How to get yourself headhunted in 2017, no it’s not really the same as in 2010.

by K B , updated on August 17, 2017

It could become all about how big your bot is.

I had a massive dilemma about what to call this post because technology and artificial intelligence and the techniques that some smarter recruiters are now using have moved a long way online since I first wrote this article for the Australian 7 years ago.

I thought about calling my post “how to get my AI bot talking to your AI bot” and went into a big fantasy thinking about how if recruiters are using bots to proactively search people across the web, match them to roles, and/or eliminate them, then why couldn’t someone looking for a job do the same thing?

Why not use your own bot to crawl the web and chat up recruiter’s bot?


Two paragraphs into this post and I am already on a tangent, so here’s where we’ll head now.

First I’ll give you insight into how people used to recruit (and many still do).

Then I’ll talk about what smarter recruiters are doing now. And how you can make the most of these trends to get yourself headhunted.

How people used to recruit not so long ago.

Going back 7 years or so ago I sat in recruitment consultancies and watched them place advertisement after advertisement on Seek.

Then when the end of the month came, they’d find they hadn’t used up their pre-paid account. So they’d place a few more adverts to fill up their quota and hope and pray some amazing candidate would pop in.

This is what would happen next.


The consultant would spend the majority of their time on the phone screening some of the candidates who responded – giving short shrift to ones who did not meet a really tight criteria.

Often they would complain about the “talent shortage” but not actually invest much in any activity that might help them find amazing people.

By activity I mean building their brands, growing great relationships and networking.

In fact, I’d go as far to say that while the employers of these consultants would not actively discourage the above activity, their business model it almost impossible for their teams to justify any time away from their desks. So it was hard for consultants to invest in actions that were not part of the immediate dollar making treadmill.

So the mouse wheel of consultants advertising and responding (and not responding) to candidates who were answering job board advertisements went round and round and round.


Then along came social media, more specifically, LinkedIn.

There was a lot of debate about how disruptive this would be, as arguably, the IP of an agency – their database and exclusive access to candidates was now up online for all to grab.

At this time I heard a whole lot of debate around who “owned” a candidate.

This is how this debate would pan out.

If a recruitment consultant was connected to a candidate on LinkedIn, and an employer was connected to that same candidate – and the recruitment consultant forwarded the candidate to the employer – could and should the consultant charge a fee?

Are you with me here?


They were fighting about who owned you!

To be honest the idea of anyone still talking about “owning a candidate” makes me want to throw my hands up in the air.

I am sure the millions of hot candidates out there who’ve been begging for attention, but never actually had their calls returned or applications acknowledged may be starting to get a bit pissed by now.


Right now the idea that anyone owns a candidate sounds even weirder.

With masses of people interacting everyday online, on social media and on apps – the smarter people in the recruitment world are starting to look at ways they can source talent.

If you’re not familiar with the term source…. by this I mean head hunt.

And if you’re not familiar with the term head hunt….and you’re thinking about looking for a job, you need to be.

Headhunt/ sourcing is now often done by people called sourcers – people employed by organisations (and sometimes agencies) to deploy smarter ways to find candidates without actually advertising.

Sourcers search online, on social media, playing around with technology, AI and the like. From time to time they may also may pop up in your online networking or meet-up group.

They do this in the name of finding the specific set of skills they need, or simply cutting down costs of spray and pray style job advertising.

There are a few premises behind this idea – some of this is perception rather than fact. But this is what they’re thinking.

Firstly there’s the notion that the best people are actually working. They’re happily engrossed in their work (or life) and therefore not responding to advertisements, or particularly active on LinkedIn.


Then there’s the idea that if you tap people on the shoulder, you get in first. So as a recruiter you are not actually competing against other offers that this amazing person may be considering.

And, as I hinted at before, sourcing/headhunting helps a recruiter manage their time better, and can be more cost effective in the long run.

With 7 million Aussies having some sort of presence on LinkedIn, and with LinkedIn offering a raft of tools to help recruiters – them being far more proactive is now much easier.

How to get head hunted in 2017?

If you’re looking for a job but not looking forward to being ignored by a recruiter, read on.

The information I am about to share comes from my own networking and from me sitting inspired by the insights that came from Phil Tusing’s Sourcing Summit in Sydney last month.

IMO this is the best forum in Australia for anyone who wants to keep on top of technology and trends in recruitment.

Let LinkedIn know you are still alive!

At the summit, many speakers encouraged the sourcers and recruiters to use LinkedIn, but not rely on solely LinkedIn.

The suggestion was that while there are millions of Australians on the platform, the majority of people had not updated their profiles.

The speakers expressed a concern that their messages were being ignored and that good candidates were not engaged on the platform.

(One speaker suggested that this was because these messages were so badly written or generic and spam like – but that’s a whole other story)


My own LinkedIn research tells me that people are present, but not particularly engaged.

I say this because when I did a deep dive a few months into LinkedIn’s platform change, I saw that most people had not updated their profile to make sure they could be found with the new layout.

With LinkedIn rolling out lots of new features to help recruiters make the most of the platform – and suggestions around how they will integrate into Microsoft’s other features, the beast is out of the box.

I only see expansion for LinkedIn.

(If you’re interested in this, read this article which talks about the huge potential for job seekers from the Microsoft acquisition – including how their big data will help you navigate your next big career move.)

For people looking for a role, the slack behaviour of others  on LinkedIn means these things.

You can easily stand out on LinkedIn, as so few people appear to want to.

With the advances of the platform, LinkedIn will continue to be a first choice for recruiters and sourcers for a long time.

However you need to help sourcers, recruiters and others find you.

The first place to start is by understanding your skills, your strengths and the value you want to add. Have an up to date and easy to read profile, and stay visible by actively supporting your network.

I have written a raft of posts on this topic. For help start reading this one here.

Network, network, network – but make sure you are tagged, mentioned, photographed or posted while you are doing so.

Ok so this is where things are starting to get really interesting.

At the summit the sourcers were talking about exploring better ways to use AI to understand the huge networks they have, suggesting that it’s not size that matters, but more about what you do with it.


There is huge potential in this area for recruiters to use AI to make their lives a whole lot easier.

A big ticket item on the sourcers AI list is finding and matching people.

By this I mean the proactive and automated tools sourcers can use to find and identify you online, matching information on your social profiles with other information you have online about yourself.

One such tool is mosaictrack which reads through resumes that an organisation may have in their ATS, or social profiles to match people to jobs by simulating how a hiring team reads resumes.

Just so you know, an ATS stands for Applicant Tracking System. Employers and Agencies use these to store and manage the details of your application, including your resume, when you apply for a role with their organisation.

Another AI tool is Glider.

Instead of sourcers or recruiters needing to do endless manual searching, Glider’s algorithms scan and deliver matched candidates to the recruiter.

There are also smart tools that recruiters and sourcers can use to bring your profiles into their vision.

For example there’s accompany. The company pitches this as an executive briefing tool delivering intelligence about your calendar appointments from scanning Google while you “sleep.”

So if you’re looking for a role, what all this means is that now more than ever, your online presence matters.

If you hang out in an open group on Facebook, if you contribute to a web forum such as Git Hub, if you tweet about something – these updates are becoming super easy for smart people to access, without them going searching all over the web.

But not only that, the technology allows people to use this information to match or un-match you to a role they have at hand.

If recruiter dived deep into a website, what would they find out about you?


This brings me neatly to the next technique I want to talk about is which the hands on online searching that many sourcers do, or something I can more accurately describe as delving into deep nerdsville.

What I am about to describe falls under the heading of Boolean Searches.

My definition of a Boolean search is where people put in a bunch of specific operators (think code words) into Google or other search engines to provide more targeted search results by eliminating inappropriate results.

This site by a sourcing leading light gives a great run down on how some basic Boolean operators work.

What you need to know if you’re looking for a job is that these searches are practiced by people who sometimes compete with each other to find out who can bring up the best list of talent, in the fastest possible time.

They dive deep into the web to target people that the standard search functions of social sites, web forums, websites or the like, may not necessarily throw up.

These sourcers even have s*xy sounding names for the types of searches they perform, such as “x-ray” or “flip”

An “x-ray” search helps a sourcer plunge deep into a website to draw out specific information.

A “flip search” is a search that helps a sourcer find sites that link to a particular website.

Now the “flip search” theory works like this.

Say you have posted your resume or your profile online, and you have a Certification from Microsoft, you might link to that site where that Certification is listed. A flip search will help someone find you.

The sourcers who do Boolean searches a big lateral thinkers. They aim to think like you and the people that you’re likely to hang out with.

This is an example of how a sourcer may think.

If you are a Project Manager in a consultancy, you may go to an industry Christmas get together with other Project Managers. Some of these other people may have the scantest of details on LinkedIn, for example. But if they’re wearing a name badge and they’re in your group ho ho ho photo with other Project Managers – that can be the starting point for a search.


Another lovely sourcing hack I found out about is a site called million short. This is basically a search engine which removes top ranking sites from a web search.

And the reason a sourcer might want to do this is – I hear you ask?

With LinkedIn for example dominating search results page after page after page – this site can eliminate those results from a search. The bonus is that it tells you which pages it has eliminated, so you can go back and look at them if you need to.

What can sourcers find out about you on Facebook?

How are sourcers using Facebook to find people like you?

With many more people interacting and updating on Facebook than they ever do on LinkedIn or Twitter, sourcers are constantly looking for ways to find you and your professional friends on Facebook.

One of the speakers at the summit, Shane McCusker has developed a hugely popular and free chrome plug in to help people find you on Facebook.

I personally find the Facebook search function a bit cumbersome, but Shane’s plug in lets me search in far more flexible ways.

For example I can find a list of people who work in a particular company, and live in a particular area. Then I can find friends of that person who may, for example, like that same company. And off I go…

Introducing AI powered chat bots and other automated tools.

One of the big ways sourcers and recruiters are looking to save time is by installing “chat bots” on their websites and within their recruitment platforms. So you can chat to and be pre-screened, re-directed, chatted to or informed by the bot.

Potentially the bot can analyse big data, learn from the past and apply this knowledge to the future scenarios, all while saving recruiter’s time on traditional tasks.

If you’re in anyway interested in the potential of this technology – take a look at this blog post I stumbled upon when researching these tools.

Here are a couple of AI tools of note.

XOR.AI sorts the applicant pool, scores applicants, according to how likely will they match the job opening, is available 24/7 so it immediately responds to every candidate. It asks pre-screening questions, provides information about the hiring process, updates candidates if the application status changes, informs candidates if a vacancy is closed and provides information about the hiring process.

There’s also Wade and Wendy. Powered by a bunch of venture capitalists Wade and Wendy are the recruiters’ AI assistant – Wade manages the candidate’s experience, Wendy is the recruiter’s right hand person.

Wade says he will give me career advice – but from the site I am not sure whether that means help with a role within the company Wade is working for – or generic advice.

However I hooked Wade up with my LinkedIn profile and was told I was in Group 21 on the wait list and Wade is looking forward to meeting my profile, and will be joining me on my career adventure very soon.

I confess to starting to have some warm and fuzzy feelings towards Wade. I too am looking forward to meeting him and finding out what he can offer me.

However I am curious about whether by giving him access to my LinkedIn profile, he’ll notify me of jobs based on my updates – or will he perhaps scan my details and make some AI powered amorous advances to my online mates?

Who knows?

What does all this mean if you’re looking for a job?


That’s the million dollar question.

I look at all this technology that these researchers at the Committee for Economic Development in Australia (CEDA)  tell me is going to automate 40% of jobs within the next 10 to 15 years – and find that finding pretty scary for me and a lot of people I know.

How far with the bots replace us in the thinking piece?

What skills do you need to develop to stay ahead of the bots?

There is lots interesting reading like the findings in the CEDA report which will certainly point you towards skills that will be in demand.

Whether that’s the right path for you is a whole other story.

It’s interesting to look at who Wade and Wendy, the company that is – are actually hiring. Since they seem to be at the leading edge in the recruitment and AI space.

Here’s a list I stole from the website.

Lots of jobs for engineers, developers and 5 out of 13 jobs are for the people searching for them.

For me the easy advice is to say what I have always said, which is understand yourself, monitor where you appear online and pitch yourself pretty clearly.

Then there is the other standard advice that I give which is keep actively networking, and aim to be actively seen when you’re networking.

You want to try to keep ahead of the curve in not just keeping your skills up to date – but to eliminate the mindset that if you have a qualification and experience then the economy (i.e. employers) will have the role for you. To me you need to be thinking about what asset or skill you can develop that might keep you in demand.

Who’d have heard of an AI chatbot copywriter like Wade and Wendy need 3 years ago? Or even today.

The hard thing to think about, and the thing that has been puzzling me the most when I write about this stuff – is what are we inadvertently telling others when we post or play around online.

And will that data be used in ways that we could not ever imagine?

Will the recruiters of the future become more like data scientists – looking deeper and more objectively at the characteristics, skill sets, qualifications and so on then sending the bots out across the web to find them?

Welcome to a whole new world.

PS: If you are looking for more information on pushing the boundaries in sourcing, follow these guns on LinkedIn and on Twitter. They all presented at the Sourcing Summit:

Chris Long: LinkedIn, Twitter: @thisisChrislong

Troy Hammond: LinkedIn, Twitter: @TroyHammo

Laura Stoker: LinkedIn, Twitter: @LauraLStoker

Billy McDiarmid: LinkedIn, Twitter: @BillyMcDiarmid

Shane McCusker: LinkedIn,  Twitter: @1intelligence

Jo James: LinkedIn, Twitter: @joljames

Jay Duc: LinkedIn, Twitter: @JaySDuc

Simon Townsend: LinkedIn, Twitter: @wittering

Francisco J Morales: LinkedIn, Twitter @fjmorales


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