Hardcore Sourcing: An Interview with Mike Notaro

Aug 29, 2011
This article is part of a series called ERE Media Conferences.

Some might say that Sourcing is the kind of profession that attracts the passionate; fanatics, devotees, and life-long learners.

Take Mike Notaro, for example.

He was winner of the AIRS Extreme Sourcing Challenge in 2007, and in 2007 and and 2008 he was crowned the Sourcecon Grandmaster.

“Hardcore” is the word that comes to mind. Mike is known for sourcing innovation, and feels strongly about exploring new ideas, tactics, and tools:

Things are changing and evolving so rapidly that it’s nearly impossible to stay with the curve, let alone get ahead of it. With so much going on, you should really have something new almost every day to talk about with your colleagues and co-workers. (SourceCon, April 2010)

Automation 201 is the theme of Mike’s SourceCon presentation – a follow-up to his 2010 SourceCon presentation. I’m pretty certain we will all benefit from his passion and learn something new in Silicon Valley.

You were in sales and you were a stockbroker. I think I read that you were once a taxi driver in New York. How did you get into sourcing, or why did you get into sourcing?

Hahahaha! Never a cab driver though I did consider it for a while as a social experiment. I got into sourcing by complete fluke actually. Once I left my position as a stockbroker in the finance world I decided I wanted something a bit less stressful and decided that I would like to be a manager for a Radioshack. Things were going well with that when out of the blue I got a call from a friend of mine at a recruitment agency who was hiring. She felt that my sales/phone experience coupled with my technical prowess, I’d make a good recruiter. I figured I’d give it a shot, and one thing led to another, and now here I am.

We’ve never met, but I feel like I know you because I follow you on Twitter. What is your approach to Twitter? What do you get out of it?

Honest, Twitter has been kind of a passing fad for me. Currently I don’t use it very much and really don’t have much of an interest in using it. I have multiple accounts, some of which are streamlined feeds for job advertisement and re-tweeting of team members, and a few of which are more personal. My primary Twitter account, @MikeNotaro, I no longer use for anything work related aside from reading the tweets of colleagues in the industry. Most of the time I just banter on about non-sense with the occasional nugget of useful information, but overall I really don’t aim to get much out of Twitter besides the occasional laugh or potentially useful bit of information.

Do you use Twitter to source candidates? If so, what is your secret?

I used to use Twitter for sourcing when it first became a hot topic in the sourcing world but as mentioned I’ve moved away from it. The way I currently use it for sourcing is simply the RT/Feed capability for my team. I’m not so sure there is a lot one can make of Twitter in terms of sourcing as I’ve yet to meet anyone who had any sort of impressive metrics. I think that targeting specific individuals, groups, and hashtags can be more valuable then blind tweeting but overall it only accounts for a very small percentage of sourcing. I think the most valuable way to utilize twitter is if you’re using it to find meet-ups and venues where people gather to discuss the subject you’re recruiting for.

If I had a secret, it would be using tools like to push feeds out for you. Connect it to your LinkedIn, share feeds w/ your colleagues and hiring managers who aren’t using them, and hope that someone notices.

You like to automate things. What have you automated recently? How did you do it?

This might sound silly, but I think automation is a state of mind. It’s about solving problems and making more free time for yourself at the end of the day. Most recently, I automated the posting of jobs to various media outlets. How did I do it? I learned to program in Explaining that further would be kind of a mess that would go over 99% of the readers’ heads and I’m not here to sell my product – yet — so I’ll leave it at that.

You also like to explore “overlooked” or “undervalued” technology. Please share an example.

My favorite piece of undervalued and overlooked technology would be a piece of software called “OutWit Hub“. It’s a plug-in for FireFox that comes in two flavors, Free and Paid. The paid model is leaps and bounds ahead of the free one but the free one does quite a bit of things in and of itself. The plug-in allows you to manipulate data from web pages easily and effectively. You can scrape profiles, links, images, documents, and just about anything you can think of. The paid version is only $40 and it saves tons of time. One way I use it on occasion is to run a LinkedIn search, then use it to scrape out all the profile data from each and every result into a handy little spreadsheet.

What do you do that others sourcers don’t do? Why do you win all of the sourcing challenges?

That’s not entirely true; I did lose the last challenge. I think what I do that others don’t is that I look for the problems then deconstruct them to the lowest common denominator. I’m not so sure a lot of people in sourcing or outside of sourcing take the time to objectively deconstruct their problems and focus on them from the ground up. Most people in this industry are very limited by time restraints and I’ve been fortunate enough to find myself in positions where time wasn’t as critical for me as it was for others. If I come across a problem, I will find a solution or if none exists, I’ll figure out what it will take to make one and then make it reality.

You have worked at some very top-shelf companies. Do you adjust your sourcing strategies to match the company culture? How aggressive are you? Do you hold back?

Each company treated me very differently and each time the positions I was hired for were different. As a researcher for Deloitte I was responsible for pure list/candidate generation. When I was with Coach, I was trying to establish a sourcing department as well as source for candidates in fashion. Over at Hewitt, I was more of a “Sourcer” by traditional definition in that I was required to contact and facilitate the candidate process. Now with Accenture I started as a “Sourcer” and now have transitioned into more of a sourcing/developmental role where I’m coming up with ideas, creating applications/tools, and helping to train our sourcing teams.

With each company prior to Accenture I was able to put a little bit of my own ingenuity into what I did, but not a whole lot. Since I’ve been with Accenture I’ve really had the opportunity to spread my wings and give it my all.

What do you like to do for fun? Have you ever jumped out of a plane? Led a parade? Wrestled bears? Share something interesting!

I have jumped out of a plane and one day I would love to be the Grand Marshall of a parade, but I’m not sure how to even get into that sort of thing. As for fun, I do the typical closet geek sorts of things, i.e. playing video games, watching lots of cartoons and SciFi, and playing Angry Birds for hours. The love of my life in terms of fun though would have to be playing pool. At one point in my life I had aspired to go professional with it and now it’s more of a favorite past time. Some of the other things I enjoy include reading, writing, watching horror films, traveling, visiting museums, and having a nice night out with some friends at a bar or restaurant.

Anything else you’d like to know from Mike? Ask it in the comments below.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks as we bring you more interviews from the presenters for the upcoming SourceCon conference in Silicon Valley, October 12-14. Don’t forget to register – we’ll see you there!

This article is part of a series called ERE Media Conferences.
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