Running With the Herd? Try Doing Something Different

Oct 9, 2012

I’m a phone sourcer and I make my living working the phones. To be exact, I make my living going into the bowels of companies and identifying who does what.

I hear more and more from many of you in our community of Oh, you’re that old school type, right?”  Yeah, I am.

My company has two levels of service; that first tier telephone name generation piece and a secondary (and subtler) level that many don’t know about — the candidate contact piece — which we call profiling.

That second level of service is when we contact each potential candidate we’ve identified by phone or is on a list the customer provides.

We’re that first audible touch many potential candidates ever receive from the outside. We get a bird’s eye understanding of the individual’s capacities (usually 8-12 questions are asked) and we also gauge the level of interest that person might have in talking further with a recruiter.

Profiling Demand Worries Me

The demand for our profiling service, especially the profiling service where the customer provides the names, is passing our demand for our original phone-sourced names service.  That has worried me the last couple years.

Having given much thought to this phenomenon (and being an active profiler) I think I understand why the profiling demand is expanding. Let me tell you why.

It used to be when we called a phone-sourced (surprised) candidate they’d say one of two things or sometimes they’d say both:

“How’d you get my name?”

“I’m not looking for a job!”

Nowadays I hear less and less of “How’d you get my name?” (Because they know – or at least they suspect!) The far more common response these days is more the hurried and almost plaintive cry, “I’m not looking for a job!”

Along with the “I’m not looking for a job!“ sometimes cranky exclamation comes  varying degree of (almost irritated) stoniness.

This never used to happen.

Well, not ever. But it was very, very rare.

What’s going on here?  I have my theories.

Too Much Social Media?

The first theory that jumps to mind — I’m sure you know it’s coming — is to blame an over-reliance and what is becoming an over-use of social media.

But I think it goes deeper than that. I think it goes to the heart of human nature and the forms of communication we’re using.  I think this over-reliance and over-use of social media sites and online databases (isn’t that what many social media sites are, really, when you get down to it?) are souring the potential candidate experience.

In other words, you’re wearing out the welcome!

I know this flies in the face of what many of you want to believe but let’s be for real.

How many of you are enamored w/ LinkedIn’s “InMail”?

Be honest. Raise your hands.

There’s a bunch of you in the audience.

How many of you, after you busy yourself sending that important-looking “InMail” that you’ve so carefully worded, sit back and expect results to come in over the transom?

Be honest. Raise your hands.

There’s more-than-there-should-be of you in the audience.

How many of you actually call the potential candidate you find online (both instead of or after you’ve emailed them)? (Do you know some of you don’t have the faintest idea how to find a person’s phone number?)

Be honest. Raise your hands.

Oh.  Not so much.  How’d I guess?

For those of you who are calling, what’s your reception like (in high demand areas like high-tech, biomed and all those) when you call someone you find online?

Is it cooling?  I bet it is.

Burning Out the Base

Over-reliance on social media is burning out the “potential candidate” base.

It’s subtle; it’s in their voices but if you’re highly skilled communicating on the telephone you can hear it. High demand people on social media are experiencing a deluge of recruiter contact.

Most of it is coming through email and generally stops there. All the same, these people are tuning out and some of them are dropping out of the online experience. They don’t want to hear from us because they’re burned out!

Why do I blame the online popularity of finding potential candidates?  Because the potential candidates I call that I’ve phone sourced (and cannot be found online) are not nearly so prone to be short with me. That alone should be enough evidence to convince you, but I know for most of you, it won’t.

Call me the canary in the mine at this point.

Time will tell more and I’m so willing to put my money on what my diagnosis is I’m putting these statements online knowing they will be read far into the future when the veracity of my claims will be more apparent.

If you disagree, I dare you to put your diagnosis on the results of social media up here for future generations to see.

What’s Going On Here?

For some of us, over-reliance on social media is sublimating a basic human need for companionship and camaraderie.

I was struck as I was watching the movie The Social Network, by Mark Zuckerberg’s (a Facebook founder) character.  What came across to me was his lack of compassion/empathy for others and his inability to interpret what others were saying.

There’s a disorder associated with characteristics like these – it’s called Asperger Syndrome. It’s a sad diagnosis.

I don’t know if Zuckerberg has it, but I find it curious that someone with his (portrayed) characteristics helped create (was the driving force?) behind Facebook, a place where we can all “connect” rather than “converse” – an (in)ability Zuckerberg seems to have in spades. Somehow he was able to interpret enough of what others said to create the baseline format for a product that keeps us from really seeing — really deciphering — one another’s true meanings, true intentions, true selves.

Connecting Is Not Conversing

It’s as if we’re all developing Asperger’s!

We’re connecting – not conversing.

“But, I have 10,764 ‘friends!’” you’re thinking.

My dead mother, God bless her soul, would tell me, “Maureen, if you have ONE TRUE FRIEND in this life you’re lucky!”

Don’t kid yourself.  Those 10,764 “friends” aren’t going to pay your bills.

Those 10,764 “friends” aren’t going to write you a check.

Those 10,764 “friends” aren’t going to give a rat’s ass when your business crashes and burns or your career careens and your self-confidence plummets.

Did you know there’s a new study that links all those late-night hours you sit at your computer excitedly hammering away on social media to depression?

Oh, yeah it’s fun.  It wiles away the hours.  It counters the boredom you feel because you’re not doing what you love. It’s a Band-Aid over insouciance.

You can’t be engaged – you’re too busy being “in touch” with others on social media that you don’t know what being in touch with yourself means!  Without that knowledge you’ll never know what it is you love to do.

Every human being wants to know this.

We’re all spending so much time on social media we’re forgetting/forgoing basic person-to-person, face-to-face, voice-to-voice communication skills.

Calling Is Scary

We’re (willingly) exchanging the natural shyness and hesitation many of us feel in reaching out to others for a “screen” that masks our true identities.  This screen allows us to edit who we are.

It’s much safer to send an email than it is to call a person, isn’t it?  Email is clean and precise; calling is messy and demanding. After all, that person you call is filled with possibilities you find kind of scary.

In recruiting, you’re calling that person because you’re engaging in (what really) is a sales activity. You’re selling a job.

Yes, you are.  Stop shaking your head.

That person might ask you questions you’re not comfortable answering. And, worst of all, that person may reject you.

A Malaise of the Spirit

This failure to be able to normally (physically) connect to others is kind of  — no, it is — an attachment disorder that is resulting in problematic social expectations and behaviors.  It’s creating that insouciance in society we discussed above — a malaise of the human spirit.

All this busy “connecting” and “creativity” is disallowing us to be self-reflective and is keeping us from knowing ourselves.

Connecting removes that element of trust we need in ourselves.

Conversing demands we know ourselves at least enough not to feel we have to edit everything we are – do and say behind and through the veil of a computer screen.

The next (net) generation is especially at risk.

I’m asking you to listen to me — especially you in the net generation — and listen to each other regardless how resistant you’re feeling to what I am (and more and more people like me are) saying.

Many times when someone doesn’t know what to say to me — when that voice on the other end of the line falls silent, or hesitates or clears its throat — it’s these many times when information passes to me. It’s like what is not being said is being said.

I often call this the ghost on the wires. I can’t “hear” that message online. Neither can you.

So what can we do about this? Some of you aren’t going to like what I have to say.

Do Something Different

There’s a tried-and-true maxim that says, “When everyone is doing the same thing — do something different!”

When everyone is doing something silly do something serious — you’ll stand out.

When everyone is doing new school — do old school.

Stop running with the herd.

Sure, you’re going to get ruffled up as you exit. The wind from the galloping crush is going to blow your skirts up when you stop.

It’ll be scary.

It’ll be fun.

But you won’t get trampled to death when you falter and we all falter one time or another. I promise you you’ll be safe.

Now go outside and get some fresh air.

Talk to someone.


Phone Sourcing Certification AT LAST! Maureen Sharib’s MagicMethod phone sourcing training is now being presented in webinar format.
There are four (4) levels of certification:MagicMethod Phone Sourcer-1  MMPS1;MagicMethod Phone Sourcer-2  MMPS2;MagicMethod Phone Sourcer-3  MMPS3; MagicMethod Phone Sourcer41 MMPS4. Learn more here.
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