Here's a quick background about Lisa for the story: Besides being an avid Social Marketer in the staffing industry, Lisa is also an open-water / cold-water swimming fanatic. Whether it's around the SF Bay Area, or anyplace that she travels to (provided there's a nearby ocean), she will be there swimming. She mentioned to me that she needed to find a Cold-Water Swim Coach, or as she put it, a Cold Water Sherpa.
Now I immediately realized that the "Cold Water Sherpa" title might not be an officially recognized one, so I did what any right minded sourcer would do, follow the sourcing process:
So here is what the req ended up being:
Job Title: Cold Water Sherpa
Contract Duration: Open-ended
Shift/Hours: 12-48 hours a week. Year-round.
This volunteer role will enhance Lisa’s swimming adventures by providing inspiration, motivation, encouragement and most of all, pre- and post-swim warmth.
Love for the ocean.
Sense of adventure.
Swimming proficiency in sub-50 water temperature and in currents up to 5 knots.
Advanced piloting skills.
Proficient in reading tide charts.
Proficiency (or desire to learn) kayaking or paddleboarding.
Proficiency in riding bicycles on city streets.
Proficiency in Spotify.
Proficiency in public transit and ride-sharing: Uber, Caltrain, VTA, MUNI, Monterey-Salinas Transit, Amtrak, the West Seattle Water Taxi.
Intermediate proficiency in maritime regulations.
Intermediate foraging skills.
Knowledge of Northern California flora and fauna.
Advanced proficiency in anti-hypothermia process, procedures and best practices.
The Sourcing Process I (Easy Pickin's):
So, first things first: This is not a typical candidate you will find on Linkedin or Monster. Mostly because this is a hobby for a lot of people. It's a passion or personal endeavor, so it will probably not be detailed on a resume. Nevertheless, that doesn't mean we shouldn't take 2 seconds to run a site: search for Linkedin on Google (results link):
site:linkedin.com/in OR site:linkedin.com/pub "san francisco bay area" (trainer OR teacher OR instructor) ("ocean swimming" OR "open water swimming") -inurl:dir
The reason for the "open water swimming" moniker is because I came across the reference on a single Linkedin profile, and decided it was worth focusing on for the search. As expected, there weren't a ton of results with this string. Only 133. And also, just because someone had "trainer" or "instructor" on their profile, doesn't mean that they train people how to swim in the ocean. Still, clarifying that information is just a phone call away.
The Sourcing Process II (Birds of a Feather):
Like most cases in search, when you are looking for one person, you are really looking for a group of people. People who have interests and hobbies like to collaborate and communicate with others who have similar interests. This leads me to think that there are different groups out there that are dedicated to open water swimming. A simple Google string (results link):
(member OR user ) group "open water swimming"
brings back many results including a group called WOWSA or the World Open Water Swimming Association. Perfect, so let's focus on just one group for this exercise. Another simple string to find individual member pages or bios looks like this in Google:
(wowsa OR "World Open Water Swimming") (bio OR profile OR resume OR member) (trainer OR instructor OR coach OR teacher) ("bay area" OR "santa cruz" OR montery OR "san francisco" OR "san jose" OR "scotts valley")
Results from this search set are even better, and they include a site called OpenWaterPedia. What luck! After analyzing the site and seeing that member profiles are easily searched, I come up with a Google string (results link):
site:openwaterpedia.com/index.php?title (trainer OR instructor OR coach OR teacher) ("bay area" OR "santa cruz" OR montery OR "san francisco" OR "san jose" OR "scotts valley")
Now we are, as they say, in the money.
The Sourcing Process III (Life's Passion):
Another method I used was to track down people who blog about cold-water / open-water / ocean swimming all the time. It makes sense that a passion outside of a person's normal job might inspire them to write a blog about it. Maybe even post swim information, races, videos, maps, etc. So a simple Google string to capture blog writers who are into open water swimming is created (results link):
(site:wordpress.com OR inurl:blog OR intitle:blog OR site:blogspot.com OR site:blogger.com) swimming ("bay area" OR "santa cruz" OR montery OR "san francisco" OR "san jose" OR "scotts valley") ("I teach" OR "i lead" OR "i taught" OR "i led") ("cold water swimming" OR "open water") -pool
One thing about blog posts is that people won't necessarily say that they are a TRAINER. That's because they have a normal day job. The fact that they enjoy leading open water swims is an outside interest for them. So instead, we need to be creative in the wording that we use to capture these candidates. Instead of titles, use action phrases like "I led" or "I teach". That might get you closer to someone who is talking frankly about the subject. Also, there were many false positives where people where swim instructors for pools. Not exactly what we want. We took those out but will come back to them after.
I know that there were other qualifications in the req such as knowledge of public transportation, Spotify, tides, maritime regulations and such. Those get asked as we get to know our candidates on the phone and through email. Besides someone who looks good on paper, we're clearly looking for a good personality fit. Candidate screening is key after the initial sourcing.
No matter what the req is that you may have, there is always a way to source it. Use the methods that you already know. Just change them up, tweak them, and look at them from a different angle.
- Mark Tortorici
Founder & Training Expert
Transform Talent Acquisition