Tips from the Sourcing Experts

Last week we attended the European Sourcing Summit and Tru London and this week we presented at Discover Sourcing, featuring some of the world’s best people sourcing experts. It was great to be part of and get high praise from some these amazing people.

Finding the right people for an opportunity is hard, whether as a recruiter, for a large company or for a small startup. Despite running a recruitment business for 5 years, it still took me 6 months full-time to find and recruit Raz.

Our aim is to try to make sourcing so easy that the issue is no longer about finding people. Instead, recruitment should be about doing the ‘right’ research and using appropriate methods of contact, as well as the quality of the opportunity that defines the likelihood of making a good hire. Our aim – to make the labour market a bit more liquid.

We’ve a long way to go, in the meantime, here are some tips, to help those of you recruiting find the best people quickly and more efficiently. Note that for sites like LinkedIn, Twitter etc. using 3Sourcing with the advanced filters can actually speed up your ability to cross-reference people on these sites.

Remember, if you’re a candidate this also applies to you in reverse – how are you appearing in people’s searches?

Using Email: 

  • Use Rapportive (now owned by LinkedIn) to help you connect with people on various social networks. Note, you can also use 3Sourcing to do the same by typing in someone’s name. You can also guess a person’s email by finding a company format and inputting in Rapportive. If their picture comes up, you know it’s the right mail.
  • Use Boomerang to get a read receipt and also send you’re a reminder if your email hasn’t had a response.



Other techniques and sites:

  • Send people a letter – this was something Martin Lee mentioned has one of the highest response rates of any format. Go old-skool. Try carrier pigeon and smoke-signals too.
  • Go to Meetups, meetings and meet people face-to-face, there’s nothing like building rapport with real people.


  • Use google image search – you can pull images into the search and it will find matching photos (i.e. if someone uses the same profile photo). It’s good for dating sites and Airbnb too, we’re told!


  • Try using document searches to find resumes – e.g. PHP developer london (filetype:pdf OR filetype:doc)

Best bloggers

If you’re interested in finding out the latest tools to help source candidates, check out their blogs here:

Over the coming months we’ll be sharing lots more sourcing tips, to help you find the people you need.

Come to Discover Sourcing next week, where Tom will be demoing 3Sourcing.

Recruiters, Sourcing & Wasting Time

One of my observations from both Tru London and SOSU (Sourcing Summit) Europe is how much time recruiters and sourcers waste.

Recruitment is an industry that is heavily subsidised – not by the EU, before you start penning tirades to your MEP – but by successful placements, which subsidise the huge amount of time spent on roles, hunting down and chatting candidates that lead nowhere. Contingent (success-based) fees can be 20-30% of a candidate’s first year salary. That fee often subsidises a number of other searches (a lot of work) that leads to nothing.

Traditionally, recruiters have dealt with this problem through volume. Even today, many of the recruiters I visit focus on maximizing call numbers, in the hope that if they throw enough shit… candidates against the wall, some of it will stick.

Imagine how much time is wasted each day by recruiters researching and calling candidates who are completely unsuitable – either because they don’t fit the job description, or because they wouldn’t do the role, no matter how silver-tongued the recruiter? An hour or two a day, per person? Times that by the number of recruiters in the world and we’re probably talking millions of hours a day, wasted. In addition, that research and those calls don’t merely waste the caller’s time, but also the prospective candidates contacted. Ouch.

If you times the amount of hours candidates spend fending off recruiter calls and deleting emails by their hourly rates, recruiters probably waste our economies millions and millions of dollars a day. It’s no wonder recruiters are so unpopular.

I’d suggest much of the negative press recruiters receive (as Greg Savage and Jim Stroud note, just type “recruiters are” into google and have a look at the autosuggestions) is because of the pressure on them to maximize their number of calls in a day. The reason – so they can wade through these prospective candidates in order to find a needle in the haystack – someone suitable, ready to talk to a recruiter and willing to move.

It’s also no wonder recruiters have such a high turnover rate (the highest of any industry, some say), as to be on the receiving end of such negativity, coupled with the ‘boiler room’ environments many face, isn’t pleasant.

At 3Sourcing, we believe that sourcing isn’t just about finding suitable candidates in a targeted and efficient manner, but also arming the recruiter with enough information to make a considered approach to a suitable, willing candidate. Excellent sourcing tools and skills could, better still should, help recruiters become far more targeted. Our own tool, 3Sourcing a ‘people search engine’ or ‘aggregator’ is a step towards improving available information on candidates. For now, we’re focused on developers in the UK whilst we trial the system, but our aim is to cover many sectors and geographies to help people do that research.

Aaron Neale, a Director at one of the more progressive firms we’ve visited Stott & May says, “People aggregators are the future of our industry because it affords a recruiter more of their most valuable asset; their time.” Or, as Johnny Campbell from Social Talent, as speaker at SOSU succinctly puts it, “Oh. My. God. If that doesn’t convince you that you need to be using people aggregators, then you shouldn’t call yourself a recruiter.”

Here’s to making recruiters time more efficient and improving their reputations.

3Sourcing – finding tech talent, simplified

When we started 3Desk in early 2012, our vision was to make the labour market more liquid.

We believe that helping find people meaningful work is one of the most valuable ways we can drive a healthy and happy society. We believe the recruitment market is tired and desperately in need of innovation, which represents a huge opportunity.

Armed with the knowledge that the contingent labour market would grow to 50% of the total market by 2020, we set out to build a marketplace that would transform the way freelancers are hired.

It was an excellent idea. It still is. Each day the platform places people in jobs all over the world. We won the European iTalent Award and acquired over 370,000 users in just a few months. But the platform (as is often the case with marketplaces) was proving hard to monetize. So we took stock of our findings and decided to spend a couple of months experimenting with new ideas.

A few of those ideas went unnoticed, but one caught on – within an hour of emailing a prototype to a few recruiters I had a number of them on the phone asking if they could get more logins for their colleagues. Within a week I was getting called by companies we hadn’t even sent the prototype to. Word was getting out, without our even trying. For an entrepreneur, that’s a wonderful sign.

Armed with amazing feedback and desperate demand, we continued to experiment. Three months later, we’ve pivoted. Our prototype has blossomed into 3Sourcing (, a search engine for people and the reaction has been phenomenal.

In just 3 months from a standing start, over 50% of the UK IT recruiters are using the platform and we’re already close to making a profit. One recruiter said that 3Sourcing is ‘the best tool we’ve seen since we first tried LinkedIn’. Johnny Campbell gave us a pretty smashing review here too -

Not bad, given we’ve only just begun. We’ve kept our focus extremely narrow for the time being (just software developers in the UK). However, the engine is hugely powerful and applicable across many geographies and sectors. Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be sharing our progress, what we’re learning and some amazing new features that have been driven by user requests.

But freelancers fear not, our mission remains unchanged. The original platform is still alive and well and we’ll be integrating the two in due course to help employers and employees find each other a little more easily.

Wish us luck.


The more observant amongst you will have noticed that things have been a little quiet upon the 3Desks recently. Fear not, we’ve not abandoned you… we’ve been hard at the coal face working on something very, very special.

We’ll be slowly interweaving this new tool between the 3Desks in good time, but if you’d like a sneak-preview, have a look here. Please note, it’s currently only for finding technical candidates in the UK, but we’ll be expanding sectors and geographies soon.

Johnny from Social Talent reviewed our beta here in a wonderful article and said, “Oh. My. God. If that [3Sourcing] doesn’t convince you that you need to be using people aggregators, then you shouldn’t call yourself a recruiter.” With that, Johnny has shot to the top of our Xmas card list.

In September, the we’ll be launching at the Sourcing Summit Europe in Amsterdam and would love to see you there. We’ll also be attending Tru London and Discover Sourcing, so do come and find us.

More shortly…

How to use Pinterest for your Freelancing Business

This is a guest post by Joanne Munro a freelance virtual assistant


Although Pinterest is the third most popular Social Media platform, a lot of people still think it’s just a load of women planning their ideal wedding and designing their imaginary dream home. Well just like some people think twitter is full of people telling you what they had for lunch, Pinterest is way more than that.

As with all Social Media platforms, Pinterest can be used in many different ways depending on who’s using it and for what purpose. As a Virtual Assistant I specialise in doing online research and analysis of social media profiles, so I’ve seen numerous brilliant and creative ways that businesses from big name brands to freelancers are using it to their advantage. Here’s 2 of them:


Whatever you do for a living Pinterest Business Accounts can be a great way to showcase your work. Pinterest is quite low maintenance and is so easy that your Grandma can (and probably does) use it. Any image or video that gets pinned to a board takes users to the original web page source once they click it – so you want those web pages to be yours.


According to The Huffington Post, Pinterest referrals spend 70% more than visitors from non-social channels and images with prices get 36% more likes than those without – so product images are an obvious one.  Infographics are also massive on Pinterest and you could use a tool like Pinstamatic to add notes, quotes, websites, Spotify songs, and places. You can pin websites you’ve built, graphics you’ve designed, products you’ve made, articles you’ve written – basically add graphics of your best work or ways of showcasing what you’re all about.  Remember not to solely make it about you but do aim to use the platform to bring visitors to your website as much as you can.


Although you can’t change an existing board, when you create a new board you have the option to make the board private. This added to the option of adding other users to your account, equals a brilliant way to collaborate with clients and colleagues on new projects.

For example, one of my clients asked me to find examples of how the competitors of her new client were using Social Media and to gather screenshots of their online presences. But instead of emailing them to her in a huge zipped folder I decided to pin the images to a private board instead. I wrote why the image was pinned in the space below and then added her as an administrator so she could access the board. My client was delighted as it meant she could add to the board, she could easily show her client the information in a meeting via the web or her iPad, it streamlined our communication, and it was a great way of demonstrating to her client ways they could use private boards themselves.

Private or public boards are also a brilliant way to collaborate with a client on projects. I have another client who runs bars for big events and we use boards to decide on new drink products as well as play around with potential designs for new bar areas and other décor ideas. He’s creative but not very organised so he can now do away with his bookmarks and I can actually see what he has in mind for a new event without trying to interpret his ideas.


  • Don’t just use it as a sales platform

  • Be creative and have fun with it. It’s still quite untapped so anyone using it in an original way often gets showcased on popular blogs

  • Comment on and Like other pins to increase engagement

  • Verify your profile and add your company URL to your profile

  • Brand your images

  • Add your prices if you’re pinning a product people can buy as the price appears as a small banner across the corner of the pin

  • Update regularly and don’t leave your boards to stagnate as it looks lazy

  • SEO your profile and pins with keywords but don’t go too mental with Hashtags

  • Review regularly. See what people like by what they favourite and repin

  • Use the Pinterest analytics to check your stats

  • Cross pin to Facebook and Twitter using the built-in Pinterest tools

  • Create private boards to collaborate with clients and colleagues

  • Don’t forget to add a Pinterest icon to your website and Facebook page

  • Pinterest can be a massive time-sucker so try not to spend all day on there!

Freelancers – How To Get Articles Published

Note from 3Desk: This is a guest post by Richard Doughty (see his 3Desk profile here) a freelance press and media specialist and former Guardian journalist.


Nationals, whether newspapers or magazines, have the pick of the UK’s writers – and they are busy. Everyone wants to write for them, particularly for papers like the Guardian. Each day commissioning editors are swamped by ideas, “cold call” submissions and of course all those ideas from writers they already use. The challenge is to get a foot in the door. You have to find an edge…

Before making initial contact, make sure you have a sellable idea, preferably two. Find out if they have already covered your idea in any shape or form. If so, adapt your idea as a follow-up piece – it will show you’ve done your homework. Focus on one area, one you know well. It may be linked to a campaign you are supporting, an interest, an academic subject you have studied, or you may have a friend in the field. Can you offer that edge over other writers?

If you are lucky enough to have a contact on the publication, ask them to forge an introduction with the commissioning editor. Most of us don’t, of course, but be confident a good idea is a good idea, study the publication and jot down your key points ahead of your call.

Before phoning, find out the commissioning editor’s name and if possible what time they start preparing to go to press (dailies) or their press day (weeklies, etc). Avoid these periods. When you do make contact, be polite and brief. Introduce yourself as a freelancer, say that you have written for so and so and/or have specialist knowledge of the area you want to cover and briefly explain your ideas. Add in a positive remark about something they have recently published and end the call by asking if you could email them your ideas plus a brief profile, CV and samples of your work.

Once you’ve made the initial contact and hopefully left a good impression, what next? You may have to wait a while before they get back to you depending on whether a) they like your ideas; b) the ideas are time-sensitive; c) how busy they are! If you don’t hear back within a few days, call back to ask if there is still hope. If the answer is negative, mention a couple more unconnected ideas and gauge the reaction.

If you get a positive yes, this advice is obvious – stick to deadlines like a limpet. Good first impressions are vital. Include picture ideas and weblinks and keep to the word length. Study the paper’s style, get them to send you a copy of its style sheet if possible. Always start with a bang and finish with a punchy ending – perhaps hold back a quote for that; there’s nothing worse than a story with a damp squib for a final paragraph. And it also doesn’t take much to shoot a 3- to 5-minute “talking head” video interview with a key person in your piece, using just an iPhone or smartphone – the film quality now is excellent for the web. Again, it’s giving your piece that edge.

When you have triple-checked for accuracy and spelling – it’s easy to miss mistakes on screen so proofread a printed copy before emailing your final version – provide an attached version with a clear file name and, as a guarantee against techno gremlins, copy and paste the piece into the email as well before sending. A couple of hours later, call your editor for confirmation that your article has arrived. Editorial queries will probably follow later, otherwise it’s job done.

Finally, if you are fortunate enough to land a second commission, keep your standards high. Don’t forget the saying: “You are only as good as your last feature . . .”

Richard Doughty is a freelance press and media specialist and former Guardian journalist. He spent 12 years editing special supplements and websites on the Guardian and also has a strong background as a production journalist. He has wide experience of marrying the publicity needs of commercial clients and government/voluntary organisations with consumers’ thirst for compelling, unbiased copy in print and online.

Finding More Freelance Work – Alerts Feature

One of the issues with most freelance marketplaces is that only a small number of freelancers actually find work on the platform. Of the thousands of people signed up, perhaps 5-10% of people actually win work.

We want all our users to be able to use 3Desk to help them find something, even if it’s not directly through the platform.

As such, we’ve introduced a new email alert feature, to help people find work:

You can now search by title, sector or location and find roles, whether on 3Desk directly or with our partner Indeed.

You can also set up email alerts, which will send you those opportunities via email daily or weekly, so that it’s even easier to ensure opportunities find you.

Good luck!


Tips, Feedback and Freelance Help

Here at 3Desk, we always love feedback. Problems, issues, ideas, thoughts or constructive criticism are graciously received, because it helps us make the site even better.

To help you, here are some of the most common questions or requests:

How do I find more work?

That’s the million dollar/pound/shilling etc. question and the most common thing freelancers want to know. If we could click our fingers and solve this for you, we would.

We set up 3Desk to help connect employers and freelancers way more easily and rest assured, we’re doing all we can. This article explaining how to increase your rate is very relevant to finding more work and also the second article in the series. I’ll post some more shortly. Good luck, keep your profile as complete as possible and make sure to share it.

I’m an employer and a freelancer, or I’ve set up the wrong account

No worries, go to – and toggle between the two. Employers don’t currently have a profile (it’s coming). By the way, if you’d prefer a bit of ecological hardwood or a desk made out of solid Incan silver (you’re only limited by your imagination) – you can choose your desk from our 3Desk choices.

I’m not getting the right or enough candidates

We’re unable to ‘control’ who shows interest, although we do try to filter spam (i.e. wholly unsuitable candidates) as best we can. You can also mark people as spam, which helps us improve our matching. We try not to prevent people applying altogether, if we can.

If you’re still not getting the right or enough people: 1) Make sure your job description is specific enough, or is it too specific? 2) Have you added the right keywords? Let us know if you need any help or to look at your profile, we’ll do what we can. 

The matching isn’t working well or I’m too busy to receive new opportunities

We introduced the matching service, matching freelancers to employers, because we wanted to try to help save you time. It does work, but getting it spot on is very, very difficult and is related to the number of jobs we have, how people input them (which we try to edit), keyword variations, location names and the way information in your profile is added.

Trust me, Raz has two mathematical Olympic medals and a PhD in Artificial Intelligence – it’s not at all easy but it’s improving all the time. The better your profile and the job information, the better the matches will be… but we do sometimes get them wrong. If you don’t want to receive notifications, you can always change these here – – But be warned, we may then miss you if an amazing job comes in, or we have news for you.

I can’t see jobs outside of my country, or I’m in the wrong country

We’re focused on face-to-face freelancing. Which means that we generally try to limit people to their ‘area’ to prevent people from far, far away applying for local jobs.

We’re working to allow people to apply to different areas at present – hopefully this will be solved shortly.

Why wasn’t my job posted?

We have very strict criteria, ensuring the quality of the platform remains high. We don’t allow freelance opportunities that are; commission based, beneath a minimum wage, permanent or roles that sound too vague or not suite right. If you’ve spotted one you think isn’t suitable, let us know.

Why are you called 3Desk?

We are focused on freelancers that work ‘in person’. Those freelancers will likely have a number of different places of work, or multiple desks. We’d like people not to be tied to one position, we think that would make the world of work a bit better.

Anything else I should know?

Yep. We’re doing all we can to build something amazing. It takes time. It will never be absolutely flawless for everyone, but we think it’s already really cool and we receive wonderful feedback (which we love to get) every single day.

There will be little niggles. Please be patient. We’re a tiny team in comparison with companies like Airbnb, eBay, Elance etc (companies we look up to) so bear that in mind when comparing. Even they were like us, once. Plus we do some things better.

If you like what we’re doing, follow us on Twitter, and join us on LinkedIn, Facebook.

Best Example Freelance Profiles

We’re loving the way people are playing with our new freelance profile. Our aim was to enable people to design the profiles the way they wanted, to showcase their skills and talents as a freelancer, as well as winning endorsements – here’s more about our reasoning for building the new profile.

More and more people spreading the love. Raz has also built some really cool features that enable you to fill your profile automatically from Twitter, your personal URL and by uploading your CV.

Here are some best examples of our fabulous freelancers from across the globe, including a couple of D-list celebrities – click on the photos to see their profiles:

1. Matthew, an illustrator from London, UK

2. Mohamed, a marketing professional from Egypt

3. Joel, an Art Director from New York, USA.

4. Samantha, an actress from Australia

5. Our own resident super-hero, Raz, France

6. Paula, a designer from LA, USA

7. Yours truly, because 7 is my lucky number – Bristol, UK

8. Helen a Jill of all (wonderful) trades from Sacramento, California

If you’ve got a profile you’d like us to see and share, or anything changes you’d like, please send us a Tweet or leave us a note in our LinkedIn group.

We’ve lots more to add, so keep your eyes peeled for the new features we’ll be rolling out over the coming weeks.

PS – why the different backgrounds? We wanted to make it ‘look’ like a desk. You can choose the desk you want to work at from your account page. You’ve got 3Desks to choose from, obviously.

The Ultimate Freelance Profile & Birthdays

The New Freelance Profile

I’m thrilled to announce that we’re launching your NEW PROFILE (coincidentally on, 3Desk’s 1st Birthday).

We built this profile using feedback from thousands of our users to help freelancers win more work and share your unique skills. Here are some of the highlights:

1) The profile is now built from ‘cards’ that can be added, deleted, moved, resized and edited. Freelancers can add projects, skills and images. Use the ‘improve your profile’ button for suggestions. The better the profile, the more likely freelancers will be found, and hired.

2) Freelancers can SHARE THEIR PROFILE and people can now find, contact and hire them directly, (as well as applying to the opportunities we have listed, like before).

3) Freelancers can ask for endorsements – the more they have, the better chance the of winning work. Perhaps more importantly, it is also a clever way of letting people know what a freelancer is up to without explicitly having to asking for work.

4) Connect a personal website, blog, CV/resume, and other profiles and we’ll auto-magically use them to populate a profile.

Voila, if you’re a user here’s your profile – make sure it looks great.

This is obviously just the beginning and there may be a few (hopefully small) issues – Raz is only human after all (although he deserves a cape, here’s his profile). We’ll be improving the profile, listening to further feedback and adding new features over the coming weeks. Please do get in touch on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook if you’ve any comments, thoughts or ideas.

I’ll also be sharing the best, so if you think your profile looks great, let us know on Twitter