Help Me Help You

Always the same old reprieve, “You should do full-cycle recruiting. You would make so much more money!” Sometimes it gets a little harsher and sounds like this: “You’re a fool not to do full-cycle recruiting. You would make so much more money!”

No, I wouldn’t. I don’t want to do full-cycle recruiting. I don’t have the patience for the human emotion thing that goes on in it. I spent the first half of my career catering to the whims and desires of others. I’m not about to finish it with a flourish in the full-cycle recruiting business.

This I know about myself. I no longer choose to place my fate on the decisions made by fickle and easily influenced job-seekers, overtaxed recruiting representatives, and uncommunicative and hard-to-please hiring managers.

I hear it all the time. Poor communication, disappointing 11th-hour decisions, hard-to-fathom behavioral issues all trotted out on a daily basis on the ERE message boards. I fell into sourcing by accident; once I muddied my shoes, I knew I had found a place to call home. I never looked back. That was 10 years ago.

My solution was to focus on sourcing.

Some of you are wondering “What the heck is sourcing?” As I define it, it is:

Names Sourcing: the finding of people who hold specific titles (usually) within specific organizations so that you, as a recruiter, may contact them and offer them your opportunity. They may be an active candidate, meaning their information is “out there” and who are currently looking for another opportunity. Or their name may be generously spilled across the Internet for reasons usually well-known to them and apparent to the rest of the world. This type is usually easier to find because of the Internet exposure. They may also be the other kind, or the kind we telephone sourcers pry out of their hidden spaces. A passive candidate is the one (usually) of more interest, the one not currently looking for an opportunity, the one busily going about the daily routine of the job you need to fill. The likelihood is, when contacted, this passive candidate will be extremely flattered you took the time to find him and will listen, many times attentively, to what you have to say.

This article will educate recruiters as to what we sourcers need from you. As a “Sourceress,” I am also interested in hearing, in your comments back on this article, what we sourcers can do to help you most effectively.

Article Continues Below

Once in a while, an enlightened recruiter will ask, “What can I do to help you?” Such a person understands the challenges inherent in my work and wants to help me because ultimately, it will result in a better outcome for the recruiter.

Recently, a recruiter sent me a job with the target companies in it along with the numbers for the offices of the geographic regions he wanted me to contact people in. He even had researched the companies and told me what the names of the “groups” I would find his people in; you don’t mind peeling the onion a little further on jobs like these when the customer has done everything he can to put you inside an organization. As for the question, “Well, given all this work, why couldn’t they contact these people directly?” Good question: why do you think they don’t?

But they are rare, these enlightened types. In the spirit of enlightenment, review the following list of suggestions to let you know what kind of information you can provide us sourcers that will help us to help you. The following is a checklist I send to my new (and not-so-new) customers as a reminder:

For the first job. If you’re a new customer, include your contact information (including your full billing information). Also, sign and return the “Agreement for Services” form that I sent you.

On all jobs. To get started, you need to provide:

  1. The job description.
  2. A list of alternative titles these people may carry.
  3. Who these people report up to in the food chain.
  4. Any names you might already have; this avoids duplicated efforts and gets me in faster.
  5. A target list of companies you want me to penetrate. If you don’t have one, please expect that I will send you one that I expect you to approve before I get started. If you don’t have one, explain fully what your expectations are for the type of work the people you want me to find for your positions will be doing. Also, tell me whether your company has any “hands-off” agreements with any potential companies.
  6. Any geographic limitation you’d like to see imposed, if any, on the search results.
  7. What you know about the habits of the prey. What do they read? What conferences might they attend? Who do they talk to everyday? What are they like?
  8. Anything else you view as important and that you think I have a need to know.

I hope this offers a better understanding of the sourcing process. In the future, I will contribute other articles on sourcing that lifts the veil somewhat on the subject and gives you a glimpse into a process that has the potential to blow the roof off your recruiting results!

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!


7 Comments on “Help Me Help You

  1. Glad to see new articles regarding this industry. Articles like this really are awesome as they indeed have impact as to how we can all better serve each other.

    ERE thanks for Adding Maureen to your Authors List —

    Maureen thanks for the piece. Very enlightening.


  2. Thanks for an enlightening article – would like to see more on your processes as a sourcer, tips for getting in, etc.

  3. This article is something that I always believed in. I’ve always said that you need to be a good sourcer/sourcess if you want to be a good recruiter. This is an article I’m forwarding to everyone in my org. A nice one……worth giving some time to read

  4. The following just turned up on the Sourcers Unleashed group on Yahoo. It is another sourcer?s interpretation of the effectiveness of names sourcing and it succinctly tells a story:

    Jami, In response to your question: ‘So where is the line of demarcation to fairly evaluate the work quality (not quantity) of both the sourcers and recruiters? Is it possible? ‘

    Having been both a Recruiter and now a full time Sourcer I think I can answer your question. From a sourcing point of view quality should be measured by how accurate the information provided matches what was asked for. For example, if I am asked to identify Audit Managers out of CPA firms in the Chicago area and I give you a list of 50 names, your recruiters will easily be able to tell you about the quality of my work. Either the 50 names fit the criteria or they did not. Now if your search is calling for an Audit Manager who is a CPA with at least 10 years of experience overall and 5 years experience supervising a group of 4+ employees, this is not the type of list that a Name Sourcer is going to give you. Of the 50 names I gave you on the list of Audit Managers in CPA firms in the Chicago area, maybe half will actually be CPA’s and half of those may have the minimum required amount of experience you are looking for. But determining education levels, certifications and years of specific experience is a recruiting function not a sourcing function. So it is entirely possible that I gave you a list that is 100% accurate per the criteria I was given yet less than 25% of those names will meet the requirements of your search. The whole point is to ask for enough quantity from the Name Sourcer so that your Recruiters can pull out a satisfactory slate of candidates from that list.

    What often happens is that the name sourcer is given criteria that is too general or too vague. A good name sourcer will not start a project until the criteria is specific enough so that the quality of the results can be easily and accurately measured once the recruiters start calling through the list. Another problem is that not enough quantity was asked for to ensure a reasonable good chance that a qualified candidate can be found within the given list. If you only ask for 20 – 25 names that may not be enough to ensure filling out a slate of qualified candidates to present to your
    client. As far as quantity goes a good name sourcer should be able to produce on average 4 – 5 on target names per hour of assigned research.

    I often find with my Corporate Clients that they initially have unrealistic expectations of name sourcing. I have learned over time that it is critical to ask a lot of questions and get specific target companies and target titles that I am going to source and also to make sure that my client has realistic expectations of the list that I am going to produce for them.

    Tom Cook
    T.A.Cook Associates
    Ph# 847-462-0333
    Fax# 847-462-0373

  5. Another Answer: I totally agree with your assessment. Having been a Names Sourcer for the past ten years I have come upon the same set of problems you have outlined. Sourcing and Candidate Development (Pre-screening/qualifying) are totally separate
    functions, with two different pricing structures.

    In researching, what quickly becomes clear, is that setting and agreeing to the parameters of your search is paramount. I also create a dialog (which I submit to the recruiter prior to beginning the search) that will both help me locate the appropriate candidate by title or job function and allow the recruiter to make any adjust in direction that he may deem necessary. When partnering with the recruiter in this way, he/she has an opportunity to help me navigate to the right department and the most appropriate candidate(s). It also serves as great clarifier in any potential dispute over what had been requested at the outset.

    Your suggestions of a quantity of 4-5 names per hour given today’s technology is also very realistic. In the years before centralized switchboards and totally automated phone systems that quota was as high as 7-8 because a good Sourcer could talk their way
    past most gatekeepers. Now we must lean more heavily on the Internet to provide names into a corporation or reveal creative avenues of infiltration, all of which takes considerably more time to accomplish. Cold calling will always give the best result when seeking passive candidates, however.

    I think some Corporate clients unrealistic expectations may come, in part, from those Sourcers who simply generate a flow of names through Internet Harvesting or outdated databases. It’s easy to capture 100 names from a database or the Internet. However, it is my contention that most databases more than 6 months old will contain enough errors to render them obsolete and names culled from the Internet can be 3-5 years old. It’s no wonder recruiters feel they have been ripped off. No name should ever be forwarded to a client that has not been either obtained or verified the day it was sent. Any thing else is irresponsible.

    One last thought. Any working relationship benefits from the trust that is established over time. I would advise any client to find a researcher who gives them the best value for their research dollar and stick with them. That way, we all win.

    Bonnie Boyd
    Boyd Research Services

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