Social Engineering: The Human Element of Sourcing & Recruiting Candidates

Why is the “Boolean Black Belt” writing and presenting about social engineering?

Well, it’s actually quite simple. It all started over 20 years ago when I began working for a small, privately held IT staffing firm in Northern VA. In pursuit of becoming the top performing recruiter, I not only had to get very good at quickly finding the right people, I also had to get very good at getting those people to respond to my outreach efforts, to be open to speaking candidly with me, and ultimately to convert to candidates. As we all know, unless you are responsible for sourcing names only, finding people is only half the battle – although a critical half, as you can’t convert someone into a hire that you haven’t found in the first place. ;)

While the vast majority of the content I’ve written about since 2008 has been about finding people online and in databases, that’s only one of my three “superpowers” – things that I believe I developed exceptional strength in that enabled me to become a top performer in my firm. The other two include my time/performance management approach and what I have now learned to be social engineering.

Social engineering is, according to Chris Hadnagy, creator of the Social Engineering Framework, “The art, or better yet, science, or skillfully maneuvering human beings to take action in some aspect of their lives.”

I saw Chris speak at the 2011 SourceCon in NY, although he didn’t really dive deep into the concepts of the book he had published at the end of 2010 – Social Engineering, The Art of Human Hacking, and it wasn’t until Jeremy Roberts wrote about Chris’s book in early 2015 that I actually got around to purchasing and reading the book.

As I was reading the first half of the book, I had many epiphanous moments when I realized that many of the things I had been doing in my candidate messaging and when on the phone with potential candidates beginning nearly 20 years prior and continuing over the years training my teams to perform had names (elicitation, framing, preloading, etc.) and psychological reasons why they worked (e.g., empathy, scarcity, social proof, obligation & reciprocity, etc.). This inspired me to present on the topic at sourcing and recruiting conferences, as it makes it 10X easier to explain and transfer to people when you can attribute names to specific techniques and explain the “why” behind why you should do it and why it works.

This deck from SourceCon 2018 in Vegas, where the whole theme was social engineering and we had a keynote by Jessica Clark (who I sourced and Shannon Pritchett successfully recruited), and is the latest iteration of my social engineering content that I have also presented at LinkedIn Talent Connect, SOSUEU, Bullhorn Engage and the Northwest Recruiters Association (NWRA). It provides a high-level overview of many social engineering strategies and tactics that I have personally used in a “white hat” manner when seeking to influence potential candidates to respond to outreach efforts, be open to speaking candidly with me, provide high quality referrals, and convert to being a qualified, interested and available (QIA) candidates.

As you will see in the deck, social engineering is essentially the human element of sourcing and recruiting candidates. Enjoy!