memoir-600x300I have this cool app called Memoir – not sure if it’s on Android, because I value my phone data (albeit I am forced to use PRISM poster child AT&T for the service).  It lets you see what you were doing one year ago, two, up until the dawn of time, or at least when you set up Twitter or Facebook or any other social network with an open API.

For most people – the latter, at least, only tracks until it went open to the public – thanks for ruining it by not limiting it to a list of like 15 .edus.  I’m going to correct that and go back to what I was doing 8 years ago today:

I was on Facebook back then – because it was like flying first class vs. MySpace’s Greyhound Bus.

Although despite its roots in the Ivy Leagues, UC kids and other bastions of erudite elitism, at least, the conversation has actually gotten smarter, which is interesting.  Shout out to USC, by the way  – and Stanford sucks almost as bad as UCLA , hella NoCal friends.  Yeah, I’m kind of one of those douche bags.  So it’s a seminal point when Zuck turned 30 for me, mainly because I wish I was him so bad and am so close – I seriously wrote the business plan on a dorm room bed for a company that’s now valued at around 1.5 billion.

I went into recruiting, frankly, because I needed the health insurance.  In that way, the ACA has cost me probably more than anyone else in the US, because I could have been making it rain, like, every night for the rest of my life.  Even had I not gone the geek route and stuck around as a desk assistant in Hollywood (at the time, I was in the PR and marketing department at Paramount, which in retrospect, was much cooler than I thought at the time.  I was pissed I hadn’t gotten a paid gig in development yet.  My coverage kicked ass.

The coverage that didn’t kick ass, however, was the fact I had to take a job in a bullpen with a bunch of Cal State kids dialing for dollars to get to see a doctor if I needed to and get my head meds for less than my total paycheck.  So, I justified to myself that 21 bucks an hour and full medical, dental, vision and a 401(k) match to try to find construction superintendents for production homebuilders.  And it was as boring as it sounds.

The office of this startup RPO that was basically 99% reliant on a production homebuilder and the roaring construction industry – they did get acquired by Manpower, which was quite well timed, in retrospect – was in the bottom floor of a Class C, non-descript, coffee stained bank building in an office park in Torrance.  If that means anything to you, that will tell you how badly my B.F.A. toting, debt ridden ass was.

But they bumped me up to $22.50, a princely amount that I’m sure cost me far more than I should have buying drinks on the Pier that night, and after like, 5 months of working a day job, they were promoting me AND giving me a team.  The reason is because our key metric at that RPO was qualified leads entered into our ATS, which, at the time, was Lotus Notes.  Stop bitching about how Jobvite sucks, seriously.

I was 22 years old, still lived in a crumbling 1908 8 BR, 12 resident Victorian a hard turn on the edge of campus.  I still shaved, and cared about what I wore or cared what anyone else still thought.  I woke up in a shit hole in the mornings, tucked a Costco shirt into Dockers, sat on the Harbor Freeway in gridlock every day to drive to a place with a Marie Callendars in the parking lot to cold call construction dudes.

So, I drank a little bit.  Kill me.  Although my frat boy, party school (for nerds) experience and access to plenty of cheap South Central cerveza self was never, at any time, as out of control as the average HR woman at the karaoke after party.  Which, seriously, is the kind of drunk that’s like yawning – you see that, and hell, you gotta drink, too.

I don’t drink a whole lot, by the way.  The only black out drunk I’ve ever been in my life involved Louisiana SHRM, a limo and a juke joint in the woods.  I think that’s a pretty permissible defense.

But back then, I’d come to work a little under the weather, except for the night I puked out the window of the car I couldn’t drive and showed up right on time at 7 AM in the same thing I had partied with my co-workers in the night before.  It was my choice to be there that early, the only rule was I had to clock in for 8 hours at a time, so I slept until everyone else came in at 9, then clocked out at 4 to go play golf at the public course next door with the other “hi-pos” who were at least smart enough to game the system.

When I did finally wake my ass up at 9 when everyone else came in and drunk a pot of crap corporate coffee with, ironically, the woman who now runs recruiting for Red Bull, I’d still not really want to fight for the industry directory of construction sites and call in and talk my way past the “gatekeeper,” in this case, the office manager at the construction site.  First recruiting call I ever make, I hear, “Is this CRI again?”  But in fairness, the only thing that could get you fired was “rusing” – misrepresenting who you were or overtly lying.  You had to sweet talk.

But I had a high speed internet connection, and I figured out I could just go to Google and put in the name of the competitor and market I was sourcing for – like, Pulte Homes in Charlotte (glam), and I’d get a phone number.  This made me a genius and gave me a serious edge, because I wasn’t fighting for access to the one copy of the book you needed to do the job.  They also wouldn’t photocopy it – this was, in retrospect, a deceptively ethical recruiting firm – but one that taught me you can get bought out for beaucoup bucks and do the right thing.  Idiot.

This was, for a couple of months, sourcing for me, and I was already exceeding quota.  Then, I had this bright idea.  Why don’t I try typing in the title I was looking for, too?  Like “superintendent + charlotte + construction + pulte”?  I remember the first search I ever did was for the commission only sales staff in Colorado Springs for a new property they were building using that Boolean logic – pretty obvious, but apparently not to the idiots around me still picking up the phone.  We received hours and hours of training in how to use a phone, but like maybe a 15 minute module on how to use our e-mail and another couple days on the LotusNotes, ghetto system of record we had to use.

Nothing on the internet.  We did get all our offer letters sent by fax, though.  This was, to reiterate, eight years ago – or the equivalent post-secondary education of a doctor – a generalist, at that.  Not so long, I think, although every sentence is making me feel older as I write this.

That first result returned 6 pages of results – the same one now (not going to show you because it would identify the client I was working for and that NDA is still in effect, odd as that is) – and every single result was actually pertinent leads.  Like, real people with real contact information.  Today, that same search has 4 pages of SEO ranked crap before I find one that actually has someone’s name and a contact info in the search display.  That’s because somehow, our data became monetized.  But the more of it we provided, and the more ease of access and convenience companies like LinkedIn or Facebook provide, the more of our private lives we’ve given up.

I had Facebook in college, but it didn’t have photos.  It had a bunch of people you knew, and this thing called Classmate Finder where you put in your course number and it showed you everyone in your classes – which was the most helpful feature in TheFaceBook’s existence (I still revert to that every time I type it in).

It’s all noise now, and the only big data problem is one, having watched all this go down before hitting 30 by weird happenstance, is we realized that there was money to be made in this internet thing.  Jigsaw taught me, as a recruiter, you had to add value to extract value.  LinkedIn tells me if I pay a premium for that, it’s bullshit.

But back then, information on the internet was, well, pretty rare, almost always relevant, and at least enough to source for pretty hard to fill roles back in the heights of the real estate bubble – which, inevitably, also burst my career as a finance and accounting recruiter.  So if people think sourcing is hard, well, talk to Indeed, the SEO capabilities in your ATS or, on social, yourselves.  Because it’s your fault, not big data’s.

This post didn’t really have a point.  I just got named by some blog in the UK as the #1 blog to read for recruiting, and felt compelled to write something.  It’s too long by far, but I’m also about to go get paid to talk about blogging for HR in Australia, which is the most ridiculously stupid thing ever, I’m sorry – not worth it, but I’ll take it and feel blessed I’m not back there in Torrance, where I was 8 years ago today.

Happy 3-0, Zuck.

By Matt Charney

Matt serves as Chief Content Officer and Global Thought Leadership Head for Allegis Global Solutions and is a partner for RecruitingDaily the industry leading online publication for Recruiting and HR Tech. With a unique background that includes HR, blogging and social media, Matt Charney is a key influencer in recruiting and a self-described “kick-butt marketing and communications professional.”