(Feb 27, 2009) Sourcing, as currently practiced, is a short term phenomenon. There is money to be made in the field today because the techniques required to find people are arcane and confusing. Additionally, with the strong exception of Avature and Broadlook's products, there are no useful tools for the automation of the process.

Meanwhile people are getting easier and easier to find.

The next waves of innovation in social networks will be all about making the membership accessible to each other. Right now, finding additional network nodes, new friends or interesting potential connections is a black art. You've got to be a Boolean Black Belt. You need a guru. There's an entire consulting industry built on specialized knowledge.

You may rest assured that this situation will not last.

The web is best when it tears down the friction that separates information from the people who need it. The folks who work hard mining data manually today will be flipping burgers in the near future. The skills required to move forward are unlike the ones being taught. Contemporary sourcing is a dead-end occupation with little in the way of transferrable skills.

Next generation recruiting is about relating intimately, not about mutual discovery. It's about fidelity and long term value exchange, not one night stands. It's about data that updates itself because the relationship is constantly working. Finding each other? Easy. Building an enduring relationship? Hard.

For a while, sourcing will be a high dollar, easy pickings income source. But, in the relatively short term, the need for the expertise will evaporate. Former sourcing luminaries will be familiarizing themselves with the alarm on the French fry machine and the relative difference between Rare, Medium and Well done.

Evaporate, as in "What air freshener scent would you like with your car wash?"

So, what do you do if you're a sourcer (or any kind of Recruiter, for that matter)?

  • Get really good at being a productive member of an online community. Join stuff, volunteer, get experience.
  • Develop repeatable methods for discovering new communities and joining them.
  • Develop community management skills (Jason Davis is a good role model).
  • Stop acting like an email address is a relationship or a list is a community.


I'm on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Friendfeed. Catch up with me.


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I think that is a question for John, but I am game.

Maureen Sharib said:
Eric, let's take this subject up in Tuesday's MagicMethod chat - what you think?
That is, if Ning's new chat is in a form that we can navigate!

Judy, I'm interested in hearing more of your thoughts.

John, I'm waitin' on that data!
Absolutely I concur, Eric. I would be delighted if John would lend his thought leadership to our Tuesday (or Thursday) MagicMethod phone sourcing classroom chats!
I refuse to jump out of the frying pan so will keep this short...

Generalizing like this doesn't help us understand the nuance of individual situations where the exceptions will continue to prove exceptions to the "rule."

Does anyone have any data that would indicate what percentage of jobs are recruited for on an ongoing basis and where the target audience is receptive to "customer-centric" recruiting, and what the balance is for event-driven, transactional recruiting where the task is to find someone -- anyone -- who best fits the profile?

Relationships take time to develop. Networks require tremendous effort to establish and maintain. No one would deny the value of both over time for any sustained recruiting/branding effort. But...

When you're recruiting to back-fill openings or because you've landed a contract that couldn't be planned for [think pharmaceutical sales ramp-ups as a case in point] the focus is not on pipeline but funneling.

It doesn't take a brain surgeon to find any Tom, Dick or Harriette, true. But established relationships, virtual or otherwise, are not the be all and end all of sustainable recruiting effectiveness.

As long as I can pick up the phone and engage you in a conversation that leads to a piqued interest and a level of trust to have you become involved in the recruiting process it hardly matters if we've been pinging, ninging, tweeting or french kissing to close the degrees of online separation or not.

No amount of money will buy you a bottle of water in the middle of the desert. I can't deny that social networks will be an oasis of opportunity for many. For most they will prove to be a mirage. Most organizations want to quench their thirst, not set up camp.

Last, any conversation about the efficacy of social networks in recruiting without a primitive understanding of "action thresholds" is, IMHO, misguided. Networks and nodes and knee-jerking friendship is no substitute for the real exchange of favors.

I should point out I am in total agreement that sourcing as we know it is on its way out. But social networking alone will not be the cause of death.

Daggit! I scorched my eyebrows...daggit, daggit, daggit!
I am Judy and I doubt that you want to hear my thoughts on this cause you will then need to reconsider the whole package you put together. The whole change in Recruiting came about when a few people got an idea to make a lot of money by redefining the space and in redefining it the occupants lacked the skills for that redefined space. so they had to take trainings and classes and learn lots of tricks to do what they had done without any tricks. Then a whole new group of people came into the space that might not have come into the older space. Its really fascinating when you think on it how someone or some movement can wipe out what exists redefine it and set up requirements that have to be learned taught for a fee
This can only happen in a field where there are no standards guidelines.

Ami, I would also be delighted to have you lend your thought leadership to one (or many!) MagicMethod classes!
Judy - can you define for us what "tricks" are?
In a time when our profession is getting hit extremely hard by economic pressures, this type of rhetoric is of absolutely no help to anyone.

Sorry John, I have to strongly disagree with a lot of your sweeping statements. In particular:

"Contemporary sourcing is a dead-end occupation with little in the way of transferrable skills."
Transferrable to what? Couldn't you say the same thing about Recruiting et al? A Recruiter who can't Source (identify, contact and confirm) talent is an HR Admin. However, I completely agree that pure internet sourcing is a dead end as it merely generates data, not leads. A skill-set including a combination of world-class internet search and phone sourcing is absolutely transferrable to just about any Sales/Lead Generation opportunity. The same can't be said about an HR Admin who schedules interviews and completes new hire forms.

"Next generation recruiting is about relating intimately, not about mutual discovery." This has always applied to Recruiting, not just "next generation".

"It's about fidelity and long term value exchange, not one night stands." By the numbers: 1 hire requires approx. 10 interviews (phone and full face-to-face). 10 interviews require 40 profiles (resume, candidate profile completed by Recruiter). 40 profiles require 100 solid "hits" (candidate generation through passive and active search). A typical Recruiter carries 20-25 Reqs at any given time and they are rarely all for the same exact description. However, let's assume for our purposes these req's are identicle. 20 req's times 40 profiles = 800 profiles...people YOU claim are interested in long-term "fidelity". Let's make this easier by cutting everything in half. You still claim that success can only come with intimate, professional relationships with over 400 people. In the ever-changing real world, skills, priorities and hiring targets are constantly moving. How many people do you honestly think a professional can have a true intimate and long-term professional relationship?

"It's about data that updates itself because the relationship is constantly working." Updates itself? How? Who's doing the data entry? There are technical solutions out there that automate contact data (job title, company, phone, email, etc.) for us without picking up the phone or sending emails. The toothpaste is out of tube already with this technology and is available to anyone who takes the time to build a professional network of contacts via LI, Facebook, et al.

Sourcing has and always will be an extremely important aspect of successful recruiting.

I admire your courage for posting this here, in this forum. Walking into the lions den. Won't make you popular, but it will spur conversations. (and heck, you are plenty popular already, who needs more followers?)

The issue underneath building relationships is business acumen. Do we know what exactly drives results in a job? Do we know how to asssess the fit of the person to the job and work environment? Can we communicate that authentically (believably) to both the manager and the candidate. Then you have a foundation for a relationship and a conversation. Fortunately for recruiters, if you master that, you will have an endless supply of work, regardless of how you source.
Rayanne, I just heard it said that if you're not on the edge you're taking up too much space. Agree?
To call Sourcing or "cybersleuthing" just plain hacking is clearly a misunderstanding. But then when one carries the believe that one is unhireable...well, you do have a right to your own opinion.
Perhaps the sourcers will inherit the earth and begin filling the positions themselves. Is that too much of a stretch? Isn't recruiting basically locating, identifying and attracting? A lot of sourcers do that now when they make the initial calls into candidates. The rest is just putting a little more sizzle into the mix and administrativia. A Manager (broker) can assist them with monkey wrenches if they pop-up. Maybe the revolution will begin at 6% fees like realtors. This is a perfect economy to assemble the sourcing militia.

The recruiters may want to sharpen their beer selection skills their new job at Outback. Foster's is a brilliant choice to accompany the Kookaburra Wings.
Maureen, have your people call my people. You know, like a sourcing project :0)

Maureen Sharib said:
Ami, I would also be delighted to have you lend your thought leadership to one (or many!) MagicMethod classes!

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