pin cushion. They include:

• networking communities where we can interact with the candidate population as a whole or, in some cases, even with specific cohorts (e.g., women or African-Americans or recent graduates in a specific field);


• resume and profile databases where we can probe the candidate population using either fixed field or Boolean search strings.

For example, Dice, a site that specializes in IT and engineering talent, provides a range of job posting options as well as:

• Dice Discussions, 13 active networking forums that cover everything from Tech Career Advice (with more than 18,000 posted comments) to Tech Market Conditions and everyone from Road Warriors to IT/CS Students;


• a candidate database with Search Agents that will email recruiters the newly posted resumes matching their specifications and a new feature that enables recruiters to link directly to the candidates posting resumes via LinkedIn, Facebook. Twitter and other social media.

Blended recruiting is more than simply tapping multiple media on any given site, however. It involves an integrated message and candidate experience, as well. In other words, the blending must also use the right pins – an employment brand that is tailored to the specific demographic for which you are recruiting – and stitch into a recruitment process that walks the talk – practices and procedures that exemplify the qualities articulated in the employment brand. It’s the mash-up of all those parts, their range, diversity and caliber, which provides the power and the promise of blended recruiting.

Thanks for reading,
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Peter Weddle is the author of over two dozen employment-related books, including the recently released blockbuster The Career Activist Republic and Work Strong, Your Personal Career Fitness System, one of the most innovative career success books in print. Both are available at

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