There are many cool sourcing tricks that people industry share that require some technical knowledge of understanding. It may be hard for those sourcers less comfortable with technology to come up with those. Luckily, there’s plenty of tricks other sourcers will share online, often with an easy to follow instruction.
My favourite kind of sourcing tricks is slightly different. It relies on an understanding of how people use technology more than an understanding of technology itself. Let me give you an example:
You’re looking for candidates on Facebook who work at a particular company. Identifying people who say they work there is a technical matter (and one brilliantly resolved by Shane McCusker and his Facebook search tool). But understanding that some Facebook users are more likely to like the company page of their employer rather than mark them as their employer for everyone to see relies purely on understanding Facebook users.
I thought I’d share with you my favourite “trick” to find out private email addresses. Thr truth is, it’s more about guessing than finding them. So here’s what you do, step by step and I invite you to try it too 🙂
This trick is based on the assumption that most private email address owners will own at least one email address provided by Gmail. This holds up in Poland and I would imagine it could be true where you work as well, but if not, I’m sure you can adjust this method accordingly.
In order to make this work, you’ll need two things:
1. Private email address patterns
Assuming that the email address was created by an adult for both private and professional use, you can expect them to follow a certain pattern. An example of such pattern could be this:
name.lastname + @ + domain
Since we decided to assume most email addresses are registered with Gmail, let’s narrow it down:
name.lastname + @ + gmail.com*
If you want to use this method regularly, it makes sense to prepare a list of the patterns you observe most often. Let me give you some of my examples:
firstname.lastname + @ + gmail.com*
firstnamelastname + @ + gmail.com
f.lastname + @ + gmail.com*
lastname.firstname + @ + gmail.com
lastname.f + @ + gmail.com
firstname.lastname + dateofbirth + @gmail.com*
One last thing to consider is that users of other services, such as for example Twitter, might use their user name on that service as a part of their email address:
twitterhandle + @ + gmail.com
*yes, it’s true, gmail doesn’t technically recognise the difference between an an email without or with a dot. However, if the Google + is going to work, it does matter whether you use it.
If you’re lucky and your ideal candidate’s name isn’t too common, you may be able to get it right at first try. But if that doesn’t happen, just keep going through your list. Sometimes additional research on the candidate is all you need, there may be some hints as to the email’s structure on their social profiles.
2. Private email address verification
Now all you need to know is to check if your guess is correct. Luckily, you can use Google+ to verify Gmail addresses. I bet you forgot all about that platform, right? 🙂 I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it as a platform for sourcing, but on this ccasion it’s the best tool to do the job.
The first step is to verify if there are any email addresses associated with the name of your candidate. Just enter it into the search box:
In some cases you’ll see multiple accounts are associated with the name. If that happens, try to see if there is any information on the profiles that can help you determine which one belongs to your candidate. It could be a photo, a location, anything you find.
Once you figure out which account you’re interested in, it’s time to check which email address it’s associated with. Just follow the list of private email patterns you prepared. Once you enter the correct email address, you’ll only see your candidate’s profile in the results list:
As you see, my Twitter handle is what I used to create my email address (well actually to be completely honest it was the other way around…) and believe me I’m not the only one to do this 🙂
While this trick may seem like a long shot, I recently used it in training and together with the group, we guessed a potential candidate’s email at first try. So if all else fails, why not try to guess the contact email?