Podcast: SourceCon Meet the Speaker Series Featuring Jim Durbin the @SMHeadHunter

Jan 25, 2015
#SourceCon Meet the Speaker Series

The spring SourceCon conference is less than two months away! Over the next few weeks, we will be introducing you to some of our speakers in a new podcast series. The great thing about podcasts is that you can listen on your commute or download them to your phone so you can listen as you travel to the event. Please be sure to subscribe!

Our first guest is Jim Durbin, known online as The Social Media Headhunter.

Podcast transcription: 

Jeremy: Hello everybody, this is Jeremy Roberts with SourceCon. We are excited to be here today with Jim Durbin. Jim Durbin is one of the speakers for the upcoming SourceCon Conference in Seattle. Jim, welcome. How are you?

Jim: Good, good. Thank you for having me.

Jeremy: Excellent. Jim is a recruiter. If you’re online you’ve inevitably come across a conversation that he’s commented on or heard him on other radio shows or read something he’s written. Jim, tell us where people can find you online, just in case people are wondering.

Jim: Best place is probably or Twitter @smheadhunter.

Jeremy: All right. So that’s smheadhunter. So he is known as the social media headhunter. Now Jim, tell us, everybody in recruiting or, I don’t want to say everyone, there might be a few people who’ve wanted to be recruiters for a long time, but most of us kind of stumble into it. Tell us about your path and how you became a recruiter.

Jim: Well, my first real job was trying to sell a vacation and center sales in Florida. I moved to California to do something else, and that didn’t work out so I was looking for a job and I actually went to Monster and I looked for jobs. My sales background and the two people that called me were… what’s that, is Labor Ready and then a company that was a tax systems clone called Natural Data. So I went to interview with both firms and Natural Data I mean they laid out what IT staffing was, how we can get into it, it sounded cool. They only made 60 calls a day instead of 120, so I figured that was easy. That was in August 1999 and I’ve been in it ever since.

Jeremy: Excellent.

Jim: That is my blood.

Jeremy: I remember you saying something about this in the past, but you were already a blogger at that point, right?

Jim: I didn’t really start writing until 2002. So in my second job I started realizing after 911 the company shut down I moved back to St. Louis and shortly after that started running personal blogs and they grew so big so fast I was like, “Wow. What if I talk about my job?” And I started doing that. That was right when started and they picked me up really quickly. We were right at the beginning. There were only about 100 of us at first, but in a span of two years there were thousands of recruiting bloggers that were in place. So I got to write about it and I used it for my job. Then ultimately that led me more into the marketing and now it’s a mix of both.

Jeremy: Excellent. Now, explain your role right now in recruiting. Obviously, SourceCon listeners come from a lot of backgrounds. In the conference itself we have people from agencies, corporate recruiters, sourcers, pretty much the whole game, and RPO employees. So explain what your current role is in recruiting.

Jim: I have a search firm. I have a digital marketing search firm that you retain the contingent placement. So it’s a full desk that I run. I also have a marketing firm and my wife is a web designer. We have contractors who deal in big email and others. So I actually run that on a full time basis and run marketing consults, but then I also do a full desk, because you either find the people or you do the work that’s the way I looked at it. Then on the side often you’re called to train people how to basically use social media to recruit. So I think I’ve over 7,000 people now that I’ve trained now since I started. So it’s three different roles, all doing the same thing, building lists of people and calling them.

Jeremy: So digital marketing search firms. What are the types of roles that you recruit for? What are the titles?

Jim: Directors of social media, email, website design, basically if you’re digital native if you deal with content and analytics you’re trying to determine how to pitch a message to a group of people and then integrate that into a company’s larger brand that’s the role. I focus on manager up to VP, basically people on the one-to-one 80k role. There’s just a giant gap for them and I’ve done it. You know how they always say they want you to have done it? I’ve done it. So I’m calling a candidate it’s a peer-to-peer discussion and I’m able to figure out who can do it and who’s posing.

Jeremy: Excellent. Now, I guess you’re more technical than most, because you do have this digital marketing background and a lot of those tools can be used to source. So, what are some sourcing techniques and tools that you couldn’t live without? I guess what are your favorite few things that you do?

Jim: Honestly, my favorite is still LinkedIn; not just inside of it, but I could treat LinkedIn as a hub, because somebody from some company is sitting on LinkedIn and once I have one person who’s done the job, I can then expand out to their entire social network. So I start at LinkedIn. It doesn’t matter if they’re friends of the candidate I find eventually on it. What matters is I start there and expand outward. It’s my favorite tool.

Of course the others as everybody else’s is I’m really loving Connect to Fire and Profit, because they give me extra sourcing tools I can go dig after. And since I do a perm staff I’m all about digging up names and adding people to social channels. So when I explore different people I have found it leads both to sales and to candidate roles. I mean, but it brings me to places.

Coming up third is this I am just fascinated with how much is on there, how fast that network’s grown and how few people are on it. So it’s definitely a different kind of… If I were doing international searching About. me would be awesome, and if I were doing just contract staffing I think I’d dig in with [inaudible 00:05:41] and web. When I need to post something [inaudible 00:05:47] that’s where I jump through it. So it’s how it’d be different. It depends on what I was searching for.

Jeremy: Yeah. Well, would be great I guess for what you do. There are a lot of marketing people, a lot of digital people who put their portfolio links up there and everything. So that’s probably a great place for you. It’s very visual too, so it attracts those…

Jim: Oh, very visual. You can tell how much they’re serious and when you contact someone from there and you’ve got your own profile it’s a different conversation. Then LinkedIn I create a hot list or even the phone. If they see you as one of them they like you a lot better, which is not true unless [inaudible 00:06:19].

Jeremy: Yeah, absolutely. Well, now if you could change one thing about recruiting what would it be?

Jim: I think it would be the relationships we have with candidates. I think that the recession that happened and all the millennials that are on board now, so many of them in the workforce I feel like we have done a very poor job of teaching them about what the hiring process is. Many of them didn’t work when they were younger. They weren’t working at 16 at Burger King like so many of us. So there’s a general lack of how things are supposed to be done just in general. I feel like we have really failed them in explaining what the long term implications of taking jobs as they are. The whole story is if you’ve had somebody who’s done five years experience or five one-year of the same experience they look the same on paper but they’re completely different roles. I don’t think they’ve done a good job explaining that. I love to get candidates to understand when we call what’s in it for them. Because right now they don’t know that. They haven’t thought about their job search, yet.

I sense it’s a technical role for people who were younger. I’d say they didn’t know when I was 30, but there’s so many more of them than there were of us. I think that makes an impact on us overall.

Jeremy: Absolutely. Now, if you could create a sourcing or recruiting tool what would that be?

Jim: I would like something I could plug in to my phone to tell if someone is lying to me [laughter]. That’s what I want. I want a human lie detector in my phone that would warn me that I need to ask a better question, so I can figure out when the client and the candidate was doing it. If that didn’t work I’d like something that would tell me if they’re paying attention or looking at something else. I want to know if they’re paying [inaudible 00:08:10] paying attention.

Jeremy: Yeah, you could take over their screen when they answer… Right. Absolutely. What do you think is the biggest lie that candidates and…? I guess we’ll start with candidates. What do you think the biggest lie candidates tell recruiters is?

Jim: “I’m really interested in your job and I promise I’ll call back.” Probably, “I promise I’ll call back.” That’s probably the biggest one.

Jeremy: Right.

Jim: Testing has been really bad for that. It just makes it so easy to avoid people.

Jeremy: Absolutely. What about hiring managers?

Jim: “I have the authority to make this decision right now.”

Jeremy: Very seldom do they actually have that…

Jim: No, those are general, but there’s so much risk dispersal going on there, that I mean I’ve talked to senior executives who should be able to write a check without thinking about it and even they are taking the time to check with everybody. The problem is the more you do that, the more the hurdles you put up in front of it and the longer you take; candidates don’t have to sit around anymore. You take too long, so that the more people you want them to talk to the greater chance somebody does something wrong. I just want them to take their jobs and say yes or no. I think that’s one of the problems is there’s a lot of distrust in the market right now. I don’t blame recruiters I think it’s just the market itself. But hiring managers are hurting, candidates are hurting. I’d like to fix some of that.

Jeremy: Absolutely. Now, what are you most looking forward to at SourceCon?

Jim: I love to see people’s generic reactions. I was just at a conference here in Dallas and it’s fascinating because I didn’t feel like it was a good conference, but everybody agreed they were on the same page, and that’s an interesting and unique time in any market because it means we all know what needs to be done we just need to do it. If there’s a slowdown that means we’re on the fat part of the curve to make a lot of money. SourceCon it’s mature now. I don’t think there are new rules that people need to find, but actually doing what we need to be doing and then bringing it in the process. Finding 500 people’s not the problem. The problem is how do you connect to them? What do you do? It’d be interesting to see where people think they are. Do they think they need more tools to find more names? Do we need to work on process or are the roles changing? I mean I hear a lot of you guys saying that calling and talking to people is part of the new sourcing job, and I think that’s fascinating because that’s what a recruiter is technically supposed to do. So if that’s where everyone’s going it would mean there’s a shift in the industry and a good reason for it. So I’m fascinated to see what the average is of people’s opinions to know where we are as an industry.

Jeremy: That’s a great point. Well, excellent.

Jim: And I said “you people” because guys are sourcers and I’m a recruiter. Even though I source.

Jeremy: Well, many of us, many of us. I mean you know what actually 70% of the people at SourceCon are actually recruiters who source not people with the sourcer type.

Jim: Really?

Jeremy: Yeah. So it’s a pretty broad group. People go now to learn to source, not necessarily because they’re sourcers, which in the early days of SourceCon it was people dedicated a name generation trying to figure out how to do it better. And we’ve evolved over the years. 

Jim: Right. Right.

Jeremy: All right. Well, Jim I appreciate your time. I guess give us a little teaser about your session at SourceCon.

Jim: I’ve done so much training where you work on a platform and you make it technology specific. Because that’s a branding that you have to do to get people to come pay for you training. At this time for SourceCon what I’m going to do is I’m actually going to do is I’m going to take live wrecks and I’m going to pretend that I’m an agency person, I’m a sourcer, I’m an in-house person, I’m a hiring person who’s never done this before. So I’m going to go at it the way you would is that your role were different, because I think obviously what you’re trying to get would be different. There’s a speed factor like if you were contract staffing you have to go very fast. If you are internal you have to move fast but you have more tools. So I’m going to show four live examples of searching for jobs using all the tools that you would use, but I’m going to do it role specific rather than technology specific. I think that should be fun.

Jeremy: Excellent. Well, very cool. Well thank you for your time today, Jim. And everyone listening, please stay tuned we’re going to be sharing more updates from our speakers over the next few weeks so that you can get to know as many of them as possible before the event. If you have not registered go to to see the full agenda and register for the event.

Have a great week and we will talk with you soon.

Jim: Thank you, Jeremy.

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