(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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The other thing that is becoming apparent to me is that the term sourcer is no more useful than the term recruiter. We don't have good specific shared meanings for these roles. Generalizations break down in a hurry when we use the same words to mean different things. ~John Sumser

As I was posting about Glen Cathey the Boolean Black Belt appearing on the 1p.m. TalkSourcing segment of Animal's noon Radio Show today one solution occurred to me. Maybe we could delineate the board/Internet scapers out of the sourcing terminology entirely and call them "Internet searchers" because, really, that's what they're doing - and leave the more profound "sourcing" title to those who still deserve it! Searching refers to a reactive activity - you're looking for something that is "out there" somewhere in a pretty identifiable format; sourcing refers to a proactive activity that requires an imaginative set of behaviors to produce a result.

And then we have words like "research" to describe what sourcers do - can you think of other words?
John, I disagree that internet research and sourcing skills are not transferrable. A talented researcher/sourcer could work in many industries doing many things. Law firms doing legal reasearch. Libraries (public or university). Sales organizations finding competitive intelligence. Generating leads for sales teams.

And, not everyone is on LinkedIn or Facebook. In fact, not everyone is on the internet. Warren Buffett is a good example. I need to email him and I can't find his email address. I've reached out to several other people who also can't find his email address. I'm beginning to think he doesn't use email. Is that possible in this day and age? If anyone reading this is up to the challenge, go for it! My email address is amanda.blazo@govig.com if you find anything.

A few years ago we got a search assignment from a client for a role that there are only about 10 people in the entire US qualified to do. They were NOT on the internet. However, 1st, 2nd, 3rd degrees of seperation came into play. We found out who they work with on many levels and reached out to those people (through internet research and then phone sourcing and recruiting). We did find the right people.

In the past 3 years I've seen internet research change so much that we've revised our training manual for internet researchers at least 4 times. So it is true that if you learn a skill one way today, it may be dead in 2-3 years. But that's always been the case with internet research and sourcing. New tools come up, tools disappear. New techniques come up and old techniques become less effective.

I hold the opinion that recruiters who are really good at recruiting (no patience, building relationships, building trust and running process) don't have the profile or skills necessary to also be really good at internet research. I also hold the opinion that people who are really good at internet research (patient, curious, open to change on a daily basis, inquisitive) don't have the profile or skills necessary to be really good at recruiting. So, in my opinion and based on the statistics of our very successful third party recruiting firm and our off shore internet research/sourcing firms, they both are necessary and most people can't be really good at both. So we let everyone do what they do best. Our recruiters don't search on the internet and our internet researchers don't make recruit calls. It works out really well. We have recruiters with 3-4 hours of phone time each day (that's connect time, not time available to be on the phone) and billing $200K-$500K per year each and have a $30/$1 ROI on our internet research. If that means it's dead, then we'll take dead!
Maureen Sharib said:
Keith, does this match your experience?

Hard to say. In 2006, 2007 I was employed on two occasions for about 8 mos. by an IT Staff Augmentation company (tech contractors) to source, identify, contact, and present potential account managers with 3-5 years IT Staff Augmentation AM experience who were within daily commuting range of the client. I had to research DB and Rich's Guide to create a DB of ~ 2000 Bay Area companies to call, and I started calling all of them. I would try 3-4 atempts to get in on a given round, and then head to the next batch. I called the same companies (more or less) over and over. I'd say I eventually got through to around 50-60% after multiple attempts. We got hires, and it averaged about 1/mo. from my work, which after the initial compilation averaged around 70-80 calls/day. At the time, I was paid $80/hr. From what I now understand, this is type of work that the $3500/mo. folks I broker can handle, so I reasonably wouldn't expect a client to pay $80/hr for this type of work any more. You/your team handles much tougher sourcing than this I'd expect, though....

Cheers,

KH
Amanda Blazo said:
John, I disagree that internet research and sourcing skills are not transferrable. A talented researcher/sourcer could work in many industries doing many things. Law firms doing legal reasearch. Libraries (public or university). Sales organizations finding competitive intelligence. Generating leads for sales teams.

And, not everyone is on LinkedIn or Facebook. In fact, not everyone is on the internet. Warren Buffett is a good example. I need to email him and I can't find his email address. I've reached out to several other people who also can't find his email address. I'm beginning to think he doesn't use email. Is that possible in this day and age? If anyone reading this is up to the challenge, go for it! My email address is amanda.blazo@govig.com if you find anything.

A few years ago we got a search assignment from a client for a role that there are only about 10 people in the entire US qualified to do. They were NOT on the internet. However, 1st, 2nd, 3rd degrees of seperation came into play. We found out who they work with on many levels and reached out to those people (through internet research and then phone sourcing and recruiting). We did find the right people.

In the past 3 years I've seen internet research change so much that we've revised our training manual for internet researchers at least 4 times. So it is true that if you learn a skill one way today, it may be dead in 2-3 years. But that's always been the case with internet research and sourcing. New tools come up, tools disappear. New techniques come up and old techniques become less effective.

I hold the opinion that recruiters who are really good at recruiting (no patience, building relationships, building trust and running process) don't have the profile or skills necessary to also be really good at internet research. I also hold the opinion that people who are really good at internet research (patient, curious, open to change on a daily basis, inquisitive) don't have the profile or skills necessary to be really good at recruiting. So, in my opinion and based on the statistics of our very successful third party recruiting firm and our off shore internet research/sourcing firms, they both are necessary and most people can't be really good at both. So we let everyone do what they do best. Our recruiters don't search on the internet and our internet researchers don't make recruit calls. It works out really well. We have recruiters with 3-4 hours of phone time each day (that's connect time, not time available to be on the phone) and billing $200K-$500K per year each and have a $30/$1 ROI on our internet research. If that means it's dead, then we'll take dead!

Hi Amanda (and Maureen)

If you feel comfortable doing so (and you, too Maureen), would you give examples of easy, medium, and *difficult internet (and for you Maureen phone ) searches that you/your team has done?

Thank You,

Keith


* You already gave an example of a hard search, Amanda. -kh
No, Keith. I think what I shared is plenty enough to get the point across. I have to tell you though, I am plenty amazed that you can make the kind of statement you do about what phone sourcing "should" cost without really understanding the intricacies of phone sourcing. I find the logic odd when you say:
From what I now understand, this is type of work that the $3500/mo. folks I broker can handle, so I reasonably wouldn't expect a client to pay $80/hr for this type of work any more.
I still wonder how much of Einstein's briliant work was a result of synergy with his first wife....he never seemed to do anything special again after he dumped her for his cousin...she was the one with the networking skillz and it was actually her hand that wrote the great papers...






Recruiting Animal said:
Great ideas receive opposition from the first born.

Einstein was himself a first born child but so were the majority of his opponents. Last born children are much more open to new ideas. I wouldn't have believed it but apparently there are good studies proving it.
It's been said that incest is all relative-ity

Martin H.Snyder said:
I still wonder how much of Einstein's briliant work was a result of synergy with his first wife....he never seemed to do anything special again after he dumped her for his cousin...she was the one with the networking skillz and it was actually her hand that wrote the great papers...




Recruiting Animal said:
Great ideas receive opposition from the first born.

Einstein was himself a first born child but so were the majority of his opponents. Last born children are much more open to new ideas. I wouldn't have believed it but apparently there are good studies proving it.
Beadle, I know I've read essays about the importance of Einstein's wife - online I believe. And they claim that she wasn't that important technically.

Many people do their most creative work when they are young. That's certainly true of musicians.

But didn't Einstein spend most of his subsequent career trying, unsuccessfully, to work on a unified field theory? He didn't achieve a breakthrough so it might only seem as if he had been more creative earlier simply because he hit paydirt.
This thread is crazy interesting, but I sure see a lot of folks painting with big broad brush strokes (and not only to just stir the pot). Stirring the pot is fun!

Being a know it all when you don't makes for a painful spectator sport.

Sometimes I think the biggest thing that SMedia and Web 2.0 have done is give everyone a megahorn and the (often misguided) idea that we are all *experts* and that what we have to say is both right and matters to everyone else.

Earlier this week some dude made the comment that candidates looking for a position should *always* refuse to talk about compensation with recruiters and even direct companies. Boy, that'll move you up to the top of my stack! Another "expert" said you should try to get fired from your current job, because after that you'll better be able to find your dream job. Both of these clowns were irresponsible bloviators, and annoyed me no end, and I bet they would have you as well. To top it off they were also selling shit online about how to get hired billing themselves as *experts* (neither were recruiters so put the rocks down). Their approach was so reckless, irresponsible and stupid I wanted to puke on my shoes.

I guess my point, and I do have one, is that *perhaps* we should all take a step back and realize that our own personal experience does not absolute truth make. Lots of ways to skin a rabbit (I hate that phrase as much as beating a dead horse) and nothing comes off as annoying as telling other people what their truth is. If we do we better have some serious proof in our back pocket (and in my experience in this industry that teaches us new schtuff every minute that is pretty hard to come by) or we should just shut the heck up.

Cheers!
Sorry, Lisa, my experience is the absolute truth
Lisa-

One, I owe you a call.

Two, how did Jim Croce sing it?

You don't tug on Superman's cape;
you don't spit into the wind;
you don't pull the mask off that ol' Lone Ranger
and you don't mess around with Jim.


Seriously, you make a good point (except for the one broad brush assertion that Animal was kidding) - stepping back is a must but so is sharing. Hopefully the reader has enough of a brain to either know when the leg is being pulled or when something needs to be ruminated over and perhaps incorporated into one's being.

It's like Tivo - you can watch the commercials or fast forward.

But some advice comes across like a herd of diarrhetic cattle. Take it as it is.

Lisa,

What about those goofs who tell you never to take an incoming call if you see it's from a recruiter. Or never to answer a message from a recruiter during the day

a) because it will make you seem more attractive if you seem to be busy
b) because if you take a call like that unexpectedly you might be flustered

The first reason is absurd. You WANT to make yourself as available to recruiters as possible. That's not at all the same as being pathetically hungry.

The second doesn't hold water either. If you're looking for a job you should be able to talk about your career in an organized manner at the drop of a hat. So, if you get a call from a recruiter (3rd party or corporate) what are you going to gain by waiting to call back?

Are you going to cram for a phone interview as if it was a test? The only people who do good in a pop quiz are those who know the material ahead of time.

I know you wanted to hear this, that's why I posted it here.

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