The Apache Way of Hunting for Candidates

We learned to be patient observers like the owl. We learned cleverness from the crow, and courage from the jay, who will attack an owl 10 times its size to drive it off its territory. But above all of them ranked the chickadee because of its indomitable spirit.” – Tom Brown, Jr., The Tracker

I was watching an episode of Battlefield Detectives on The History Channel before Thanksgiving called Native American Wars: The Apache, and I was intrigued by how the Apache tribes for more than 300 years used their landscape to help defeat opponents who were more organized, better armed, and wealthier than they themselves were. Immediately, I recognized the parallels between their experiences and that of modern-day sourcers.

The Apache, recognized as the last Indian nation to be placed on a reservation, were noted for their fierce and warlike dispositions. They raided white and Indian settlements alike, increasing their numbers with depredations on other tribes. The preferred method of fighting for the Apache was to fight with a mountain at their backs looking down upon their resistance. It is said they could get four arrows off to every gunshot back.

The Apache way of hunting was described as following four precepts that mirror a sourcer’s strategy today. The four precepts are: identify, track, zero in, and approach.


The first task in a sourcing stratagem is to identify the tools and targets you want to use in your path of “depredation.” For many years, I have been using the information service Hoover’s to set my jobs up. Usually, my customer knows the list of targets she wants to penetrate; if not, I can help her build one by using Hoover’s “build a list” function. This is a useful and handy tool that gets many searches started. A sourcer can usually add to and refine this list as the job uncurls. I input a company’s name, headquarters location, telephone number, company description, website, related financial information (like gross sales, number of employees, etc.), corporate executives, and the specific offices of that company I need to get into.

Hoover’s doesn’t always provide current information on all the different office locations a company has, but the company website (depending on the industry) sometimes does. My second stop, after I pull the Hoover’s information on a company, is to click on the company website and scour that for the office location information that I oftentimes need. Company websites usually do not include many details about the individual contributor (the worker bee) levels I am usually seeking, but they can be a treasure trove of information about where I can start. Broadlook Technologies has innovative software applications that allow me to, in their words, “leverage the Internet” to quickly farm not only a company’s website but also the Internet for names of people I can approach for information in my hot pursuits. Their Profiler and Diver products are huge timesaving software applications that many in-the-know sourcers today are using.

You may be wondering, “But I thought you prefer telephone sourcing over Internet sourcing?” I do recommend telephone sourcing over Internet sourcing, but I do not recommend that you not Internet source.

Just about every one of my searches has always started with some form of Internet search; it all depends on how much information each of the steps in my organized process yields along the way. If Hoover’s can provide me with enough information to jump off, get on the phone, and use its information to get where I need to go, then I stop there. But many times more information is needed; rarely does Hoover’s offer me any type of the “individual contributor” information I usually need. That’s when one of Broadlook’s tools comes in handy for me. It saves countless hours of time, and time, my friends, is the only commodity in this world we can never get more of!


This takes us to the “track phase” of Apache hunting that beautifully echoes what we sourcers of today do. Once we have that handful of names that the Internet has so graciously provided, we use those names to build out sometimes whole organizations within companies that lie around, above, and below the names we’ve gathered. Armed with those “few names in,” we can ferret out information that can contribute directly to your company’s bottom line.

“What did you say?” You’re asking, sitting up straighter in your seat. “How can you do that?”

Information translates into the advantage every single company needs today. What you do with the information that sourcers are uniquely branded with being able to bring you is what will set you apart in today’s competitive marketplace. The information that sourcers are able to provide today can give you a powerful advantage over your competitors. Reduced hiring costs are not the only component of a successful sourcing stratagem in use today in progressive companies. Competitive intelligence oftentimes goes hand-in-hand with the names that sourcers are sourcing. What is setting a few companies apart today is this recognition of the juggernaut ability of newly formed sourcing departments.

Zero In

Apache scouts were masters of the wilderness, and their accumulated cultural insight offers sourcers who are on the front line of the talent battle not only philosophical guidance but also evolved warfare methodologies. By learning to reactivate primitive sensibilities, sourcers skilled in our demanding curriculum unearth flickers of our wild sides. I repeat: Sourcing is not for the faint of heart. Our ability to survive and thrive represents the ultimate freedom to many of us.

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I have heard you intend to settle us on a reservation near the mountains. I don’t want to settle. I love to roam over the prairies. There I feel free and happy, but when we settle down we grow pale and die.” – Santana, Kiowa Chief

Understanding the meanings behind nearly incomprehensible Internet “paw prints” is what sets us sourcers apart from some of our recruiting brethren. Breathing life onto a dim ember of Internet information by expanding its usefulness through the telephone can make it explode into a fiery conflagration of perception unrivaled in its magnificence.

Zeroing in on information teaches us how to follow our most productive paths, an honored tradition in the Apache tongue.


Every sourcer has a preferred method of drawing near, but the overall activity is enhanced by a quiet and unnoticed approach from a safe place that allows for watching movement. Observing but not observable, a sourcer dictates his own terms to create a successful outcome; by maintaining control in the process, he can usually run circles around any resistance, and he can get four calls in before they have an inkling of what his motivation is.

Noted for skill and endurance, an Apache might trot 75 miles in one day over mountainous terrain, enduring extremes of hunger and thirst, and hunting quickly and quietly for buffalo, deer, and other plains and desert animals. Not adopting the horse culture of some other Plains Indians, the Apache used the topography to conceal movement, a spectacular trait that facilitated ambush. They would build false camps to confuse their enemies, or they would drive their livestock several miles ahead of the actual area where a group concealed themselves. They had the ability to silently move their camps under the very noses of their enemies.

Once movement is determined, a sourcer follows that movement, playing with it in a somewhat cat-and-mouse fashion, doubling back if necessary until the direction is discovered. Following that direction, a sourcer hones his approach with poking and prodding that ultimately delivers the required veracity of his search parameters.

For many years, I have been fascinated by Native American legends that intertwine the natural world in parables, delivering knowledge and wisdom. Varied and entertaining, they can include wry satire and down-to-earth humor. But, more than anything else, they help us to be aware of and to understand our surroundings. By being aware of the broken twig and following its subtle summons, we become closer to the ancestral guideposts laid down before us.

There are many things to be shared with the Four Colors of humanity in our common destiny as one with our Mother the Earth. It is this sharing that must be considered with great care by the Elders and the medicine people who carry the Sacred Trusts, so that no harm may come to people through ignorance and misuse of these powerful forces.” – Resolution of the Fifth Annual Meetings of the Traditional Elders Circle, 1980

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!