Superlative, Kristen O'Connell, Wing Lai
This week we’ve got a Guest Post from Wing Lai of Blue Moose. She’s had more prelims and new starts from Databases rather than Job Boards (except Total Jobs)!

Hey guys! I’ve been using databases to build our teams for a while now and have been getting some great results. If you’re looking to increase the number of candidates and tap into pool of talent that most people ignore, read on.

1. Think Outside The Box – Be Creative With Your Search Terms

Have you ever gone on your database and your searches generate the same old candidates and they’re ALL DUPLICATES? Or it feels like everyone is over-qualified, under-qualified, too far away, or otherwise unusable?

The problem isn’t the database, it’s that we are limiting our results by searching the same type of candidate that would apply for our direct adverts!

The solution: Be creative! There is no such thing as ‘used up the database’; we simply need to avoid only doing generic searches like ‘Retail’, ‘Customer service’, ‘Marketing’ or other keywords that are in our advert titles. The goal is to find passive, ’never-seen-before’ candidates that are similar to the ‘A players’ in our office.

So, we need to think about people’s background and what they would list on their profile, not their current situation or what they’re looking for now. Here are some suggestions of potential variables we could use… (Now take 10 minutes to come up with three more for each category – go!)


Eg. Team leader


Eg. Construction


Eg. Starbucks


Eg. Comedian


Eg. Business management


Eg. University of Central London


Eg. Football scholarship

2. Identify Your Target Candidate – Who Are You Looking For?

Once you’ve built your list of ideal traits, characteristics, and previous experience, you’ll find that you’ve got a tonne of potential candidates waiting to be plucked from the database.

There are so many potential searches that we could make. Our next step is to speak with our owner and determine whether we are looking for volume or quality, and what specific qualities, hobbies or skills our ideal candidate will have.

Are we looking to build a variable sales team or are we looking for the next rising star?

This will determine how refined our searches need to be, and we can create custom searches to find more of what we’re looking for! Recruiting for sales reps allows for more variety, whereas a rising star will have a different calibre of skills and personal attributes.

Below are a few tips to get started:

Headhunting a Sales Team


Headhunting a Rising Star

Choose a green variable (point 1) and use a Boolean (AND, OR, NOT) to refine your search e.g. “team leader AND comedian” Choose a red variable (1) and use ‘AND’ ‘NOT’ booleans to refine your search
Search keywords based on backgrounds of your current team Refine your search by using more than one variable

eg. “Business management” AND “football scholarship”

Keep it broad and refine results manually to remove those that don’t fit the profile Search keywords based on backgrounds of the owner and top leaders.


Does your top leader play for a specific 5 aside team?


What did your owner do before this?


Is there a trend in where your top guys all come from eg. Construction?

3. Refine Your Search – Create A Boolean

To create a Boolean, we can use Boolean Operators and Modifiers below:
When we search for candidates on a database – where do we start! A Boolean search allows us to control the accuracy of our desired search results. It allows us to search a combination of keywords all at once, and also exclude attributes that we want to avoid. This process allows us to narrow down our searches to find our ideal candidate!



Operator: AND

What it Does: Narrow your results to  include all keywords

Eg. Recruitment AND Sales

Modifier: ‘’X”

Effect: Results will contact the entire phrase

Eg. ‘’Team leader’’

Operator: OR

What it Does: Broaden your results to include one or more specified keywords

Eg. Recruitment OR Sales

Modifier: X*

Effect: Results will contact all variables terms of the keyword

Eg. Lead* will also search “Leadership”, “Leading”, “Leader”

Operator: NOT

What it Does: Refine your results to exclude the latter keyword

Eg. Recruitment NOT Sales

Modifier:  (X)

Effect: Results will contact both keywords within the brackets

Eg. (Recruitment OR Sales) ‘’Team leader” will search “Recruitment Team leader” and “Sales Team Leader”


Eg. If we want to find an individual with similar skillset to our Superlative CEO Kristen, we would make a search similar to:

‘’Southern New Hampshire University” AND sales AND recruitment* AND (director OR founder)”

4. Last Leg – Make The Call!

Calling our headhunted candidates is no different to doing sales, and is similar to phoning an applicant!

There is nothing scary about cold-calling someone when we know we’re offering them an opportunity that could make a massive difference in their career (and their lives)!

  • What’s the worst thing that will happen? They tell us it’s not what they’re looking for.
  • What’s the best thing that will happen? They will become a sales and management superstar, and become the next Regional Director/ Vice President!
  • What’s the most likely outcome? They will be willing to hear more about the opportunity and be interested in coming in for an interview!

Here’s a breakdown of how to structure your call:


Make a clear and concise first impression to tell them who you are, where you’re calling from and what you are calling about. It’s all greed: if they know that there is something in it for them, they will be more likely to hear you out!

Short Story

A little flattery goes a long way! Build them confidence in their background. We all love to be praised and acknowledged for what we do. A simple ‘My manager shortlisted your CV as your previous employment demonstrated XYZ skills that he is looking for’


FIND THE BAIT! There is nothing harder than selling someone something that they don’t want. Ask the candidate what they are looking for. Full time work? Progression? More money? Use the bait to your advantage to promote the role and reel them in!

Close & Consolidation

This is the same close and consolidation as your direct applicants. Make arrangements for an interview, prepare them for the interview, and finish the conversation on a high!

Huge thanks to Wing for sharing her knowledge, you can find her LinkedIn profile here. If you’re looking to expand your profile and become an industry thought leader, send your article ideas to