LinkedIn Lemons to Lemonade

Age is a very high price to pay for maturity. — Tom Stoppard

I recently did a search for managers and senior managers in Tax out of second- and third-tier accounting companies on the East Coast.

The customer had sent me a list of names he already had — informing me they’d be a nice addition to my “database.”

The problem with that is 90% of his names were on LinkedIn.

I’m just not that interested.

Furthermore, several of his names were not only on LinkedIn — they were no longer at the respective companies he had them listed under or their titles had changed — senior managers having moved on to principle/partner, which were of no interest because they were too high on the totem pole.

Once again, I don’t have time to chase phantoms.

I started calling in to the respective companies, pulling the senior managers and managers in Tax.

That’s how I know some of his listed names were not there (or that their titles had changed).

I ended up matching his names by about 150%.

In other words, if he had five names at a company, I pulled eight more, most of whom were not on LinkedIn!

Not only did I pull them, I pulled them knowing all of them were there in real time and that their titles were current.

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What was helpful to me was that his assembled names helped me collect the others.

“Oh, Tom McKee’s no longer there? Has someone replaced him?” usually brings forth another name and sometimes that name brings forth others.

“While I’m asking, is there anyone else new there at your firm?” asked in a straight-forward and matter-of-fact way to a receptive Gatekeeper who has begun to give you information holds the possibility of a tumble of names coming forward.

I feel better these days about the fact that I never did keep a database; basically I’ve always felt the Internet was a good enough “database” to start any search.

I very rarely (if ever — I can’t recall any!) have searches that resemble each other within close timeframes, so information in a database would have likely “aged” and face the same dilemmas that names off (the database) LinkedIn are encountering.

I only see this problem (aged data) increasing as these online “social” databases age.

What do you think?

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 “LinkedIn Lemons to Lemonade

  1. Maureen
    so true, you can count on most active job seekers to have current LI profiles, but there are certainly lots of people who don’t/won’t use the service. However, it does work well to kickstart the name generation process.It seems like the more information there is about people the more you need to rely on the tried and true: pick up the phone and verify. I love LI but you need to remember: user provided info with all the inconsistencies and inaccuracies that go along with that.

  2. This article illustrates the fact that LinkedIn or any database is not the be-all end-all. And yes there are plenty of great candidates not on LinkedIn and not easy to find across the world wide web. Recruiting not about storing information, nor is sourcing just about finding names. It’s how you use it. A good database provides the tools for COMMUNICATING with people and developing relationships, networking for referrals, keeping notes about past contact, asking for leads, and staying in touch with talent and industry associates in your network.

  3. Maureen: On target as usual. There will always be recruiters who go the extra mile to get information and those that will go for the low hanging fruit. Your example is classic in that the client you mention went for the low hanging fruit. If that was working for him, why would he need you??

  4. Maureen – it’s amazing how you so easily turn today’s latest technology news into evidence of old-school job security. Is there anything that really scares you as to thinking you couldn’t keep doing what you do forever? Do you lose more sleep from fears of increasingly savvy gatekeepers making good data harder to come by, more phone sourcers wanting to move in on your action at a slightly lower namerate, or what?

    As I just commented on Dr. John Sullivan’s recent ERE post about LinkedIn, spamming there (and on related sites) is going to accelerate, making those sites less valuable as an increasing number of in-demand candidates remove themselves from such sites. Well, maybe not less valuable for the foreseeable future, since the continued net increase of profiles on such sites should more than offset the defections.

    But if you’re already enjoying an 8-new-on-top-of-existing-5 ratio across the board as it is (with more current/validated data to boot), then I can only imagine it should get even better for you down the road!

  5. Sorry Glenn – I missed the last n in your name in the former post because the tears in my eyes (from laughing) blurred my sight and the heaving of my shoulders made me miss the second n on the keyboard!



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