Bullhorn Candidate Search Case Study: The Bowdoin Group

I recently caught up with Sarah Wachter, the Research and Data Manager at the Bowdoin Group to talk about their rollout of the new Candidate Search.  Here’s what she told me.

Jonathan Wall:  Tell me about the Bowdoin Group.

Sarah Wachter:  The Bowdoin Group is an executive search firm based in Wellesley, MA.  We have about 45 employees split between a permanent team that focuses on retained executive placements and other permanent placements, and then a contract team of about 12 people that performs IT contract placement.

JW: And what’s your role at the Bowdoin Group?

SW: I am the Research and Data Manager, so I lead the research team that does sourcing and reporting for our retained clients and I’m also kind of the chief fixer.  I do a lot of vendor management, database management, resource strategy, along with employee training and best practices.  Basically, my job is to make everything run as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

JW: Tell me about what kind of searches you historically have conducted using Bullhorn.

SW: We’ve used Advanced Search for our searches.  Everyone at the Bowdoin Group has been responsible for sourcing candidates and entering them into Bullhorn and then retrieving them later. We’ve been in business for more than 16 years, so, as you can imagine there’s quite a lot of candidates in our system. We’ve made a number of configuration changes, and our data hasn’t always been as consistent as we want it to be. Historically we’ve done a mix of both keyword and Boolean search. I personally trained every new employee on Boolean syntax and search techniques.  And it’s the very structured grammar that Boolean requires that isn’t very intuitive for people to grasp.

JW: What are the benefits you’ve seen by switching to Candidate Search?

SW: Candidate Search is definitely easier to use and a lot prettier. One of the things we think is great are the suggested keywords.  Having some suggested terms that are related to what I’m already searching for can really help boost our accuracy. Plus, being able to drag and drop terms, knowing that I don’t have to worry about if I’ve weighted or prioritized the terms correctly, that’s very useful. Candidate Search knows that if you are in a certain vicinity of terms, you may want to search for a few related terms, and that means we are finding better candidates and not missing some good ones. When the team saw the new saved searches, they were like “OH MY GOD, this is amazing!” The ability to save searches and have them on the job and company really saves time.  We have long-term clients that we’ve been working with on a whole variety of openings. We fill one particular position with them and then 6 months later they come back and they want another person just like that. In that time period we have put several thousand candidates in to Bullhorn, and now we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We go back to that company, we go back to that opening, pull it up, and run the search again.  We can very quickly find the people who were added in the last few months, and we start calling.  That’s tremendously valuable from a business perspective. We also just surveyed the team recently about how they felt about Candidate Search, and overall they really like it, feel it’s easier to use and love the ability to quickly add additional criteria to a search, as that makes it easy to find exactly what they are looking for.

JW: Tell me about the training and rollout.

SW: When we rolled it out we had training for everyone, but have also recently held some small group trainings and walked through the specific searches they are working on.  There was definitely a bit of “hey this is different,” but once the team spent a bit of time and understood the changes, they’re now like “hey this is better.”

JW:  Do you have any advice for firms that are going to be adopting this?

SW:   Candidate Search is a conceptual shift as far as how to think about search, but once people understand how it works, they really embrace it. You need to take the time to make sure everyone is trained and productive.   Once you sit down with people and you explain that this is a change in how you are thinking about your search process, it is a lot more intuitive and a lot more straightforward.   If you’re only used to Boolean or keyword searches, you now have something new, where it’s easy to add in related terms, weight and prioritize terms, that you need to wrap your head around.

JW: What do you want to see in Candidate Search in the future?

SW: We’d love to be able to search on years of experience, the way LinkedIn does it.  And we’d love to be able to mark candidates that we’ve already viewed. So you do a search or you did several searches on a particular job opening and as you change your terms the same people are going to start coming up but having them displayed slightly differently, so you know that, hey I already looked at this person, I don’t need to check them again.

This Bullhorn Blog post was written by Jonathan Wall.

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