Recruiting During Covid-19

Agency and Inhouse Teams: Challenges and Suggestions

Agency and Inhouse Teams: Challenges and Suggestions

Recruiting talent in the coronavirus age is far from easy. This goes for inhouse recruiters as well as agency recruiters. Having worked inhouse and in agencies – I currently own one – my perspective is reflecting both sides of the talent acquisition coin.

To ensure that businesses are able to ramp back up to meet urgent hiring goals, there is a need for decision makers to fully understand what the recruitment process looks like within their organization and how the relationship between hiring, inhouse recruiters, and staffing and recruiting agencies works.

Inhouse Recruiting

If you’re an inhouse recruiter right now, most of your hiring managers are probably demanding that their reqs be filled yesterday. Yes, sometimes this is the norm for hiring teams, but you probably notice that it’s even more common now. Afterall, a lot of businesses are behind on deliverables. Companies are in the red when they expected to be in the black, and the future is still unknown regarding when additional headcount can be added, or if additional furloughs and layoffs will happen in place of hiring. Presently, the world is a crazy, crazy, place.

What your hiring teams may not realize is that the same pressure that they’re under to deliver with a shoestring budget and a skeleton crew of a team, has translated tenfold in the recruiting team. Again, not anyone’s fault, but facts are facts, and recruiters are not having their pick of talent the way that most hiring teams would assume. At least, not exactly the way they would assume.

What are inhouse recruiting teams seeing?

I will explain the typical recruiting lifecycle for a requisition in laymen’s terms, to make it easier to grasp. It is not uncommon during this economy to see 80 or more candidates apply to a requisition once it’s posted. Even before the pandemic, it was common for me to see at least 100 applications for a tech requisition. This is notincluding the direct sourced candidates that come from my network, referrals, etc.

Covid-19 has raised the unemployment rate, but also, the number of applicants per position. In May, I posted a requisition for a large eCommerce brand. It garnered 240 applicants! Let me explain this in greater detail.

During normal recruiting conditions, a recruiter is layering their approach to locating the perfect candidates for their hiring managers. They’re posting the job on major job boards, reaching out on LinkedIn to their network, asking past candidates for referrals, looping back on silver-medalist candidates to see if they have interest in the current opening, and then they wade through the passive applicants that apply after seeing the job advertised on the web or in social media. Most of these candidates are not matches for the requisition that the recruiter is trying to fill. In fact, by the time a recruiter delivers a hiring manager their first candidate slate, they may have rejected 50 or more candidates that were not matches for the requisition.

Candidates apply sometimes to jobs in bulk, without looking at the job spec in which they are applying. Some candidates are trying to make career changes and believe that they have enough parallel skills that would enable them to perform well in the posted role. Regardless of the reason, there are candidates applying that are not a match for the requisition, which means that the recruiter must read resumes, phone screen, and locate the best possible talent to deliver to their hiring teams. This was the norm when the unemployment rate was 3.5%. Now cycle through these conditions when it is 8.4%, which is the unemployment rate at the time of writing.

How does a recruiter manage the candidate experience, protect the employer brand, and thoroughly evaluate their candidate pools with so many candidates applying that aren’t a fit for their requisitions? Diligence and high levels of competency and organization are the answer.

Breaking the recruiter’s day into smaller blocks of time enables a recruiter to easily keep themselves on track. The mornings are phone screens, responding to yesterday’s email responses, and jumping into meetings. Maybe in the evening they set up their calls for the next morning, source online, send out InMails, continue evaluating resumes, reject candidates, etc.

During more stable economic times, following a structured day like what is outlined above still leaves a lot of work for a recruiter to complete in their day. Things like notating a candidate’s profile, updating the ATS system with hiring manager notes, making sure candidate evaluations and scorecards have been completed, making sure that all candidates that need to receive assessments have received them, and on and on.

This amount of evaluation, due diligence, and administrative duties is why even with an inhouse team, most organizations still build solid relationships with recruiting and staffing agencies to supplement their inhouse team’s efforts. This is even more important now during the pandemic.

Agency Recruiting

To use a worn out cliche, agency recruiters by nature are typically a bit scrappier than inhouse recruiters. This has nothing to do with nature and more to do with nurturing. 

For any recruiter that has cut their teeth in an agency environment, they know that the phone doesn’t stop ringing and most of the day is spent talking. You are a master networker, a social butterfly if you will. Your job typically involves talking to many candidates, just like the inhouse recruiting teams do, but with one very significant difference – you don’t have the backing of the company brand or the relationship with the hiring team (typically).

Think about when you may have applied for a job and a recruiter reached out. Did the recruiter say, “Hi, I’m working on an opening here at (insert company name) and found your profile on LinkedIn? It seems like we may have an opportunity that you could find interesting and I was hoping that we could jump on a call so that I could tell you more about the position and more about why working here is exciting and how we are disrupting the industry…” 

If you received a message like the one above, then you were most likely communicating with an inhouse recruiter.

Did you receive a message like this? “Hello, I know that you’re busy, so I’ll be quick. I have a client that is looking for someone with skills like yours. I’m not sure if you’re on the market, or even open to discussing opportunities, but if you are, I’d love to set up a time to tell you more about my client and discuss the role in more detail. Do you have time today for a quick 15-minute call? Thank you!

If you recieved a message like the above, you were talking to an agency recruiter. Assertive, time sensitive, and eager to sell you on the opportunity that they have for their client. Client details are typically not given until after the candidate is interested in the position and has spoken with the recruiter on a call or via video conference.

The importance here is that if a candidate receives the first message type, they already have the company details and can research to decide if the company is a brand that they’d like to even consider working for. A lot of established brands also have very large passive applicant pools once a job is posted. This isn’t always true for an agency working on a requisition. 

This means that agency recruiters are brought up in an ecosystem that urges hunter mentality and assertiveness. These characteristics are exactly what make agency recruiters a great supplemental to any inhouse recruitment team. They are ultra-focused on only sending candidates that they feel are a great fit for the assigned requisition and they know that for them to get paid in most instances, there’s got to be a high-level of hustle on their part.

What are agency recruiting teams seeing?

So, back to the current job market climate. If you work in an agency, and run a full desk, your day has migrated away from a 20-50 percent business development and a large focus on talent acquisition and screening. Now, there’s most likely an 80 or 90 percent focus on business development and client outreach, and a small focus on talent sourcing. This is most likely due to not having many requisitions to fill. If this is not your current situation, that’s great! But for most, there’s a scramble to locate clients and surface requisitions to collect fees on.

Many of the companies that staffing agencies typically service have frozen and/or closed their requisitions until they can determine what business will look like. They’ve also laid off or furloughed much of their HR and recruitment teams.

This all translates to a very difficult time for agency recruiters. Partnerships they’ve built over the span of their careers, candidates that are now emailing and calling them in force, everything that they’ve come to know about the recruiting landscape through an agency lens has stalled.

My Prediction

It seems like the steps that companies are taking makes sense, and for some I’m sure that it does. However, there are a few things that employers are not considering, because they’re not recruiters and don’t live day in and day out in our professional space.

When the pandemic started, unemployment was skyrocketing and hit 14.7% in April. During this time, it made sense to cut jobs and stop the financial bleeding for these companies. Now, unemployment has dropped to 8.4%. This is a partial indicator that companies have started to slowly hire again. 

What’s interesting is that even while certain companies are reopening some of their requisitions, they are not necessarily bringing their recruiters back from furlough or rehiring full time inhouse recruiters to carry the requisition load. This seems to be an effort to stem costs of onboarding and salaries, but what will most likely happen is the existing recruiting teams will be become overwhelmed with requisitions, which will have downstream impacts on things like time to fill, product and project delivery, employer brand, and overall employee morale as teams try to carry the additional workload while waiting for new hires to join.

Through my management and leadership experience, I’ve personally found that anywhere between 10-15 requisitions seems to be the optimal workbench for most recruiters, granted industry and seniority level plays a part in this as well. I’ve been on the other side of the fence though, where I’ve managed upwards of 80 requisitions as a recruiting manager and had one recruiter that I directly managed that could assist. This scenario was a nightmare. 

I watched as hiring manager after hiring manager complained about their candidate pipeline. I remember asking why we had not hired additional headcount to address the inflated req load and improve the delivery of recruitment services to our hiring teams. Unfortunately, nothing came of my requests. Ultimately, I was convinced that the only way to be heard by my leadership was to leave the company, which I promptly did. This decision was hard for me as I’d truly thought that I would stay at the company indefinitely and had worked to build a solid reputation with everyone that I’d worked with. Rather than staying and ruining my personal brand, I decided to join another company and have more control over my recruiting process.

The point is that sometimes executive leadership sees the bottom-line rather than the impact a decision will have on its employee base. I believe that we must be careful to evaluate the situation and not be afraid to invest in rebuilding a proper talent acquisition function prior to ramping back up with corporate hiring.

So, what I think will most likely happen is that we’ll see businesses try to hire for their urgent needs using what remains of their inhouse recruiting teams, paying little attention to req loads. Eventually, they’ll notice that time to fill/time to hire is not where it needs to be and approve additional recruiter headcount. Recruiting managers and hiring managers that need immediate hiring of talent will push to use staffing and recruiting agencies to supplement their teams with contractors and full-time hires. There will be pushback here as well from team budget holders, as they’ll say that the inhouse team is there so that agencies do not need to be engaged. Eventually, it will become clear that in order to meet the initiatives that have been laid out by the business, agencies will need to be brought in to assist AND recruiting teams will need to have additional headcount added.

A great way forward

This is where I ask that recruiting teams, both agency and inhouse, try something a bit different. I’ve made it a point to always have several agencies that I partner with while working as an inhouse TA leader. It allows me to scale and deliver quickly. I ask the recruiters that we engage from agencies to partner with our inhouse recruiters that run the approved requisitions. This means that the agency recruiter DOES NOT circumvent the inhouse recruiter and go straight to the hiring manager. This is key.

Mutual respect is the one thing that is missing in most instances between inhouse teams and agency recruiters. I’ve taken reqs from inhouse recruiters that were not promptly updating our agency partners and reassigned them to other team members. I’ve also cancelled contracts with agencies that ignore my direction to work hand in hand with the inhouse recruiting teams. If each side respects one another, and stays within bounds, the resulting product is a highly fine-tuned process that allows for incredibly fast time to hire metrics, great pipeline buildout, and a prosperous relationship for everyone involved.

By merging agency with inhouse, we can truly represent the business’ brand in the best light possible. Candidates are quickly updated, interviews startup shortly after the requisition is posted, inhouse recruiting teams can target the low hanging fruit and leave the more aggressive sourcing behavior to the agency recruiters who make upwards of 60 calls a day. Hiring managers are the ones who start to be chased for updates regarding candidates instead of them chasing the recruiters. This becomes a much more sustainable solution for the business. If done correctly it doesn’t break the bank.

At SilverStone Talent LLC, I’ve worked to develop an agency mantra that focuses on building our relationships with our clients. I want to change the stigma that inhouse recruiters and HR representatives have with working with staffing and recruiting agencies.

Covid-19 has transformed the hiring landscape. We’ve done what many other agencies have done – we’ve expanded our offerings and ways of working with businesses. We know that businesses are pivoting to try and return their functions to as close to normal as they can get during this pandemic, so we’ve done the same. 

To make it easier for businesses to work with us, we’ve made sure to highlight that we are not retained, even for executive searches. We are contingent based and only get paid for performance. The one caveat being if we implement our RPO services.

Hopefully, as things start to return to a more traditional way of doing business and more jobs continue to open up, recruiting teams from both the agency side of the business and inhouse can take my advice and start to work much more closely to better meet the demands and needs of the companies that they both support.

Sourcing Candidates – Do’s And Don’ts

woman searching - looking

By Marcus Twyman


So, you’re sitting at your desk, trying to login to LinkedIn Recruiter and for some reason you’re unsuccessful. What’s going on? A coworker walks by, noticing your anxiety-ridden plea that you keep issuing to your computer screen to let you have access, and says, “Didn’t you see the email from talent acquisition? We’re not using LinkedIn Recruiter anymore.”

What? Not using LinkedIn Recruiter? Has the world gone mad? As your coworker saunters away, you’re left feeling dazed and confused. All of your saved projects, searches, and starred candidates are in LinkedIn Recruiter. Now what are you going to do?

Ok, so that scenario is a little dramatic, but if you’re a sourcer, or a recruiter who also sources, then I bet you have a little knotted ball still sitting in the pit of your stomach after envisioning that scenario.

It’s unfortunate, but the recruiting industry as a whole has systematically made itself dependent on LinkedIn’s paid platform levels to find talent. Gone are the days when a sourcer would create an organizational chart of a target company to then fill in with names and source candidates from. Cold calling? Is that when you stand outside in the winter to make a call from your cell phone?

It’s easy to poke fun at what sourcers and recruiters don’t do in the current talent marketplace, but ultimately, it is the talent acquisition departments within each corporation that have weaned us off of actual sourcing and onto a reliance on LinkedIn’s product offerings.

So how does someone find a solution to a scenario like the one described earlier? How do we prevent the loss of data that’s been scraped and collected by our talent teams? Well, the answer is multifaceted. It would involve the use of a proprietary CRM or database (or a spreadsheet at worst) and more focus on old school recruiting and sourcing practices. I’ll highlight some best practices that I always push across to the teams that I train and support that surround LinkedIn usage. These tips are designed to allow sourcers to still leverage LinkedIn for locating candidates but also facilitates the use of outside tools and the inherent skills that each source possesses.


Save Your Searches

One major issue with saving your searches within LinkedIn is that should you lose your license, you’ll most likely have to start from scratch in order to rebuild the searches that are commonly used by your sourcing team. This means a major loss in time and productivity, which ultimately affects revenue and ROI. Maybe you don’t pay attention to that, but someone in the upper echelons does, so we want to make sure that when a repeated search comes through that we can act very quickly to locate candidates.

A suggestion that every sourcer should live by is to save your searches externally. What that means is somewhere on your computer (or on a cloud storage account preferably) there should be basic Boolean and x-ray strings for all successful searches that you’ve run in the past.

Example of saved x-ray strings:

example string 1

example strings 2

I have an ongoing document that has probably close to 1000 separate searches for LinkedIn and Indeed. When I have a new search I just open my document hit Ctrl+F and then modify any highlighted strings to fit my current search parameters. Once I have a newly modified string that returns good results, I save it to the list for the next time that I need a similar search run.

Even with a free LinkedIn account you can use these strings to find talent through Google. You may not be able to InMail any of the candidates, but you can get around that as well.

find a profile that you want to locate contact info for and highlight the candidate’s name and copy it.


Now start constructing a Boolean string.

“Marcus Twyman” AND


Go back to the profile and take note of the location. Now add that to the string as well but use a tilde, aka ~, in front of the location name. This means that we could get results with similar or synonymous words in them. New York City may come back as NYC or just NY. Hopefully this will help to limit any loss of results due to imperfect location matches.

“Marcus Twyman” AND ~“new York city”


Now add “phone” to the string and some Boolean wildcards around the @ symbol so that Google searches for an email address.

“Marcus Twyman” AND ~“new York city” AND “phone” OR “*@*.com”


Here are a few results that the string was able to pull from across the web.

Untitled 1

All of the results above have accurate contact info in them. You may come across multiple listings with conflicting information in them but it is your job as a sourcer to play detective and track down information by using what you already know about each candidate. Where do they live? What titles have they had? What companies have they worked for? All of these questions allow us to attempt to construct an accurate profile of those candidates that we want to engage with. You’ll get some right and some wrong, but you’ll get better and better at finding information the more that you practice this type of sourcing.


You can also source LinkedIn with an X-ray string designed to find contact details such as phone numbers and email accounts. Construct your x-ray string as usual and then add in components to tell Google to only locate profiles that display this data.

Example String:

(( ( OR AND -dir) AND (“tax analyst” OR (“tax manager” OR “senior tax manager”))) AND (“*” OR “*” OR “*” OR * OR “*@*.com”) AND (“Washington D.C. Metro Area” OR “DC” OR Alexandria OR Bethesda OR arlington) -networking -recruiter


Here are some results from using the string on Google.


Another way to use LinkedIn is through a custom search engine or “CSE”. This is helpful if you are not comfortable building out your own x-ray strings. You can find a CSE designed for x-ray searching LinkedIn below.

Custom Search Engine: LinkedIn X-ray Search

So to recap, don’t save all of your projects and candidate profiles within LinkedIn Recruiter or you could lose all of your hard work. Do use x-ray and Boolean searches to find highly targeted candidate profiles and to locate contact information for those candidates across the web.

Adhering to these guidelines will make searching LinkedIn for talent more productive and result in both present -state and future-state successes.

Sourcing Talent In Europe



I’ve encountered quite a few recruiters that have had to run searches for candidates in European countries. One of the main ways to locate the talent in these markets is to LEARN about your target market.

What Does “Learn About Your Target Market” Mean?

Think about the searches that you’ve conducted here state side, what did you do to target a specific area for talent? Did you look for phone number area codes? Postal codes? City names surrounding the major markets that you need to find talent for? There’s nothing too unique about the search that you need to run in Europe, just apply the same logic.


Phone Number Area/Dialling Codes For Republic Of Ireland:


Now all we need to do is add these to a Boolean string (this one’s pretty basic, you can make a much more targeted one for your own purposes).

(“software engineer” OR “software developer”) AND (“021” OR “022” OR “023” OR “024” OR “025” OR “026” OR “027” OR “027” OR “029”) AND Ireland AND “cv” AND java -template -sample -recruitment -recruiter -HR -job -jobs -apply



We can also format our basic string into an X-ray string for LinkedIn: OR ( AND (“software engineer” OR “software developer”) AND (“021” OR “022” OR “023” OR “024” OR “025” OR “026” OR “027” OR “027” OR “029”) AND Ireland AND java -dir




Or we can even X-ray Xing (big in Europe) but we’ll remove the phone area codes: AND (“software engineer” OR “software developer”) AND Ireland AND java -dir



Try a similar search with Viadeo, another popular site in Europe: inurl:profile “engineer” OR “developer” “java” AND “Ireland”



The main thing to remember is that you’ll need to do a little research into the market you want to recruit in and take time to formulate the correct strings and find the right resources to leverage.

Think broadly and then narrow your searches down little by little to hone in on your desired results.

Hopefully this helps, let me know and feel free to share your own process with me if you would like to.

Different Kinds Of Talent Search Methods

looking for something.jpg


Ok, I’ve noticed that as an industry we spend quite a bit of time discussing the process and strategy around talent acquisition. The ways that employer branding, personal branding, diversity and inclusion and social media platforms help create a foundation on which a compelling story and a candidate engagement strategy can be formulated and implemented. But what about the “hunt” for talent? Even if we have the best processes and strategies in place, we still need to ensure that our sourcers and/or recruiters understand how to use those processes to their advantage and that they understand how to find the talent needed to fill their requisitions.

The thing about sourcing is that everyone thinks about it differently. If you’ve ever attended a SourceCon (which I highly recommend that you do if you take sourcing talent seriously) then you’ll notice that to get the same result and to fill the same skill set, sourcers can have widely varying techniques for locating talent from one person to another. This is why it is so important for us to communicate with one another, so that we can step outside of our own way of thinking and try out different methods that some of our counterparts use when finding targeted talent for very specific niche opportunities.



Below, please feel free to take a look at some examples of searches that I’ve conducted when looking for talent:

Image Search For Resumes

This is a search that I usually perform for more technical skillsets but that you can try out with any open requisitions that you may be actively sourcing for. Google is very good at finding what you want which it can then break out into urls, images, maps, videos, etc.

By entering some basic Boolean logic into Google’s search bar and then selecting “images” we can pull resumes from across the web. Please see the example below:


~resume AND java developer AND (“” OR “” OR “”) “fort Lauderdale” OR “ft. lauderdale”



“Natural Language” OR “Natural Speech” Boolean

Put yourself in the shoes of any candidate. What does the candidate worry about when beginning a job hunt? What does a candidate think about when building an online profile or writing a blog post? How does a candidate most likely construct the sentences that they are sharing on the web? What point of view does a potential candidate usually write in? To get an idea of what I’m talking about, just go look at a LinkedIn profile of a candidate that you’ve recently tried contacting or read through any number of resumes that are saved on your computer. You will typically see that online profiles are written in first person point of view (on occasion you’ll see some third person point of view as well) while resumes are usually written in third person point of view but avoid using the words “she”, “he”, “her”, and “his”.

These details are important when running a search using Natural Speech Boolean because you’re using quotations around full sentences or common statements seen on resumes and profiles.

Your results will not always be neat, clean, pdf files or profile pages. Instead, you may find quite a few Q&A sites where a candidate has commented with matching criteria, or even blogs/sites that the user has posted some personal data on. This is a great way to find niche talent that maybe is not easy to locate through traditional means. Please see the example below:


~resume AND “I’m a*” OR “currently working” AND “responsible for” “java developer” OR “java engineer” AND “Location..San Francisco” AND “” OR “”


Notice the bolded words and information within each of the returned search results pictured below. You’re looking for information on people that have the skills you’re hunting for. Once you’ve identified those people through the results you should hopefully be able to reach out to them through info that they’ve posted online. Give it a try and play around with it. It may become a new favorite technique of yours!


Custom Search Engines “CSE”

One of the main things that I start new recruiters off with is how to use LinkedIn thoroughly. Whether we agree with it or not, LinkedIn is probably the first tool that most recruiters will fall back on once they get an open requisition. So how do we ensure that they are making the most of searching through all of the profiles that LinkedIn houses?

I implement a triple-search strategy in regards to LinkedIn.

First, search LinkedIn using the advanced filters and ALWAYS use Boolean logic in all of the search fields. The next thing I urge recruiters and sourcers to do is to pull LinkedIn profiles through Google by utilizing an X-ray string. The last method of searching LinkedIn should be through a CSE (click here to use one I put together).

I have yet to have a search run using all three of these methods produce the exact same candidates. I always find other profiles that I would not have found by using LinkedIn’s platform alone.



These are just a few methods that can be used to locate talent, but there are quite a few more that can also be implemented in your sourcing search strategy. I’ll be sure to put an article up on X-ray searching and other techniques but for now, please feel free to try out the ones that I’ve outlined above.

Happy Sourcing!

Is This A Way To Leverage The Massive User Base Of SnapChat For The Recruiting Industry?


So, not too long ago I mentioned trying to use Snapchat as a way to engage with potential candidates in my article titled What’s The Root Of Your Sourcing Woes?. The problem was trying to figure out how to use the platform to gain viewership and positive candidate engagement. released an article that gives what I believe to be, a great way to implement snapchat into a brand’s employer branding campaign. It involves using a Geofilter and a customized template.

Please take a look and let me know if what they’ve outlined seems like a strategy that could potentially benefit your employer brand initiatives. I’d be willing to try it out, who knows, maybe I will!


recruited on snapchat.PNG

New Tech Hubs… There’s Now More Than Just Silicon Valley



Ok all of you tech-savvy recruiters and sourcers. We talk about sourcing strategies, neat Chrome extensions, etc. but an area that you should also be well versed in is the market intel surrounding different geographic locations and tech talent hot spots.

Companies are beginning to catch up with the way that talent researches and engages with different potential employers which is why they are putting much more focus on employer branding, candidate engagement and social media platform usage. This additional focus has allowed these companies/brands to highlight other geographic locations across the country that have budding tech communities.

The cost of employing tech talent in Silicon Valley is astronomically high. The perks, salaries, bonuses, and in some cases the “work day” schedule can all be draining on employers in the San Francisco Bay Area especially if they are not mostly focused on technology, but instead, employ technical talent to support several different lines of business. For this reason there have been major investments in cultivating and nurturing developmental programs in other more affordable markets which have now become almost like smaller tech-incubators.

Read the article from Mashable to see where you could potentially target your sourcing efforts with your clients and possibly convince your hiring teams to either allow for remote opportunities or maybe even consider developing offsite tech teams if there are no satellite offices currently in the area.



Which Apps Are On Your Smartphone?

Hi everyone! So… with all of the talk around mobile recruiting and social media strategies for talent acquisition, I thought it would be a great idea to see which mobile apps people tend to have on their phones.

This isn’t necessarily restricted to other people in the same industry as me, I see this as a chance to collect some interesting data around what people are using on their phones. Popular apps should be the focus of serious recruiting and sourcing professionals since this is how you can get to engage with potential candidates. I mentioned Snapchat in my last article but what other apps could potentially offer up a great way to interact with talent pools and otherwise hard to reach candidates?