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Sourcing for Grade

When I set up my business my plan wasn’t to do one off recruitments, but work as a long term partner with my clients. I didn’t want to set up a traditional recruitment agency in that sense. But when Andreas from Workbuster asked me if I could help them find a couple of developers I couldn’t say no. Workbuster (nowadays part of Grade) will always have a special place in my heart.

The back story

Back in 2014 I was working at a recruitment agency. I had just “stolen” a developer from a company I knew nothing about, and placed them with a client. The company I stole from was Workbuster, and when they needed to replace said developer they called the agency I was working at without knowing anything about me or that it was I who had lured their developer away.

I went to the meeting with my manager, and we told them that I was the recruiter who helped find the developer a new job. And that’s how Workbuster became my first “own” client where I had the full responsibility. I got on really well with the founders, Peter and Andreas, and had a really good feeling about the company as a whole. Long story short. I found them 3 developers to replace the one I “stole” and have kept in touch with them until this day. Hence it being impossible for me to say no when they needed my help again (Andreas has asked me a few times in the past as well, but I’ve never had the time before).

As my plan for this year is to write more, I thought I’d summarise the assignment.

 The Assignment

  • Find one Fullstack Developer for Grade in Lund, and one Backend for Workbuster in Stockholm.
  • 3 qualified candidates to interview for each position.

Sourcing Methodology

  1. X-ray Linkedin and scrape the results. Add them to a google sheet and remove the duplicates as per Nicolas Darcis talk at Sourcing Summit.
  2. Scrape relevant meetup groups and see who was in more than one relevant group.
  3. Github stargazers – always a winner (read blog post about it here)
  4. Find all users on Github with the relevant location and tech. Scrape and clean according to Nicolas method.
  5. X-raying Linkedin for smaller Saas companies, go through their employees.

I set out to be highly organised, but in the end I was like a magpie going “oh, shiny object!” as usual. When I found someone with the right skills, but not the right experience I always headed down the rabbit hole of exploring all employees at the same company, with no real structure.

I realised I had to be a bit more organised and set up a bit more of a strategy and gathered some ideas. Both some old tried and tested ones, but also some new that I haden’t tried myself before.

The best approach turned out to be scraping Github for all users in Stockholm who had used Typescript. That yielded the most results and even found a developer with no presence on Linkedin. Not even an abandonded profile. (I always say it’s impossible to find someone outside of Linkedin if you always start there).

Personally I like working in batches. I’ll do a search and go through all the results, saving the relevevant ones to reach out to later. Once I’ve gone through them all I’ll sit down, usually a different day, and reach out. This also acts as a double check to make sure I’m reaching out to the right people. Occasionally I’ll say to my self “why did you save this one?”.

Working in batches, and searching in a few different ways will inevitably give you load of duplicates. People who appear in your search on Github will also appear when searching on Linkedin or Meetup. Which is why I love Nicolas Darcis approach of saving them all in a Google sheet and removing duplicates. It’s such a time saver. It’s also kinda fun to see how many new unique results you can find 🙂

Outreach Methodology

  1. Initial outreach via e-mail, with one or two scheduled follow ups depending on how creative I was able to be in my first message,
  2. Follow up with a Linkedin connection request, including a short message explaining why I wanted to connect (I went straight to this step if I couldn’t find an e-mail address)
  3. A follow-up inmail to those to responded to my connection request
  4. Throw in the towel and give up (If they haven’t responded by now, they aren’t that interested).

Tools used

  • Amazing Hiring
  • Bookmarklets (created by Andre Bradshaw)
  • Instant Datascraper
  • Wappalyzer
  • Magical
  • Google Sheets
  • Remove Duplicates (a Google sheets extension)

The outreach message

My approach to writing an outraech message is to always highly tailor the opening paragraph. That’s the one chance I have to grab the person’s attention so I don’t want to waste that by introducing myself or stating the obvious such as “I’m a recruiter”. And instead of writing that I have “read their Linkedin profile”, or “checked out their Github” I ask a question about something I have seen/read about them, showing them that I have read their profile rather than telling them.

The second paragraph is quick info about the company and position. It’s not a long paragraph, perhaps 3-4 sentences. This is the same no matter who I send it to. I copy+paste and I’m proud of it 🙂

I always finish with CTA. Usually along the lines of “Does this sound like something you’d like to know more about?”. I don’t wanna suggest a call, as that might put some people off. All I really want is for them to reply, and hopefully be interested in finding out more. At this stage I don’t care about whether they are open to a new position at the moment or not. That isn’t the objective.

If I was unable to find an e-mail adress, and they were present on Linkedin, I sent them a quick connection request stating I had a role at Grade I wanted to discuss with them. I always believe in being honest about why you are looking to connect. Persoanlly I really hate it when someone wants to connect (without telling me why, or saying it’s just to connect) and then immediately pitch me something.


Another aspect of the outreach message that I think is very important is that you add your own personality to it. I’m more than a recruiter, so I want my message to sound like I wrote them. Not some generic recrutiment robot. And it works. When I asked the people who I did manage to get on the phone why they had said yes to call with me thet said things like “Your message was funny”, “I didn’t sound like a generic message”. For one guy I found an old gmae he had made during a game jam. I palyed it and sent him a quick review (along with the generic part about the company and role). He loved the fact that I had found and played his game. He had almost forgotten about it himself.

The result

The assignment was to get 3 people in for interview for each role. In the end I 4 backend developers was interview for the position at Workbuster in Stockholm, and 2 fullstack developers for the position at Grade in Lund. One of them was hired. The process in Stockholm is still ongoing, so no-one has been hired yet. But as far as my role in the process, I am now done.

The result

6 candidates made it to interview

1 out of 6 candidates presented did not have a Linkedin profile at all

1 out of 6 candidates presented had abandonned their Linkedin profile

Response rates

Grade in Lund: 36%
50% was a positive response

Workbuster by Grade in Stockholm: 29%
42% was a positive response

More numbers

4 out 6 candidates presented responded to my first e-mail

1 out of 6 candidates presented responded to my second e-mail

1 out of 6 candidates presented responded to my connection request 

I am a little dissapointed with my response rates. I don’t know if it’s the market, the lesser know brand I represented or that my messages simply wasn’t good enough. Perhaps all 3 in combination. I don’t think I have enough data to come to a real conclusion.

However, it was fun to have a dedicated sourcing assignment, it’s been a while since I have been fully focused on that aspect only. Usually I deal with the whole process, including the employer branding. It was fun getting to help an old client out though. 

Sofia Broberger

Sofia Broberger

Sourcing Trainer

My name is Sofia Broberger and I’m a freelance sourcing and recruitment consultant focusing on IT/Tech recruitment.

I have a background in teaching and really enjoy combining my experience as a teacher with my love for sourcing. I’m available to give tailor-made workshops and lectures/talks on sourcing, tech recruitment and employer branding.