Essential Sourcing Tools

by Andrea on April 13, 2011 · 8 comments

Starting out you might not have a lot of tools and software to support your sourcing efforts. I want to cover a few of the basics that I think are essential and hopefully suggest some alternatives to more expensive/time consuming products. 

Planning your strategy is essential, and one of the best ways to do this is mind mapping. This could be done using paper and pen, but if you have a digital solution you are able to better store, replicate and update for future roles. I prefer online (cloud) solutions, but there are a couple that you can download where you have the option to share online, such as Mindjet Mindmanager bundled with their Catalyst product. If this is out of your price range, or if you simply don’t need the advanced features, then I recommend something based fully in the cloud such as MindMeister or Mind42. These products are far simpler than MindManager and offer collaborative editing at no extra cost so you can get your team involved or even share mindmaps easily with clients.

I believe a CRM (Candidate Relationship management) system is absolutely essential to sourcing and recruitment teams, but if you are just building your team, or are an independent/freelance researcher working on your own, there are other options. Excel is probably the first that springs to mind, but Google Docs is also a great product. Google Docs, like the mind mapping products above, is a cloud product and has collaborative features. You can share documents, see changes made by collaborators in real time and also in the history, and documents have an embedded chat feature so you can discuss the document while editing. Another option here, and one I have successfully set up and used in the past is a Wiki. If you take a look at wikipedia.org you can see the scope of information stored there and the format they use. Not all wikis look like this but you can generally set up a format similar to a database with little cost and without needing too much technical knowledge. There are a number of online wikis that you could choose from. Zoho Wiki and Confluence both offer reasonably low cost hosted options.

If you are using excel documents (or Open Office, a free open source alternative) and you need to share them with your team or client Dropbox can be a great option if you don’t have a common drive already set up. I have to admit to being a bit slow on the uptake with this one, and have only recently started using it but it’s a great option, especially since I can use it on a Mac, PC and my iPhone, so it’s useful for being able to access documents outside of the office also.

So those are the basics, as I see them at least. The next step I would take is to start looking at something to automate some of the basic searches and profile gathering, such as Broadlook’s Diver or an eGrabber product, but with products like that expenses climb quite quickly. That said, both of those products are worth looking into if you want to automate part of your search process, and there are cheaper options, such as this, suggested by Irina Shamaeva.

What would you add to the list?

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Jiya April 13, 2011 at 9:30 am

Hey Andrea! Great post. Im going to have a look at each one of these online tools you’ve mentioned. Would love to get to know more about the online wikis. Thanks :)

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Andrea April 13, 2011 at 6:11 pm

Thanks Jiya! Let me know if you have any other questions about wikis.

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Mark April 14, 2011 at 8:26 am

Thanks Andrea,

Great post. With regards to using the mind mapping tools, my vote still goes with Mind Manager while its more expensive, it has loads more functionality in how you can use it, and present from it. I also really like the ability to work offline whenever I need to. One if my biggest concerns with the online tools is their ability to handle anything to different from a standard mind map, in particular org charts, I still haven’t found a cloud based solution that I like that handles org charts well.

In terms of offline access its worth noting that for users of Google Chrome Mind Meister does offer the ability to take your maps offline and continue to work on them from within your browser.

Just for fun take a look at http://www.spaaze.com/ its not anything related to sourcing but its a great little app.

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Andrea April 14, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Thanks for your comment Mark . I am totally with you with regards to finding a good solution for creating org charts.
You make a good point about being able to take stuff offline. I think a lot the decision to use any of these products comes down to knowing thoroughly what you need it to do, for example if I had a centralised team I would definitely recommend Mind Manager (even though I do find it a bit busy after using simpler products for so long).
Thanks for the tip on Spaaze, looks like fun :)

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Mark April 20, 2011 at 12:41 pm

So I may have just found my online org chart tool: https://creately.com

I originally started playing around with this in a ‘previous life’ doing BA work when it was in beta using it to do software mockups. It was a good tool, but still quite infant.

I’ve just been having a look at it again and its grown quite significantly, and i’m really loving how easy it is to produce good quality org charts, just needs to improve its mind maps a bit and i’m sold.

Only $5 a month for a personal account that allows you to keep an unlimited number of projects and diagrams its great value too.

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Skye April 28, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Andrea,
Thanks for posting , good to have some discussion about these tools.

I’m looking into Diver at the moment – how much value do you think a product like Diver adds for an independent / freelance researcher with a small budget? I have heard of some corporate teams not re-subscribing once their license expired because it wasn’t adding enough value. Thoughts? Perhaps they weren’t using it properly? Outwit looks like a great option, how does it compare to Diver and eGrabber – is there a mac compatible version or product?

As for CRM, are there any low-cost options that you would recommend?

Mark, thanks for sharing creately – looks good!

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Andrea April 28, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Thanks for your comment Skye
If you want a way to automate bits of the names gen process I think that Diver is definitely worth looking at, as an independent or otherwise. One of the main things I like about these products is automating names gathering from Linkedin. I have used ListGrabber for this, which works inside Linkedin and Mark tells me that Diver does the same job but with your site: searches of Linkedin via Google/Bing. Cost is definitely a consideration, ListGrabber is a one time only cost, but quickly gets expensive if you add the Linkedin macro, I am not sure of the current costs around Diver but I am hoping to get some more info from Broadlook for a future post. Both of these products are Windows only :( which is where OutWit is good because it comes as an addon to Firefox. I haven’t used it enough to judge, but it comes highly recommended to me from Irina Shamaeva. My main concern with OutWit is that it’s not as user friendly as other options.

As an independent researcher I would definitely consider the Wiki option. I think as a small business there isn’t as much requirement for the CRM funtionality (I could be wrong) as there is for centralised storage and basic notes against candidate records to track where they are at.

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Skye April 28, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Diver is about $3000 as an individual module. Cheaper if bought as part of the full Broadlook suite. Certainly makes Outwit seem far more attractive at $35 for the pro version! I think I can forgive its lack of user friendliness in appreciation of its mac friendliness :) Definitely going to give it a go.

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