Sourcers and Recruiters…. Is the Internet Failing You?

“You want me to do what?” the incredulous young sourcer asked her manager.

“I want you to get on the phone and call this company and find out who everybody is in their R&D department,” the staffing manager patiently explained to her, once again.

“I can get that on LinkedIn!” she exclaims, stamping her thonged foot as she tossed her dark locks.

“No, Sheila, you can’t.  LinkedIn only has three people from this company in R&D and two of them have been gone from the company for two years.“ he answered.

“Then how am I supposed to get them?” her voice rises to a near-wail and a slight shimmy passes through her body as she subtly challenges him.

“You want me to lie?” and her blue eyes grow wide with the question.

The HR Director, being nearby and overhearing, walks over and picks a phone up off its cradle on a nearby desk and hands it to the young sourcer.

“I want you to call,” she tells her.  I don’t care how you do it,” and she walks away, managing up in the very best of fashions and scaring the sourcer.

Unfazed, the manager nods at the sourcer and asks, “Any questions?” before he himself walks away, following the example set by upper management and leaving the sourcer frightened and confused by this sudden shift in easy organizational management style.

“Did you hear that?” the sourcer whispers to the other sourcer as she sits gingerly down at her keyboard while automatically grabbing her touchstone – the white mouse patiently waiting her return.

“Dan wants me to call in to this company and get the R&D department.  I guess this is for that Food Scientist role they’re having so much trouble filling.  What am I going to do?” she conspiratorially whispers to her cell cubicle mate as the screen flashes brightly open to her home page, LinkedIn.

Typing in the company’s name in the search box and several R&D synonyms she quickly ascertains that what Dan told her looks to be true – there are three people listed but without checking, the three names appear to be still with the company.

She’ll take his word for it that two are gone because she knows, in her Internet-sourcing heart-of-hearts that LinkedIn’s database isn’t aging well; she’s noticed in the last year alone a distinct disconnect between what she’s finding there and the reality of the candidates present situations.

In other words, she’s not surprised two out of three are gone and have been for a while.

That’s just the way it is nowadays ‘though nobody much likes to talk about it.

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“I heard,” the other (older) sourcer softly comforts, trying to keep it all on the down low, just between the two of them before asking, “What are you going to do?” as she quietly opens her desk drawer.

“I have no idea,” the other sourcer hisses, growing angry and resentful at the thought of what she was being asked to do.  “I didn’t sign up for this.  I wasn’t hired to phone source!”

“Be careful,” the other sourcer warned, again on the down low as she hands a card to the other sourcer.  “I’ve always known this day was coming.  I saw this woman speak at Sourcecon a couple years ago.  I’ve been reading her on ERE for years.  She’s a phone sourcer,” and hands a card to the frightened, pretty young thing.

“She’s going to be in Atlanta on February 19 and 20 at Sourcecon and she and another phone sourcer are doing a live phone sourcing workshop. Maybe we should go.”

“Do you think the company would pay for it?” the silly young thing blinked at the wiser, older thing.

“I doubt it.  Maybe they’ll pay for the price of admission but they’ve been hinting at us for the last couple years we should be doing this.  I think we need to pay our own freight. You want to go?  We could share a room!”

Editor’s Note: Later this month, at SourceCon in Atlanta, there will be 2 sessions dedicated to phone sourcing. The first session, led by Conni LaDouceur, will cover the basics of phone sourcing. Later in the day, there will be a lab session in which attendees will be able to work through some of their own phone sourcing challenges in groups facilitated by master phone sourcers.

If you will be at SourceCon, and you have a phone sourcing problem you would like solved, please send an email to the SourceCon Editor no later than Friday, February 7, at 5 PM Eastern. Conni LaDouceur and Maureen Sharib will choose two of the submissions to start working on prior to the event. The solutions and tactics used to gather the candidate information will be shared live in the sourcing lab.  The people who submit the 2 challenges selected for the lab will be notified on Monday, February 10th that their searches are being worked.

When submitting your phone sourcing challenge for Conni and Maureen, please include:

  • 1-2 current requisitions that require sourcing of additional candidates – your toughest markets.  This can be for an immediate need, a long-standing “challenging” need or a pipeline need.  You should provide a copy of the position description and any Intake Meeting notes that you captured in speaking with your hiring manager.
  • Identify and send the names of 2-3 target companies for each of those assignments, companies the hiring managers would most like to see candidates from.  If you know the location of this talent pool (city), please also indicate.
  • Please send the names you know already from those target companies, i.e. whom you’d like reports to or peers of.

Maureen Sharib has been a “Socratic sourcer” her entire sourcing career; from the moment she first picked up the faxed list of Silicon Valley high-tech companies that was her target list to “phone source” in 1996 to today she has instinctively followed this method of investigative sourcing using (mostly) the telephone.  She is a proponent of sourcing as a synonym for success and envisions the craft moving away from a dangerously drudgery-paced life-form existence to an exciting investigative/competitive place within organizations where practitioners co-exist within a framework of market research, human resources, and C-level future planning. She owns the phone sourcing and competitive intelligence firm, Inc. You can contact her at Maureen at or call her at (513) 646-7306.  If she’s not on the phone she’ll pick up!


6 Comments on “Sourcers and Recruiters…. Is the Internet Failing You?

  1. This story illustrates the challenge and mistake many people make with social media and that is this, as good as it is, social media can never replace getting the prospect on the phone or better yet, in a face-to-face meeting. Social media is only one of the tools in the box. You must learn to use them all.

  2. I find your article a little one-sided and insulting to anyone who does happen to use Linkedin. It’s not a binary world where people either use linkedin OR the phone. Both resources are part of the larger tool set and neither is solely effective. It’s clear you’re trying to sell your services, which I assume drives your tone., but to act like only silly, young people look to linkedin is myopic at best. If that wasn’t the intent of your post, it certainly is written that way. To be successful in this business you need to be fluid. That means using whatever resources are at your disposal and that includes online services AND the phone.

  3. Loved the scenario and theme talked about here, it’s real. It happens all the time. I kind of want to stangle that sourcer in the article for not having that initiative to find a way, for not -wanting- to find a way. Give that sourcer a lesson in motivation along with the lesson on how to dial the phone.

  4. As long as you USE the information wisely, who cares if you get it by phone or internet, Happy Hour, on the metro, at 7-11, etc.. We are in 2014 and this article reads like a “Hey you Kids, get off my lawn” rant.

  5. Zanaya, you said it best: “To be successful in this business you need to be fluid. That means using whatever resources are at your disposal and that includes online services AND the phone.” If only more thought like you!

    Michael, at least I keep (most of) my guns locked up. 🙂

    Dan, Roger, RecruiterMann: what are the chances we are becoming obsolete?

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