Seven Secrets of Sourcing

I like lists; on-the-go literary distillations that tell a story. Here’s another one about sourcing.

The best lists are presented with a pinch of intrigue, turn of phrase, and/or dash of humor. They hold our interest captive for a few fleeting moments and then leave us sated with pointed information.

I hope this list does the same for you.

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Given that sourcing seems to be the hot topic these days, no doubt there will come a time when it is discarded as old hat; that everything there is to know has been distributed and it’s time to put it on the high shelf with all the other HR tomes to gather dust. I say that not quite believing it.

No matter how sourcing-starved you may be, there might come a time when you have had your fill. Until then, let’s assume your throat is parched, your belly is empty, and what you need is a quick run-down of the Seven Sourcing Secrets. Here they are:

  1. Know the right time to source. I’m not talking about economic times, as the demand for sourcing will always be there. I’m talking about your biological time clock, which is the time you are at your best and what time your internal clock coalesces best with the real world. Some sourcers work best in the morning, some in the afternoon. A few of the really deadly source at night. There are techniques for sourcing any time of the day or night.
  2. Know if sourcing in a particular sector makes sense. Some verticals are harder to source than others, having far fewer candidates in them. Know what’s hot and what’s not, including what area of sourcing you’re skilled in that will yield your best return. I’m not necessarily talking about dollars; I’m talking about what areas you like to source in and enjoy. That’s every bit as important as the dollar return. Take stock of your talents and apply them sensibly.
  3. Know where to go. Choosing the right “targets” to source out of is every bit as important as the sourcing process itself. If you choose your targets wisely (i.e., companies that are likely to possess employees with the same skillsets/attributes you seek), the returns on your sourcing dollars will be the greatest.
  4. Know and understand the consequences. Sourcing out of a competitor with the intention of ruining that competitor economically is one example of sourcing gone wrong. This is such a miniscule percentage of sourcing intentions that it is hardly worth mentioning. However, it is an example of what not to do, as the activity could carry great legal penalty. If your intentions around sourcing out of your competitors are to gain good employees, by all means, go ahead!

DO NOT hire a competitor’s employees if your intention is to put the competitor out of business. DO hire a competitor’s employees if your intention is to gain good employees.

  1. Know about nontraditional sourcing avenues. This isn’t about risky nontraditional sourcing techniques that put you in the grey zone of legality. This is about sourcing techniques that are right in front of your nose. Think about the fish bowl of business cards at your local diner, the knowledge inside a particular target’s customers’ heads, and the professional licensing/accomplishment records that are many times kept online.
  2. Understand how sourcing can save you thousands, even millions of dollars. Names sourcing is the new cost efficiency being recognized by Six Sigma. Recognize it too and make it a part of your organizational structure.
  3. Know how to protect your investment in your sourcing organization. Sourcers are not prima donnas. They are tenacious rare-breed bull-dogs not afraid of a fight. Equip them with the tools, technology, and training they ask for and reward them handsomely.

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!


30 Comments on “Seven Secrets of Sourcing

  1. Maureen, thank you for your article. Please elaborate on the following:

    ‘Understand how sourcing can save you thousands, even millions of dollars. Names sourcing is the new cost efficiency being recognized by Six Sigma. Recognize it too and make it a part of your organizational structure.’

    I’ll go with the statement that sourcing can save millions of dollars – in the end, this may be true if sourcing leads to a better recruiting output (measured by an increased organizational talent pool.) I am a Six-Sigma green belt (no, not a black belt as I’m not an Industrial Engineer), so I’m interested in what you are referring to when you state that ‘names sourcing is the new cost efficiency being recognized by Six Sigma.’

    Six Sigma is a process aimed at reducing defects (or more specifically, reducing variation), however it’s not a formal organization. The problem with Six Sigma is that it gets prohibitively more expensive as you increase Sigma. If we’re manufacturing widgets, it may cost $10,000 to reduce to 1 defect in 1000. However, to reduce defects to true Six Sigma, or 3.4 defects per million opportunities, may theoretically cost $1,000,000 or more. The more you increase quality, the more you increase costs.

    If we’re building jets, maybe this is necessary, but when it comes to light-bulbs or names, it’s just too costly. Consider why 95% of the cargo that comes into our ports is not checked, despite the security threat — it’s because it’s too expensive (in terms of time, money, and resources) to increase from our current 5%.

    Since you’re recommending that we ‘Recognize it [Six Sigma cost efficiencies derived from sourcing] too and make it a part of your organizational structure,’ can you point us in the direction of your data that backs up this recommendation?

  2. Yes, please elaborate on the connection between ‘names sourcing’ and ‘Six Sigma’.

    Also, could you please tell us how ‘names sourcing’ is different than ‘social engineering’?

  3. Joshua and John,

    I was referring to Six Sigma in the sense that you referred to Joshua, in the sense that sourcing is in a refining stage ? we who have been active in it over the last several years strive to reduce the inefficiencies in the system and make it a recognized and valuable contributor to the recruitment process. A better sentence structure would have been, ?Names sourcing is the new cost efficiency being recognized by six sigma methodologies?.

    If I might suggest, if you?re interested in ?data? that backs up my claims that extreme cost efficiency opportunities exist in names sourcing, please read back through the thousands of posts that have been placed regarding the subject not only here on ERE but also in sourcing groups like Sourcers Unleashed and also in the newly formed Sourcers Guild, whose mission is to ?bring professionalism and recognition to the Names Sourcing Industry?.

    Sourcers Unleashed

    Sourcers Guild

    What is it, John, that you think social engineering is?

  4. The Wikipedia article:

    seems to sum it up pretty well:

    ‘Social engineering is a collection of techniques used to manipulate people into performing actions or divulging confidential information.’

    It is also often called ‘pretexting’.

    How would your concept of ‘names sourcing’ be differentiated from social engineering and pretexting?

  5. I don’t quite understand how to relate 6 sigma-recognized sourcing to organizational structure change.

    But I do use the 6 sigma idea to train the junior recruiters in our firm. The marginal cost increases significantly if you try to reach 6 sigma 99.99966% (ie. seeking perfect candidate) everytime. I would be happy if they can hit 3 sigma (93.31928% Yield) everytime. 🙂 This will be a quite good balance point between quality and quantity.

    Sigma DPPM Yield (%)
    0 933192.8 6.68072
    1 691462.5 30.85375
    2 308537.5 69.14625
    3 66807.2 93.31928
    4 6209.7 99.37903
    5 232.6 99.97674
    6 3.4 99.99966

  6. Maureen, you say ‘we who have been active in it over the last several years strive to reduce the inefficiencies in the system and make it a recognized and valuable contributor to the recruitment process.’

    BUT — and many recruiters here can attest to this, Sourcing – also known as Recruiting – also known as Finding qualified Candidates – has been a Recognized part to the recruiting process from the Very Start –

    Recruiters have been doing their own sourcing from day one, even if they do implement outside help, they still are actively involved EVERY day in dedicating networking and sourcing for leads to make placements.

    Candidates don’t fall into our laps.. we actually do work for them.. so I guess I don’t understand your comments..

    External or internal sourcers are individuals who do assist Recruiters – internal and external to facilitate the process… and it really isn’t that new of an industry actually.

    Well I guess the internet portion of it is.. but telephone.. nah, in fact some of the best trainers who are still doing training in this industry Like the Doug Beabouts, Finkels, Hawkinson’s and others have over 30 years of training on using the phone, and getting/finding those elusive candidates..

    I guess that would be considered sourcing..

  7. ‘How would your concept of ‘names sourcing’ be differentiated from social engineering and pretexting?’

    I can only speak for myself, but as a long-time (2008 will be year 30) recruiter and a frequent client of Maureen’s and others in her field, I can only respond:

    Why bother?

    As for you, go ahead and noodle this out. Take your time. While you’re busy with this, my clients will be interviewing their competitors’ A-players.

    And no one – no one – will ask how I found them.

    Happy hunting.

  8. Maureen, thank you for attempting to create a better sentence structure. Also, thank you for pointing me in the direction of 2 Yahoo! Groups that you’ve created in response to my question of your data source for your newly qualified recommendation, ‘Names sourcing is the new cost efficiency being recognized by six sigma methodologies.’ However, this doesn’t help because opinions, articles, and blog posts don’t qualify as data (possibly information, but not data in the truest sense.) As an example of what I mean by data, please see Mr. Zhou’s response below.

    Six-Sigma was yesterday’s buzz trend; it has caught on with the recruiting industry, however we are a late adopter. Since your cost justification of name sourcing is listed as the 6th secret out of seven secrets in all, you point to Six-Sigma as evidence of how names sourcing can save us ‘thousands, even millions of dollars’. I agree that an economic case can be made for sourcing, but please provide us with the data/research that underlies your recommendation.

    I think it would make for interesting reading, so is there any factual or substantiated data that we can follow on with? You’ve intrigued me with your claim, so now I’m interested and would like to take it further.

  9. Joshua – You hit it right on the head in relation to diminishing returns as it relates sourcing but I should clarify as I know Maureen will jump all over this if I do not 🙂

    To define Active Channel Sourcing (Employee Referrals, Job Boards, your own ATS, Career Fairs, etc), which IMHO is really screening vs sourcing as active channel candidates come to a recruiter, or they do some mining of job boards could definitely use some Six Sigma eyes, as this is more of a transactional recruiting model of screening and moving candidates though the process (screening tools, meta search engines/tools, process improvements, etc).

    Passive Channel Sourcing (Cold Calling, Networking, Head Hunting, Names Generation/Mining the Web {Primary or Secondary Research}, etc) generally costs 2-3 times the CPH of Active Channel Candidate and I have found over the many years of leading teams that having focused on both channels (main passive though), that looking to leverage true passive candidate generation as a cost savings play is the wrong way to look at it and you are playing with fire. I think we all must look at the process regardless if it is a passive vs. active channel play and pull it apart to see where we can make enhancements but don’t just make it about cost savings through .001 process improvements. The true value is what can I get through this passive channel which adds value back to the business which I can not get through other active channels.

    Passive Sourcing and volume can not exist in the same sentence harmoniously given the cost associated to identifying, resources, romancing (selling), screening, building long term relationships (not ready yet), etc. If everyone stops to look at where the percentage of their hires actually come from and puts a cost against that channel you will find that usually the lowest CPH is also the greatest volume of hires = Employee Referrals. The greatest CPH is usually agency hires, but if the agency is focused on high value/high impact roles then their is an understanding that comparing that hire with all other roles in the business is foolish and not the correct approach to measuring ROI.

    I have found it looks like this for most companies (will vary of course company to company of course):

    Screening (Reactive-Transactional):
    Employee Referrals = 40-50%
    Your own Corporate Careers Page = 20%
    Job Boards = 20%
    Agencies = 5%

    Sourcing (Proactive):
    Cold Calling/Head Hunting & Networking = 0-20% (This is what people refer to ‘Sourcing’)

    If you then look at all the costs associated to the Active Channels and compare them to all the costs associated to the Passive Channels you will find it 2-3 times more expensive to make that hire.

    The same applies to Sourcing, be it with an internal function (what my focus is for Corporations) or if leveraging a 3rd Party vendor (Maureen, etc) where the value needs to be measured differently:

    Active Channel Sourcing/Recruiting = Cost Savings, Process Improvements, etc [Cost Center Approach]
    Passive Channel Sourcing/Recruiting = Impact to business/revenue, Lost opportunity Cost, etc [Center Approach]

    If you measure both channels via a Cost Savings approach then you will of course conclude that why invest in passive sourcing when it is not as cost efficacious as mining job boards or your own ATS (which is where most corporate recruiting transactional models live)…….Because very, very few companies (if any) can claim that they are making all the hires they want through just pure active channels and the business is happy with the ‘quality of hire’, then if someone out there is reading this and doing it effectively then, please, please, please give me a call as I would love to know how you have achieved this.

    So before jumping on the passive sourcing and name generation band wagon make sure you understand that you need to measure both models, processes and ROI as it’s own entity vs lumping it all under ‘recruiting costs’ as how can you determine ROI by strategy and channel if you first do not measure them separately.

    Maureen – Before you respond with a ‘Well I can do it for $50 a name and if 50 names gets you 1 hire then 50 x $50 = $2,500 a hire’….please take into consideration that $2,500 is not the fully burdened cost to an organization as we still need to calculate resources it takes to get them to QAI (Qualified, Active and Interested); time it takes to develop the relationship with ones that are not ready right now (CRM, other tools). Also I know that some of those 50 will eventually turn into hires so my CPH will decrease, etc, etc. We get that and understand that Name Generation firms have a role to play in some instances as does having offshore operations to help with the heavy lifting of the active channel candidates, or an agency to engage in specialized high impact role, or paying someone internally to generate the names. All different approaches depending on your company, market dynamics, etc will determine which one makes sense or combinations of the above.

    Where I have concerns is with statements like ‘Understand how sourcing can save you thousands, even millions of dollars’ is not the right way to position passive sourcing as if it can only really impact up to 20% of your hires (which are generally your most difficult anyway) you are making the play for cost savings in a channel that is going to be more expensive by default. Trying to squeeze the extra savings out of something that will be more expensive channel and will always be is pushing the wrong rock up the hill and we are in danger of leadership thinking in terms of trying to measure apples and apples when clearly they are apples and bananas.

    The mantra should be more like ‘Understand how Sourcing can add thousands even millions to the bottom line’ when you talk about Passive Sourcing. That IMHO is advancing the function and the discussion Recruiting/HR needs to have with business leaders.


  10. Rob,
    thanks so Much for the best explanation regarding this topic. Joshua you as well.. This ‘debate’ has been ongoing for a long time, and the explanation you guys provided has been the most definitive and realistic I have seen

    Here is a killer question – can we also simply say that it also comes down to Quality versus Quantity? But, there is a fear even in that statement, because what will define the quality can ONLY be determined the development and after hire…

    Again, I appreciate your response.

  11. Wow, Rob – this is an outstanding response and I can obviously tell that you are an expert in not only the entire recruitment process, but also continuous improvement (as it relates to recruiting).

    I also recognize your name as you are known in certain circles as ‘The Guy that Re-Defined Sourcing’ through your recent Wikipedia post. Congrats on your meaningful contributions – keep up the good work! I can tell you firsthand that your post has been a huge business development mechanism for RPO firms (i.e. many firms took heed and increased their offerings to encompass your definition, telephone-sourcers began calling themselves ‘strategic sourcers’ per your definition, etc.) You deserve credit for expanding the revenue potential of the staffing industry, whether you know it or not!!!

    In looking over Thomas’s response, I couldn’t help but wonder what type of costs it took to increase from 2 sigma to 3 (from a 69% yield to a 93% yield . . . which is a ~35% overall improvement). I also assume that to increase 3 more sigma (to Six-Sigma), would likely exponentially increase costs (for only a marginal benefit!) The question is whether we can build an economic case for increasing quality further (however, please note that if we’re talking jet engines or nuclear devices, then this obsession with quality is critical!)

    I am a huge believer in process improvement – I’m also a huge Demming fan, and to be honest, I wish I had a Toyota right now instead of a Dodge. However, please help me understand one key point: What exactly is considered a defect when breaking down the recruiting process-chain?

    If we are measuring ‘quality of resume’ on a scale of 1 – 5, we could assume that any resume with a quality level below 4 is defined as a ‘defect’. Between you and I, however, most passive candidates don’t even have a resume to measure in the first place! There has to be a better way to measure defects . . . perhaps a defect is annotated at any point where the delay between the final interview and the offer exceeds 2 business days?

    By reducing the amount of defects at each stage-gate of the recruiting process, it will surely improve. But help me out, Rob – how do you define defects? This stuff is absolutely intriguing and I appreciate your insight and guidance.


  12. Ted,

    ‘I can only speak for myself, but as a long-time (2008 will be year 30) recruiter and a frequent client of Maureen’s and others in her field, I can only respond:

    Why bother?

    As for you, go ahead and noodle this out. Take your time. While you’re busy with this, my clients will be interviewing their competitors’ A-players.

    And no one – no one – will ask how I found them.’

    You mean YET … 🙂

  13. My goodness, you?re all excited.

    Rob, you say the following sentence, ?Understand how sourcing can save you thousands, even millions of dollars? would be better said as ?Understand how Sourcing can add thousands even millions to the bottom line.?

    Isn?t this the same thing?

    And haven?t I said this before? I think you follow the Sourcers Unleashed group. I said this as recently as April 30 in there: ?Telephone names sourcing can directly impact a company’s bottom line. Depending on size, it can literally save millions of dollars paid out in hiring fees.?

    I have never ignored QAI, as you seem to indicate I do. Names sourcing is the front end activity to every search. You?re one, Rob, in particular who has tried to accumulate metrics on names sourcing. For you to extrapolate and interpret what I have said in the simplistic manner you present it: ?50 a name and if 50 names gets you 1 hire then 50 x $50 = $2,500 a hire? does a disservice to the sourcing industry and ignores, or misinterprets, much of what I, and others, have written on the subject. I say it, again, it?s the FRONT END activity to a search. Use my cost per name calculation in the overall metric you appear to be developing ? your demonstration is fascinating. I particularly liked your clarification on diminishing returns – names sourcing is an activity where returns increase for a long, long time before they begin to diminish!

    There is one thing that cannot be denied. Telephone names sourcing will add potential candidates into your pipeline faster, and more efficiently, that any other service out there today. It will add people that you have NO HOPE of ever locating in any other manner ? and what value can be put on that?

    Joshua, I know you come late to this strident party. The fact is, there are none to little metrics because names sourcing is a barely understood concept and we sourcers are constantly working to make it better understood so that everyone can benefit from it. If you want to learn about it, you have a whole buncha? reading to do; if you want some advice start here on ERE with the Recruiting Techniques & Methodologies group and the ASK Maureen group and read back through the archives. By the way, have any of you ever wondered why these two groups, both focused on SOURCING, are the two largest on ERE? More advice, when you?re finished with those, go to the Yahoo groups Sourcers Unleashed and Recruiters and Sourcers Exchange. Read the Archives- they’re loaded with information! And don?t forget the NEW Yahoo group, Sourcers Guild. It has near 450 members in less than a month! It promises to be another POWERHOUSE.

    John, as you choose to ignore my question to you as to what YOU think social engineering is and instead offer me Wikipedia?s definition, allow me to offer two explanations from my esteemed colleagues Shally Steckerl and Steve Levy:

    Shally says, ?Pretexting is illegal, and involves fraudulent information. Recently the FBI was barred from continuing to use it for law enforcement purposes. Social Engineering is not pretexting, it is using persuasive communication techniques to obtain information. Names sourcing is ethical telephone elicitation, following a certain code of ethics like for example those of

    Shally further offers two helpful sites to further explain the phenomenon:

    And Steve seems to think it depends on which side of the fence you happen to be on in your hour of need. ?Names sourcing is a collection of techniques used to obtain the names of people who may be appropriate candidates for in-process or future recruiting searches. It’s pretexting if you happen to be the company who loses one of your employees when they accept a new position…?

    I agree with both their assessments.

    Karen, you get very little of what I have to say. I don’t think I can help you.

    Ted, you jus? keep on goin?, man.


  14. Maureen
    ?Saving millions in business is not the same as adding millions to the bottom line? – One can save millions, but there still may not be any profit gained.

    One can Add millions, and also still not see profit, or one may not see it immediately ? This is cost accounting Distortions ? sometimes the distortions or expenses may be compensated by real money via performance ? When one spends the money it is in the hope that there will be a positive reflection of the expense at a later date.

    In this case, the expense of hiring internal recruiters and sourcers is an expense, an employment expense, which ultimately will be able to help with more attributable growth and growth related factors for the company. This Growth is also more of an expense. Thus the company will experience loss.. But, in the long run it can add ultimately and should ultimately add more to the bottom line profit of the company. That is if the New hires are a Valuable resource.. but sometimes even mistakes can happen in regards to hiring. Thus the risk factor.
    The best way to always do the research on this in any company is to look at Accrual accounting which will center on the on the identification and measurement of assets and liabilities, with accruals representing changes in non-cash assets and liabilities

    It isn?t the sourcing that could impact the bottom line by providing profit, it is ultimately the individuals who are Hired through the combined efforts of sourcing, development and hiring who will ultimately and potentially Add to the profit of the company.. The name generation actually is an expense. A valuable for sure, no one is disputing that ? but it should not be considered as a cost Saving as Rob mentioned, but as a potential revenue generator. Rob, by the way you did an excellent job in explaining this.

    Though I took accounting in college and business mgmt, finance was my least favorite subject, so to the experts, please forgive my really abrasive attempt here.

    There is another confusion here ? Names sourcing provides Name Generation, but obviously one cannot guarantee that it will provide definitive applicants. 45 names sourced and researched may give you a potential for 45 candidates, AND at the same token, it may lead to Not one individual hired, no matter how well the individual did their job in researching the potential leads. Why? Because it all will depend on the Job, opportunity, location, compensation, ability and skills of candidate, and of course the Decision of both company and candidate ? not to mention many other crucial factors.

    It is better to say that name generation MAY add potential Candidates to pipeline, but it would be foolhardy to assume and guarantee the definitive that it Will do so.

    Maureen, in regards to metrics and names sourcing. Indeed there are metrics, but generally you will find that the metrics will be based upon specific Companies, also based upon locations, the opportunity/job, and such like. One cannot create Definitive metrics as circumstances will change by area, location, salary, requirements, the company reputation, management reputation, economy and so many other variables.

    I gave an example on another post. If Google, Yahoo or Microsoft were hiring in N.Cal for an IT individual ? one add will probably produce a tremendous number of applicants.. Now, a small, no brand name company in Tucson Arizona who is hiring in the Middle of August, will find that it will have much more difficulty to hire the same caliber of individuals. And, Especially if they also cannot compete with the same salary. Even in San Diego, America?s finest city ? the cost of living here is out of the roof, and unfortunately the salaries are not competitive to the housing market, thus it creates variables that are more difficult than it would be to say hire in Denver, Colorado.

    Someone mentioned on a previous post on another group that what you are perceiving is from the Outside looking in, and it is understandable why some who is not involved with the hiring process would not to understand it without the hands-on experience and of course would not have access to first hand metrics.

  15. ‘John, as you choose to ignore my question to you as to what YOU think social engineering is’ …

    I would say social engineering, broadly, is an attempt to obtain something of inherent value through deliberately deceptive methods.

    On your Yahoo group, Sourcers Unleashed:

    there are links through to videos of a group of folks practically cackling in the Atlanta airport about how they regularly, for example, dupe people in purchasing and accounts payable departments into emailing whole phone lists to them under dubious cover stories.

    Ted Moore in this very thread said, essentially, while some question the ethics of attempting to extract information from individuals under much less than honest means that his clients are ‘interviewing their competitors’ A-players’ and that absolutely no one will ever ask how he found them.

    Now where am I missing something?

    Maureen, would you, in fact, NOT endorse the ‘shipping department’ ruse? Or would the ‘shipping department’ ruse not be interpretted as unethical at all?

    Are there any tactics/techniques that Ted Moore WOULD consider unethical?

  16. Maureen – I like you, have used your firm in the past and am a raging advocate of both Primary (what you do) and Secondary research (what internet sourcers do). This is not about you!

    Rather than saying the same thing over again but changing the wording to try and make my point, if you take exception to what I call out (given I look at the whole process, associated costs and ROI from a Corporate perspective vs just one small piece of the pre ATS activities line name gen), then you know where I live and I am happy to try and explain live vs re-explaining my point here where the focus seems more on picking apart the words vs actually focusing on the concept and philosophy behind them.

  17. Rob, I like you too and appreciate your rational. Really, I do. Believe it or not, I understand it.


    John, you need to go study that video post on my Sourcers Unleashed (Yahoo!) group a little closer – I have nothing to do with recommending that particular methodology and in fact made a post today here that mentions it specifically:

    Right after, I also made a post that drives the ridiculousness of unethical sourcing across:

    That particular video was made by Jim Stroud and yes, I suppose, he did meet some people in the Atlanta airport to film it. The ‘Call Girl Vicky’ portion of it was an unfortunate representation of what great telephone sourcers are capable of, in my opinion. It may be that, because Jim is an Internet Researcher, he may not understand (yet) the importance of not relegating the phone to some laughing-stock portrayal.

    If you have been reading me for any time at all you would know that I have said, time and time again, there are ways to get names without rusing. I teach these in my MagicMethod course and they are set into the scripts in the Scripticals editions.

    For the record:
    I DO NOT endorse (nor do I condemn) the ‘shipping department’ ruse. I find these stories amusing in light of the fact that there are other communication skills that might be utilized to get the same names without any risk of liability attached.

    You may interpret things any way you like, John. I find the things in life I find most annoying in others are the character flaws I myself possess. I have many character flaws so, to-wit, I find alot of things annoying. I try not to dwell on them, as I am here.

  18. Maureen, they say that there are three types of people in life.

    Those that make it happen, those that watch it happen and those that say what happened?

    It’s easier for the ‘what happened?’ brigade to try and discredit the ‘make it happen’ people because it hides their own deficiencies and envy.

    Keep making it happen. The majority appreciate your efforts.

  19. Maureen, I did not come late to this ‘strident party’ – my post was the very first, in which I asked for substantiation to your six-sigma claim. What I received was a re-qualified sentence and a recommendation to go to one of your Yahoo! Groups. I must also state that this discussion does not seem strident or harsh to me – that is an ethnocentric view you have derived from simply being asked for some data or research to back up one of your secrets.

    I tried to elaborate on this within a response the other day, but ERE did not post it: Names sourcing is not a barely understood concept. Recruiters have been doing it since day one. In terms of metrics, it takes business minds that understand that entire recruiting process to create meaningful ones. Metrics don’t have to be overly complicated, but they also are not so simplistic as mentioned above. Evidence: You asked Rob earlier is saving money was the same as it going to the bottom line – the answer to that question is no. In fact, this is investigated and taught in numerous Corporate Finance courses.

    I can appreciate the self-marketing, but I am asking for data and substantiation instead of a reference to an opinion-based blog or message board. To respond that you cannot provide me data or metrics because ‘names sourcing is a little understood concept’ is not the intelligent answer.

    In the circles I follow, Rob McIntosh is a highly looked upon player in the recruiting industry. His redefining of the term sourcing has resulted in progress within our industry – for example, RPO firms expanded their offerings to include his newly defined concept of ‘strategic sourcing’; in addition, telephone-sourcers began referring to themselves as his coined concept of ‘strategic-sourcers’ as well. Indeed, the entire industry has benefited – at a minimum, you have since he repackaged sourcing in a way that speaks to the business minds within high performing organizations.

  20. Karen et al:

    1)So, if you did save millions, where would they go, if not to the bottom line? Or, does accrual accounting place them elsewhere? (Karen–I’m being facetious here–do not explain accrual accounting–I know what it is)

    2) Applying Six Sigma to recruiting, or sourcing borders on insanity as a productive practice, it is however, brilliant politics; you can baffle management even better than you could with TQM.

    3) Any methodology to determine recruiting effectiveness would need to be built around the law of large numbers and no one, yes; no one hires enough to smooth the numbers sufficiently to create a consistently repeatable model.

    4) The results of recruiting are subjective, random, situational and only become somewhat predictable in the most limited scenarios. We could, probably predict how many newly hired hamburger flippers will not show up on the first day of work, until you change your ad media, and then you can toss your original prediction.

    5) Internal recruiting, and HR, are barriers to hiring. No where else is adding intermediaries thought to be efficient. It is, though, an excellent, untapped market for methodologies

    6) There is no man-made global warming; cutting down trees does not make it snow any more than dancing cause?s rain. Has no one noticed that you can’t get an accurate prediction of next weeks weather but the same fellows will tell you that it will be 2.4 degrees hotter 10 years hence if you don’t start driving a Prius before 2:30 next Wednesday afternoon?

    7) Any post that starts by saying ‘I’ve been an agency recruiter and a corporate recruiter’ need not be read, the whole sordid tale is contained in that sentence.

  21. ‘Are there any tactics/techniques that Ted Moore WOULD consider unethical?’

    Well, let?s send a probe into the timeline and see what we learn:

    When I was Director of Employment for the largest division of a Fortune 500 company in the pre-Internet early 90’s, I was offered $5000 by a recruiter for the division’s printed phone directory and accompanying organization charts.

    I marveled at the audacity, then reported the offer to my boss. We laughed it off as ‘exceptionally creative, aggressive, stupid, or maybe all three’, and went on with our day.

    Advantage ethics.

    A few years ago, the Marketing department of a client invited me to participate in a closed-access trade show. They gave me a badge that falsely identified me as one of its Sales Representatives. The resulting list of 41 personally-interviewed (or at least chatted-up) Sales and Marketing prospects led to 2 Product Manager and 1 Sales Representative placements over the next year or so.

    Advantage expediency.

    The VP Supply Chain Management of a former client got hired by a new company. Irritated with his former employer for a variety of reasons, but constrained by a non-recruit agreement, he emailed me an org chart of his former company?s Operations group, with the high-potentials conveniently circled.

    Advantage expediency.

    A new customer, a Business Unit GM who works for my most important current client, has given me a new search. In the course of competing for the job, he and I discussed the advantages and disadvantages of recruiting from fresh search research vs. other techniques. I showed him an example of the raw data Maureen had produced for me during a prior, somewhat-related search, and I explained how we had used it and what the results had been.

    He asked, ?How do you people get this stuff?? I replied, ?Do you really want to know?? He responded, ?No, of course not. Just get to work.?


    To answer the original question: I do, and I expect my team to do, what I expect of my lawyer, i.e., whatever it takes to win.

    My attorney delivers against this expectation with astonishing consistency, skill and aggressiveness, all the while complying with the rules of evidence, the ethical standards set by the Ohio Bar, and all the other codified behavioral boundaries that apply to his profession. Beyond this, he couldn?t imagine anything of greater arrogance or lesser relevance than whether a legal strategy or courtroom technique aligned with his personal moral compass.

    Neither could I.

  22. Wow, there are some strong conclusions from this thread. I’ve learned that not only is applying Six-Sigma to recruiting insane (Deming might disagree), but also that Internal Recruiting and HR are barriers to hiring (let me guess: a TPR said that?) In another comment against continuous improvement, I’ve learned the thought process that any methodology to determine recruiting effectiveness would need to be built around the law of large numbers – this piques my curiosity because I see a tremendous amount of research around Quality-of-Hire. Speaking of QOH, it’s one of our reasons for existence as TPRs, isn’t it?

    Which leads me to ask: Are internal recruiting departments wrong for trying to improve their own QOH? Sure, I’d love for them to say, ‘Oh, you’re right – the heck with it! Deming who? Drucker who? Who really cares about a process anyway!’ so us TPRs can make 20% to 30% on every hire . . . but I can’t blame internal recruitment for attempting to improve. I also don’t blame internal recruitment for not buying that the only way to QOH is through a TPR. That sales pitch is old news.

    In addition, I’ve also learned that global warming doesn’t exist. Wow, we need to let all the scientists know asap! We’ll just tell them we heard it here on ERE first!

  23. Bill: In regards to your statement 6) There is no man-made global warming; cutting down trees does not make it snow any more than dancing cause’s rain. Has no one noticed that you can’t get an accurate prediction of next weeks weather but the same fellows will tell you that it will be 2.4 degrees hotter 10 years hence if you don’t start driving a Prius before 2:30 next Wednesday afternoon?

    I can remember in college in the late 60’s early 70’s we were told that the world was DEFINITELY ABSOLUTELY going to run out of petroleum, NO DOUBT ABOUT IT!


    And now Global Warming. (But at least now we have the inventor of the internet saying it)


  24. And around and around it goes: from numbers, to corp recruiters and HR’s ineffectiveness (again), to tree felling and the greenhouse effect and the fact that there is no hole in the ozone layer, and the millions of tons of pollutants we put into the air every day has absolutely no consequences.. phew , I feel better now.. time to go out and buy that Hummer…..

    BTW, I do like how Bill Wagers number 7 came just before Teds response: according to Bill, we should disregards Ted because his is the same old story… right Bill?

    Perhaps we could directly answer a question with a succint answer that makes sense and stick to the topic at hand, that way we could all review and see a potential and pertinent conclusion:

    I believe the original question was is there any data to back up the statement ‘Understand how sourcing can save you thousands, even millions of dollars. Names sourcing is the new cost efficiency being recognized by Six Sigma. Recognize it too and make it a part of your organizational structure.’

  25. Joshua:

    I don’t know for certain, but I suspect Deming might agree with me. He did often refer to a ‘manageable number of data points’ and here we are discussing measuring the right brain.

    I never said recruiters, internal or other should not try to improve–that would be ridiculous but improving glass with a hammer ( an otherwise useful tool) is also ridiculous. Use the right tools for the job. Six Sigma works for A+B+C problems, like designing widgets, or managing multiple projects in a timeline. The mathematical complexity of human interactions, probably something along the lines of ABC to the 10th power, is beyond its scope. I?m certain that every Six Sigma acolyte out there will disagree but time will tell, as it always does with the method du jour.

    As to global warming; you may actually want to read what scientists, specifically climatologists have to say, just bear in mind that people who sing on stage or act in movies are generally not scientists.

  26. Don:

    I just re-read the 1975 Newsweek article on the coming Ice Age__hysterical.

    When you get to a certain age, you’ve seen enough bullpucky to know it on sight, by smell or sound.

  27. Eamonn:

    I had vowed to take a break from posting but when addressed by name, like a Labrador retriever, I feel compelled to wag my tail.

    I must confess, Eamonn, and with no inconsiderable degree of shame, that I did not read Ted’s post and therefore am at a loss as to an appropriate response. However my statement about TPR’s who transition to corporate, was, rather obviously I thought, a sweeping generalization and in no way suggested that I would not consider any information from such a person to be valid. I was once given extremely accurate bus directions by a corporate recruiter and therefore esteem the entire race.

    Now as to the serious question you posed regarding name sourcing and six sigma:
    This is a subject that interests me on both counts because I am a fan of name sourcing and use it extensively. I find it useful in training new recruiters, in addition to its obvious benefits in generating future candidates. It is however, not low hanging fruit, not always quick to produce the desired results. I cannot see large corporations exhibiting the patience necessary for such an activity to produce unless simply used to create priors. Now, in the hands of Maureen, better results would be produced more quickly, but how many Maureen?s are there? I have one, but she’s as costly as a recruiter–no savings in money there–just effectiveness, but I would be hard pressed to report it if I had to.

    I’m also a six sigma fan. We’ve used it for IT projects and have green belts and a black out on billing as we speak. I can’t conceive of its use in HR in any meaningful way. It is after all in its own words: ‘a disciplined, data-driven approach and methodology for eliminating defects (driving towards six standard deviations between the mean and the nearest specification limit) in any process — from manufacturing to transactional—‘.

    The very use of the word ‘defects’ will tell you that these guys were not thinking about hiring when they developed this. It’s to make washing machines. It also speaks to specification limits and to my knowledge we have not yet defined any specification limits to measure against. To use a method like this you need a fairly rigorous standard to begin with (a washer that lasts 6 years) and develop the questions backwards from that, what parts fail? How many parts are there? Where do they come from?

    We have few questions defined. How would we measure a standard deviation from: ?I can’t start the job because I need to be closer to my child?s new daycare facility because the one I used to go to closed and I’m not sure that my car would make the trip every day anyway’. What is a successful hire? What are the causes of failure?

    Let?s start with that, Let?s kill the bear before we skin it.

    The Six Sigma web site says nothing about names sourcing, nor have I heard of it in any other context–but that that doesn’t mean Maureen is wrong, she may know of a situation—

    Anyway, with great regret, I feel compelled now to return to my long neglected labors.

    And so, look for herald no more.

  28. Thanks for your input Bill, perhaps a better comparison for you would be Jack Russel than a lab :).

    I do love sweeping generalizations in that they can account for many misunderstandings… but I didnt get whether you did mean it or didnt mean it? I assume that it could be construed either way?

    Actually the comment about getting the thread back on track was not aimed at you as ( and I hope I am assuming correct here) you did not write the initial article..

    The question was tracking back to the initial question of how does one use six sigma when measurung the value of sourcing… you clearly have stated that you dont believe it can because there need to be specific set targets and data, and then you cleary stated that you might be wrong…

    But thanks for the clarification.

  29. Recruiting will also utilize the Six Sigma model to identify and quantify recruiting and hiring errors. ~ The Future of Recruiting: It Won’t be Anything Like Today (Part 1 of 2)Tips for developing a future-oriented recruiting strategy Monday, April 21, 2008 by Dr. John Sullivan

  30. Interesting LinkedIn discussion about recruiting and Six Sigma:

    How to implement six sigma in recruitment function?
    “I am working on six sigma project, does any one has implemented six sigma in recruitment function? I appreciate if you can share any information(article or process) related to the same.” ~ Amit Jain,
    Senior Specialist – Talent Acquisition at Aricent (

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