Research is Research, No Matter What

Just about a year ago, if you said to me recruitment research is very similar to business research, I would probably think you are from Mars.  Don’t get me wrong, not that I was against recruiting or anything like that, I just hadn’t been exposed to that side of the world yet.  Being an Information Professional for over 17 years, I have been taught and trained to always looking for authoritative, creditable sources when it comes to business and competitive intelligence.

I started my career with McKinsey & Company where valuable information is critical to client’s success; I spoke to associations sharing industry insights, I searched high & low on commercial databases (Lexis, Factiva, EBSCO to name a few) for valid facts, and I networked with internal consultants to seek their expertise.  After that I went to work for a major bank here in Canada, again supporting research for Investment Banking and Enterprise-wide initiatives.

Reputable resources are never fully accessible on the net for free, so imagine my shock when I first heard the term “Internet Research”.  Well, that was then.  My current job started last September, and I got in because of the competitive intelligence aspect of it but fell in love because of the interactions I had with candidates.  Applying the skills and knowledge I gained over the years to sourcing, I quickly realized research is research, no matter what.

Since I am a trained Information Professional who works best with visualization, I have drafted a simple diagram here to exhibit in business and recruiting worlds, the ultimate information we are looking for are as follows:

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In one of Amybeth Hale’s posts, ” What Sourcing Is Not Responsible For“, she pointed out that once the Sourcer/Researcher has delivered what the Recruiter has asked for in basic qualifications, their work is complete.  I couldn’t agree more even applying in the business/intelligence research; once we researchers exercised our curiosity practice and did it in a MutuallyExclusiveCollectiveExhaustive way, it’s really up to the management to decide whether, and how, to use the information, because behind every good business decision is an information professional.

In business, investigation is a ‘must’ process during CI information gathering, and when I was looking into recruitment research not too long ago, Geoff Webb, a highly regarded Sourcing Master here in Canada, said to me, “Good Researchers/Sourcers are investigators, but not necessarily recruiters”. It was a valid point. The only difference is that in recruiting, we deal strictly with people, and as we all know people are complicated and, quite often, unpredictable.  This is what makes it more challenging and interesting.

So, Research is Research, No Matter What.  I’ve said it and I am glad I did.  This is just my two cents of being a newbie Recruiting Researcher and an experienced Business Researcher.

Sara has over fifteen years of experience in the business information industry, providing sophisticated, in-depth business research services. Her specializations include competitive intelligence, online resources/content management, information and knowledge management, and social media monitoring and measurement. Sara has worked in top-tier organizations, including McKinsey & Company, The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), PriceWaterhouseCoopers, in the Information and Communications Technologies and financial services sectors and across Marketing, HR, Strategy, and Search functions. Sara has a BBA from Chung Yuan Christian University, and is an active member of The Special Libraries Association, The Association for Information and Image Management, and The Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals. She is fluent in Mandarin and English. Sara currently owns her consulting practice, also as partner at SYNFOSIS, in charge of East Asian business information markets.


13 Comments on “Research is Research, No Matter What

  1. Yes! Yes! Yes! Am I clear in saying that I agree? LOL Research skills can be used anywhere and anytime that information is needed – and not readily available. The internet (free), premium databases, manual search at the library, telephone and other not mentioned resources are all tools that we researchers use to find the information our clients need. Well said Sara. Oh, and great chart, too.

  2. Sara,

    I like the diagram. I think that individuals who will be reading this post must value the diagram while establishing their respective key intelligence topics (KIT)s and knowing your sources where to search.

  3. Very nice post, Sara. The strongest sourcers tap the competitive intelligence community for methods and resources, even if they didn’t start there themselves like you did. While I was at Microsoft, we often hosted local chapter meetings of the Society for Competitive Intelligence Professionals ( and those folks definitely know their stuff! Many ways to apply that knowledge to recruitment sourcing, as indicated by your post and diagram.

  4. Nice posting…. it certainly makes one think…

    Michael Porter developed his famous five forces model 1n 1979 for understanding any industry (line of business).

    Maybe Sara Chi has a seven forces model to understand any candidate… a structured methodology of some type ???

    (Given how logical and visual you are Sara, I’ll buy the book when it’s published.)

    1. Thank you so much for the comment, Charlene, and I am glad you like it. I am proud to be an InfoPro and can’t get enough or get tired of research, because Confucius said “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

      Cheers !

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