(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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Rayanne said:
Without the sauce, Sacred Cows just taste like Chicken Sh**...
Dont we need badges and secret handshakes and bylaws and all that ?

Apparantly Jason need a slight Ning mod to keep interesting threads on the front page so one single Sumserian rant does not turn into a forever clearinghouse for all 20 active users.....

Recruiting Animal said:

1. Lets wait till we have 10 members. You cant count on everyone to show so we need some strategic depth.

2. Lets have Jerry pick the first target.

I got the idea after speaking to him.

Jerry, CincyRecruiter offered her postings anytime we want to shred them.

3. Jerry posts the target as an Event and sends it thru inmail to all of the members.

Within the next two days we all comment.

4. I say don't rush into your first comment. We want them to make some sense.
Later on it can degenerate into anything.

5. Target: 1 action per week.

You can't demand more from a voluntary membership.

If our actions are interesting they will attract comments from other people

6. I suggest that we choose a group blog or something on a social network first
so that what we do is guaranteed to be seen.

There's no point in targetting a lonely blog that no one visits
until we have a following.

7. Not everyone has to hate the posting.

If Jerry hates it you might like it. So, naturally, you're free to be the good cop when you feel like it.

Marty The Beadle Snyder is trying to rein in the unruly kids

So what if this becomes an endless thread; how does that interfere with the rest of RBC?

Short answer: it doesn't. All it does is boost JD's page views.

PS: The first mission of the bad guys has not been too successful. So far half the members have not taken action on a posting that is just begging for a drubbing.

Judy golden said:
I was a recruiter and very successful. Then came the profit oriented shift to Sourcing or cybersleuthing = to me just plain hacking. I would not go that route. I am not considered hireable
With the current downturn some people may have the opportunity to put integrity back into recruiting.
Its not all about tricks and tricking people

Back to the "Death of Sourcing".
I'm interested in finding out what types of sourcing folks do, and how much you charge for it, e.g.:
1) What types of internet sourcing services do you perform- board scraping, deep googling, x-raying, etc.?
2) What types of phone sourcing services do you perform- voicemail mining aka "The Slow and Dumb Method," rusing, non-ruse direct calls, etc.
Also, what kind of searches are beyond your capabilities: too hard, take too long, etc.?

If you charge a low rate, why are you as good as people that charge much more?
If you charge a high rate, why are you better than people that charge much less?

I'd like to get a general idea, let our readers know, and then start putting together a directory of sourcers.


Keith Halperin keithsrj@sbcglobal.net 415.586.8265

This is a wonderful opinion. The things mentioned are unanimous and needs to be appreciated by everyone


Job Search Advice
This is refreshing news. I find the whole Boolean stuff very confusing. I like the direction you think the recruiting profession is going towards, more my style.
In strong agreement with you John - - particularly in the "people" (I read integrity) arena - to explain; I am a soon-to-be-former recruiter who loathes the industry because such a huge percentage of people who call themselves recruiters are merely commoditizers of other human beings. YUCK. My motivation to do this work was to parlay my technical background as a COBOL programmer (and all-around techie) and my strong communications, cultural, linguistic, and inter-personal skills (adding good instincts to the mix), and be a uniquely strong and resilient (technology) recruiter who would be valued for that combination of experience, classiness, and ability. It seemed that for a short time I had gotten some of that recognition. My candidates definitely appreciated my approach because I actually knew what I was talking about, and I actually respected them. It was unfortunately short-lived, and in one day, I was treated as obsolete - - hiring pretty much stopped altogether, and my skills were not considered valuable beyond the company's need for "lists". In my struggle to regain the respect I had (at least I thought I had), I became more and more frustrated and disgusted with the way the industry runs.

I have returned to my techie roots (studying Java), and am now preparing for interviews and the SCJP certification exam (Sun Certified Java Programmer).

I guess there will come a day when I will again be on the other side of the desk with a recruiter looking to make some money on placing me as a Java developer, and I'll have to avoid all but the few who show that they actually have integrity.


John Sumser said:
You know, Maureen, the great thing is that the twin arches on the uniform look just like a Star Fleet Insignia, if you squint your eyes. You save on your clothing budget at the same time.

People who do actual telephone sourcing are really courageous. The willingness to hear "No" while relentlesly pursuing an objective is laudable. I'm sure that the core skill will endure. It's really hard to build relationships and keep them current.

The vast majority of people who do sourcing these days are glued to their computers running nuanced Boolean search strings. Their output isn't a warmed up connection, it's a list. Why sometimes it even comes from the "deep web".

The shuck and jive about sourcing is about this particular aspect of it. The technical skills are transient. The people skills are not.

My original post wasn't about "phone sourcing". Now that I've had some time to think about it in public, there's some merit to what you are saying.

My guess is that the number of real seasoned pros who do the human side of sourcing is pretty small. My guess is that technology that makes finding people a lot easier will increase the demand for relationship builders. That's a great place to invest good people skills. Building good search strings doesn't get you much when the machine does it for you.

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.
I agree that people information is easier to find today then it has been in the past. Everyone has a profile somewhere, has been mentioned online somewhere or even shopped for something online at some point. While all of this information is available, I do believe that increases the haystack. Finding the needle within can be equally as challenging as it was in the past, if not even more challenging then ever. I couldnt agree more : building enduring relationships is key to the future.

Just thought I would weigh back in on this line of thinking as it doesn't appear to be going away any time soon (the concept that sourcing will die), if Dr. john Sullivan's 2013 article is any indication:


Sourcing will never die - it will only evolve: 



I see this discussion might come alive again.

I hope so.

Four years is a good long time to let things percolate.

Here's what I can tell you.

Last year we had one of our BEST YEARS EVER.

Not the best but a 3rd or 4th in rank in 16 yrs isn't bad!

I also see John you never came forward with an answer to my:

John, are you saying all the members on LI are Americans with college degrees?

I'm not rubbing salt into your wounds; however - misconceptions like yours are/were/ (at the time) are/were common among the population and LI does NOTHING, in my opinion, to correct them.

In my opinion it profits them to let people think EVERYONE IS ONLINE.

In my opinion they sell their subscriptions to BOTH sides of the equation (what ever happened to the concept "conflict of interest"?) with a wink and a nod instead of a truthful presentation and assessment of the products offered.

$200million members?

In my opinion, my rear end!

(By the way, and once again this is MY opinion, I'd bet dollars to donuts LI is being looked at very closely (past sale practices) just as TheLadders was.  Their product webpages change constantly to stay ahead of probing and scrutinizing eyes.  They just changed up their Recruiter Pro and Jobseeker Pro pages.  The class action guys love big targets like them and need a new one.)

Yeah, and what Glen just said.

I have found ZERO need for phone sourcing in quite a few years.  Everything I need to know is available to anyone with half a brain on the internet. 

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