Sourcing Leaders – Have We Been Our Own Worst Enemy?

As background, I spent the last two years leading the global sourcing team for Hewitt Associates so the finger I am pointing is directly at me. As the economy slowed it was hard not to recognize the industry’s deep, brutal cuts to sourcing teams without some feeling of responsibility. I realize that this hasn’t been a great time for corporate recruiting overall, but sourcing went first and seems to be the slowest to recover. I am afraid we have lost scores of very talented people who feel this “niche” maybe a bit to risky for them. Could some of this have been avoided if collectively we were able to tell our story more effectively and had the will to stand up for sourcing when tough decisions had to be made?

I have been thinking about this for quite some time and have shared this perspective with many of you who may be reading this — sourcing has lost its “mojo.”  Just a few years ago there was a swagger at SourceCon that was palpable. Sourcers were the difference-makers — companies would win or lose based upon the skill of their sourcing teams. Many “progressive” companies were moving in that direction, hiring hundreds of people into the relatively new area. It was the natural evolution of talent acquisition. Today on LinkedIn, there are about 25 sourcing jobs with less than ten companies; on Monster there are about 75, but most are with agencies and again just a handful of corporate roles available. We have nobody to blame but ourselves.

Sourcing needs leaders and leadership. We need to lower the bar (and costs) to bring in new, diverse talent to sourcing. We need to be able to articulate our worth in numbers and dollars, not just in ideas and stories. Overall, sourcing needs a vision and a compelling value proposition. Sourcing leaders need to unite to develop a shared training and development program and a common set of metrics. We need to be vocal in the talent acquisition communities and evangelize to the non-believers. In short, we need to be leaders.

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My proposal is this – We form a Corporate Sourcing Leaders Council that meets monthly. Initially our goals are threefold:

  1. To develop a no-cost sourcing curriculum that can be used by any corporation. We would also provide the facilitators on a monthly basis. In essence, we eliminate the barrier to new talent and the training costs to companies.
  2. We agree upon a common set of sourcing metrics and best practices to report and achieve them.
  3. We act as ambassadors — speaking at conferences, writing for sites and magazines, and meeting with other companies that have questions or concerns.

The exciting part for me is that most all of us are already doing this alone. We are fighting the battles with HR and the business, we are trying to develop metrics to understand the value of and evaluate sourcers, and we are either spending a great deal of money on training or trying to develop it ourselves. What if we could do this together? I think this is important enough that I am willing to give away what we have in return for the greater good. My hope is that there are several others of you out there who are as well.

Chris Gould is the Global Head of Talent Acquisition for Aon and Aon Hewitt. Gould has been in HR consulting since 1996 and is considered an industry expert in social media, sourcing, and recruiting. He is known for his ability to influence, execute, motivate, and implement change within complex matrix environments. He was the keynote speaker at SourceCon 2010 and is a requested speaker on topics related to social networking and sourcing. His work has resulted in press interest including The Wall Street Journal and the SHRM HR Magazine. He is also the founder of the OnlineR Community, an online community with over 7,000 members.

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46 Comments on “Sourcing Leaders – Have We Been Our Own Worst Enemy?

  1. Chris,

    I echo your sentiments on standing together as united front. SourceCon did provide us a good platform to begin and will continue to develop further. I certainly think that we need to create such platform in India where sourcing is still an emerging and unstructured society.

    On global level – can we create an association (organization) pertaining to sourcing? This association (or any other format) can represent Sourcing as an industry worldwide and have representation in every part of the world. This will help in creating awareness and develop sourcing as more formal / matured function in corporate world.

    I just like the idea of coming and working together….

    Sarang Brahme

  2. Wow, Absolutely Chris!

    “We need to lower the bar (and costs) to bring in new, diverse talent to sourcing. We need to be able to articulate our worth in numbers and dollars, not just in ideas and stories. Overall, sourcing needs a vision and a compelling value proposition. Sourcing leaders need to unite to develop a shared training and development program and a common set of metrics.”

    The ROI of sourcing is often missed or overlooked – This would be huge and is long overdue!

  3. Chris, your post really resonated with me 🙂 This, in part, has been a goal of mine here in Australia for a few years now. I’m with Sarang, if we can work together on something like this internationally even better!

  4. As the economy continues to improve organizations that depleted or eliminated sourcing talent are going to find themselves increasingly behind the competition who maintained a cadre of motivated and focused talent during the full brunt of the recession. Savvy talent acquisition professionals knew that it was increasingly hard to find and woo top performing passive talent afraid to consider making a shift in uncertain times. Chris is right on target. The failure to convey a compelling business rationale, supported by metrics, put all sourcers at risk. The way to recover and sustain is to take the steps outlined to demonstrate competence, value and clear results that drive business success.

  5. @all
    I would welcome you all to the Talent Relationship Management Group in Linkedin.
    http://www.linkedin.com/groups?mostPopular=&gid=3832636&trk=myg_ugrp_ovr
    This would make it possible to participate also outside the US.
    .
    To learn more about TRM please have a look at this workshop presentation:
    http://www.slideshare.net/alhoupart/recruitment-for-the-next-decades-talent-relationship-management
    You will notice that sourcing or Talent Intelligence is an important part of TRM.
    I hope my invitation supports this initiative.
    Alexander Crépin

  6. Sourcing has lost its “mojo” because there’s been an over reliance on technology and a recognition by decision makers that much of it can be done offshore and cheaply.

    It’s been milked and the teat is dry.

    That’s why it was the first to go – because it could go.

    Sourcing began with the telephone – in modern times. For a look at what it was 5million years ago – read this: http://tinyurl.com/46hvhfz

    We’ve been kidding others and ourselves when we swaggered in with all the answers off the Internet.

    It didn’t take long for them to catch on to the gobble-dee-gook speak of the algorithm secret society.

    Here’s the vision for recruiting:
    You can’t find the majority of candidates for your hard-to-fill positions on the Internet.

    Really, you can’t.

    You can only find a very, very small percentage (less than 10%; maybe even less than that!) of the available talent pool on the Internet.

    This isn’t to say a greater number than that aren’t ON the Internet. Sure, they are – but not in a capacity that allows you to link them to your open jobs.

    And therein lies the rub.

    The greatest talent pool – think about it! 90+%! – lies hidden from your eyes and the only way to find them is to penetrate the brick and mortar walls of companies where they reside, doing the job you need them to be doing for you.

    The fastest and surest way to do that is by using the telephone.

    I dare anyone to argue this point with me.

    And here’s the compelling value proposition:
    If you have a FRESH pool of candidates (and I’m talking phone sourced candidates – the ones nobody’s been harassing day and night because they’re listed on LinkedIn) the MAJORITY are going to be interested in talking about your opportunity.

    The majority.

    The far greater majority – as in 60 – 90%!

    Do the numbers.

    They’re astounding.

    But it takes certain panache to achieve those numbers.

    It takes a special skill to engage people.

    And that’s what’s missing in sourcing today – the willingness and eagerness and ability (talent) to engage with people.

    That’s why we don’t have the respect of decision makers.

    We haven’t engaged them on a human level – we haven’t drawn them sufficiently into our orbit because we’ve allowed the machines to do our talking.

    Many of us have allowed ourselves to be eclipsed.

    We all reveal ourselves.

    1. Thanks as always for telling it how it is, Maureen. I don’t think anyone is arguing that the Internet is limited in its capacity to provide potential candidates. It’s a semistructured database, at best. And anyone who’s worked with a structured database that hasn’t been organized knows how difficult it can be to find what you’re looking for. A good mix of skills is what’s needed today, and I think emphasis on good communication skills is more important than ever. It is as unwise to completely dismiss and ignore technology as it is to ignore the telephone — and I should know, because I spent my early years in this business running from the phone.

      1. I think some nerves need to be struck in our industry.

        I think Internet sourcing has been (and is being) sold as a panacea to a willing and gullible audience all too eager to ignore its limitations because to admit its shortcomings endangers a certain comfortable status quo amongst many sourcers.

        I don’t think you and Nikki G are alone in your confessions – the two of you just happen to be brave enough to admit it publicly.

        I’m not saying the Internet doesn’t offer a valuable search strategy. All I’m saying is it has its place and that place should not, will not, can ever replace the telephone’s major contribution in the sourcing process.

        THE INTERNET IS A TOOL – JUST AS THE TELEPHONE IS.

        BOTH MUST BE UTILIZED BUT IF ONE NEEDS JETTISONING – AT THIS POINT IN TIME – JETTISON THE HOLD THE INTERNET HAS ON YOU.

        It’s holding you back.

        It’s holding advancement back for the companies you work for.

        For a long time now the phone’s been derided in the sourcing community.

        I hear the snickers; I see the rolled eyes, the crossed arms and the near-militant resistance in class.

        The smart remarks get conveyed back to me.

        The phone’s been painted with a tar brush of suspicion it doesn’t deserve because to do so enabled the community to ignore their own feelings of discomfort in communicating with others.

        Like you said, Amybeth, an emphasis on good communication skills is what’s needed.

        Self improvement (and acceptance) is the new sourcing.

        1. I totally echo Maureen’s sentiments about bringing telephone sourcing in the right mix of entire sourcing strategy. I think with new social media wave – we all need to take a step back to go back to old school recruitment. Internet, social media, telephone are all the right tools fo sourcing and we all need to use right tools at right place at right time.

          I think this is where Chris’s suggestion about formally coming together as a sourcing unit will be very useful. It is and should not be about telephone VS Internet sourcing; rather it should be telephone AND Internet sourcing. Our aim is to find right talent for right job – no matter from where it comes from.

          Sourcing function should evolve as a larger unit – may be industry. This needs a formal blueprint about our processes, matrix, success case studies, roles and responsibilities, policies just like HR OR recruitment industry would have them. At this point of time we should all come as a one unit (internet / telephone sourcer) to become ONE Unit together to help each other.

          Our challenge as a sourcing industry is much bigger than just telephone / internet sourcing mix. Being relatively new in HR / recruitment we have to stand united to place sourcing in heart of every recruitment strategy. This means sourcing will have a same place that of recruitment / HR in corporate engine.

          Would you agree?

    2. I completely agree – We feel in love with our new toy and forgot some real basics of what we do. A sourcing strategy that relies only on internet/social media is doomed to fail. My hope is that this group will rally around that and realize that distinct skills working together is the best solution.

    3. That’s it. Back to the basics. There is just no substitute for being on and staying on the telephone. We have forgotten just how much you can yield out of a short conversation. Not everyone enjoys working the phone – or worse yet, knows how to. So folks shy away from it.

      I remember once when I was collecting and the credit/collections community was trying to “go internet”. They tried it once. They found out quickly that they had to stay engaged and they had to do it in real-time. So do sourcers.

      Yesterday is ancient history on the internet. We need information developed today!

  7. Chris you make some compelling points but I don’t see Sourcing as being devalued I simply see it becoming more specialized. As Maureen indicates, the Internet is only useful fro finding the most visible of candidates not neccesarily the best. While I am very good at online sourcing I work with a number of of other great sourcers as needed who each bring strengths in disciplines I lack. What the technology and in-house sourcing just like the jbo boards that preceded it is create too many candidates for most companies to deal with. They now feel they have the secret handshake and the keys to the sourcing kingdom but in reality they are simply drowning in names. They will need sourcers because we can help them filters, screen and rank, as well as find all the ones they will miss. I don’t disagree that a leadership council would be a smart step but training a new group of sourcers on what we did yesterday will be inadequate and short-sighted. Tomorrow’s true sourcing leaders will have to remain on the cutting edge of technology and techniques. Just like recruiters, if we are satisfied with going after low-hanging fruit we will become irrelevant to the process.

    1. absolutely agree – sourcing isn’t just about LinkedIn and anyone who believes that will fade away quickly. We need strategies that incorporate technology and the phone. It is about building relationships

  8. My thoughts: One reason sourcing was hit is disintermediation — candidates are easier to find (not necessarily the right candidates, but candidates in general). Anyone with a browser and a Google keyword fancies himself/herself a researcher or sourcer. So I would argue that sourcers need to educate the consumer what sourcing is really. And sourcers need to set the bar much higher than they have in the past. Far too many sourcers have been about scooping up vast quantities of IDs, without ensuring those names convert into viable candidates. I have seen sourcing teams eliminated in booming economies because the handoffs between sourcing and recruiting teams were not optimized. As for developing a no-cost curriculum. . .My firm’s secret sauce is our bread and butter (to mix metaphors). While I have shared a technique or two, I would never give up our proprietary processes embedded in our investigative approach to be used by a corporation with nary a “thank you”. The corporations you serve charge for their expertise – as does my firm. We do, however, partner and consult with select clients and, in so doing, provide those clients with a distinct competitive advantage in the talent marketplace. In other words, one way to maintain a competitive advantage in talent acquisition is by maintaining a degree of secrecy. Last, while basic research techniques can be taught (yawn), finely tuned critical thinking as well as analysis that converts research into actionable intelligence are skills that remain rare in sourcing circles. They remain virtually impossible to teach.

    1. Krista, I too believe that educating people (namely, our peers, managers, and C-levels) is where it needs to begin. But good communication skills are needed in order to do that effectively. I wouldn’t call it a vicious one, but it certainly is circular here!

    2. Hi Krista – I agree with you that the skills that make world class sourcers can’t always be taught. We can though provide the framework which involves internet, cold calling, etc. Let’s be honest -it’s not rocket science. Once someone understands the basics, it is up to them to find mentors, enhance their skills, use their own gifts, etc.

    3. I’m thinking about your fascinating remark about critical thinking, Krista and I think that may well be where the default lies in today’ sourcing models.

      You seem to be saying critical thinking is rare.

      Can critical thinking be taught?

      Are there events in life (like crises) that can teach critical thinking?

      What is critical thinking (in action) as it applies to sourcing?

  9. I think if you look at Maureen Sharib’s post you’ll find the answer.
    In this awful jobs market companies have fewer needs. With fewer needs comes more stringent requirements. Instead of looking for A-/B+ players companies are literally looking for a rain maker……Superstar. How many Superstars are out there on the Internet? Superstar is gainfully employed, doing the work of more than one person, working often till 6-7 or later PM, and may have a social media connection but rarely have the time to play around online. They want dinner and family/quality time when they get home–not the Internet.

    I’ve been recruiting for 30 years. I do my own sourcing and recruiting, all phone intensive. The few companies hiring will ONLY work with me if I find them ‘passive/invisible’ candidates they can’t access on their own. I send them candidates they don’t already have resumes of, weren’t looking for a job when I called them, didn’t have an updated resume, and some would look at other opportunities to compare to their present ensuring they’re in the best place for them. Most you can’t get out of there, or don’t want to try to, as they’re happy with no reason to leave, so would simply decline an offer or accept a counter.

    So remember, we all work for the company in some fashion. Few needs means special candidates required. If not a Superstar, the company keeps looking. Highly selective. You can drop your price all you want. You can train better. You can sell your services better. In other words you can polish or re-package your service product.

    Bottom line is finding a Difference Maker, who’s gainfully employed, working a ton of hours, not screwing arounbd on the Internet, and not looking to be found. I know cause I contact these people at work, arrange for me to call them at home off hours, and it’s usually at 8-9 PM, or later.

    If you aren’t finding your clients passive invisible Superstars it won’t matter how glossy you make your product look. You aren’t adding value to your clients and will become obsolete.

    If the jobs market ever comes back–not sure it really will due to offshore outsourcing to emerging markets China, India, Bangladesh, Viet Nam, Brazil, Peru, Bulgaria, etc….even Russia and I had more on plate that I could handle Maureen Sharib would get the first call.

    Bill

  10. Just like anyone can call themselves a Recruiter, few are really good at it. In industries where the war for grade A talent is seriously ratcheting up, many folks (including corporate Executives) believe they know the solution to sourcing the talent they need. Yet few, if any, really understand the skill(s) and experience required to accomplish this or are willing to pay for this expertise.

    Like Gretzky made playing hockey look easy or Tom Brady makes throwing touchdowns look routine or Rinaldo makes a soccer ball look like it’s on a string, a great Sourcer is a specialist who makes bringing top talent to the table look magical (whatever sourcing channel or techniques they employ).

    And this is where I agree with Chris….as professionals within the search game, we have done a poor job in promoting and/or supporting the value of sourcing to our corporate recruitment efforts. Just because I can try to self-diagnose myself with WebMd or some such site on the internet, doesn’t make me a Doctor. Just because Executives can learn about all the possible sourcing tools out there, THEY ARE NOT SOURCERS! Nor do they understand the investment, talent and patience required to implement a great sourcing model within their recruitment departments.

    Anything we can do to help Corporations better their perspective on our profession, I’m all for it.

  11. I am more of a passive Sourcer these days due to the fact that I am in TA leadership with a large org. I am the main driver of internal sourcing and built the function from scratch as a true, passionate believer in searching for talent and not waiting for them to apply.

    Technology has changed things as we know it. I started out training recruiters on Boolean… moved over to social recruiting…. I then realized that we moved away from the phones and needed to refocus.

    We were a group that was successfully reliant on phone sourcing for many years. As social networks such as LI became more popular and the team evolved, we moved away from the phones. I blame myself. I pushed so hard for the team to stay on top of technology, that I miss communicated my message. Starting the second half of 2010 I realized I need to reemphasize the importance of getting on the phone and speaking directly to passive talent not just sending them a email/inmail.

    At the beginning of my career, I started out on the phones and added technology to my repertoire as online tool developed. It was never an either or for me, it shouldn’t be a great divide of Internet sourcers vs phone sourcers. Great sourcers use both well. It is simple; use the tools that make sense for the search.Unfortunately, many less experienced sourcers don’t have the training or resources to phone source effectively.

    On a side note. NEVER LOWER the bar! Raise it and stay relevant! Do be realistic of the economy and trends of the marketplace and adjust accordingly. Lowering your rate for a client in the short term can give them the opportunity to see your talent in action and build a groundwork for a long, fruitful relationship.

    As far as bringing in new sourcers to the profession, think of it in the same prospective as any search. In some cases we need to find talent that may come with strong potential, less experience and I turn a lower price tag.

    Chris, I like your pay it forward attitude and the council sounds like a great idea.
    Hat tip to Maureen- Thanks for pointing out this article.

  12. Good insights Chris, but I have to be honest with you: companies will always RIF the Sourcers first, as long as they have such low esteem for the value of the profession – and such low esteem for the value of their employees on the whole. This is a much larger problem, native to the current Corporate management policies across the board.

    This is really part of a larger problem that incorporates the Peter Principle, Cronyism and a lack of understanding of the value of talent development. The few companies that truly value talent are not struggling to ramp up when the economy turns up.

    I applaud your efforts and hope you are successful, but I am convinced that it’s a dead end.

    Ultimately, great companies are made up of great people with great attitudes and great drive for their professions. You don’t have that, if the company arbitrarily kicks 15% of it’s people out the door as soon as the road gets rocky.

    1. I am sorry that you feel this way -Needless to say, I completely disagree. If we can show value (that is the key), then we will have a seat at the table.

  13. I think Sourcing must follow the accounting rule of LIFO – last in first out. Sophisticated Online/Internet/DigitalMedia Sourcing is the newest add on to the world of recruiting so it has been the first to go when companies are cutting. If a function cannot show strong justification to impacting the bottom line it will be on the chopping block radar. So yes we do need better metrics in the sourcing world – a challenging & tediuos task given the variety we deal with but the best of the best have done it.

    Online or phone go hand in hand in. You can source online but to truly engage you have to pick up the phone. I like the holistic approach when working a project. There is no only this or only that approach. I work for a Third party firm and we use everything we can lay our hands on. We have specialised teams of phone researchers, online sourcers and candidate developers and together the project is successful. TEAM WORK ROCKS! Why doesn’t corporate HR see that? I believe it is a perception and mindset of the senior management, not necessary that in the HR Executive groups. A paradigm shift is strongly called for!!

    1. Hi Ruth -I agree, if sourcing wants to be taken seriously then it needs to step to the table with a well articulated value statement. If we can’t -it deserves to be cut first

  14. Real sourcing takes creativity and innovation, In what has become a production driven economy, targeted recruiting doesn’t count. This means it is important that the numbers are kept high.

    With “targeted” recruiting or “real recruiting” there needs to be “real sourcing”. With production driven recruiting, there needs to be lots of candidates to call, so “real sourcing” is cut or traded for “volume sourcing”. Metrics are twisted and interpreted to mean/show high production or lack of it–there is only one metric measured.

    What results is the wrong people in the wrong jobs on a massive basis. This ultimately results in high turnover, poor workmanship, and chaos.

  15. It looks like I’m a bit late to the party here, but I do have a few points on this. Many of us found ourselves in the recruiting space as a career because somewhere along the line we discovered that we’re half-decent at finding, attracting, and placing good people with good companies… whether that be 3rd party or corporate. Further, for those of us who held onto our jobs during a dreadful economy, we proved our worth before and during said bad economy in various ways. Many of us probably started looking for folks on Monster when we got started in the business; and then we discovered various internet tools; and then we realized we could do it the time draining but effective way by picking up the phone. I suppose that order can be reversed depending on how you were trained (by yourself or otherwise).

    I say all of that to say this: There is a vast majority of those in the recruiting/talent world who don’t work for companies with 10k + employees. A vast majority of us work for small to medium size businesses and our recruiting team is small. I have a team of myself plus 2 1/2 people. I say “1/2” because I’m given other employees time to help me out even if recruiting is not their main job (although, I’m excited about being able to hire an intern that will be 100% recruiting oriented).

    So what about us in this fairly large category? I don’t have a dedicated team of ‘sourcers’. If I’m going to do some good ‘ol fashioned head-hunting, its going to have to be 100% by me. Therefore, the avenue that sometimes lends itself as overall being less effective is, in fact, more time effective…. and thats the internet (and trust me, I’m not a social media guy by any stretch). However, finding names/contact of prospective candidates can be done on the internet. I know we have a few phone/name sourcers contributing to these comments but thats what they do for a living… source names in ways companies typically won’t/don’t… and thats great. However, how you source people basically comes down to one thing: Did you fill the job with the right person? Whether you’re looking on Linked-In, CareerBuilder, calling a referral, calling a competitor, calling your Mom, or tweeting about Dancing w/ the Stars when you’re dream candidate suddenly responds… it all comes down to the results.

    So instead of naming one avenue as better than the other, I hope we can all agree that a balanced attack based on the time and resources available to us is the best approach… whatever that may be as long as we filled the job w/ the right candidate.

    OK, I’m off my soap box. Ha, to the point, Chris is right on point and I think its a great idea.

    1. Hi Scott -I think that is spot on. A vast majority of sourcing happens outside of the fortune 500. I want this group to be inclusive of all company sizes and a resource for anyone

  16. Kudos Chris. I love your idea.

    If anything, today more than ever a dedicated sourcing function is a necessity, especially for companies who need to keep and nourish a pipeline of candidates. We fool ourselves into thinking that the internet has made it ‘easy’ now to find people, when in fact there are SO many places and ways to find people online that is has become a serious time-guzzler – and that’s even before someone gets on the phone and has to make multiple attempts to talk to people. Time is money, so having someone dedicated to sourcing, whether it’s broken down into internet sourcing or phone sourcing, can make the difference between filling a job or not.

  17. Several years ago Hewitt, prior to their purchase of Exult, outsourced their sourcing to RTA, LLC.

    A 25 year recognized leader in off line sourcing.

    I may have to reach out to Chris & share some of that history to him.

    The cost of building an internal team with off-line expertise can be cost prohibitive….. v

  18. True sourcing has always been (and will always be) about engaging with your audience and building long-term value add relationships. It is simply impossible to build those relationships overnight and they will definitely not endure unless you add value to the relationship. We should use the technology that is available to us as tools to assist us with our engagement (disseminating information, staying engaged and connected) but soley depending on them I agree is a huge mistake.

    I think when we use the tools (LinkedIN, Twitter Facebook etc.) simply as a means of advertizing positions we have open then we are failing our networks. But by engaging with them, adding value to them and using these tools as drivers to build meaningful relationship there is exponetial opportunity to source through them. What the tools allow us to do is take our relatively regional sourcing ability and really expand it globably.

    I’d love to engage with your group if possible and contribute to your plan if possible.

  19. Thanks Maureen for the invite on ERE to visit this fascinating thread. First I want to say why I became a sourcer/researcher… because I found it to be the place companies and recruiters struggled with the most and a place I felt my detail orientation and “critical thinking” skills could add the most value. That was 1997 and I have never looked back. I have had my own firm since 2001 and supported major organizations and search firms since.

    I think that curiosity is something instilled at a very young age. The best sourcers/researchers are people like Chris Gould who started this thread that wonder and aren’t afraid to ask… Who are the people we need to recruit? What are the common threads for successful people in this field? What do they value? Where are they now? Why do we think they will be a fit? When was the field /company/org established? and How do we get a chance to talk to them?

    Critical thinking comes when you apply what you already know to a new situation. I call it the process of induction… when new information becomes available what do you do with it? When I worked with my executive coach Erl Morrell Stinson we mapped my decision making process and found very interesting things out…

    Any decision starts with what you already know or your knowledge base… for me when I identify gaps in knowledge I seek information from reliable sources and then “induct” that information into the information I already possess. To me that is where the “critical thinking” happens. Because it allows me to weigh the new info with what my life experiences and existing knowledge have brought me and accept or reject it in the induction process.

    This is a step MANY miss… they do not challenge what they already know and identify knowledge gaps so they miss the opportunity to add new information. They get stuck… In a career where I have been asked to conduct research/sourcing efforts after others have worked for months and yes sometimes even years to identify talent… it is this simple step and Chris I do believe it can be taught… for my team I ask difficult questions of them to the point where they can pre-empt me and bring possible solutions. When this happens I know they are thinking through their previous experiences with me and now know what I will ask of them, so they begin to ask the questions themselves instead of me.

    A great book I recommend is Leading with Questions by Michael Marquardt that teaches effective questioning without making people intimidated or inadequate. It’s a very powerful tool in getting people to learn critical thinking….

  20. Hello, This is a fascinateing thread. I have been doing Sourcing/Recruiter roles for 20 years. I learned early in my career to stick to the basics. The Internet is a fantastic resource and tool but you still need to do the basics! “I always tell new recruiters and Sourcers, ‘Chair to Thy Rear, Phone to Thy ear and candidates will appear! Pick up the phone and talk!

    Bob Corbin

  21. Chris – great points and great responses! I’m interested in the discussion, so count me in. I’ll toss in these two cents which helps to make your larger point about becoming our own worse enemies: Without an integrated connection to the company of record, sourcing and recruiting, regardless of approach/technique, is a hit or miss proposition. As such, sourcing and recruiting can be subject to uneven reviews and we, as a community, can get a bad rap.

    My observation is that talk about ‘back to the basics’ of recruiting often focus on techniques for candidate identification, qualification, etc.; but my experience suggests that a nuanced understanding of the particular company is critical for successful sourcing and recruiting. For me, the successfully managed business connection makes talent acquisition (which must include sourcing) significantly more efficient.

    I’m still astonished at how piecemeal talent acquisition models continue to plague some corporations and waste talented sourcers because they don’t begin with the end in mind. One result can appear to be ‘throwing paper’ against an opening when the real culprit is a lousy model, poor communication and lack of knowledge regarding the fundamentals of that particular companies’ real needs. Another result can be mediocre hires because the pool of possibilities was shallow.

    Finding people can be a cool trick, but finding the RIGHT people is only possible when you have a integrated understanding of the particular company and a resulting go to market (sourcing) strategy.

  22. Just reading the article Chris and I love the idea of standard approach to sourcing. I think we spend too much time trying to adjust and please and learn the hottest new tool Don’t get me wrong are important but until we truly define the value of sourcing we will always spend time defending the function and chasing our tails. The concept of sourcing and talent pools/pipeline is critical to any company’s success so we need to leverage that concept and create a “product” that creates value. That is exactly what Monster did with resume database, what linkedin is doing with their product and what agencies have done for years

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