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Give Me 48 Hours

by Jan 20, 2012, 1:48 pm ET

Someone called me yesterday in a rush.

“I need to find Application Engineers installing medical equipment — x-ray equipment to be exact — and I looked on LinkedIn and there’s not much I can use. Oh, sure, there are some application engineers who list ‘medical equipment’ in their profiles, but I need people from specific companies — companies like GE, Johnson & Johnson, 3M, Medtronics, Becton-Dickinson, Boston Scientific, Stryker, St. Jude, Varian, Cordis — you know, the majors. And I don’t need them if they worked at those companies in the past — I need them working at those companies today!

“I also don’t need all the desperate substitute offerings LinkedIn is giving me because they don’t have exactly what I need –I can’t wade through that mess of misfits.”

“Can you help me?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Can you help me fast?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said again.

“I have to warn you, though, a couple of those companies you listed are customers of mine so I won’t be able to source them but I think we’ll be able to add some other companies that will yield you a list of 30 or 40 that might do the trick for you,” I added.

“And you’ll be able to get me names of the application engineers at those companies who are installing medical equipment today?” he asked. There was an emphasis on the word “today.”

“Yes,” I answered.

“And you’re sure they will be application engineers — the guys in the field installing the equipment?” he pressed, still unsure I knew what he was talking about.

“I promise,” I solemnly swore.

“How long will it take?”

“Give me 48 hours,” I answered. I’ll be able to send you probably half of what’s out there to get you started. Give me another 48 hours and I’ll send you the rest.”

I heard the surprise in the silence that followed.

“You there?” I asked.

“Yes, yes, I’m here,” he stammered. You sure you’ll be able to find these guys? I’ve wasted two weeks foolin’ around with the crap online. I can’t waste any more time.”

I understood I had a doubting Thomas on my hands long before he asked me this last question. I also understand the hurt, confusion, and doubt that his own failed efforts on this difficult search were casting upon mine. It wasn’t his fault — he’s been led to believe the remedy for hard-to-fill positions like his resided online.

It doesn’t.

The information* he seeks resides in the tightly cocooned interiors of companies like the world-class players he mentioned and it’s hard to get to. It takes a refined sense of fast timing and intuition to reach it.

Fast timing and intuition doesn’t exist online.

They just don’t.

They exist in the sharply honed telephone skills of clinicians like me and other expert phone sourcers who paw and peek and dig and dive into these companies. It exists in your own or another’s ability to engage strangers to tell you things.

Anyone can “engage” the Internet.

It never says “No.”

It never barks back at you or asks you why you need the information you’re seeking.

The Internet is safe.

It’s anonymous and it’s modern technology so it feels like something’s getting done.

The results (in the example given above) speak for themselves.

“I’m sure,” I assured him. “If I don’t, you don’t pay me!” I added, closing the deal.

“Give me 48 hours,” I said.

“What do you need to get started?” he asked.

*Before anyone gets too excited let me state that there are some positions that are fillable with information found online. But the high paying, challenging ones? Not so much.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

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  • http://www.Recruiterdna.com Larry Hernandez

    Hey Maureen. Interesting post. I don’t think anyone is against picking up the phone, it’s just in 2012 there is no need to call in cold. It took me less than 1 minute to find 148 current “Application Engineers” at the target list you listed on “LinkedIn Recruiter”. With a couple of clicks I could send them all an inmail and then start looking up their direct phone numbers on Jigsaw and start calling. What’s the big deal?

    “The information* he seeks resides in the tightly cocooned interiors of companies like the world-class players he mentioned and it’s hard to get to. It takes a refined sense of fast timing and intuition to reach it.

    Fast timing and intuition doesn’t exist online.

    They just don’t.”

  • http://www.techtrak.com Maureen Sharib

    Larry,

    Please.

    You missed the whole point of the article.

    A “Gas Turbines Application Engineer” at General Electric (GE) today is a far cry from an Application Engineer at GE (Medical) who installs x-ray equipment today.

    A past “Product Manager -Wound Care” at Johnson & Johnson who is now a Senior Application Engineer at Oracle is a FAR CRY from an Application Engineer at Johnson & Johnson who installs x-ray equipment today.

    Even a Product Marketing Manager at McKesson today who was an “Application Engineer a decade ago at Electroglas” w/ a stint in-between as a “Lead” at Johnson & Johnson is a far cry from an Application Engineer at Johnson & Johnson who installs x-ray equipment there today.

    But I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and make you a bet. He probably doesn’t want a “Sales and Application Engineer at Wipro GE Medical Devices” (a joint venture between Wipro and GE’s healthcare business in India) in the Ahmedabad Area of India (who probably doesn’t know the first thing about x-ray machines).

    He wants this person in the United States.

    You’d be correct if you said I didn’t mention the position was in the United States but (most) recruiters working here in the United States on positions here in the United States want people already here in the United States.

    I suppose I should have been clearer on that part in the article.

    I was, however, VERY CLEAR that this customer (like most of my customers) wants people working at his target companies right this very minute.

    On positions like these, LinkedIn (apparently your drug of choice) and the rest of the Internet just don’t deliver that kind of requirement.

    Yesterday’s news is yesterday’s news.

    A job board is a job board is a job board.

    Moving on, an “Associate Product Development Engineer at Medtronic” today who used to be an “Application Engineer at Cummins Mid-South” is a far cry from an Application Engineer at Medtronics who installs x-ray equipment there today.

    A “Principal Engineer at Becton, Dickinson” who used to be a “Training Leader and Senior Application Engineer at Dassault Systemes” is another FAR CRY from an Application Engineer at Becton Dickinson who installs x-ray equipment today.

    Principle Software Engineers at Boston Scientific who happen to have the word “application” somewhere in their profiles (as so many software engineers do) are a FAR CRY from an Application Engineer at Boston Scientific who installs x-ray equipment today.

    A “Sr. Engineer at Stryker Orthopaedics” in New Delhi, India (oh, that pesky geographical thing again!) today WHO WAS a Sr. Application Engineer at Norgren won’t cut the mustard as an Application Engineer at Stryker who installs x-ray equipment today.

    I could go on (at St. Jude, Varian and Cordis) but I’m weary from flexing my muscles.

    Here’s the BIG DEAL:

    That people put out the kind of misinformation you just did and desperate wanna-believers (yes, there are plenty of people who don’t want to pick up a phone) pick up on it as Gospel and think – like the guy who called me – that online results are going to fill their pipelines.

    “They just don’t.”

  • http://www.leute.com/wordpress Thomas Bolt

    I think I am on record somewhere, probably in a blog post or Twitter chat, as an advocate of ALL sourcing tools. There are multiple ways to use the telephone in sourcing and it takes real talent, practice and experience to do it right. I will go out on a limb and say that it is a time proven device and nothing has really come close to replacing it in an age of faceless/voiceless technology. I love LinkedIn recruiter, but that too is only one tool. Naive sourcers who blindly send an InMail to anyone with a pulse and a job title close to the mark will soon be taken as no better than a spammer and ruin it for all of us. I hope the smart LinkedIn recruiter will take the time to make it personal.

    Tools can be used or misused. I know corporate recruiters who use LinkedIn Recruiter as nothing more than a job posting device and just another job board. What a waste of a resource! That is like using the air in your tires as a source of compressed air to blow up balloons.

  • http://www.Recruiterdna.com Larry Hernandez

    Hello Maureen.

    After quickly reading your post last night, I get this “I’m against technology and progress” vibe from you. Sounds like you are saying that using social media is a waste of time and the only “Pure” recruiting solution is to “Smile & Dial”. I’m having a flashback to rotary phones, index cards, fax blasts, and recruiters smoking at their desks.

    Of Course recruiters should know their prospective industry & niche like a Dr. knows her specialty, but that has nothing to do with using LinkedIn or Not, that is all about taking your profession seriously.

    But I think it would be naive to think that most candidate populations are not engaging in social media (FB, LI, Twitter, etc.) as we speak.

    This might blow you away, but in SOME circles and candidate demographics, a cold call is right up there with telemarketers and “Junk Mail” and it actually helps to look them up on the World Wide Web first.

    Let me be clear. I am not against picking up the phone. But

    Social Media is not a fad, and it’s not going away. So can’t we all get along?

    I do think it’s odd that you work with clients that expect result from you in minutes on a regular basis. We have all had emergency requests from time to time, but it sounds like your clients are using your valuable services as a last resort instead of partnering with you from the beginning (just a thought, I do not claim to know your business or your clients).

    Cheers Maureen – see you on LinkedIn – and stop calling me while I’m eating dinner ;)

    Love @RecruiterLarry

  • http://www.techtrak.com Maureen Sharib

    LOL I see you get it Larry.

    Truthfully, this struck a nerve w/ me:
    “I do think it’s odd that you work with clients that expect result from you in minutes on a regular basis. We have all had emergency requests from time to time, but it sounds like your clients are using your valuable services as a last resort instead of partnering with you from the beginning (just a thought, I do not claim to know your business or your clients).”

    My customers expect results in hours – they’ve learned that 48 or 72 hours is not unusual for me to return phone-sourced results. Once they’ve experienced success with this model they bring me in early-on rather than “better late (last resort) than never” as you so cleverly noted.

    HOWEVER, some of those NEW to my service who don’t really UNDERSTAND my service (and there’s plenty) DO think I have some kind of magical database I can pull names out of in minutes.

    I explain to them that although I DO have a database garnered over fifteen years of doing custom phone research it ages quickly and there are no results like JustInTime results, which is more than likely what they need and requires CALLING INTO A COMPANY to retrieve.

    I sometimes turn to my database to gather a toehold into a company (and that’s all that’s usually at a company after a few years – a handful. Databases have aged incredibly fast over the last three years as companies downsized.)

    CONFESSION: I do use the Internet to source – sometimes to get started on a job (to prove I’m not progress and technology resistant). But many times I just start calling – to get EXACTLY BEXT TO what the customer wants I usually have to call in.

    I DO BELIEVE THAT ALL AVENUES OF SOURCING SHOULD BE PURSUED BUT NONE SHOULD BE AN EXCLUSIVE FOCUS.

    NOW, to address your original premise:
    “It took me less than 1 minute to find 148 current “Application Engineers” at the target list you listed on “LinkedIn Recruiter”.”

    You didn’t really, did you?

    I’m not faulting you – I’m faulting the methodology and what the definition of what true “sourcing” really is.

    THAT I’d like to talk about! It’s causing a lot of confusion in sourcing and recruiting circles today.

    Here’s a piece I wrote awhile back about what sourcing is/isn’t:
    http://tinyurl.com/7oyfgg5

    I know you’re going to hate this but I maintain that less than 10% of the available workforce IN MOST INDUSTRIES is identifiable online to match a recruiter’s need. Actually, I think it’s less than 5%.

    I know I’m a maverick in saying that and most of the others who agree with me are loathe to put it online for fear of castigation from their peers.

    I agree w/ you when you say “… it would be naive to think that most candidate populations are not engaging in social media (FB, LI, Twitter, etc.) as we speak.”

    But that doesn’t mean they’re engaging in a way that identifies them to your need.

    This is the important difference that so many Internet-sourcing enthusiasts are blithe to.

    Now here’s something to think about and I’m rather alarmed by it:

    “Talent Pipeline: All Your Leads in One Place, Powered by LinkedIn”

    My understanding is that Talent Pipeline will give LinkedIn a place to track your sourced leads whether you sourced them on LinkedIn OR NOT.

    What does that mean?

    Think about it.

    Does it mean LinkedIn’s cloud will allow LinkedIn to gain access to/be privy to your custom research? Will they start sending “invites” to your hard-won private “leads” (I imagine there will be many emails included in the custom data) to “join LinkedIn – the world’s largest professional network” thereby possibly diluting your custom and powerful information out to others?

    Is this a Machiavellian attempt by LinkedIn to corner even more power at your expense?

    Let’s talk about that!

  • http://www.techtrak.com Maureen Sharib

    That should be “EXACTLY NEXT TO”. B’s next to the N on my typepad!

  • http://www.techtrak.com Maureen Sharib

    Apparently that link above to my Fordyce article “What Sourcing OIs and What It Isn’t” sn’t working. Try this:http://tinyurl.com/7kqg5zo

  • Howard Adamsky

    48 hours?

    I suspect Maureen can do it in 24.

    Great stuff Maureen

  • Howard Adamsky

    Larry said it best by the way. “Social Media is not a fad, and it’s not going away. So can’t we all get along?”

    Can we all get along? No but social media is here to stay. So is the phone.

    What time is dinner Larry? Can I call?

  • Keith Halperin

    This is interesting,. Who is this article for? The vast majority of potential candidates can be found by the $6.25/hr folks (an these folks are getting better and better), and those that can’t can/should be found more quickly and efficiently by Maureen and her world-class peers for $40+/name- it should be left to the professional dedicated sourcers (unless you need- but can’t afford the $40+/name folks). Furthermore, the recent closure of Arbita’s sourcing group of Shally + three other employees makes me think that even the most prominent high-level sourcers in the world belong to small organizations (perhaps Maureen’s organization is much larger, but I doubt that it’s filled with substantial numbers of sourcers of her caliber; perhaps I’m wrong). Therefore I conclude:
    There just isn’t a need for all that much world-class $40+/name sourcing to keep large numbers of high-level, high-paid sourcers consistently employed.

    Keith

  • http://www.starjobs.co.za John Comyn

    I have to agree with Maureen. Telephonic sourcing is a forgotten art that is still highly effective. I like the personal touch & so do candidates. It makes them feel special (if you know what you are doing). I believe LinkedIn is very useful but I see in dying a slow death. It is fast becomming a job board versus a business networking site. Top talent will start removing their profiles to avoid being harassed by recruiters like ourselves. Google + is likely to win market share in the “LinkedIn space”. We shall see. Great to read Maureen & Larry the lounge lizard having a lively debate. Both have valid arguments.

  • http://aces.arbita.net/blog/glenn Glenn Gutmacher

    As a pioneer in Internet sourcing, I continue to be asked (15 years later) to focus on innovative online research methods in my work. However, I would be the first to admit that sometimes the phone is the best way to achieve a critical mass of leads (especially for niche roles of the type Maureen describes above — BTW, excellent post and examples, Maureen!). Good online and phone research together is usually the best formula, as Maureen and countless others have said numerous times.

    To Keith’s point, I disagree about drawing any conclusions from the demise of Arbita’s sourcing group (where I worked up to 2010 as well) – its collapse was due to various factors, none of which related to the quality of the sourcing (which was indeed high). Rather, I’d argue that while some elite sourcers assuredly work in boutique firms, in terms of pure numbers, I think you’ll find far more in large corporate recruiting operations and large staffing firms, because they operate at a scale where they can justify role specialization, including having dedicated full-time sourcing roles at wages thankfully well above third-world rates. Most everywhere else, a recruiter does their own sourcing (for better or worse).

  • Keith Halperin

    @ Glenn: Thank you for clarifying the situation with Arbita. I may have been misunderstood- I wasn’t reflecting on the quality of the sourcing work, which was world-class. Rather, I was commenting on the apparent small requirement for world-class sourcing. As far as large organizations requiring substantial numbers of on-site sourcers- I’m not so sure. I was part of a sourcing group that when I was there had over 200 largely onsite sourcers- I’d be willing to say that an organization of this type should we familiar enough with its needs to be able to create data-mined candidate pipelines for the vast majority of its positions so they wouldn’t need to be sourced: when you know where your keys are, do you have to go look for them over and over again? (This doesn’t require world-class sourcing.) I believe that a major organization needs a few in-house world-class sourcers, as it needs a few in-house world-class executive recruiters. Also, while the cost of the inhouse sourcers large companies hire may be typically 500%-800% as much as the $6.25hr/ outsourced sourcers, I don’t think the quality is proportionately that much more. (The virtual folks I use are highly-skilled, incredibly hard workers, and committed to success.) As far as world-class sourcers in staffing firms- ISTM much more cost-effective for companies (or even search firms) to hire someone like Maureen or you to get the very best and hardest to find at $40+/name, than pay a search firm 30% to do so, i.e., search firms should make their money on the relationship-building and closing of candidates, not the sourcing. Your final point “Most everywhere else, a recruiter does their own sourcing (for better or worse.)” is straight-on. Most of us do our own sourcing, and unless our time is worth $6.25/hr or less (or we’re broke) most of us SHOULDN”T do it.

    Cheers,

    Keith

  • http://www.davidgilliesrecruiting.ning.com David Gillies

    Awesome points all around. I am trying to learn to source as well as Maureen, but it is true, few are willing to face the rejection. It takes me awhile to get started but once I pick up the phone, I am often pleasantly surprised. I would also reference Irina Shamaeva’s (sp?) post of her findings in LinkedIn’s public offering. It stated some pretty dark statistics about how many users actually visit their profiles with any regularity and how many profiles are duplicates or plain bogus. Thanks for the post, Maureen!