A Vision for Open-source Recruiting

It’s time to retire the “War for Talent.” This tired idiom has been a fundamental tenant of recruiting for years. Google the term. It’s everywhere. It was born in the hallowed jargon halls of management consultants in the 1990s, and it has been click bait ever since.

If you buy into this belief, you likely believe in walling off your recruiting practices as
“tradecraft” and “competitive advantage”. You balk at the notion of sharing any of your secrets, and giving up the hard fought arsenal you’ve developed to win this war. This post is not for you.

Putting The “War For Talent” to Bed

The field of recruiting has advanced significantly over the past several years. We’ve gotten smarter. We’ve expanded our marketing skills and competencies to help our organizations tell stories and build our employer brand. We’ve seen an influx of new technology that impacts almost all stages of the recruiting lifecycle. There’s never been more choices — and those advancements have created a widening gap between leaders and laggards.

We’re all at different stages of the adoption curve in recruiting, whether we’re talking practices, approaches, or technology. What if those on the leading edge opened up their playbook? What if they shared some of the resources and practices that make them great? What kind of impact would that have on our field?

Open Source Comes to Recruiting

When open source came to software engineering it profoundly impacted innovation and the advancement of the field, leading to the development of software that’s now the backbone of the modern web, including Linux, Firefox, WordPress, Apache. Leading tech companies like Google, Square, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are leading the way in their contributions to the open-source community. Could that work in recruiting?

Companies like Hootsuite (which I’m currently working with to support this initiative) are experimenting with open-source recruiting.

Check the #HootHROS hashtag for some examples. Its HR team has embraced social HR, and will be sharing case studies on some of its initiatives covering how it came up with, pitched, executed, and measured campaigns — even what it got wrong.

What if more recruiting teams embraced open source? Sharing their technology stack, dashboards, KPI’s, campaigns, etc. Could we realize some of the benefits of the engineering community? Could we move our field forward faster and raise our collective game in important areas like candidate experience, analytics, and employer brand? I don’t have that answer, but I’d love to find out.

Wait, You Want Me to Help My Competitors?

I’m not naive (idealistic perhaps). I’ve been a recruiter through two tech bubbles and know how competitive the hiring climate it for key talent. It’s not realistic to expect recruiting teams to share all their secrets, but I imagine most teams have some approaches/tactics/etc. they can share and contribute to open-source recruiting.

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Competing for top talent and sharing best practices are not mutually exclusive. We can make a difference to our field if we make it easier for our peers to find resources, practices, case studies, and concrete examples they can take to their own organizations.

Could this work? Could you see your recruiting team adopting open-source approaches and sharing some of your work? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

About the Author

Lars Schmidt is the founder of Amplify Talent, a talent agency that provides consulting and search services to help companies like SpaceX, Hootsuite, and NPR recruit more effectively and efficiently. Prior to launching Amplify Talent, He was the senior director of talent acquisition & innovation at NPR where he was responsible for providing leadership and advocacy for talent acquisition strategies that aligned with NPR’s strategic mission and core values. He held various HR and recruiting leadership roles with companies including Ticketmaster, Magento, Pencom Systems and several startups in Los Angeles.

He is a fierce advocate for progressive HR with a strong track record iin developing and executing innovative global recruiting strategies. He was named a Top 100 Influencer by HR Examiner. He was included in The Huffington Post’s Top 100 Most Social HR Experts on Twitter and LinkedIn's 50 Most Popular Recruiting Influencers. He was also a contributor to SHRM's first book on social media and Glassdoor’s book on Employer Branding. You can follow him on: Twitter at @ThisIsLars, Facebook, and LinkedIn.



  • http://www.medievalrecruiter.com/ Medieval Recruiter

    I don’t see this getting wide adoption, mostly because of the sales! nature of recruiting. Comparing recruiting to software is just not workable. As a profession, recruiters are slightly more despised than used car salesman, and a bare step above pederasts in most people’s views. Our market is no where near maturity. Markets that are mature have less BS, not more. Our profession is more akin to car sales, used and new, and those guys need laws in place to stop direct to consumer models from gutting them and putting them out of business. If our profession ever matures to the point where facts and intelligence trump BS sales! nonsense then we may see open source recruiting, but not before.

    • ThisIsLars

      I’m confused @medievalrecruiter:disqus, where do you stand on the perception of Recruiters? Jokes aside, I’d challenge the notion that all recruiters are despised and deserve to be. Think about this concept in practice. Maybe a company has a bad rep because their candidate experience sucks. What if their corporate recruiting leader had a variety of resources and case studies, beyond the CandES (an established CX resource), of orgs sharing how focusing their recruiting efforts on enhancing candidates experience directly led to increased retention and shorter time to hire? Wouldn’t that make it easier for him/her to take that real-world example back to their leadership and make a case for revamping their process to improve that? The org wins. The corporate recruiter wins. The org and recruiting team who shared the case study wins by giving back to the industry. And most importantly, the candidates win. That’s the idea here.

      • http://www.medievalrecruiter.com/ Medieval Recruiter

        It would only help if his managers gave a damn about their employees. Most don’t. Most see people as a pure cost, most don’t tally or even realize there’s a cost for turnover, and most refuse to invest in even doing the minimum necessary to retain their existing employees, much less recruit new ones. Until that problem is solved, open source recruiting is just another band aid on a wound that needs disinfection and stitches.

  • NDI Recruiter

    I tend to be in favor and in fact am building a small community of recruiters in my own field (international development) where there is plenty of competition but also plenty of talent. That doesn’t mean I send my best prospects straight to the competitors. It means that when I genuinely don’t have an opportunity for someone who may be just a little outside our particular slice of the industry or we just have a glut of talent at a senior level and not enough openings on offer, I send people to my colleagues in the recruiting biz. It’s a karma thing – when I need someone, I call on them and sometimes they come through for me. I think we can and should learn from each other and we’ll all benefit from it. But I’m an idealist, too. 😉

    • jacobstenmadsen

      Kudos and applause to you NDI Recruiter for doing this.

    • ThisIsLars

      We need more idealists in recruiting, @ndirecruiter:disqus. Thanks for sharing, and keep it up!

  • jacobstenmadsen

    Lars , you and UK buddy Matthew Jefferey have for some time shared the perspective that ‘to share is good’ and I have seen this coming from a range of good people like for instance Glen Cathey, Jim Stroud and others. It is the way forward and what more people should aspire to, and rather than seeing it as a threat see it as ‘upping the game’ across the board. What this will mean provided it become adopted and used is that going forward it will no longer be a question of who possesing what tools or solutions but who able to come up with the most compelling EVP and reason as to why they should join a company/organisation. Those hugging and not willing to share and to let others benefit have understood little about the world of evolution and taking things to a new and higher and better level.

    • ThisIsLars

      Thanks for your comment @jacobstenmadsen:disqus. I know this is an area you’re passionate about, as is our friend MJ. There are many others as you’ve pointed out who’ve been sharing openly for awhile – leaders in our community. I’d love to see more corporate recruiting teams embrace this approach.

      • jacobstenmadsen

        Reason for not anymore corp recruiters embracing this is in my view an evolutionary thing. For anyone to come to a point where you understand what sharing is about, how it not being a threat but an opportunity takes maturity and being confident in what you do.That is something lacking in majority of corporate recruitment set up’s and that is why not more widespread.

        • ThisIsLars

          Fair point, @jacobstenmadsen:disqus. There are individuals leading the way here, so it’s only a matter of time before we see more teams being open to sharing.

        • http://www.medievalrecruiter.com/ Medieval Recruiter

          Not in my experience, nor am I aware of any evidence to that point, but each to their own I suppose.

  • http://dctechrecruiter.com/ Jay Perreault- DCTechRecruiter

    Lars, your post is thought provoking and reassuring to me at the same time as I have been doing this for years. I discuss this exact topic as a portion of our training that I offer to recruiting departments which is called Turning Good Recruiters Into Great.

    After more than 14 years I have yet to have a candidate say no, “you can’t share my resume” when I broach the subject during the interview process when it is time to say “thanks but no thanks” for a variety of reasons. I have in turned received some of my best placements from my network with little to no effort on my part. Time to fill averages go down which makes my employer happy and the candidate is also happy to learn about another environment that they may not have found on their own.

    I make it a point to share at least 10-20 resume’s a month to a select network of recruiters and directors of Talent Acquisition nationally. In turn, I receive 80-100 resume’s a month either through candidate referrals or just plain ol’ resume sharing of talent. It also helps to build the credibility of the other recruiter as well when I am on the phone with the candidate and say, “I received your resume from (let’s say Derek) and he suggested that I reach out to see if I may be able to assist in your work search”. In my experience, the candidate’s response is 98% positive that I am calling.

    I’m happy to see you post this article to the public. If you need another “test” subject during your case study analysis, please count me in!

    • jacobstenmadsen

      Jay, you are testament to that this can and does in fact work, applause to you.

      • http://dctechrecruiter.com/ Jay Perreault- DCTechRecruiter

        You bet Jacob… “Those hugging and not willing to share and to let others benefit have
        understood little about the world of evolution and taking things to a
        new and higher and better level.”- Love this!

    • ThisIsLars

      @DcTechRecruiter2025965411:disqus – Thanks for your comment. I’ve seen your contributions to the DC Tech and RecruitDC communities firsthand, so know this is something you practice.

  • Phillip Blaydes

    In the UK, and hopefully soon further afield, there’s a group called DBR which is basically all of the inhouse digital recruiters (Start-ups through to Google/Facebook). We use a private Slack channel to share candidates, opinions on tools, best practice and general information. We also hold two events a month, one is a ‘good’ training/learning session and the other is a drinks meet-up.

    We are all effectively competing for the same candidates, but actually we are far stronger together than in isolated competition.

    Although we haven’t fully cracked ‘open-source recruitment’, this is a step towards it.

    • ThisIsLars

      @phillipblaydes:disqus – Thanks for sharing this. That sounds like a great way to connect and make everyone more successful. How have you found Slack as a tool to facilitate that?

  • http://www.careeradex.com/ Infosourcer

    The Hootsuite owl! Nice post BTW. Wholly agree. Now for the rest of the recruiting universe…

    • ThisIsLars

      It all starts somewhere @Infosourcer:disqus, right? Thanks for your feedback. I’m speaking with a few other corporate teams that are considering contributing to open-source, so hoping to bring more along.

  • jacobstenmadsen

    Only too few realise and acknowledge the huge amount of work, the significant strides and the continuous relentless pursuit of enhancements, innovation, and sharing that stretches wide, deep and many years back. It is exactly that Medieval Recruiter that give some hope and some perspective to perception of recruitment agency or corporate. Long way to go and by God it is far too slow, but let’s applaud the far too few that do not give up and wish to make a difference for the benefit of the many.

  • Bob Schwartz

    Umm @ThisIsLars:disqus HOW did you not include in your list of epic backbone or leading open source companies -> Magento? Why do i suggest they should be listed:

    1. Lets start with Magento has over 30% marketshare of all eCommerce sites G L O B A L L Y! “Three – Oh” percent and a world class ecosystem of developers, partners and merchants!

    2. DUDE You worked there! You helped me find awesome Talent! You learned the meaning of Open Source and Open Business while there. Magento taught you how to walk, to talk, to be a real business man. Magento put food on your table, and I’m pretty sure it was because of Magento that you had a house, a car, were married, got pregnant, and not to mention instill you with charm and good looks! 😉

    • ThisIsLars

      I credit Magento mostly for my charm, because I got to see @disqus_WpRJAgs6aV:disqus in action every day. 😉 All of this is true. I think what makes Magento stand out from the others is the true global community it (mainly you/Roy/and Co) built. It was never about Magento. It was always about the ecosystem. That’s the spirit of open-source in action.

  • https://twitter.com/caseyhiresnola Casey Kugler

    Obligatory LinkedIn xpost:
    I enjoyed reading this, Lars. I’m glad you’re leading this conversation.

    I think the less clannish and more open recruiters become, the better the profession (and candidate experience) will become as a whole.

    I think one thing that doesn’t get said enough is that openness can help us improve facets of our organization that may be lagging behind or provide a use-case to change detrimental behavior. Organizations with a bad brand or poor candidate attraction strategies are hemorrhaging people that they’re unable to replace, and organizations without a streamlined staffing and recruiting effort are having issues picking up quickly moving talent. Wouldn’t it be great if you could collaborate with other professionals who have resolved this very issue within their own organizations–for free?

    It makes strategic sense for recruiters to share resources, practices and yes, even candidates. As we become more knowledgable as recruiters, we become better equipped to attract and engage the types of people that our individual organizations want to hire. For me, that’s the end goal, and I feel that spending my free time accumulating knowledge from folks with different recruiting perspectives has grown my expertise exponentially.

    • http://dctechrecruiter.com/ Jay Perreault- DCTechRecruiter

      Well said @CaseyRecruitsDC:disqus as I have learned a lot from you over the years (and you may not even know it). Thanks for continuing to add your 2 cents here and there to add value to important subjects in our field. I always stop and read them when I see that you taking the time to continue to pay it forward with your prowess and wit.

    • ThisIsLars

      I agree, @CaseyRecruitsDC:disqus. Most teams will do some things really well, but have gaps in other capabilities. If we get better at exchanging best practices and case studies, we narrow those gaps (and raise our collective game) much quicker.

  • apikoros18

    I am always willing to back channel good people who my firm is passing on. If I know someone is not going to be hired, and I think they fit into my definition of a positive candidate (and even sometimes when they don’t, with a caveat emptor) I will pass them on to other recruiters who I know. They send me people the same way. I am all about supporting both my clients, the candidate and the Hiring Manager. The candidate might be a much better fit for Company B then you were for my company, so if I can help you, I 100% will. Its the right thing to do, what goes around comes around, and all that good Karma Jazz. Why would do we need to make it formal?

    • ThisIsLars

      I’m glad you take that approach @apikoros18:disqus . As agency recruiters, our success is measured over the long-term by relationships – not placements. Karma and doing the right thing by our candidates (even when that’s steering them away from our clients for a better role) will secure those relationships.

      This article is speaking more to corporate recruiting teams sharing some of their best practices with other corporate recruiting teams. Less individual placements and recommendations, more broad initiatives and campaigns.

  • シ Josef Kadlec

    If you share something, somebody else can take it and make something even better from it and provide it back to the community. That was also a reason for establishing open sourcer in SW development. You can see Red Hat…billion dollar company but you can see the source code of their product.

    • ThisIsLars

      That’s the spirit @josefkadlec:disqus, at least be able to introduce comparable programs in their own organizations. Thanks for weighing in.