Candidate Search: With a Little Yelp From My Friends

By Chris Murdock

Share on: 

“What would you do if I sang out of tune? Would you stand up and walk out on me?” Joe Cocker reference aside, if you look at how the world works now, people don’t walk out on each other much. When we (consumers) have bad experiences, we source Yelp to give a review to the masses. We also go on these sites to air mediocre, exceptional, or good experiences, too.

A client of mine had a not so unique problem and needed a unique solution. They needed to identify and hire people who had excellent customer service skills. Do you see where I’m going with this?

Think of Yelp as a repository of public referrals. You would be surprised at how many people you can identify that have detailed write-ups about them sitting out there waiting to be read. If you need hospitality or restaurant staff, it’s easy to make the connection.

Customer service skills are hard to train. Some will even tell you it’s an innate ability. Meh. But, I do agree that it’s hard to train. It can be easier to train someone on your product, teach them sales techniques, and even how to provide technical support.

The Process

  • Filter by the Metro Area or City. There are more opportunities to find people in larger cities, but I’ve done this using suburbs and captured results.
  • Pick the filters (Restaurants, retail, etc.) that you feel will be the most relevant. For example, if you’re looking for commission sales people you would filter by automotive retail or even mattress stores.
  • Sort the results by highest rated so you’ll be looking at businesses that provide excellent service.
  • Read through the reviews and capture the names of people listed in positive reviews. Copy the entire review if you want to reference it.
  • Copy the phone number for the business.
  • See if the people listed are on LinkedIn or another site.
  • Move to the next business and repeat.

Think about it. You have at least one person that referenced someone’s incredible customer service skills. More often than not, if you read through the reviews, you’ll likely find other people mentioning that person. Just like that, you have their first name and the work phone number.

Cold Calling

When you call in, be sensitive to where your contact might be. Start by asking for the candidate and when you get the candidate on the line, immediately start off by introducing yourself. Follow up with, “I’m a recruiter and I know you’re at work and can’t talk. I have a client/hiring manager that is looking for (position title) and from what I’ve read on Yelp, you’d be a great fit. Given that you can’t talk now, can I take your cell phone or email address? I’ll send you the position description and we can set up a time to talk that’s suitable for you.” This breaks the ice and puts the candidate back at ease.

Other Things to Think About

If you’re recruiting for receptionists and administrative support, consider calling into the highest rated high-end restaurants in the area. They train their hosts and hostesses on great phone etiquette. Use a similar process as above. Just tweak the messaging.

One last tip that will blow your mind. Look at the pictures associated with the companies. Sometimes the people are named in the pictures or have their names on their badges.

If you can’t find the name of people pictured in a review, you can try a reverse image search. To image search, you can right-click an image of an individual and hit “search Google for an image.” You can also upload a saved image to In your results, there should be an option called “best guess for  image.” If the same image is used in another place on the web, it may lead you to better information on the candidate—sometimes even a social media profile. The results vary, but because Google’s image recognition technology is getting better all the time, it may be able to find images similar to the one searched. Sometimes, the people in the pictures are even named in reviews and they actually posted the pictures. You click on their name and you can send them a private message.

Finding great talent is hard. Finding interested and qualified talent is even harder. As recruiters, we need to think beyond the typical resources and find other sources for candidates. When you leverage tools like Yelp, that aren’t typically used for recruiting, you open yourself up to candidates that might not have been found using traditional means.

“Oh I get by with a little help from my friends” …and the millions of people on Yelp.

About Chris Murdock:

Chris Murdock is the Co-Founder and Senior Partner of IQTalent Partners. Chris has over 12 years of executive recruiting experience and leads search execution and client relationships along with supporting searches across the firm. 


What does our team do?

The Social Hire team don't just do social media.

We're a company that helps our customers further their social media presence by providing social media marketing on a monthly basis.

You might like these blog posts The Costs of Marketing on Social Media, You wait all day... then 3 turn up at once..., Is Your Social Media Stream One Great Big Turn Off?, and Performance Reviews, Hollywood Style.

  Back to Recruitment blogs