What We Hope for SourceCon

The Recruitosphere is undergoing significant change, and one of those changes just announced was the acquisition by ERE of the only sourcing conference event of its kind: SourceCon. ERE is no stranger to acquiring bright and shiny pieces of the Recruitosphere; the present event was foreshadowed by the purchase of the three-decade-old Fordyce Letter, widely considered to be some of the best information for the search and placement industry.

Now that ERE has taken over the reins of the industry’s only live, in-person sourcing conference, it will be interesting to watch where it goes. David Manaster, owner of ERE, recently described the sourcing community as possessing a “distinct (and quirky) ethos.”

There are many definitions of the word “quirky” in the dictionary. Some of them say it is: far-out with informal terms; strikingly unconventional; idiosyncratic; odd; a strange attitude or habit

Although all of these describe one or some of sourcing’s characteristics, we would take it a bit further and suggest the grassroots sourcing community that has developed over the last decade or so around the teachings of several well-known sourcing gurus is a strikingly individualistic and dedicated workforce bringing some of the most innovative solutions to today’s hiring challenges. Even so, the industry itself is at the threshold of a new era.

For a very long time, sourcing was treated as a red-headed stepchild. Shunted to the darkened far corner of the room, some of today’s sourcers stingingly remember the disregard and sometimes contempt they were held in within their organizations. This was in the very few organizations that even had the foresight or temerity to bring them onsite! Many of them fell by the wayside, disheartened and discouraged by the lack of support, training, and development that they encountered in their daily pursuits. A few of them realized that the choice that lay before them was in the decision that they could either get better or get bitter. The ones that decided to get better trail-blazed the path that led to the threshold we are on today.

It’s only the beginning, folks.

We’re just scratching the surface of where we’re going to go. There are a few things we wish for the Sourcecon conference (and for all sourcers in the sourcing community) moving forward and they are enumerated below.

We hope you understand that we sourcers are students in our hearts. Most of us are madly keen to learn new techniques but more than that we’re focused on understanding, and true understanding comes through practice. We’re curious, we don’t take no for an answer or are satisfied with superficial answers. We’re practical. It’s important that we learn new things, but it’s really important that we put those new things to the task — that they not be fluffy theories. Impress us.

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Tapping into creativity
When the answers don’t come to the questions that seem to not have answers, we hope you keep going. Everything has an answer. Somewhere. You just have to find it. That’s what we do and that’s what this event should do.

We hope you learn that tough times, disappointment, and hard work lead to happiness and that you always strive to help others, even when they’re scared. Especially when they’re scared. We’re tenaciously persevering; we hope you will be too.

High-quality content
We’re technology savvy, literate, effortlessly coachable, and natural problem-solvers, so don’t feed us copied or recycled content. Make it original; make it worth our while, something we didn’t already read in 10 other blogs. We need credible speakers who know what it’s like to be in the sourcing hot seat. It would be great if you could create a sourcing advisory board for everything around the event, but particularly agenda and speaker selection.

Open minded and transparent
We hope you learn the value of humility by moving past failure, that you are honest when no one is looking, and fight for the things you believe in. The “air of mystery” was cool for a little while, but as sourcers our next big hurdle now is solidifying management buy-in and increasing our professional credibility. Help us elevate our trade to a level where we are openly recognized as the specialists we are. We can achieve that together, with your help, but not if there’s all this “dark arts mystery” around our already fairly cryptic job descriptions; this miasma often turns off staffing leaders and others who might otherwise become great sourcers if the activity wasn’t so ambiguous-sounding.

We’re not sourcers because it’s cool or trendy; we’re sourcers because there’s nothing else we’d rather do. Along those lines, we hope you’re transparent. We must be transparent in our work, reporting our activities not just for compliance but for our own development. We track and document everything; we take copious notes; and we look under every rock. We’d love for you to be just as open with us as we have to be with ourselves.

Timing and Sponsorship
We get that this time we need to piggyback on another event, and that’s fine, but this really is a separate event so there should be a dedicated time and place. We should also have our own vendors because they are often a different breed than those who sponsor the ERE events. Here’s an idea: what if these vendors sponsor the challenges so prizes can be stepped up. This would motivate more people to participate in challenges. Oh, and we’d love to see a sourcing tools bake-off!


18 Comments on “What We Hope for SourceCon

  1. In regards to the hope, “Open-Minded and Transparent”, I also have one request:

    Please no further articles that claim newcomers to the sourcing community (or anyone who has the pleasure and honor to present at a conference) as:

    “Self-proclaimed experts”,
    “Where did they come out of the woodwork?”,
    “These are people who were contract recruiters yesterday and would jump back tomorrow if they could land a steady gig.
    “These “overnight gurus” are looking for quick cash in the meantime to cover their bills.”

    I attended both Sourcecons, and outside of the open nature of the conference, the best quality was the freshness of the voices. New players to the game weren’t slandered or questioned for competitive positioning. The above statements are about the furthest thing from what Sourcecon was really about.

    P.S. The article I’m writing in reference to is, “The ROI of Cheap Training” (3/17/09) [yep, just a few months ago.] At the Sourcecons’ I attended, there sure weren’t any “cheap” voices there.

  2. Online Sourcing is changing so rapidly that years of practice may not be that important today for a successful sourcer, if they are not accompanied by daily practice, creativity, curiosity, and development of technical skills.

    I met some very strong sourcers while running the Boolean Strings network (http://booleanstrings.ning.com/); they seem to possess these qualities and have become great sourcers relatively recently – Kameron Swinton, Adam Weidmer, Chris Penny, Lisa Offutt, Katharine Robinson (UK), Andrea Mitchell (Australia) to name a few.

    There have been new online appearances by experienced sourcers and teachers. Glen Cathey has been “online” as long as I have, for about a year, and has made a well recognized name in with his Boolean Black Belt blog. Shannon Myers (she’s one of the past contest winners) is running groups and online chats for Social Media sourcers. The more, the merrier, I think. 🙂

    Question for Shally,
    Are you going to participate in the next SourceCon challenge? I’d be interested in competing with you in the finals.

    The first 2010 SourceCon challenge winner

  3. Talk about a “sourcing thrown down”! “How can you resist the challenge?

    Other than its non-competitive nature, I found the first two Sourcecon’s a breath of fresh air. What I appreciated most was what I can “refrigerator art.” Refrigerator art being the works or masterpieces of our most important masters in our homes. To me that sums up the contributions and inspirations of the talent individuals that comprise the sourcing profession. The practitioner’s that are still honing their craft and are willing to share their success and failures.

    While I particularly appreciate the history of sourcing (www.jimstroud.com), I have enjoyed the role that sourcing plays in the strategic staffing of the 21st century. I don’t know much about dark arts, red hair (at my age, I am just happy to have hair) or living in the shadows—that is not my experience. My experience is an integral part of a vibrant staffing team that makes a significant contribution to achieving our hiring goals. No sleight of hand; no lack of respect; just the opportunity to play a critical role in the success of staffing.

    I am not certain that big prizes for contests are the best method of serving the sourcing community. For us dinosaurs and non-competitive types, perhaps there are better venues for learning. While we can debate whether $$$ is a motivator, I suspect the same talented and speedy sourcers will win the awards.

  4. Refrigerator art? NICE! I love it, that’s a perfect analogy. As you know I have two refrigerator artists now so that really resonates with me. Marvin, if it were up to me I would love to nominate you for the board of advisors, but I’m certain you’re already being considered by ERE at the top of the list if they do create such a board! Your humility leads the charge, that’s exactly the attitude that I believe can take Sourcecon to the next level. In fact, if you listen to Scott on the Talksourcing show (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/TalkSourcing/2009/10/08/ERE-acquires-Sourcecon–talk-about-it-first-here-o) that was one of the reasons he listed for why ERE invested in Sourcecon!

  5. I went to Sourcecon not knowing exactly what to expect. One of the key things I noticed that comes through in the article from Maureen and Shally was the level of innovation present and the curious minds in attendance. I walked away thinking this is fertile ground for the growth of all of recruiting. When you consider the recruiting industry as a whole it seems to encompasses a wide spectrum of both conservative and progressive thought patterns. Sourcecon had the attitude of growth and “what if” thinking.

  6. By the way – for those of you who noticed that there was a very harsh comment on this article, a comment that later disappeared …

    The reason why I deleted it wasn’t related so much to the content of the comment; it was because the poster apparently was anonymous. We couldn’t verify her name, and we don’t do anonymous comments. She/he can repost as her real self if they wish.

  7. Todd–great call on the mystery commentator. I attempted to look the poster up and got lost at “Sophella the Maraquan Uni” Site. As you can conclude, that makes about as much sense as the posting in question.

  8. Marvin, that’s hilarious 🙂 I think I found the same site you did, which described, “The Maraquan Uni is modeled off of a Greek creature called the Hippocampus. As stated above, a Hippocampus is a horse-like sea monster.” There even looks to be a comic book.

    And I thought the Hippocampus was the long-term hard-drive (meaning storage, of course) of the brain!

    My only thought like that for a post like that is that I never really can understand the personal comments – I mean, if you’re commenting on something someone said or did, then no problem. But to just make a statement calling someone “angry” or “atrocious” is pretty ridiculous. Notice I’m not saying that particular person is ridiculous – rather, I’m saying their actions are.

    Anyway, what we wind up with is people self-appointing themselves as free Internet psychotherapists (“You’re always so sad, Marvin”), and worse, people airing dirty laundry by calling others atrocious. If only Sigmund Freud was around to see the Recruitosphere message boards. I think he’d find us all crazy – well, maybe he’d assume we could help him find the local apothecary. My guess is he’d grow to like our new pharmaceuticals today. 🙂

    P.S. The funniest part of this is that I reread the poster’s name and it seemed to be a play on words. I think Sophella might have meant “So Full Of” . . . and well, I think we can guess the rest!

    P.S.S. I’m mostly Irish, so I’m largely impervious to pyschotherapy (so says Sigmund, anyway) 🙂

  9. Hi Maureen. Thanks for your comment. I would urge corporate recruiting groups to find budget for their Recruiters to attend as is a great development opportunity in many ways.

  10. My involvement with SourceCon rests only in editing The Source Newsletter, so there’s my disclaimer for my following comment 🙂

    One thing I’ve enjoyed about SourceCon in the past is the opportunity for many voices to be heard. Some long-term contributors to the art of sourcing and some new folks who’ve had less experience but are proving themselves worthy of being heard. This is one of the main reasons that the editors at The Source have done SourceCon Spotlights – to allow those who are learning the skills involved in becoming a great sourcer at a rapid pace to have a voice in our community. I am VERY pleased to see a number of our former Spotlighters really making a name for themselves and developing their skills even further – it warms my heart. Sometimes the best lessons come from viewing things through a fresh set of eyeballs.

    While I had the privilege of speaking at the first SourceCon and I met some AMAZING people there, I think I got more out of the second one because it was “round 2”, and there were so many fresh, new perspectives that were shared and I enjoyed being an attendee. One thing I think our industry needs to do better at is supporting the growth of the next generation. In fact, I’d say most industries could do better at this. There’s something to be said about reaching the head of the class and then going back to mentor and guide the next group in getting there. At SourceCon 2010, I look forward to more fresh learning experiences such as this.

    And BTW – The Source Newsletter should be back to normal soon 🙂 I realize we’ve dropped the ball this summer/fall with content, and I take responsibility for that. We are excited about being part of ERE and should have things up and running again shortly. Stay tuned!

  11. Thank you to CH, JL, SS, etc who sent me private messaged on this … I totally appreciate the convo that my snarkiness has prompted 🙂

    Definitions of snarky on the Web:

    * Snide and sarcastic; usually out of irritation

    * snarkily – In a snarky manner

    * snarkier – Comparative form of snarky: more snarky

    * snarkiness – The quality of being snarky


    Jeremy Langhans | senior recruiter | Talent Engagement

    Starbucks Coffee Company | 2401 Utah Ave. S. | Seattle, WA 98134
    p: 206-318-5429| e: jlanghan@starbucks.com

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