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Irina Shamaeva, Boolean Guru – “How Do You Do It?”

Posted on February 5, 2009
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By Dave Mendoza
Adjunct Faculty,

Part 2 of 2

Irina Shamaeva,
Partner, Brain Gain Recruiting
office (510) 233-9493
cell (415) 699-9841
• RecruitingBlogs Profile
• Linkedin Profile
• Twitter link
Facebook Profile
• Irina’s Personal blog
• Groups: “Boolean Strings”

Q & A with Irina Shamaeva

Six Degrees: How many applicants at your present employer do you estimate are hired from your corporate website as compared to how many are hired through referrals?

Irina: As a third party recruiter we do publish our job openings and do get referrals. It’s hard to say but probably about 3% of the hires come from referrals, and very few people apply on our site. (The site helps split partners, though; we work with them quite a bit.)

Larger percentages of placed people come from web sourcing; LinkedIn; and a few other sites; split partners.

Six Degrees: What is the source of the “Most Hires” collected from at your present employer? (In terms of Quantity #)

Irina: Most hires for us in the last couple of years have come from The site has a large population of people with 100K+ salaries. Searching there is somewhat tricky. I think we are able to find candidates that others don’t.

Six Degrees: What is the source of your “LOWEST COST OF HIRES” – (least amount of invested resources for the easiest hires, regardless of quality) at your present employer?

Irina: Sourcing using Google, LinkedIn with the help of Broadlook Contact Capture, and jigsaw is all free. The only investment is my time but I can work very fast. I’d like to add that we only place quality people.

Six Degrees: What talent niche groups do you target and are these particular talent areas specialized under your review?

Irina: Back when we started our recruiting practice, we mostly placed software engineers and managers, and pretty soon also added jobs at financial companies that were not necessarily in programming such as Quants. Later, we switched to placing high level consultants for full time jobs at the Big Four companies as the core of our business. We place SAP, Oracle, Peoplesoft, Siebel, etc., and also Strategy and Change Consultants up to an Associate Partner/Senior Manager level. In 2009 we will be also working on Government-related consulting jobs related to finances, security, and IT. We always welcome job orders in software (Java, C++, etc) since it is my and Julia’s background.

Six Degrees: What types of training in sourcing/recruitment are available to you and have you taken advantage of?

Irina: I have done little training. I follow posts on Dave Mendoza’s site, ERE, RBC and other online places quite a bit and have learned a lot.

Six Degrees: What recruitment software tools do you use in your day to day recruitment activities & do they translate effectively within all of the different countries where you recruit?

Irina: We recruit in the US, nationwide. The specialized tools I can’t live without are Broadlook Contact Capture and eGrabber Resumegrabber. I also love Broadlook Diver. I use MS Outlook, Word and Excel quite a bit to manipulate and sort the data that I collect online. I use Google and other engines, of course, and Google Desktop. I also use some more technical tools such as wget from GnuWin32.

Once in a while I play with new tools I come across such as Chunk-It or Xobni.We use Sendouts for an ATS, subscribe to, and keep our site on; the only significant expense for us is membership.

Six Degrees: What tools (technology or old school file folder, for example) did you first encounter early in your recruitment career?

Irina: When I started as a software engineer in 1982, my computer was the size of a large chest of drawers and its 29MB disk was very hard to lift. The text editor was command-oriented: you needed to type, for example: “change w for e” to replace one symbol. When I started as a recruiter, most of the current technologies were around.

Six Degrees: How did your expectations of being a recruiter compare to the actual, first time you got on the phone or in the cubicle? In your opinion, how do people’s assumptions about our vocation differ from reality?

Irina: The recruiting profession has a very low barrier. We all know that some people do recruiting brute force without learning about the specific area they are hiring for. Therefore, many hiring managers (at least in the software development) assume that recruiters have no clue about finding the right engineers. It takes some effort to overcome the prejudice when you talk to a prospective employer. (I should admit that when I was a hiring manager in the corporate world, I was sure I would do better than a recruiter in finding resumes. I wasn’t friendly to cold calls by recruiters.)
It’s often hard to work with people who have a different perspective about what constitutes a good resume. I remember at the beginning an internal recruiter at a huge telecom company didn’t want to accept a Java engineer’s resume because it didn’t have the word “software” on it, and the job description did.

That said, I have had the pleasure to work with smart, mature, and professional employers and partners, and this experience has been even more interesting and educational than expected.

Six Degrees: Worst mistake, biggest goof, lousiest practice you thought would fly but didn’t…and how that was a learning experience?

Irina: I probably made a goof or two in my recruiting practice. The worst mistake was not to start doing this sooner!

Six Degrees: How do you personally expect to facilitate change within our industry, and/or at your place of work? If you started that process, outline the problem, your solutions, and the vision.

Irina: Facilitating change is never easy and requires leadership skills. I hope to facilitate change in the industry by educating others about things I know well. I may eventually start designing software that would make recruiting easier. I feel that recruiting software, with very few exceptions, is not of the greatest quality, mostly in terms of usability, sometimes is just buggy, and lacks useful functionality that should not be hard to implement. We’ll see.

Six Degrees: “Best practice” you are most proud of developing (now or in the past) in your recruiting career?

Irina: The best practice we follow is not to get stuck if something doesn’t work or isn’t fair but move on and feel positively. I guess it’s not very specific to recruiting but certainly helps.
Another best practice is to keep everybody involved in the recruiting process (employers, candidates, and partners) up to date.

Six Degrees: What are some of the frustrating aspects/obstacles to your day to day as a staffing professional and in general?

Irina: I feel frustrated when a significant effort leads nowhere; for example, a difficult job opening gets put on hold as soon as we find a great candidate. One has to move on, though.
Sometimes I get bored spending too much time reposting jobs at different places, reviewing resumes that have nothing to do with the job opening and doing other unproductive things that could be
either better automated or avoided. Most of the time, though, I feel happy about what I do.

Six Degrees: What are the most common themes of strategic and/or tactical mishaps involving past or present HR/Staffing org?

Irina: The lack of communication with some employers has been a problem in the past. To work well, a third party recruiter like us needs to be informed about submitted candidates, any change in requisitions, etc. If we have to repeatedly ask the employer to get feedback on a submitted resume, or a recent interview, that hurts everybody in the process. We are lucky that our current main client is very good about feedback.

Six Degrees: Considering all of the frustrations you have experienced in your career as a recruiter, — what inspires you as you continue in your career?

Irina: The second half of 2008 was hard. We had people go all the way through interviews just for the jobs to be put on hold. I am sure many have similar experience. Nevertheless, I feel that we are good at what we do and feel optimistic about the future. We may have to modify our business to keep being successful. Adaptation to change is necessary in any business. We are open to mastering new skills, inventing new ways to find new clients and the right candidates, and expanding our industry coverage.

Six Degrees: What one thing do you ideally hope to accomplish in 2009?
Irina: I’d like Brain Gain Recruiting to become a preferred vendor for more consulting companies, in particular, working in the public sector (and remaining in the private sector, too). With the number of very qualified candidates in the ERP/SAP/Peoplesoft/Oracle and Strategy consulting space we could work out well for more employers. The quality of our work is very high.
I would also like to continue sharing my knowledge and technical skills with the recruiting and sourcing community. It is a way for me to be creative and I enjoy it. I may teach classes, write blog posts, run more competitions, create new types of events, etc.

Six Degrees: Anything you want to plug?

Irina: I wish everybody good luck in 2009!

Six Degrees: How Are You Going To Change The Recruitment Industry?
Irina: I believe that everybody involved in the process of hiring would benefit from being better educated about the process. I am interested in facilitating sharing and exchanging knowledge in the recruiting community. Right now I am helping recruiters gain technical knowledge for better search of candidates on the web. I also talk online about good software products related to recruiting. If recruiters learn to master web search and collection of the right resumes and contact information, their work will be more productive and more fun. Some future ideas include teaching recruiters how to get going on their own. I am also interested in educating candidates on effective job search and application. If candidates only send us resumes that qualify, and recruiters only send candidates jobs that are good for them, everybody would benefit.


“Irina is a master in Internet Sourcing, whose skills rival that of any thought-leader I have encountered. After spending 30min on the phone with Irina it was clear I was dealing with an expert. It isn’t everyday I find someone with more technical depth then myself; in the world of recruiting, and Irina is certainly my senior. I would offer my strongest recommendation to any organization that is looking to enhance the skill-set of their sourcing organization, and learn tricks that I have not seen anywhere. Simply stated she is brilliant.” August 25, 2008
David Sadler, Recruiting Consultant , Avanade Inc.

“Irina Shamaeva is known to me since many years. She has always been very helpful and candid in sharing her knowledge of recruiting and providing tips, tricks, guidelines, suggestions, mentoring and support which is way beyond than you can expect from any other fellow of the industry. She is very senior in recruiting industry and has a great depth of knowledge about a wide range of Web 2.0 tools that automate the recruiting processes and make them efficient. I hope she will continue to share and extend her vast knowledge with other recruiting fellows through various business/social networks and forums and I wish her all the best and huge success in her work at Braingain Recruiting.” November 19, 2008
Asif Akhtar Nizami, Sr. Technical Recruiter , FSD Solutions


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