Choking On the Firehose

When I first started names sourcing I used to think to myself, “I wish there was a database of names with titles.”

In fact, I used to do wistful dogpile and altavista searches that looked something like this:

“Hewlett Packard” “employee list”

or this:

“Hewlett Packard” employees

You get the idea.

That was back in 1996.

Once in a great while I’d get lucky and something would come up but not usually.

I’d search for something — anything — that could get me inside of a company and then I’d call and bounce around until I got the information I was tasked to find.

It’s pretty much what I do (still) today.

Someone called me a “dying breed” on the Recruiting Animal show the other day because I use the telephone.

I’m okay with that.

In fact, I’m glad to be recognized as such because in this dying I am experiencing a rebirth.

More of that in a bit — let’s get back to the late 90s in this industry.

I’d lie awake nights (and keep my long-suffering husband Bob awake) thinking and kvetching at him why we didn’t build our own database.

“These are people out there in the workforce who aren’t going away, Bob. They might move to other companies but establishing their presence, right now — right here — has tremendous value!” I’d wail.

“Do you know how much work that is?” seemed to be the main outcry from him, but what it really addressed was that neither one of us had the know-how to put the thing together.

Then social networking evolved and sites like MySpace appeared. Memberships in that graduated into Facebook and a whole host of imitators.

LinkedIn recognized the value in establishing a workforce database and it arose on the horizon.

Today, every sourcer’s dream is realized of having a database — a list — of names to draw from.

Never mind that the “lists” still represent only a fraction of what’s out there. It’s enough of a dream realized that the ordinarily discerning are willing to be undiscerning.

They’ll be able to go on with the blankets pulled up over their heads until — well, until they won’t be able to any longer, and that time is fast approaching.

I got an email recently from a software vendor that said, “The initial outreach to a candidate has the largest drop-off in the whole recruiting process.

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The email, touting a webinar that would teach you how to not waste the opportunity in that critical first-touch to a potential candidate (found online), was really a clever marketing campaign to obtain more customers for the company’s product.


This vendor recognizes that no matter the number of “names” available online, if you can’t handle the rush you can’t handle the results.

That’s where many recruiting departments are today.

They’re glutted on “names” they find on LinkedIn but they don’t know what to do with them.

They don’t know how to approach them.

They’re drowning in frustration.

I wrote a 5-part series in May here on ERE about How to Connect With People. Part V is here and there are links to the previous four parts at the bottom of that page.

I hope you enjoy it and can use it in your organizations.

Getting back to my “rebirth”: We’re very busy these days “profiling” candidates. Companies need manpower that knows how to talk to people and who can engage the “name” in discussion regarding opportunities.

Many recruiting departments and organizations don’t know how to approach someone who is not really “looking” for a job — someone who has not sent their resume in over the transom.

They don’t know how to read between the lines of a 100% filled-out LinkedIn profile or they don’t recognize the signs of an online contributor who lists everything about himself including his name, title, email, and number!

Organizations are filled with people who are afraid of rejection.

Social media is evolving again and where it’s going will only take you if you know how to talk to people — in real time.

The bus is leaving. Are you on it?

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 “Choking On the Firehose

  1. I maintain, Maureen, the best way to stay alive/relevant in today’s, or any day’s, recruiting environment is the ability to find and approach candidates your client can’t.
    The moment they can, they don’t need me.

    The hardest part of my job today is not knowing if my client has urgency to seriously fill their position, or is using me to give them candidate coverage as a backup on positions in case their inside HR person’s candidates or efforts are unsuccessful. I’m definitely competing with corporate HR. But I don’t ever know if it’s an honest competition, or they’re happy to fill the position with someone they find not necessarily superior for fee avoidance, no matter what they say.

    Enjoy your pieces.

  2. Hi Maureen,

    “The bus is leaving. Are you on it?”
    I consider any day lucky when I’m not thrown under it!


  3. @keith..hilarious 🙂

    Maureen is right, if you can’t talk/convince candidates the names are useless

  4. @Mack: Thanks, Mack….
    You could say that talking/convincing is actually “recruiting” as opposed to sourcing.


  5. I have always been a “phone guy” so I must be part of that “dying breed”. I have always told my recruiters and my network partners that it is very easy to hit the delete key and ignore you on emails, in-mails, connection requests, etc. but it is much more difficult for them to hang up on you on a phone call, especially when you may have something of interest.

    Just my $0.02 ($0.01 after taxes)


  6. I just had a conversation today with a candidate I connected with on Linkedin. His successful recruitment will be instrumental in the award of a piece of work worth about $50 Million to my employer. The candidate called me after receiving my in-mail. That being said, as a Recruiter it is much harder for me to hang up on a candidate when he calls me rather than the other way around. In this case, it actually gave me a distinct psychological advantage. I mean, when a candidate calls YOU about a job doesn’t that eliminate the need to “pull the blanket up over your head?”

    As I have always maintained in my comments on Maureen’s articles. The phone is still an instrumental part of recruiting; however, it is an even more powerful tool when combined with the use of social media.

    Discouraging the use of social media – ahem – rather bad mouthing it as Maureen has a tendency to do, continues to chink her armour. The world is not going to change for you Maureen. Social media is here to stay and IS an effective recruiting tool.

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