I know, a lot of you think phone sourcing is either old fashioned or completely obsolete – the technological antipode of things like crowdfunding, social media or ecommerce.
And I admit, phone sourcing isn’t the newest – or sexiest – method for finding and developing talent out there these days. But it still remains one of the most efficient, and most effective, ways to connect with the talent you want for the roles you need.
The fact that so many people think that tools like social media or email automation are more effective ways to target and engage with talent than simply making a phone call (old fashioned though it may be) absolutely blows my mind.
But it also leads me to think we all really need to take a big step back here and really reexamine the nature of this whole sourcing and recruiting thing – and what success really looks like. Trust me, technology has nothing to do with it.
Sometimes, tools can be an inhibitor, not a facilitator, for actually connecting with candidates – but sometimes, they can be a silver bullet. Want proof? Look no further than your phone.
Phoning It In: A Sourcing Call To Action.
I know what you think when you hear “phone sourcing,” but in fact, what has become the accepted definition for “sourcing” these days looks more and more like what “recruiting” used to do – and the lines between the two disciplines have blurred so much that the distinction has become pedantic and irrelevant, really. Read any job posting for a sourcer today – and there are a whole lot of them out there – and you’ll see some variation on the same theme.
Here’s a real example for a Sourcing Specialist recently posted by a Fortune 50 company:
“This position will be responsible for sourcing internal and external candidates according to relevant job criteria, mining databases, networking, internet recruiting activities, candidate outreach, media and employee referrals. Expertise in Boolean and other advanced search operators required; experience with cold calling highly preferred.”
OK, I get it. This company, like many others, has a distinct sourcing function to support their recruitment activities, and hence, are not considered “recruiters,” even though they sit in recruiting. The good news, though, is that if they try hard, stick around long enough without pissing anyone off and beat their benchmarks, someday, maybe, they’ll have the chance to be real recruiters themselves.
Sounds good, but honey? That’s a whole load of baloney, and you know it.
- Responsible for having enough knowledge and acumen to identify and connect with top performers in highly technical categories like engineering or very niche industries like healthcare or financial services…
- …and serve as the first point of contact for candidates at the beginning of the process while helping them navigate every step of the hiring cycle…
- …and find candidates who are not only successfully placeable, but superstars who can make a real impact really quickly…
- …and build enough of a relationship with that candidate to influence whether or not they accept an offer…
…then sweetheart, you’re not sourcing, you’re recruiting. No matter what your title happens to be.
Keep Sourcing Simple, Stupid.
She’s not internet famous, and only has a few thousand followers, but one of my favorite Twitter bios comes from a smart young millennial based in Boston, Molly Goodman (that’s @MllyGoodman on Twitter – and she’s definitely worth the follow).
Her philosophy, in 140 characters or less:
“Think before you speak, read before you think, and if you can’t explain it simply then you don’t understand it well enough.”
This is good advice for anyone, but if you’re trying to become a badass sorcerer, it’s pretty much the key to success. Sounds simple enough, but actually applying this to sourcing is a lesson that many of us spend a lifetime trying to learn. Because no matter what people say, sourcing isn’t easy – and if you think it is, you’re not doing it right. There are a ton of people today whose primary job involves sourcing for a living. But finding the handful of true badasses out there in this business might just be the hardest search in recruiting.
First off, let’s define “badass” – the Urban Dictionary defines this term as “tough, uncompromising, or intimidating.” Personally, I like this definition – and some of the other badass applications of this term listed in this entry. I thought a definition was worth including, since “badass” is a word many of us like to use, but almost none of us seem to really use the right way. Which, in sourcing, I suppose is par for the course…
Now, to get to the basic premise of Molly’s sagacious sourcing advice, I’m going to try to make like Thoreau and “simplify, simplify, simplify.” To illustrate, I’ll use the straightforward, short and sweet style that made Bull Durham one of the funniest (and one of my favorite) movies of all time.
“This is a simple game. You throw the ball, you hit the ball, you catch the ball.”
Get it. Got it? Good.
Phone sourcing is also a simple game. You make the call, you take the call, you return the call.
And that’s pretty much it.
The Sourcer’s Guide to Becoming A Badass.
Of course, a lot of phone sourcing – an inordinate amount, in fact – is also the hardest part: picking up the phone and making the damn call. You’d be amazed at how few “recruiters” (much less “sourcers”) can successfully do even this simple first step. If you’re not afraid of actually using the phone, you’ve got a really killer tool for beating the competition – and one that’s way better than, say, tweeting.
To be a true badass, though, to be the sourcing equivalent of Crash Davis, journeyman catcher and high culture raconteur, it takes more than raw talent. It takes experience, and the only way to get that practice required to make perfect (or good enough to make placements) is by making a whole lot of calls.
And I mean a whole lot. Anything under 100 a day wouldn’t even cut it at most agencies back in the day – and still won’t if you truly want to get out of the minors and earn your place in the talent acquisition Big Leagues.
If you’re like one of the many “sourcers” still scared of the phone, don’t worry. I’ve got your back.
Here’s what you do:
- Pick up the phone.
- Dial the number.
- Talk to anyone who answers.
- Leave a call for anyone who doesn’t.
- Gather as much information and as many names as possible.
Repeat as necessary.
The first steps here are pretty easy – I’m guessing even the Millennials reading this know how to use a phone – you know, that other side of your text message machine? But it’s steps 3-5 that get a little more complicated. This is why, like Crash Davis, it really helps when you’re bringing the badass.
Don’t be afraid of the phone. It’s your best tool once you get the hang of it. Even if it’s not the easiest or most natural for most of us. Not even me, at first.
Direct Dial: How To Simplify Your Sourcing.
I know, today I’m an outspoken advocate and trainer for phone sourcing – this is my schtick, and my specialty, but it wasn’t always that way. Like most phone sourcers, I am naturally soft-spoken – those of us who have the instincts to find information and the technical proficiency to synthesize complex information into simple sales pitches or search terms generally don’t say much.
We’re people of few words but long looks. And although we can’t “see” people over the telephone, we know that we can hear everything we need to know about a candidate through sense, if not sight.
This requires training, emotional intelligence, perseverance and the knowledge that phone sourcing all comes down to intuition, more so than maybe any other job activity there is in recruiting.
You can’t really teach it, and you can only learn by doing. Phone sourcing is a second nature sort of thing, an unthinking, visceral, spontaneous flow that you have to continually develop and refine – no matter how experienced you are, you can always get better. Phone sourcing isn’t something you can plan, because you never know what ball the gatekeeper is going to hurl at you over the plate.
It takes experience to handle the curves and changeups that gatekeepers like throwing at you, but the great thing is, when you get enough experience with phone sourcing, there’s a good chance you’ll not know the best approach for making contact based on your experience and expertise – and eventually, you’ll be able to swing for the sourcing fences. Because in phone sourcing, once you figure out the power game, there’s no stopping you from scoring every time you reach the plate.
Phone sourcing is like cheating. After all, any gatekeeper has little to no context for you or your style before picking up the phone, but you have the luxury of doing enough scouting and preparation to know what approach is going to work best – and use that knowledge to your advantage. Which, you’ve got to admit, is pretty badass – the fact that, as one well-respected recruiting pundit pointed out, good sourcing is a whole lot like spying. This is not only an excellent nomenclature, but it sounds way cooler, than, say, social recruiting or “big data” or “crowdfunding.”
Learn to love the phone – and embrace it, because really, it’s always been what Twitter is just pretending to be – a comprehensive, first-hand, real-time way to collect meaningful information and insights that require a little spying, a little sweat equity, and the occasional Nuke LaRoche spitball (just to keep them guessing).
Hot off the press: this, honey, is sourcing. It doesn’t get any more simple.
And it sure as hell doesn’t get any more badass.
Maureen Sharib is a phone sourcer who owns the firm TechTrack, where she helps companies find and contact candidates for their hard-to-place positions at a fraction of the cost of traditional recruiting channels and sources of hire. And she’s been doing this a long time.
Maureen believes the telephone is the best way to find anything out firsthand and thinks of information on the Internet as a bloated dead pale whale lying on the bottom of a vast ocean rotting away, pieces of itself peeling off and floating upwards before finally disappearing at the sunlit and crystalline surface of fresh discovery.
If that metaphor appeals to you, feel free to call Maureen directly at 513.646.7306. She’ll probably even pick up.
You can also follow Maureen on Twitter @MaureenSharib or connect with her on LinkedIn.
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