Out-of-Work Sourcers

I am getting one or two calls a day and three to five emails a day (on average) from sourcers looking for work. Sourcers who have been “let go” in economic moves by companies who have slashed their HR staffing departments into the bone, as one of my astute sourcing brethren pointed out this past week. Into the bone, mind you.

Two in five major firms will cut HR jobs, according to the Acceleration of Globalization report by consultancy Hackett Group. Hackett’s research of 200 global companies in October and November found that 40% were planning HR staff cuts. A further 12% were planning HR recruitment freezes.

As Dr. John Sullivan pointed out in his October column, freezes lead to “a majority” of internal recruiters being laid off and also severely limit the amount of work going to agencies. However, most freezes are and have been hastily and poorly executed, and rather than saving money, often cause serious damage to companies by leaving key revenue-generating roles either unfilled or under-serviced.

These companies have cut off their noses to spite their faces and have crippled themselves moving forward. I understand that many of you will seek employment elsewhere and in other industries. But there is opportunity afoot — opportunity for those who can go the distance. That’s you, isn’t it?

I’m not going to address the metrics of what recruiters do for companies. God knows it’s enormous. What I am going to address is what you, Sourcer, can do for yourself in these times of opportunity.

You and I both know the huge savings we bring to the recruiting process. At least 75% of ordinary recruiting costs can be done away with using a sourcer who understands how to use the Internet as well as the phone (yes, sourcers, you’re going to have to up your game). Think about it — there is nobody left in many recruiting departments to fulfill the needs (and the needs are arising, still, and will always arise unless the company is out of business!) to source and even develop candidate leads. Many staffing departments (if they’re left at all) are down to bare-bones minimum — maybe one or two persons left out of a normal 70 to 100 person workforce. They need your help more than they ever have, and believe it or not, many of those few remaining don’t know you exist or what help you can be to them! Enlighten them.

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“How do I find this work?” you’re thinking. Put your sourcing skills to work. Like we’re so fond of telling others, make a job out of finding a job. You have a great advantage because you understand how to find the decision-makers in organizations. Find out which companies have killed off their recruiting departments and go at them. Find that one (or two) person(s) left in the fractured organization who can give you work when the need arises.

Try Tech Crunch’s Total Layoffs Since August 27, 2008 report to start. Find out which have decimated their recruiting departments as well.

Here is the 24/7 Wall St. 2008 Report on the 20 largest layoffs by company as well. It includes:

  1. Citigroup
  2. The Bank of America buyout of Merrill Lynch
  3. General Motors
  4. Hewlett-Packard
  5. Lehman Brothers
  6. AT&T
  7. DHL Express
  8. The California Department of Education
  9. Starbucks
  10. Chrysler
  11. Wachovia
  12. Dow Chemical
  13. NASA
  14. The State of California
  15. Sun Microsystems
  16. Bennigan’s
  17. Washington Mutual
  18. Bear Stearns
  19. American Airlines
  20. Merck

It’s going to take some digging but hey, isn’t that what we’re good at?

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 TechTrak.com, Inc. You can contact her at Maureen at techtrak.com or call her at (513) 646-7306.  If she’s not on the phone she’ll pick up!

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9 Comments on “Out-of-Work Sourcers

  1. If you’re the type to start your own business or are considering accepting temporary project work and are a researcher/sourcer, feel free to email me (rstein@prospectcity.com) for free membership in our Exchange Hub, a community where recruiters and hiring executives find researchers and sourcers. You can create a profile and receive requests by email or simply re-visit the site on occasion.

  2. What wonderful skills a sourcer has…and why limit the ability to perform to recruiting? Wouldn’t you be an excellent addition to the sales team of any company? Sales are hard to find.. using a sourcer could give a company those extra leads that will tip the sales in their favor. Think about your transferable skills. Could you be used by an out placement agency, turning up openings for their clients in transition? Some call the position, “Job Developer”. Same skills, just different questions. We always need the skills, just in different ways.

  3. You can add Google to the list of companies laying off recruiters. GOOG announced that they were laying off 100 recruiters, that about 25% of their 400 recruiter…

    One job to consider is helping colleges and universities with their admissions recruitment….

  4. Hey Maureen. Caught you on your Recruiting Animal show appearance and am a fan. But yeah as per Nancy why not put those skills to work downhill i.e. selling? Like you said on the show, it’s a rare person that actually has the stones to keep the activity level up.

    Gregg Dourgarian
    ceo, tempworks software

  5. All: I have launched a firm called IndustryRoster (www.industryroster.com). The firm is dedicated to intelligent sourcing of data – for sales, recruiting or market decision purposes. I hope that we can grow quickly and I can be working with many of you in the very near future. Our platform is homegrown and the business is based on the idea that sourcers of information can support any growth initiative…. we will see if recruitment sourcing can translate! I for one believe it can!

  6. A variety of points:

    “At least 75% of ordinary recruiting costs can be done away with using a sourcer who understands how to use the Internet as well as the phone (yes, sourcers, you’re going to have to up your game).”

    Could you elaborate on this? What is it based on?

    …………………………………………………..

    “As Dr. John Sullivan pointed out in his October column, freezes lead to “a majority” of internal recruiters being laid off and also severely limit the amount of work going to agencies. However, most freezes are and have been hastily and poorly executed, and rather than saving money, often cause serious damage to companies by leaving key revenue-generating roles either unfilled or under-serviced.

    These companies have cut off their noses to spite their faces and have crippled themselves moving forward.”

    We have heard that good retention policies benefit organizations (though I maintain they inherently jeopardize recruiters’ job security without modification of our compensation and job expectations). In a job climate like todays’s, a stable company has a very strong retention incentive, if only because there are so few other options. How has this “crippled themselves moving forward?”

    …………………………………………………..

    “Think about it — there is nobody left in many recruiting departments to fulfill the needs (and the needs are arising, still, and will always arise unless the company is out of business!) to source and even develop candidate leads. Many staffing departments (if they’re left at all) are down to bare-bones minimum — maybe one or two persons left out of a normal 70 to 100 person workforce. They need your help more than they ever have, and believe it or not, many of those few remaining don’t know you exist or what help you can be to them! Enlighten them.”

    I agree with this. At the same time, needing something and being able to pay for it are two very different things. We should search for companies that still need help and can’t afford to pay as much as they did, but can still pay SOMETHING. How do we do this? Here’s one way: do a search on any board or website for “sign-on bonus” or “referral bonus” or something similar. If an outfit is still paying this to find someone (typically medically-related these days) they’re more likely to be able to afford to pay YOU.
    ………………………………………………….

    As far as transferring your skills: I’d be cautious about doing lead generation. Why? You can get lead generators for $1000 per month. However, there are lots of folks who are willing and able to pay for you to find things out for them. What kinds? Research it and see, then call them!

    Burned out and miserable? Misery loves company! Partner with a similarly-situated friend whom you trust and do job searches for each other.

    Finally, here are links to a collection of job-hunting resources:
    The Riley Guide (http://www.rileyguide.com/) and
    Job-Hunt: (http://www.job-hunt.org/).

    Good Hunting,

    Keith “Occasionally Useful” Halperin keithsrj@sbcglobal.net

  7. Recently I posted a need for contract sourcing support on Maureen’s board (this blog). It was for quant hiring.

    I received 5 emails citing interest and two calls. I hired one of the people who called as the other person who called – quite qualified mind you – couldnt meet the fee parameters I have in place with my client.

    I had some email exchanges but they all fizzled out when solutions were saddled with price tags that didn’t make sense (not in this economy).

    This made me realize two things:

    1) I myself need to pick up the phone more often than email – I have some good projects going and am looking around wondering why I havent seen more success from my sales efforts. I believe it is b/c I am making less than 20 sales calls per week. That number needs to be higher.

    FYI – at Careerbuilder they make 50-100 dials per day to sell their product. You can argue that custom sourcing adds more value and isnt a commodity if you like… but since both products are supposed to lead to hires I think we can draw some parallels.
    2) Creative fee structuring is a requirement in any bear market. To Keith’s point – just b/c they need it doesnt mean they can afford it. I am asking for retainers and fees upon completion of task; I am breaking my fee apart across different quarters and fiscal years (when possible); and depending on the company, I am also taking equity in lieu of cash fee (if you can afford it I recommend trying this at least once).

    Just my $.02.

  8. This is a great post. I agree — the new sourcer, though, needs to be multi-faceted with proven results. I would maybe advise individuals to try out contingency recruiting, for a time being. It’s a part sales/part candidate development role that might be difficult in the time period now, but may be a tremendous learning experience.

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