Help Me Help You

Always the same old reprieve, “You should do full-cycle recruiting. You would make so much more money!” Sometimes it gets a little harsher and sounds like this: “You’re a fool not to do full-cycle recruiting. You would make so much more money!”

No, I wouldn’t. I don’t want to do full-cycle recruiting. I don’t have the patience for the human emotion thing that goes on in it. I spent the first half of my career catering to the whims and desires of others. I’m not about to finish it with a flourish in the full-cycle recruiting business.

This I know about myself. I no longer choose to place my fate on the decisions made by fickle and easily influenced job-seekers, overtaxed recruiting representatives, and uncommunicative and hard-to-please hiring managers.

I hear it all the time. Poor communication, disappointing 11th-hour decisions, hard-to-fathom behavioral issues all trotted out on a daily basis on the ERE message boards. I fell into sourcing by accident; once I muddied my shoes, I knew I had found a place to call home. I never looked back. That was 10 years ago.

My solution was to focus on sourcing.

Some of you are wondering “What the heck is sourcing?” As I define it, it is:

Names Sourcing: the finding of people who hold specific titles (usually) within specific organizations so that you, as a recruiter, may contact them and offer them your opportunity. They may be an active candidate, meaning their information is “out there” and who are currently looking for another opportunity. Or their name may be generously spilled across the Internet for reasons usually well-known to them and apparent to the rest of the world. This type is usually easier to find because of the Internet exposure. They may also be the other kind, or the kind we telephone sourcers pry out of their hidden spaces. A passive candidate is the one (usually) of more interest, the one not currently looking for an opportunity, the one busily going about the daily routine of the job you need to fill. The likelihood is, when contacted, this passive candidate will be extremely flattered you took the time to find him and will listen, many times attentively, to what you have to say.

This article will educate recruiters as to what we sourcers need from you. As a “Sourceress,” I am also interested in hearing, in your comments back on this article, what we sourcers can do to help you most effectively.

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Once in a while, an enlightened recruiter will ask, “What can I do to help you?” Such a person understands the challenges inherent in my work and wants to help me because ultimately, it will result in a better outcome for the recruiter.

Recently, a recruiter sent me a job with the target companies in it along with the numbers for the offices of the geographic regions he wanted me to contact people in. He even had researched the companies and told me what the names of the “groups” I would find his people in; you don’t mind peeling the onion a little further on jobs like these when the customer has done everything he can to put you inside an organization. As for the question, “Well, given all this work, why couldn’t they contact these people directly?” Good question: why do you think they don’t?

But they are rare, these enlightened types. In the spirit of enlightenment, review the following list of suggestions to let you know what kind of information you can provide us sourcers that will help us to help you. The following is a checklist I send to my new (and not-so-new) customers as a reminder:

For the first job. If you’re a new customer, include your contact information (including your full billing information). Also, sign and return the “Agreement for Services” form that I sent you.

On all jobs. To get started, you need to provide:

  1. The job description.
  2. A list of alternative titles these people may carry.
  3. Who these people report up to in the food chain.
  4. Any names you might already have; this avoids duplicated efforts and gets me in faster.
  5. A target list of companies you want me to penetrate. If you don’t have one, please expect that I will send you one that I expect you to approve before I get started. If you don’t have one, explain fully what your expectations are for the type of work the people you want me to find for your positions will be doing. Also, tell me whether your company has any “hands-off” agreements with any potential companies.
  6. Any geographic limitation you’d like to see imposed, if any, on the search results.
  7. What you know about the habits of the prey. What do they read? What conferences might they attend? Who do they talk to everyday? What are they like?
  8. Anything else you view as important and that you think I have a need to know.

I hope this offers a better understanding of the sourcing process. In the future, I will contribute other articles on sourcing that lifts the veil somewhat on the subject and gives you a glimpse into a process that has the potential to blow the roof off your recruiting results!

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!