Let’s Be Honest: You Can Automate Sourcing

When the “as-a-service” concept launched, it caused a major disruption as it took tasks that are common within an industry vertical and offered it in a way that leveled the playing field for all. By standardizing all common back and front office components, software-as-a-service vendors (such as Salesforce, Marketo) have freed sales-driven organizations from the drudgery of lead tracking, qualification, and sales pipeline management processes and allowed them to focus on honing in on the art of selling. Can this same model be created to level the talent sourcing playing field?

Talent sourcing — “sourcing” for short — contains a number of regular tasks that are common, mundane, and can be easily automated, outsourced, and wrapped in as-a-service platform to create sourcing-as-a-service. This platform would bring state of the art sourcing to all recruiters and would cease to make sourcing a core differentiating advantage. This development should be good news to all recruiters as the sourcing-as-a-service platform would leave them time to concentrate on the truly human aspect of sourcing such as understanding client needs, culture, developing relationship with talent, and closing the job req.

How the Software-as-a-Service Model Disrupted the Industry

Let’s back up for a minute and take a look at why the software-as-a-service model was created. When the SaaS model became mainstream, it created a fundamental operational change that was accompanied with a restructuring on how sales teams are organized; in other words, cheaper reps qualifying customers and booking appointments for more expensive account managers, or “closers,” to seal the deal with a customer. This combination of sales tasks specialization and its accompanying software component yielded fresh new heights of performance in sales teams across many industries.

SaaS at its core is a simple delivery model that takes the common activities, processes, and software along with best practices in an industry and aggregates them in a centralized delivery unit. Because this unit is able to accommodate an infinite number of participants who are constantly sending feedback, the software is always up to date.

SaaS strategically produced three distinct and disrupting changes in the industries it touched:

  • Back-office stopped being a competitive advantage. Having a better CRM, lead management process, or more recent version of the software with industry best practices baked in, stopped being a strategic competitive advantage and became table stakes.
  • By reducing the cost of doing business, SaaS has lowered barriers of entries and allowed smaller, more specialized players to participate. The proliferation of viable hyper-specialized players is good news for the end-user who now has viable alternatives to large multi-purpose incumbents.
  • It simply upped everybody’s game. The model made everyone concentrate on their core business, be that manufacturing, re-seller, etc.  In a nutshell, it made them better!

With this specialization of the sales process came the change in the competitive landscape among sales-driven organizations. The days of a unique sales process having a stronger effect on a company’s performance are almost extinct. Indeed, the differentiating factor between a great sales organization and poor ones is their ability to relate to the customer and get their company’s product on the right hands, not the ability to track leads or the sales funnels. SaaS has been a great equalizer that has elevated the playing field of all participants. ATSs/CRMs have brought many of these benefits to the back office of the recruiting industry. However, that leaves much more to be done in the front office with recruiting and namely sourcing.

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The Future of SaaS in Sourcing

Every recruiter I have spoken with can break down their sourcing process into atomic, indivisible, comprehensively exhaustive and repeatable tasks.  If this exercise is possible, then it should be possible to automate the entire supply chain with a combination of software and outsourcing or crowdsourcing.  The natural conclusion of assembling such a platform is that state-of-the-art sourcing would not be a differentiating advantage any longer. If anybody can set it up or buy it, then it becomes your stake in the ground. Using technical recruiting as an example, this thought exercise yields the following insights:

  • All the sources of people data are the same and available to all: LinkedIn, Github, StackOverflow, and personal blogs (plus social networks, sometimes).
  • There are plenty of “people” search tools out there, many of which are roughly equal or will be shortly. They all source from the same places, so it is just a matter of time before indexing and identity attribution is table stakes. [Note to the enterprising reader:  You can even rent your own web crawlers nowadays and set up your own candidate search tool!]
  • The bits that are not computable such as accurately identifying someone or reaching out to them can be solved with labor outsourcing. For less than $2,000/month you can have very talented people working for you full time finding data, making a short list, pre-qualifying candidates, setting up interview appointments, doing cold outreach, etc.

A platform that aggregates, automates, and operationalizes all sourcing tasks would result in a reliable stream of candidates with complete information on them and significant cost and time savings to all. With a reliable stream of candidates recruiters can then spend more making sure their candidate/employer matches are a better fit, understanding their clients’ culture, hiring process, and anticipating future people demand.

Sourcing is an information discovery problem that has been solved with the aid of computers many times over. Personal information is getting more disseminated, not aggregated. Very soon a subscription to LinkedIn Recruiter and canned emails will not be enough to supply you with quality candidate flow. Advanced crawling tools along with a streamlined outreach and vetting process will be the norm. It will be at that point that sourcing-as-a-service will be most beneficial and will elevate the recruiting profession to new heights of efficiency.

Manny Medina is the CEO of GroupTalent, a platform that developers and designers use to connect with employers based on preferences and availability. Find him on Twitter @medinism or https://grouptalent.com/blog/


43 Comments on “Let’s Be Honest: You Can Automate Sourcing

  1. Definitely interesting. I think such tools will develop over the next few years to be very useful. But there’s always the subset of candidates, which can be very large at times, whose information is not obtainable via the web. I think that group of people will dwindle as current generations who have grown up with the internet will move out of the workforce. For now though I think there will remain a need to augment any such sourcing tool with other methods to try and get the people who aren’t reachable/obtainable via the web.

  2. Thanks, Manny. Very well-said. A number of years ago, John Sumser stated: “Pretty-good sourcing gets better and better.”
    This has continued to be true. Furthermore, I am willing to guess that the harder the person is to find, the less likely they are to be able to be quickly and easily recruited. I also believe that fewer and fewer searches will require the high-level, deep sourcing that Maureen and Irina do so well. I think we’re moving to a world where you can quickly find and reach out to virtually anyone you’d want, but hardly any of them will respond to you, because you have nothing THEY want. The key is to go after the people you reasonably can find and get, instead of looking for “supermodels” or “purple squirrels” (https://staging.ere.net/2013/02/15/recruiting-supermodels-and-a-tool-to-help-you-do-it/)


  3. I guess I am going to be the only “naysayer” in the group but I really don’t think “sourcing” in its purest sense shouldn’t be relegated to “tools”. I guess I come from another generation where true sourcing — not internet scraping — belongs with REAL in-house sourcers. Scraping is OK for starters but I think it’s a cop-out for the in-house recruiters we have today who are mostly junior in experience and spend their time doing “employment”.

  4. @Jacque: I’m right there with you.

    @Manny: This type of internet sourcing is only as effective as an individual’s online presence. I use an internet sourcer to help me in some of my projects and if a person doesn’t have the “right” keywords on their profiles she is unable to locate them as a possible candidate for me. No technology will ever be able to take the place of good old fashioned phone networking and phone pirating.

  5. The person that has been driving this debate and stirred the conversation in Europe is Bill Boorman, who recently posted a discussion about how the future may consist of redundancy of in-house recruiters. The ensuing debate went wide and far and I believe you Keith Halperin was part of it. OK so we are coming to a point of a massive improvement in tools that can help the subject along and provide solutions. The tools are not simply becoming better, but have learnt from the early versions meaning that they are know so much more sophisticated and able that just 12 months ago. They can now not only search and extract information from a résumé, but can include and cross reference with social media profiles and presence. The Europe equivalent to Boolean Black Belt Glen Cathey, Jonathan Campbell of Socialtalent exclaimed in a recent attended event TruLondon 8 that he believed that tools are now so sophisticated and able that in fact the days of Boolean searches are soon a thing of the past.
    However and in deepest respect for the tools available and the abilities of Artificial Intelligence, what they cannot do and what IS the differentiator is reading nuances.
    Nuances is what makes people and nuances is what determines whether a good fit or a great fit. At the same time nuances are those that give us an understanding and insight into whether a candidate may be a strong culture fit, and as much as this that and the other can be extracted from say social media and what a candidate says, does, follows, likes etc. it cannot tell you the whole story. If we look at something like psychometric tests they can show elements about a person that are prevalent at that given time, in respect to where and how a candidate may be at that given time. We are however here talking about people that as it is known are a pretty unpredictable lot at times, and what may appear to be how a candidate is and display traits about,may in fact not at all be the case. What is extracted and interpreted may (or may not) be the ‘true picture’ and being all dependent a number of factors.
    What I am saying here is that tools will evolve and become better and better and take away some elements of sourcing, but as with so much else they will not be able to prove the most crucial answers and insight that is often the differentiator as to why a candidate being a match with a role.

  6. Very interesting article. As a former recruiter, I would say that one of the toughest parts of the job is making the “match”. Job descriptions like resumes are only as good as how they are written. With today’s huge volume of resumes flowing into a company’s ATS, the ability to use software to sift through hundreds if not thousands of resumes is a major advantage! Many of my customers are using Monster’s SeeMore product to sort through their existing candidate pool to come up with a short list of candidates to call and also add insight into their current talent pool. What once took hours now takes literally seconds.

    As of today, the one piece of the equation that I don’t think you can truly automate is the intangible skills of a job seeker. A piece of paper or profile cannot demonstrate a seeker’s passion, enthusiasm and if they are a match for your corporate culture but as you mentioned with more automation this should free up time for a recruiter to make sure their candidate/employer matches are a better fit, understanding their clients’ culture, hiring process, and anticipating future people demand.

  7. @Keith, @Richard thank you!

    @Carol Agreed that humans cannot be replaced. However things like inferences of the type “if he does A he would for sure do B” and outreach can also be done by a human who is more cost effective than you are – think of a smart personable recent college grad for instance who can take of these identifying and calling tasks off your plate and spend time only on those candidates who are a good fit for your search.

    @Jacob completely agree. We have reached a point however that all the tools and processes can be combined into one single offering that gives you the best sourcing weaponry leaving you with the inherently human task of match making. It is more of a “let’s harvest what we know works” argument as supposed to “let’s try to replace the humans”

    @Alex a candidate in an ATS or a website is almost useless information. A recruiter has NO IDEA whether that candidate is available. Is like a using a phonebook to buy a house, instead of the MLS: you know the address of the house you want but you have no idea whether it’s on sale. The trick is to find a cost effective way to outreach to candidates and get responses back and – I agree with you on this one – the match making portion of it.

  8. @ Jacque: As someone who is frequently hired as a sourcer (either just as a sourcer or as part of A-Z recruiting), I know it is vital to find people, through whatever means. I also think there will be an ongoing need for highly-skilled individuals who can ferret out the really-hard-to-find that others can’t get. However, I think you’ll not need to use these folks very often, as Career X-Roads said: only 6.8% of hires were directly sourced by the responders. Let’s say *half of these could be through-sourced (automated) or out-sourced (sent away), so only 3.4% or 1/29 hires need to be deep-sourced. As a FT recruiter, I often have 20-25 reqs. I haven’t been hired as an exclusively deep-sourcer, so my following numbers may be off, but let’s say a deep sourcer can handle 8 positions effectively (1/hr) at once. To keep a deep-sourcer (who I think should be paid at least $50/hr for their services) fully busy, a company would need to have: 8 reqs/sourcer x 29 reqs (the 1 out of 29 reqs suitable for the deep sourcer to work on) or 232 open reqs. I think there are a relatively small number (under 1,000, perhaps?) of companies with this many reqs on an ongoing basis.
    BOTTOM LINE:: there isn’t a need for many FT inhouse deep-sourcers, and the need is likely to decrease over time, as described above.

    Finally, I wonder if it would be relatively easily to train experienced skip-tracers (whose job is to find people who don’t want to be found) in the additional skills needed for deep-sourcing? These folks don’t make much money….

    Skip Tracer Salary Statistics as of 2013 (http://jobstat.net/jobs/skip-tracer/)
    Average annual salary for a Skip Tracer is $27937 based on statistics in the U.S. as of 2013. The highest salary recorded was $55752. The lowest salary reported was $20358.
    These figures will vary on a state to state basis as these are averages across all 50 states.


    @ Carol; To rephrase Manny- do you need to pay someone $50/hr to interpret whether or not someone should be prescreened? I don’t think so…

    @Jacob: Thank you for the “shout-out”. I’ll re-state my position: there will a continuing need for high-level sophisticated recruiting skills: mentoring, advising, improving hiring procedures, CLOSING, etc. However, much of our work are low-level, low-touch, low-value add taks that should be “tran-sourced”: no-sourced (eliminated), through-sourced (automated per: Manny), or out-sourced (sent-away), like the 60-70% of their time that my friend and her recruiting colleagues spent documenting and inputting data. I think the big fear of many recruiters is that we’re making a decent living doing the grunt work (for now), there may not be all that much demand for the high-level stuff,and WHAT IF WE AREN’T VERY GOOD AT THE HIGH-LEVEL STUFF, ANYWAY?

    @ Manny: You’re very welcome.


    *I think it’s a higher percentage, but let’s stick with this for now…

  9. @Keith and Manny: You are both correct. Research is a $20/hour job, so there’s no reason for me to do that. The challenge is always finding a quality researcher and, in my opinion, a quality researcher needs to know how to phone pirate for names. It’s this person who’s hard to locate. Until then I’ll continue to do some of my own phone sourcing.

  10. I’m amusedly watching this exchange thinking to myself, “What do I say to them?”

    I’ve tried to tell them, time and time again.

    Here. I’ll tell you one more time.

    You have to know HOW TO TALK TO PEOPLE.

    Don’t nobody pay attention to those complicated mathematical formulas being offered above as reason not to pursue sourcing as an occupation anymore.

    Sourcing has morphed and I tried to give you all a heads-up months ago.

    This is one of its (most lucrative) variants:


  11. @Carol agree with you that the skill is precious. however if the skill is something you can train someone smart to do – ie if you can translate those skills so that a reasonably smart person can learn it, then you can start down the path of outsourcing. All you have to do is think about how you learn those skills yourselves and train others to perform them.

    @Maureen Talking to people is a skill other people who have a lower hourly rate than a recruiter are ALSO very good at. If you are a recruiter making $80-100K or so a year there is no reason why you should not hire a very competent college graduate at $10-20/hr to do a lot of the talking and screening. As you know from running your own business, they can be trained. do this and boom! you achieve new heights of performance

  12. @ Manny: “…there is no reason why you should not hire a very competent college graduate at $10-20/hr to do a lot of the talking and screening”. Actually there IS a reason- $10-$20/hr IS TOO MUCH. You can get well-trained lead-generators/ appointment-setters for $7-$10/hr- just do a quick internet search…. It is clear to me that not all people can be found by through- and out-sourcing methods, so when you have that really hard-to-fill 1/29 position, that’s when you should call in Maureen, Irina, and other world-class sourcers to do what they do so well. Otherwise, it’s about like renting a Lambo to go pick up the groceries. Another thing: if someone is really hard to find, what makes you think they’ll be any easier to get? I don’t think there are many people hiding away like Rapunzel in her tower saying “Oh, you found me! Of course I’m interested your crappy job at your wannabe company run by deluded and spoiled near-children or arrogant and clueless near-geezers!”


    Keith “A Near-Geezer Myself” Halperin 415.672.7326 c

  13. You are kidding, right? I’ve been on the receiving end of those ‘low cost’ sourcers and phone screeners. I’ve worked along side them. They are really good at virtual paper pushing and endless color coded spreadsheets, with NO real content! A FEW I’ve worked with can’t match a résumé to a job description to save their lives! They don’t understand how to read a job description, or read a résumé and know it has potential to match 4 different open reqs. (How is a software program going to do this?) They end up delaying the process and costing more time to fill in the long run. Automating the lion’s share of sourcing and screening is just going to add more virtual paper pushing and yes, confusion to the process.

    AND, as Maureen pointed out, you have to know how to talk to people. You can hire all the ‘smart’ grads you want, but you can’t teach them how to talk to people and determine cultural matches if they don’t already have that quality by the time they graduate…..

    I know, I know we are trying so hard to reach the Star Trek era of “beam me up, Scotty!” A place where computers, science, and machines will do all our thinking and processing. I have a question. If we make it there, will we ever have any fun? Really?!

  14. @ Brenda: Sorry you haven’t worked with good sourcers- I’ve repeatedly used people who do board-scraping (CB, DICE, Monster) and Internet sourcing. They work on up to 15 req/week and/or 225 resumes. and retail they’re $225/week. They also will obtain up to 100 LI Profile phone and/or emails (you provide or they provide the LI profiles, but they don’t yet have LI Recruiter access)for$100. (You don’t pay for one if they can’t get either the phone or the email). Can these folks do what Maureen or Irina do? Not in a million years, but then I don’t need them to do what Maureen or Irina do.

    Also, I had my recent Virtual Assistant apply for me for new contracts, jobs. etc. I got a number of interviews out of it (I ended up getting renewed), she saved me loads of time, and she cost me $2.44/hr. I’m having her work on a big research project next.

    Finally: “If we make it there, will we ever have any fun? Really?!” Meeting and talking with candidates isn’t my idea of fun, but it takes all types I suppose…. 😉

    Keith “Are We having Fun Yet?” Halperin

  15. Keith, Thanks for the feedback. Paying an assistant $2.44 per hour does not appeal to me – personally. I think people should be paid more, that’s just who I am. I understand that your reqs might not require the excellent skills brought to the table by Maureen and Irina, but a large amount of jobs in this country DO require their skills. Automation would not work for everyone. “Low cost” would not work for everyone.

    We could debate it all day, but I have a lot of fun stuff to do! I get to talk to people today! I LOVE sourcing and recruiting and really do not want to see it go by the way of automated software – but that’s just me.

    Have a GREAT day! Yes, I’m having fun!

  16. Thanks Brenda. I respect your choice to pay American workers 3 or more times the amount to do low-touch, low-value add work,. My preference would be too train millions of Americans in high-touch, high-value add activities that pay a living-wage.
    Here’s an interesting article I just found:


    Here Are The Jobs That Will Survive The Robot Revolution
    Aug. 25, 2013, 9:46 AM

    The question of whether or not robots will harm workers is being discussed with increasing urgency. On the one hand, you have optimists who argue that new technologies always raise the specter of harming workers, but that in the end, those workers find new work, and everyone’s productivity is enhanced.

    Then there are those who say it might be different this time, and that there are actually periods where the advent of a new technology harms workers for a long time.

    Professors David H. Autor and David Dorn have an opinion piece in the New York Times arguing that technology is wrecking the middle class.

    It’s not that robots are taking away jobs per se, but rather that they’re exacerbating inequality by creating two classes of jobs: There are the upper class jobs, which use human creativity and knowledge to leverage the power of computers. Then there are the lower class jobs, which exist not because they are high-skilled, but because they can’t easily be routinized (think: driving a delivery truck or cleaning a hotel room).

    So what kind of middle class jobs will survive the robotics revolution?

    Autor and Dorn argue that jobs requiring some modest combination of technical skill and flexibility:

    Following this logic, we predict that the middle-skill jobs that survive will combine routine technical tasks with abstract and manual tasks in which workers have a comparative advantage — interpersonal interaction, adaptability and problem-solving. Along with medical paraprofessionals, this category includes numerous jobs for people in the skilled trades and repair: plumbers; builders; electricians; heating, ventilation and air-conditioning installers; automotive technicians; customer-service representatives; and even clerical workers who are required to do more than type and file. Indeed, even as formerly middle-skill occupations are being “deskilled,” or stripped of their routine technical tasks (brokering stocks, for example), other formerly high-end occupations are becoming accessible to workers with less esoteric technical mastery (for example, the work of the nurse practitioner, who increasingly diagnoses illness and prescribes drugs in lieu of a physician). Lawrence F. Katz, a labor economist at Harvard, memorably called those who fruitfully combine the foundational skills of a high school education with specific vocational skills the “new artisans.”

    The idea isn’t that everyone should go into these fields. But as we think about general training for the “middle class jobs” of the future, they’re likely to be along these lines.


    Finally Brenda, my rule of thumb is that if it isn’t worth paying somebody in recruiting USD $50+/hr (like building long-term relationships with high-value future candidates, mentoring, advising, improving/streamlining hiring procedures, CLOSING, etc.), you can and probably SHOULD tran-source it for U.S. minimum wage or less. Of course, there are lots of non-economic reasons for doing things, like the company that has loads of college-educated scheduler/coordinators on site paying 8-10x what they could if they had remote people doing it… I think one of the reasons they and other companies like to spend their money that way is it’s hard to look powerful and important in the eyes of your colleagues and superiors if all your resources are out of sight….


  17. The ping pong ball goes back and forth.

    @Keith —- as much as you are commenting on this and other posts when do you find time to work? 🙂 No response is needed . . . or wanted! 🙂

    @Carol, Brenda and Maureen — spot on!

    @All —- no one has commented on whether or not you see recruiters as “strategic” or not. I do and they will become even more so. Read the new 2021 Oxford Economics/Towers Watson study (Google it. Talent acquisition is #1 for business strategy and recruiters have to “step up” to the challenge.

    Can’t understand why no one is mentioning this important point. If you think it is — then try talking to your SW and tell it that:
    1) This is business strategy now what do you think you could do to help us?
    2)50% plus of our hiring will be outside the U.S. — can you help us there given the fact that culture DOES make a difference in what things are put on a resume, how candidates respond to written (and verbal) questions, etc. The SW today is programmed for U.S. culture only.

    3) Your “robot” cannot be re-programmed often enough to keep up with the changes companies are having to make today — much less the tempo and type of changes they will have to make tomorrow.

    My 2 cents — leave SW for filling “core” jobs. We need — and will always need — REAL recruiters IN-HOUSE to understand a company’s business strategy, translate it into workforce plans as to where and what type of jobs need to be hired. Contractors or outsourcing firms will never be as close to the “business” as in-house recruiters SHOULD be.

    The sad thing is that I see people so entranced by SW and the ease with which it can be used — it is not addressing the real issue which is becoming more strategic. The rest of HR is in the same boat. We all look for the magic solution to all problems. I feel the same way about the “ho-cum” that goes with “best practices”.

    And last but not least —- when are we going to stop hiring college grads for recruiting. Is this what we think of the profession?

    Enough said.

  18. @ Jacque: I have a loose and open schedule.
    While we’d like to see ourselves as strategic (and important), I’ve seen a decrease in demand for sr. hands who can call hiring managers on their ****, and an increased demand for perky and enthusiastic “Sr. Recruiters” with 2-3 years of experience who are basically unquestioning, transactional, in-house order takers who can say “Social Media Recruiting”.
    (Perhaps it has always been so, and my colleagues and I are just getting older…)

    While it is very true that we will continue to need strong solid human beings to recruit, the dirty little secrets that doesn’t get often discussed are:
    1) It takes a lot fewer recruiters to staff companies when they’re organized and thoughtful than when they’re not.
    2) Most of what most of what my colleagues and I do should be transourced, like the 60-70% of the time my friend and her colleagues spent having to enter data and document their other 30-40%.
    3) There may not be a tremendous amount of high-touch, high-value add recruiting work out here that companies want to pay for.
    4) A large number of folks making a decent living doing the low-touch, low-value-add work that should be transourced wouldn’t be very good at the strategic stuff.

    I think that’s why I always get a spirited conversation when I talk about this. The people already doing the majority of their work in a high-touch, high-value add strategic mode have nothing to fear; it’s the folks that’re worried that I MIGHT BE RIGHT and their “sweet ride on the gravy train” might end soon, are the ones that get upset. I wouldn’t worry about it all coming to an end too soon; there’s a hell of a lot of organizational inertia- people are quite reluctant to make significant changes even when it’s clear it can save them money.


  19. The handwriting is on the wall. Read about global business and how they have to change their holy business models (for Pete’s sake!!) and you will understand. I think you are in a state of denial Keith.

    You need to read more. . . . 🙂

  20. We have seen how Automatic KEYWORD searching of Resumes can miss out great talent. The resumes on Job Boards are at least well written. LinkedIn and other Social Media profiles do not help much for automation. Few candidates are completing Skills in LinkedIn. I have been searching LinkedIn for Apparel Industry and Spanish speaking Global IT Directors. Many candidates do not mention Industry properly or that they can speak Spanish Fluently on their linkedIn profiles. One could locate a good person by reading the name and then understanding that he is Spanish. How could this be automated? Industry mentioned = Information Technology, Company = Ralph Lauren and Name indicates he is Spanish. You cannot expect millions of profiles on LinkedIn to update their profiles just because we want a Recruitment fee and our job of Sourcing to be easier and automated by tools.

  21. “If you are a recruiter making $80-100K or so a year there is no reason why you should not hire a very competent college graduate at $10-20/hr to do a lot of the talking and screening. As you know from running your own business, they can be trained. do this and boom! you achieve new heights of performance.”

    Can’t remember last time I read such rubbish as that paragraph. That could only be written by someone who has either never worked in recruitment or ever been contacted by trainee agency recruiters.

    This all just reads like yet more searching for another recruitment easy button.

    Nothing personal, Manny.

  22. @Manny Thanks for the very interesting read. I agree that Sourcing-as-a-service will be a future norm. We cannot avoid the advances in technology and the roles that professional sites and aggregators are playing. These Tools have their place. In my opinion as an Initial filter before one is humanly capable talking to the Talent to assess the more important Qualities. I’d stress skills first as the prerequisite.
    @Richard A “I think there will remain a need to augment any such sourcing tool with other methods to try and get the people who aren’t reachable/obtainable via the web.” Exactly. There are two types of talent: those online and those offline so two broad but fine-tuneable approaches are required
    @Keith “the harder the person is to find, the less likely they are to be able to be quickly and easily recruited” and when people realise that their information is being scraped will they find ways to become more private and evade scraping techniques….if the Pirate Party’s manifesto on internet privacy becomes common belief that will make aggregators’ jobs all the more difficult and recruiting science will have to go retro again
    @Carol “if a person doesn’t have the “right” keywords on their profiles she is unable to locate them as a possible candidate for me” Absolutely! This is the current teething problem that will take years to overcome! Skills platforms such as ours have the feature allowing a user to be able to download their LinkedIn profile to set up their profiles in those platforms, but what we have found is that keywords and skills descriptions are wholly inadequate and the user has to edit virtually everything in order to have meaningful criteria with which to be matched to job offers. See this article that immediately made me think of this point that you made: http://huff.to/1bsBbEz – the call for a skills based language and standardised system. It implies that we have to start with today’s education system in order to have tomorrow’s meaningful skills descriptions.
    @Alex “the one piece of the equation that I don’t think you can truly automate is the intangible skills of a job seeker. A piece of paper or profile cannot demonstrate a seeker’s passion, enthusiasm and if they are a match for your corporate culture” Absolutely right! That’s why I believe the place for these tools is the initial stage of recruitment – for example to help companies like Volvo Spain shorten their list of 20,000 overnight applicants down to a useable shortlist. And THEN that is where your true skills and expertise at matching the enthusiasm passion and the cultural fit comes in. First automation then the human approach where the talking comes in.(@Maureen ;))
    @Manny “A recruiter has NO IDEA whether that candidate is available” or or is willing to move geographically or indeed has the permits to be able to work abroad. Some tools however collect this information from candidates, you just need to find out who they are.
    OK…no more time…I hope my contribution has been better than my comments elsewhere on here ?

  23. @Mitch
    would love if you could elaborate about “Can’t remember last time I read such rubbish as that paragraph” the argument of pawning off the low-level repeatable tasks to a lower cost person is an economic one, independent of industry. If a reasonably intelligent person can learn how to be a good recruiter, part of which is to do phone screening, then it follows you can train any reasonably intelligent person to do the same. As a trainer I would think you would agree with this argument.
    PS Offense not taken 🙂

    @John. would love if you could point me to such tools. Majority I have seen tell you probabilities of someone taking an action – ie like Entelo purportedly predicting someone about to do something. But short of that, you don’t know – unless you ask!

  24. @ Jacque Vilet. I have many a time told Todd/ere, that we need a ‘like button’ on these ere discussions, – I’m still waiting 🙂
    As a corporate recruiter of the opinion ‘Corporate recruitment, survival of the holistically fittest’ – (meaning (or those in doubt, that e v e r y t h i n g and all elements must hang together for it all to work out = successful hire, asset and not just a fit) I applaud your comments that I found hugely inspirational. We can all give our opinion based on what we think, feel and see the world as being, another thing is to bring some exciting facts on the table and to deeply question what on the surface seem a viable solution. Your comment will go straight into my ‘Talent Acquisition treasure chest.

  25. @ Jacque: “I think you are in a state of denial Keith. You need to read more. . . . :-)”
    I deny NOTHING! I did it, I’m proud of it, and I’d do it again! 😉 What AM I supposed to be denying and what do you suggest I read?

    @ John D: I think your comments are good.
    I have strong sympathy with privacy concerns, and had a recent conversation about this. Personally I don’t think anything except a maybe a very watered-down version of the European Privacy Protections (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_Protection_Directive) will pass here, because in the USA, the right for someone to make money off you will almost always trump your right to be left alone. I expect that in about a dozen years (more or less), companies and powerful individuals will have access to the same tools/capabilities/techniques that the NSA has now, and instead of one Big Brother with a hobnailed boot forever stamping on a human face (as in 1984), we’ll have thousands of little brothers and sisters with Invisible Hands forever picking the human pocket (and gamifying us for the privilege to do so)…If you don’t want to be a “mark”, then go be Amish and live off the grid, or better yet go live in a cave…. 🙁


  26. Just in brief response to Keithj’s Data Protection Directive. Early indications about what this will mean in Europe is that no data can be held/retained meaning that no companies.organisations and agencies can hold any data, and that any search can only be done in real time.
    The true extent of what the final solution will look like when passing European Parliament is yet not clear, but the template is Germany, and the implications are potentially huge for carrying out any recruitment in the EU past this becoming law.

  27. @ Jacob: Thanks. Here we see how a knife can cut both ways- we want to have access to other people’s information so we can recruit them, but we don’t want other people to have access to our info so they can sell us things…
    If I understand you properly that no data can be held and that searches must be done real-time, I’d think this could be a real boon for phone sourcers.

    It just occurred to me that if you won’t be able to hide from Little Brother & Sister, you might be able to confuse them and maintain some pseudo-privacy by (in the near future)creating many different “data avatars” on the web, reflecting various aspects of yourself and including varying degrees of accuracy to the “real you” (assuming there IS a “real you”). Since the term “avatar” is already over-used, I’ll call it your “data mask”….Now I’m getting all “cyberpunky”. Sorry. 😉


  28. Hi Manny

    The frustrated tone of my previous post (and I apologise if it sounded excessively harsh) was borne out of a body of thinking and initiatives I’ve seen in recent times that is just further commoditising recruitment – especially the candidate part of recruitment.

    Yet on the other hand I hear many voices (some of them authoritative) urging that recruiters are losing their relevance in the eyes of candidates and that they need to create a better ‘candidate experience’, build a better employer brand, nurture talent pools.

    I’m all for evolution and the use of technology – but am getting increasingly nervous about this apparent trend to want to automate as much as possible.

    Probably the most critical touch point of the entire recruitment process is that first phone call made to the candidate. Once you start outsourcing that to college grads, then the best candidates are just going to become even more disenfranchised than they already are.

    What candidates both want and need are grown-up conversations about their career with people who understand the commercialities of work and have some genuine intimacy with the hiring company – not youngsters with no commercial acumen or life experience pitching them meaningless jargon about an employer that they’ve probably just lifted from their website.

    My nervousness is further exacerbated by the fact that our industry has already been commoditised so much that we’ve dumbed down many of the people who work in it and now seem to be being led by innovations by people with little or no recruitment experience.

    You can’t automate people’s lives and someone’s career is a significant part of what defines that life.

  29. @Mitch, Compliments mate for a superb comment.
    Those of you who do not know/have met Mitch, his on-line persona is one of cynicism and being brash in his comments, yet in fact a very decent bloke who knows a lot and has thoughtful, meaningful and valuable contributions to make like his latest comment that is extraordinarily well written and argued.
    You get my ‘like’ Mitch for that one. 🙂

  30. @manny I don’t wish to be accused of over zealous Marketing in these comments so here is my email address j.donaldson@4u-group.ch
    @Keith Thanks. No matter how we try to avoid scrutiny and Intrusion from Big Brother and his little siblings, I fear that it will only be the savvy techies who will be able to constantly duck and weave while the rest of the herd gets coralled.
    As far as privacy/security is concerned, we took that into consideration when we designed our platfom…which would bring me onto the topic of anonymous applications…but that’s for another time…
    @Jacob That’s right, we think that the law will pass through next year or 2015. No data can be stored after the position has been filled. At least the Black Hole will finally be eradicated – so that’s a good thing, right?
    Thankfully we foresaw that development and designed a get around in our system…;)

  31. To that last paragraph Keith. I know of people so hot in the market so sought after (mobile, data, software engineers) that they now deliberately scale back their social media and online presence in order to avoid being bombarded by agency calls. I also know of younger people that have two different say Facebook profiles, one for public use one for the ‘inner circle’ So in my mind there is no doubt that in some areas we have ‘exposure fatigue and saturation’ why finding really hot and elusive candidates will be down to the good old ‘sniffer dog’ headhunter that can seek them out no matter what.
    We are facing interesting times for sure, and times that will challenge us and what we do 100 times over, as a result of regulation, saturation/fatigue and/or anything else that the ‘digital age’ trow at us.
    @John Donaldson, sounds like you have something (solutions) that is worth exploring, I’ll reach out via Linkedin

  32. @ Mitch: You’ve raided many valuable points and concerns-
    “I’m all for evolution and the use of technology – but am getting increasingly nervous about this apparent trend to want to automate as much as possible.”
    The recruiting process consists of a large number of tasks, many of which are uncreative and repetitious. Many of these tasks can be dealt with my other means than a $50+/hr highly-experienced recruiter, and while the $50+/hr highly-experienced recruiter might continue to do these tasks him/herself, it’s unrealistic to expect people to continue to make $50+/hr mainly or exclusively performing them.

    “…you start outsourcing that (first phone) call to college grads, then the best candidates are just going to become even more disenfranchised than they already are”.
    1) Why does it take a $50+/hr highly-experienced recruiter to make a good initial phone call? That’s what $7-10/hr offshore lead-generators/appointment setters do every day by the score if not by the hundred.
    2) I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the “best” candidates are probably unavailable to the typical recruiter’s company, because the typical recruiter’s company HAS NOTHING SPECIAL TO OFFER THE BEST CANDIDATES. Companies should calculate their Corporate Desirability Score (CDS) and go after those they can get, and not after those they think they deserve.

    “What candidates both want and need are grown-up conversations about their career..”
    IMHO, what most candidates REALLY both want and need is a well-paid, well-benefitted job in a place which won’t drive them crazy or kill their soul, and they want it FAST, and if they get that, they don’t care who or what gets it for them.

    “Our industry has already been commoditised so much that we’ve dumbed down many of the people who work in it.”
    Exactly, so let’s replace the ignorant, less-effective, and inexpensive newbies doing the grunt work with more-experienced, more effective, and even less expensive automation or outsourcing.

    “You can’t automate people’s lives.”
    That’s not correct- every time you use a planner, set your smartphone for an alert, or write yourself a reminder on a Post It, you automate your life. Personally, I think the more routine activity you can automate up front so you don’t have to devote much subsequent thought to it, the better. That way, you can devote more of your thoughts to important things like the meaning of your existence, what the U.S. should do about Syria, how will “Breaking Bad” end, or how to get past level 92 in Candy Crush.

    @ John D.” I fear that it will only be the savvy techies who will be able to constantly duck and weave while the rest of the herd gets corralled.”
    Remember when the internet was hoped to be a free and non-commercial tool for empowerment? Well at least it helped people in the Middle East protest their repressive governments and us get well-paid recruiting working in the late ‘90s….

    @ Jacob: “finding really hot and elusive candidates will be down to the good old ‘sniffer dog’ headhunter”
    I’ve said before: if they’re that hard to find, they’re probably hard to recruit, even for the companies that have something special to offer, which most don’t.


  33. Not for me to take over or involve myself in the Keith, Mitch exchange, but an observation to keep perspective. We have these discussion about sourcing and whether using low paid or high aid resources to do the initial identification and screening. We do so across the Atlantic and make generalisations. That may be well and good but it does not necessarily take into consideration that what is the reality in the US re demographics, levels of roles and salary ranges may be something different in Europe. So, and apologies Mitch If I have it wrong, the roles and the level and salary bands you refer to re sourcing candidates may not be the same as those that Keith are talking about. That is something that has serious impact on whether a grad should be the 1st point of sourcing contractor it should be a more experienced recruiter.

    @Keith, yes for those hard to find skills it is about whether you as a company is one of choice, why I revert back to my motto these days ‘holistically fittest’ No good you bend over backwards and find an outstanding candidate if hiring manager and/or other elements do not come across as fitting in with the entire EVP that you wish to convey to a candidate. If look at very large global MNC’s that understand that people is the critical differentiator and have their TA set up reflecting that, the lengths they are going to and the structures they are putting in place to ensure this ‘holistic fit’ is substantial.

  34. @ Jacob. Well said. Some people may require a very-high-level person to effectively communicate with them., either up front or at the end of the hiring process.

    “If look at very large global MNC’s”:
    I am clearly biased, but my impression is that many large U.S-based MNCs are centralized and lumbering bloatocracies- ornate temples to the GAFI Principles of Greed Arrogance, Fear, and Ignorance/Incompetence and open to the “siren song” of slick hucksters and self-proclaimed “recruiting thought leaders”(who neither recruit, think, nor lead) with high-level connections ready to sell the latest recruiting snake oil or re-bottled stale recruiting cliches to desperate and not-yet insolvent recruiters and their superiors who fail to recognize that in most cases they are futilely “rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic” of their companies’ ill-conceived, over-blown, grossly-dysfunctional hiring practices.


  35. @Keith Re your last paragraph in comments. Supply and demand in places like Germany where many large (European) companies and MNC’s based with in certain regions across STEM industries near zero unemployment mean that either you for really get your act together across the board, or any possible talent will choose to go elsewhere. Germany as the European locomotive will in the coming years face a STEM crisis and no matter of foreign labor import (that they are reluctant to anyway) or graduate supply (that is dwindling) will make up for it. ‘Perfect (ferocious) storm brewing’ To some degree also an IT crisis brewing in the UK, 129.000 needed/year, 20.000 coming from educational sector, – rest ?????

  36. @ Jacob: I think you’ve hit it- when there’s a seller’s labor market, you have to treat people well. Here in the U.S. except for the Fab 5% and some other skills, there’s a buyer’s market, so the companies treat most folks poorly. I also bet if Chancellor Merkel’s and PM Cameron’s government made it easy for Americans to work there, they could get large numbers of 75-%94% people, who don’t get calls and emails and tweets in annoyingly large numbers,. I bet there are a lot of Americans who’d be open to moving to the U.K. and maybe Germany too.



  37. SaaS and automation are definitely the future. This was discussed 3yrs ago and now there are several intelligent tools that are working great for Sourcing leads for HR/Recruitment firms and individuals. A couple to mention are aeroleads.com and Rapportive.

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