Water Witching

Family lore holds that my maternal grandfather was a “water witch.” A water witch is a person who can find water using a forked stick or rod to find water located underground.

A water witch may also be called a “diviner” or a “dowser.” Dowsing is a general term used to discover things that are hidden. Divining has been used for centuries to find water and other hidden objects.

Most employees in corporate America are hidden away from the prying fingers of Internet diviners. If America has 150 million-plus workers, rest assured the greater majority of them are not locatable on the Internet. (I welcome argument on this fact. When I say “not locatable” I mean they are not able to be identified/sourced for a specific reason — that reason being, in our industry, to fill a particular role.)

For the 62% of the jobs in America that require higher skill levels, that’s a lot of people. That’s approaching 100 million people in the United States hidden away behind closed doors and hard-mortared walls, sitting at their desks (or on airplanes or working at home or at a customer site) with the majority of them being “undowsable” by any form of Boolean.

Many of you reading this don’t want to hear it. The only way — the most assured way — to find these people is to do investigative work on the telephone.

There are many wonderful tools today that are available to help you do this that were not available 10 years ago. As discussed in a previous article, LinkedIn is the favorite sourcing flavor of the moment and if you consider that half of its 65 million users worldwide are in the United States, you must also consider that about half of that number are no longer locatable on that service without a paid membership that allows you InMail contacting. So about 16 million users signed up, meandered away, and have forgotten that they signed up. They’ve left the employment they were engaged in at the time they filled out their profile and have moved on to other pastures. (Here‘s some sound advice on what you can do to keep your profile updated and why you should do it. Here are five things you can do in 60 minutes to further improve things.) That 16 million number also includes those who have signed up more than one time, and if you’ve used LinkedIn for any amount of time you know this is true. It’s not a major number. But it exists and is why I fold it into the 16 million (basically unusable names for most people) figure that I believe are applicable to this discussion.

Notice I said “basically unusable for most people.” There is a way to use some of those LinkedIn names who are no longer at their originally reported place of employment, but it requires a deeper dive into the Internet than most people have the time for. Those of you who do have the luxury of this time understand what I mean.

Also included in that 16 million number are the ones who really don’t belong there as far as a seasoned recruiter is concerned. These include, mostly, students and house-spouses and the self-employed and the rogue ex-employed who are now, basically, unemployable for a myriad of reasons. Then you have the ones who don’t give you enough info to track them anywhere, much less forward. Add to all that the multilevel marketers who have begun to see LinkedIn as another sort of panacea and you have a whole lot of baggage the system is dragging along that might mean extra wading for you if you don’t understand how to use its search system to draw out meaningful results.

I’ve written three paragraphs on the use of LinkedIn because you should understand the capabilities as well as the limitations of any tool. Some of you feel LinkedIn is the greatest thing since sliced bread. It is a wonderful tool and hires are being made using it as a resource.  This too will pass in its present glory, and I suspect the future of LinkedIn will include heftier and heftier user fees which have already been introduced. Have we forgotten MySpace? Oh, yeah, we have. AOL? What’s that? Even Facebook is about to test the acerbic water of public opinion with its new (and some say overreaching) recent privacy jettisons.

As far as the social networking tools are concerned, they’re all great if you understand that they can be used in your phone sourcing practice to “divine” the greater part of the mystery contained within America’s greatest companies. This is what many recruiters are looking for on LinkedIn — the employees of America’s Fortune companies who are best in class because they — well — they just are.

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And there aren’t that many of them (think a small percentage of the remaining 16 million we haven’t just castigated) who have the time — or the inclination — to visit a social networking site and fill out a profile that will reveal to the world who they are. Here‘s an interesting argument for synchronization of information — but alas, who knows who will be the winner of this? Social networking, I believe, is on a cusp: a cusp of public acceptance of what the masses are comfortable revealing and what they’re not. Facebook may just be the poster girl for testing this, and it’s going to be interesting what happens next. But for now, and leaving all this divining for later, let’s return to water witching.

Water witchery is much like phone sourcing. A phone sourcer relies on her intellect as well as on her gut. The theory behind water dowsing is that there is some element in the twig that acts in conjunction with the diviner to find the underground water. In phone sourcing, the element at work is the phone sourcer’s intuition. Intuition is something developed over time. This may be one subtle reason younger people find phone sourcing more challenging than Internet sourcing. After all, as I am so fond of saying, the Internet never says “no.”

Divining is an ancient practice. It has been demonstrated in the artwork of ancient Egypt and China and even Moses used his staff (a rod) to find water.

The “diviner” is sometimes said to establish a connection on a psychic level with the substance or object being sought underground. A “phone sourcer” establishes a psychic connection within moments of having the other person answer the phone — without the ability to quickly “read” the energy field of the person on the other end of the line a phone sourcer cannot zero in on the vibrations given off and cannot “move the rod” no matter what questions or thoughts she produces.

Zeroing in refers to a phone sourcer’s heightened ability to interpret clues contained in the physical environment. The physical environment a phone sourcer works in is minus a key element: sight. Without being able to see the body language on the other end, a phone sourcer must rely on what she hears (and what she knows) and must be able to interpret and extrapolate information with just that. I believe phone sourcing relies much on the human body’s nervous system’s reaction to certain factors. In phone sourcing, the factor is the phone sourcer herself.

Think this sounds crazy? Ask any phone sourcer worth his salt and he’ll tell you what I mean. If you want to uncover the hidden treasure — the greater majority, the underground resource — you’re going to have to sharpen your divining rods. For now, until they invent something better, you’re going to have to learn how to use the telephone.

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 TechTrak.com, Inc. You can contact her at Maureen at techtrak.com or call her at (513) 646-7306.  If she’s not on the phone she’ll pick up!

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