What We Hope for SourceCon

Oct 13, 2009
This article is part of a series called Opinion.

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.

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!

This article is part of a series called Opinion.
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