(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 agree, Karen. People want a real life, not a virtual Internet life. And your remarks about privacy also make sense. I've heard most Internet groups (like an Oracle Database group for example) has strict guidelines for recruiters--they aren't to be recruiting there, or they're spammed.

The biggest problem I have with the Internet as a means to find people is all the major companies I work with have their own Internal Recruiters already scouring the Web for people. All I'd do is compete with them for people they can already find. They work with me today ONLY because I promise to deliver passive candidates they otherwise wouldn't have had access to.

My approach has been whatever everyone else is doing to recruit, I should do it differently in the quest of positively differentiating myself. Funny thing is by doing so I can actually command higher fees from my clients than they pay others as the candidates I present wouldn't otherwise be found/considered by the company.

Bill Josephson
Bill,

I agree 100% with your comments. I too agree that we should get a fee only for someone a client could not find. I too try and do the opposite of everyone else.

My "*" is this, I have yet to find a group of Internal Recruiters given all the stuff they have to do besides recruiting who can find everyone on the Internet.

A question I ask of every client is this, "Where are you focusing your efforts? I want to be sure not to be duplicating your efforts."

I go where they are not and there are more than are enough big, niche and local sites, networks and tools to use where I can be effective, keep my promise of finding folks they cannot and either if us not blinking about the fee. (Again a reminder that I have niche and am location specific)

One idea for anyone recruiting in a region, local market. Sponsor a monthly meeting of a user group or professional association. Many firms are of hoarding their cash so you have little competition for the events. Many groups are lowering their cost for the event thus lowering what you need to pay.

And attendance is much higher mostly due to the jobs (fear) situation.
Point well taken, Paul. If one is going to recruit on the Internet find out where the corporate internal recruiters "ain't."

Bill
A few new websites are available to help - below websites allow free job posts to dozens of leading career sites, like Indeed, SimplyHired, LinkedIn, and many more. The next time you are hiring save time and money and visit either http://www.sourcecandidates.com, http://www.supplyresumes.com, http://www.resumestaffing.com, http://www.publicresumes.com , or http://www.freejobposts.net
Judy, I am really, really fascinated by your thought process and would like to hear you expand upon the following:
I am Judy and I doubt that you want to hear my thoughts on this
I do - I absolutley do, Judy!
cause you will then need to reconsider the whole package you put together.
We'll see.
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.
Isn't this what's normally referred to as progress, Judy?
Then a whole new group of people came into the space that might not have come into the older space.
There are always new waters flowing into every stream, Judy. That's the natural way of things, isn't it?
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.
I think it depends on what your definition of "fee" is. If it includes long, hard hours of head-banging learning, Judy, then I would agree.
This can only happen in a field where there are no standards guidelines
Judy, what would you suggest to correct this injustice?

And then you go and further intrigue me with your answer to my question about what “tricks” you’re referring to. You say:
Tricks are ways to get around someone when you want something from them and you dont know how to get it honestly in a straightforward way. You call John whos a reference for Jack and Jack gave you his information for a reference Only. then you try to get names from John and to recruit John and the reference check is not the point of the call its just a stepping stone
Judy, can you explain some more? The technique you reference is one that I think some recruiters use routinely as a networking tool to find other people (personally I don't see horrid travesty here - as long as Jack really is being considered - I see this more of a culling technique that brings forth a healthier species) but it's not really one used by sourcers as sourcers aren't usually getting all that cozy with their "targets"; talking to them in a "reference check" capacity to get names of others. There are other (honest and straightforward) ways that sourcers use.

PostScript: I hope you'll also call in/stop by, Judy, on Recruiting Animal's Radio Show on Wednesday (March 4) at noon EST -I just know he's gonna rip into this "sourcing is dead" subject! Call in: 646 652 2754
I'd be fascinated to hear your comments on the show and I really appreciate your forthrightness!

Karen, that was some interesting article - thanks for referencing it! It made me think about something - what we do involves a great deal of intellectual curiosity and I wonder what proportion of the population possesses that? Now that I think about it MOST people I know are bewildered by my attachment to the Internet.
I found these shocking statements here:
58% of the US adult population never reads another book after high school.
42% of college graduates never read another book.
80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year.
70% of US adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.

I wonder what percentage of the population visited libraries "in the old days" in pursuit of information? Makes you think on a whole other track – maybe all sourcing is not as dead as some in here think.

It appears to me that intellectual curiosity takes two routs - inward and outward. I wonder how the two are related?
Take the Intellectual Curiosity Test here.
What was your score?
John, remember this?

The reaction of IT recruiters to the "flipping" technique ranges from outrage to acceptance. "I don't think that's the way to do business," says Carol McLysaght, a personnel counselor who hires IT professionals for Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., the Chicago-based chewing gum manufacturer. "That's like stealing a company's information. It's kind of like saying if I leave my wallet on the photocopying machine at the library, someone else can say it's theirs and use it. I just know that if she were stealing my qualified people that I worked hard to recruit and retain, I'd have a hard time with it."

So John, it seems you think we've come full circle - from writing about, ewwwww, it's so illegal to now, technology sourcing for the masses will level the playing field (to some extent, I agree but only for the average recruiter). Let the commoditization of sourcing really take off...for the masses.

Following your writing about Ms. McLysaght, you replied,

While we certainly appreciate the "moral outrage", we wonder if Ms McLysaght's CEO would buy the notion that the company should go out of business because of her unwillingness to aggressively pursue passive candidates. We somehow doubt it. The idea that recruiting so-called "passive candidates" is stealing sounds like a deep rationalization for poor performance on a critical strategic task.

Even with technology there are degrees of passivity and despite the technology of which you speak, art of sourcing will still be practiced by the very best - or intuitive - of our profession. Even with names and numbers, many recruiters still couldn't buy a callback or a conversation. The true sourcing are-teests will continue to thrive.

Yet you have been spot on all these years with this:

Old, dysfunctional attitudes die hard. Companies who insist on a pristine view of recruiting do their investors an extreme disservice. In times of a labor shortage, limiting your recruiting efforts to those who happen to be looking when you need the help only leads to missed company objectives and unfilled requisitions.

When you update the definition of sourcing to include identifying those with even a passing interest in creating a relationship, you strengthen the brick and mortar reality of what great sourcers will always do. But when users insist that technology offers a pristine approach to recruiting, they are doing their companies an extreme disservice. In times of recessionary company performance, limiting your sourcing to results delivered by a piece of software only leads to missed opportunities in finding those people who will not be repackaging derivatives without first assessing long term risk potential ultimately.

The dysfunctional belief that sourcing is merely a list of names is what the neophytes, order takers, naysayers and software providers buy into.
Steve Levy said: "Companies who insist on a pristine view of recruiting do their investors an extreme disservice. In times of a labor shortage, limiting your recruiting efforts to those who happen to be looking when you need the help only leads to missed company objectives and unfilled requisitions. When you update the definition of sourcing to include identifying those with even a passing interest in creating a relationship, you strengthen the brick and mortar reality of what great sourcers will always do. But when users insist that technology offers a pristine approach to recruiting, they are doing their companies an extreme disservice. In times of recessionary company performance, limiting your sourcing to results delivered by a piece of software only leads to missed opportunities in finding those people who will not be repackaging derivatives without first assessing long term risk potential ultimately.

The dysfunctional belief that sourcing is merely a list of names is what the neophytes, order takers, naysayers and software providers buy into."


Great points, Steve. I know we understand we're providing our clients the best professionals to fill positions recruiting passive candidates, but I never made the connection to the bottom line--company's stockholders-- who are cheated out of top company performance when corporations limit their hiring to a pool of aggressive job seekers only.

In my passive candidate recruiting efforts I'm breaking down the prospects into those who are open to opportunities presently, in the future, or don't bother with in order to provide a useful ongoing service tapping the "untapped" market. I see this approach as the only way to survive in the recruiting/sourcing world as passive candidates are but a 'list of names" when you begin your efforts, and hopefully additional network contacts at the end.

Bill
KM-

Your well-meaning interpretations of Pew's research requires some significant remediation.

Percentage of Adults online has been stagnant - around 70+ percent, since around Jan 06 - not drastic changes since then.. Reality versus ...

This is like when sports announcers say "Jason Davis is on a hot streak - he's hitting .389 over his last 18 at bats" or when investors were bragging about the investment returns Bernie Madoff was offering.

I took the Pew data, specifically two questions that asked "Do you use the Internet?" and "Did you use the Internet yesterday?" and created charts of the data. The data is attached to this comment. Note the tabs for the questions - the charts are located in the respective tabs. What do you and my fellow RBC readers see in the data?

One thing I want to comment on is the frightening variability in Black and Hispanic survey respondents. Wouldn't surprise me if the spikes track to the delivery of educational program funds and media interest rather than some internally driven explanation.

All in all, there are significant statistical reasons for variability, none of which you have addressed.

I'll leave it at this.
Attachments:
"I've seen companies go out of business because they believed that relationships built over 50 years with their clients meant that their clients would buy legal pads from them for four dollars more a package than the client had to pay at Sam's because the quality of their legal pads was better.

So how do recruiting, sourcing, and all the tools and subspecialties morph into a productive value added service ,despite how wonderful and experienced we all know we are , when the money is not there?"



When the money isn't there companies go out of business and recruiting firms either go out of business, see a serious revenue shortage, and are forced to find new clients.

Recruiting company fees are generally dictated by the marketplace--so if all my clients are cutting back on fee percentages either I do so, or find other clients.

Bill
Wow...I have never seen so much discussion and passion on sourcing.

John thanks for stirring the pot. I remember 10 years ago when I was selling Web base ATS solutions and the biggest objection was too many people did not have Internet access. We saw Interactive voice response, Internet kiosk, and other alternatives for individuals to get access. Now we are seeing demand to have everything on your PDA.

My first job out of college was with Xerox Corporation and I was so excited that my clients could save money by using less…yes, carbon paper! It was a risky sales position; the Xerox 914 was sold with a fire extinguisher because it often started on fire. I am glad to see Xerox has evolved and is more than just a copier/document company.

The point I am trying to make is many organizations will evolve and potentially come out stronger and better. I like Facebook and LinkedIn…what a great example of phenomenal growth and game changing technology. It is important to note that both of these organizations are trying to monetize their businesses. They will more than likely be forced to charge their users some sort of fee to make ends meet. The fees that Facebook pays monthly just for electricity is so large it would put most companies out of business.

The tools that we have to source are so wide and varied from the social networks, to the job boards, CRM, ATS and other specialty tools. They all have there place and deliver unique value. It really depends a lot on your requirements, business process, budget and openness to accept change.

For example many of our new clients demand OFCCP compliance and not all processes and tools are OFCCP compliant.

We partner with many ATS companies, HR technology providers, job boards and business information networks. No one is standing still and we all have a lot to look forward to in the future. No one has won the vendor war. With competition and innovation the buyers are the ultimate winners.
John you remain the master provocateur- Steve Levy et el. give it the old try, but nobody has your knack; you are the LeBron James of stirring the pot.

But I must say, a good fry cook is a valuable asset, vital to the smooth funtioning of the million dollar machine that your local fast-food shop really is.

Rather than familiarizing themselves with the alarm on the French fry machine, out of work sourcers are more likley to be re-rating old mortgage bonds and shrink wrapping bailout money for cold storage !

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