(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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Animal - now that I see my typo I realize I was more concerned with spelling Flo-Bee than the rest of my post.

Good luck with the ladies this weekend!

Recruiting Animal said:
Amy, honey, I told Susie that we are going to trash anyone who says stuff like that on the recruiting animal show on Wednesday so if you want to come on and defend your outrageous views this is your invitation.

And those jerks from ning who screwed up the chat box without checking it out with any of the users. There's going to be hell to pay for them too.

Jerry, that's how I spell fear too. "feers". It's the British style isn't it? Or is it Appalachian?
Boy...this post brings back fond memories. I remember when Monster announced to the recruiting community they were going to replace us. When they first arrived on the scene, LinkedIn was going to be the one. Sages have been predicting the end of us all for many years now. None of it ever came true of course but even if John is right, that sourcing is dead, recruiting sure isn't.

Heck...my 13 year old can find resumes on the Internet. So what. That's ER 101. One has to have the skills to take that resume and turn it into a bonafide candidate for one's assignment.

Sourcing may be dying, but recruiting is here to stay.
You are absolutely right, Mark.

Internet sourcing is an anomaly produced by a bad user interface. Recruiting is a fine art that gets better as the tools get better. This is not the end of Recruiting.

Recruiting is a profoundly noble profession. Recruiters are the gatekeepers of our organizations. In many places, recruiters determine an enterprise's success or failure.

There's an important reason that there are so few standards in recruiting.

Recruiting is different in every organization, region, profession. It's always tailored to the need of the organization that hosts or contracts with the recruiter. It's never the same.

Recruiting is the path from one culture to another. The various rituals and rights of passage that are individual to a specific culture are the unique domain knowledge of the Recruiter.

We don't have many standards because much of what we do is customized to very specific circumstances.

Boolean searches are neither interesting nor are they hacking. Figuring out how to exploit technical weaknesses produces short term businesses. The internet sourcing business is a temporary thing. If Josh knows of a few besides Avature and Broadlook, you can well imagine a march towards the market by an army of new vendors.

There are few jobs as complex as the Recruiter's. As we've gotten to know the internet, we got a little distracted by its newness. Sourcing is over because Recruiters are smart.
OK, I have a bunch of random thoughts that came to mind while reading your posts. As someone who has been a one man band of a search firm at most times during the day I lose track if I am sourcing, recruiting, account managing or doing PR and sales.

So maybe I am not the right person to be commenting because I have has little use for the different titles. A reminder that I only recruit in IT and only in Minneapolis so maybe that impacts what I see.

I am not sure I have a position or not on the topic but here are perspectives from where I sit:

I continue to be surprised at the number of people making $50K+ a year not on LinkedIn. Staggering may be the better word.

I am a huge fan of LinkedIn as a recruiting tool.

The issue with LinkedIn is two parts:

- Users, sure you can find their name, location, industry and employer but their profile is not complete and you have no idea what they do

- Recruiters, most are on there and do not know how to use the system and are annoying non Recruiters. Most have no clue what they are doing or the damage they are causing. Oh, and many of their profiles suck too

I am shocked at the number of companies asking me to do a tutorial for them on how to use it. Is it really that hard to use?

I am seeing a lot of people in IT saying they see no value in being on LinkedIn. Marketing folks too saying they have other places to “show off”.

I have people asking me on Twitter why I am suggesting that when they do not have a link to put in their profile they should use their LinkedIn URL.

I have been doing a job search presentation or two a week for the past three months and it has opened my eyes very wide to what candidates think of the recruiting process, job boards, LinkedIn, Social Media, etc.

I suggest that we need to understand what they think and how they react to what tools we use or want them to use.

Yes candidates are becoming easier to find but if you talk with them you will find many are not enjoying being found. Now I may think that is a mistake on their part but this is how many that we are trying to get to feel.

I am shocked at the number of LinkedIn profiles that have not been updated or just abandoned.

If companies are not able to keep their recruiters for a period of time then the relationship with the employer may/will be gone. The recruiter will still have them but the company will be out of luck.

I know of a Recruiter being sued by a former employer saying that the LinkedIn profile of the Recruiter is company property as it was created, built and maintained mostly on company time with company email. Will this be a growing trend and if so, how long until the community organizer is sued?

I do wonder how many of the social networks on Ning (anywhere) are active.

I wonder how many members of any social network are active or engaged.

How many social networks are run by a somewhat capable community organizer.

Being a community organizer is difficult. Very, very difficult.

Communities take a mighty long time to build and one major miss step in the process can bring the end of it.

Relationships absolutely matter but what will you do to locate those to have a relationship with?

I am really big on Social Media, social networking sites, LinkedIn and community building but I do suggest that a “balance diet” of the previous plus email, phone use including cold calls, networking, newsletter, RSS feed, job boards, optimized job ads, blog, talent pools and whatever I am forgetting are all needed tools.

The tools mentioned all have different results depending on the person using them, skill set/industry of the candidate pool and location.

I think our industry should spend less time making gadgets and more time on training recruiters to speak and relate to people.

Yikes, looks like I have a lot on my mind...
Great discussion.

Newspapers are dying because they forgot what business they were in. They thought they were publishers of information, but they were really just collections of advertisers using information as bait.

Newspapers come and go - but when they turned corporate, it didn't seem they would ever disappear, becasue they were so big. The only reason new newspapers aren't springing up is because other outlets are better at delivering impact from advertising.

Sourcing is different. I'm not so sure it's dead. Certainly I think that internet sourcing is ripe for automation, but I can tell you no one is close to the Grand Unified Theory of Data Collection, and by the time computers are fast enough to compete with human intuition, the rest of the world will have changed so dramatically that all of our "jobs" will be in peril.

I think it's fair to say that I know a little something about community building and social networks. My particular niche is finding folks with experience in social media. If there is anyone who can say that their niche should be immune to sourcing, it should be me.

Except I'm not. Even in the social media world, it's hard to find people. Some of that is due to the 80% of unqualified "social media consultants," which throw up a wall of white noise, but even among the really good ones, it's difficult to build a decent list.

The idea that current social networks are a panacea for employment is simply not true. They could be. In some companies they are, but in most, the dreadful inability of corporations to understand social media pretty much cuts that source off at the root.

It's not just social media. You'd be shocked at how many people don't know the basics of the internet, and in many cases, these folks are the ones with multi-million dollar budgets and not a clue what they are spending it on. Email marketing, database mining, and basic usability are beyond a lot of big and small companies. If you can't master those, what hope do you have of using Facebook or Plaxo or any other source to find and attract people?

John - I'm not saying you're wrong - Sourcing as a separate function (without the telephone added) may every well be obsolete. But the timeline is further off than you suggest. We'll have to get a lot closer to the Singularity before that come true, and by the time we get there, it probably won't matter.
good read!!

as a recruiter myself.. what i did is create niche social networking forums on top of a free job portal.. this has been the strategy I've been working on since the past five years and it pays off. yes! i agree! building the relationship is the hardest part..but being there all the time chatting and conversing with them is the start..
Until every single employee is visible in an online social/professional network and corporate jobs cease to exist there'll be a demand for passive candidates that only quality Sourcers can uncover and Recruiters can uncover, contact, and build quality professional relationships with. Passive candidates are king.

I notice it's always the industry people averse to phone cold calling/recruiting/sourcing who maintain those who do engage in it about to become extinct/obsolete. As a Recruiter contacting people via phone the human interface, service providing, advice, and advocacy in the interview/hiring process is unmatched by an email introduction via google search.

Bill Josephson
William James Associates
The phenomenon of ‘sourcing’ is something that we don’t really have in the UK... I would never think of employing an external company to generate names for me... I mean, isn’t that part of MY job? As soon as I’m too busy then I’ll pass the requirement to one of my resourcers that supports me... but that’s not generating name that’s qualifying candidates under the watchful eye of me

I’d see jobs on the periphery of recruitment decreasing... tasks that can be effectively automated will be... there are already name harvesters for LinkedIn, and it’s not too difficult to rip the CVs off Monster and co either! If you’re simply a name sourcer then I’d see these factors making life extremely difficult and no longer a profitable venture...

On the top-end of recruitment and head hunting I’d say there’s going to be a bit of a storm because your old school skills and detective work has been taken out of the job so communicating VAS is more difficult... some of those competitors who weren’t as hot on tracking down the candidates but maybe are slightly better relationship managers are going to get an edge because the hole in their game has been plugged! But I know there are limited people with my skills out there... HR can know where their ideal candidate is working and so can the next recruiter, but how many of them have the persuasive ability to pull them out of a role they’re perfectly happy in, for something else... active candidates will be increasingly in-house, but knowing the passive market is all good and well, but if you’re not able to utilise it........

I’d also advise those serious about recruitment to start adding VAS to their repertoire... there are a lot of ways that you can keep an edge, but they’re not necessarily obvious and might require a little investment... question is, can you spot these opportunities and how much do you want it?
Say, Can I have everyone's phone number so we can continue this conversation off line?
The scheduled Talent Talk Cafe chat on Thursday, March 12th is looking at the intersection of sourcing and recruitment. The focus was intended to be corporate staffing functions. Any one with an opinion (not that any of your have a strong one ;-) is invited to join. Full schedule for March is here.
A lousy jobs market means Recruiters (like me) are required to do our own research and sourcing as the percentages of filling a position we're working on diminishes due to variables often out of our control. So the cost vs risk of hiring a Sourcer increases and no matter how many more volume of calls a recruiter makes expanding their effort levels not only might they not fill the job, they don't know when they'll secure their next "A" recruiting assignment. So it becomes a lack of confidence in revenue stream. The sourcing is still vital, but the recruiter ultimately needs to do more of it themself.

I didn't know of her in the good times, but a Sourcer like Maureen Sharib who really understands what she's doing targeting/finding that vital "list of names" which is the lifeblood of what I need to succeed confident I had numerous "A" assignments to fill ensuring a revenue stream is someone I'd be encorporating frequently.

In today's market where risk is higher and reward lower working twice as hard to earn half as much as past years it's a service I need, but a gamble I can't afford....so I do it myself making my work days much longer and harder.

Bill Josephson
Interesting timing on these two pieces of information... yours, John, and this announcement of Kennedy's panel. See it here http://www.recruitingtrends.com/webinars/index.html

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