The Value of Library Information Science In Sourcing

Oct 8, 2010

My journey from the Library and Information Science world to that of the names sourcing / recruiting world has been exciting.  Bringing the two worlds together and applying the skills, teachings, techniques and theories to help recruiting firms achieve success has been challenging and rewarding.  Though much can be said, there are a few key areas from Library and Information Science that I believe contribute to the bottom line and add value to the future and current success of a recruiting firm.  A good name sourcer / researcher is able to find the right names for the right jobs.  Implementing these practices into any recruiting process WILL help the sourcer accomplish this goal and WILL contribute positively to the bottom line.  Data Integrity

This important concept is key to any business that relies on a managed data resource (database).  The quality of the data going into the database will relate to the quality of the data coming out.  In recruiter-speak – candidates, if properly added to the database, will efficiently be retrieved again for applicable searches should recruiters and data entry personnel be trained on the value of data integrity.  At its basic, this means knowing what fields in a database are essential to complete in order to help with future findabilty.  As your father may have said: “You get back what you put into something!”  Understanding this key concept and training others as to its importance will consistently and efficiently lead to having the right people added to the right call list for the right position.

Controlled, Descriptive Vocabulary

Essential to Library and Information Science is the practice of implementing and using a controlled, descriptive vocabulary.  This really ties into Data Integrity.  In the prior paragraph, I could have easily stated “the quality of the metadata going in…” to more specifically sum up this area.  In our case, our database allows the “tagging” (think web 2.0) of attributes to a candidate’s record. The attributes describe a person’s experience and career goals.  In essence, descriptive, controlled terms (or, data about data – aka – metadata).  What the key is here is the term “controlled.”  This signifies that the terms are created in-house, using our descriptive terminology based on our niche.  In addition, the database allows for the use of synonyms to relate to the controlled terms, and a tool that can pick out synonyms from a resume.  In library speak, this is seen as a thesaurus, or structured vocabulary.  Determining the right synonyms for our key, base controlled words can make a huge difference when performing recall (search) in the system for candidates.  Much like the Dewey Decimal System, a descriptive, controlled vocabulary gives cohesiveness and integrity to a data system, increasing usability and findablity.  In recruiter-speak – finding the right person in the quickest time possible, based on the right keywords.

Recall vs. Precision

This area ties into the last two sections, and has been discussed for years in Library and Information Science.  Depending on the nature of a requisition, some searches seek recall where others seek precision.  In recruiter-speak – some searches call for a large list of people to network with, and some call for a much smaller list with more specific, targeted individuals for a specific job.  Teaching recruiters the difference between these two concepts and understanding the controlled vocabulary of the database and how it affects precision vs. recall will lead to success or failure. This applies not only to an in-house database, but also to such external resources as LinkedIn.  In fact, any resource that allows one to create & edit queries through such means as Boolean search applies here.  At times, the name sourcer / researcher must consult on the nature of each approach and their applicably to a search, and recommend a course of action.

Information Assessment / Information Literacy

Even in the ancient library of Alexandria, someone was there to determine which resources fit with the mission of the organization.  Transport that person to the year 2010, and the same analytical skills and training would apply in a recruiting organization.  In recruiter-speak – “Which resumes are good, and worth a call, and should be added to the database?” “Which resumes are decent and only worth a call?”  “Which resumes are bad but networkable?”  “Which resumes are good, should be put into the database, AND, to which recruiters shall they go?”  You get the picture.  I refer to responses from position postings and unsolicited resumes via the firm website or email, and when resume or name sourcing via the internet or social media.  The library mind is a master at analyzing resources / resumes completely and efficiently to determine their applicability to current and future positions and hence, to the mission of the firm.  Having an individual with these skills and training manage this “push and pull” process can contribute to the firm’s current and future success.

Information Resource Training

We can’t end without mentioning the key area of training.  Though not all names sourcers / researchers train recruiters and other staff on the use of information resources and search terminology, many do.  If we happen to hire new recruiters, and if I am to follow all that I just wrote about, it’s a necessity that I will have to train anyone with access to the database on how to properly use it.  This applies to both input and output (search).  In addition to managing information assessment / information literacy, the traditional role of the Library and Information Science professional has been to teach others how to use these resources with efficiency.  After all, they should know the resources better than most.   This may expand beyond the in-house database to such external resources as LinkedIn.  Unleashing a recruiter with little or no knowledge of basic query formation and Boolean logic structure on a resource is inefficient.  Teaching them how to better structure queries and find more targeted results for a search based on precision will only help the recruiter and hence, the bottom line of the firm.

I could go on, as there are additional key skills, teachings, techniques and theories from Library and Information Science that can bring value to a recruiting process.  Finding the right names for the right jobs is the goal of a good name sourcer / researcher.  Focusing on the areas just mentioned WILL exponentially increase success with in-house resources and external resources such as LinkedIn.  For those looking to take your firm to the next level and drive current and future success, consider these points.

originally shared in the July 2008 SourceCon newsletter.

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