Editor’s Thoughts: #SourceCon 2010, The Family Reunion

I’ve been to all three SourceCon conferences, so you could call me a SourceCon roadie. I was privileged to be asked to speak at the first SourceCon in 2007, and after that conference I was asked to be part of the editing team to run the SourceCon Newsletter, later renamed The Source. I’ve been around the block when it comes to SourceCon and have seen its birth, watched it grow and go through that awkward period in its life, have seen it grow up and begin to mature, and last fall I attended its marriage to ERE. After attending SourceCon 2010 in San Diego last week, I have to say that this was the best I’ve seen SourceCon look. This year’s conference truly felt like a family reunion to me.

I won’t spend a lot of time reviewing the conference blow-by-blow; you can read all about the sessions and speakers on Mike Notaro, Dave Mendoza, Katharine RobinsonSharlyn Lauby, Arbita, HR Margo, Jim Stroud, or Glen Cathey‘s blogs. (sorry if I missed any!) What I want to talk about is where we go from here…

For anyone who attended at least one of the previous conferences, I’m sure you share my feelings about this conference. It was like seeing long lost friends and family members. Our group as a micro-community within the recruiting community has always been tight and close-knit. We are true family… we don’t always agree or get along, but when push comes to shove, we are always there for each other. We support and defend each other vehemently and stand united in the cause to promote understanding of and respect for our profession. We’ve come a long way in our quest to educate our recruiting brothers and sisters on our role within a recruiting organization. But there is still much work to be done…

Our function has always evolved. Our position is never a stagnant one, and we must constantly learn and improve to stay relevant. For the last several years, our roles have been heavily reliant on the technical aspects of Boolean search and understanding search engine navigation. With the onset of social over the past couple of years, our roles have begun to shift. Semantic search has become a focus, as has mastery of social technologies. In order to stay relevant, we must bend and adjust to the flow of information and the methods of communication that people use. After all, it is the people we are after – not the technology. We must find them where they are at.

Our roles are quickly requiring us to be on the front-line of engagement – having initial discussions that may not even be work- or job-related, and providing a warm-fuzzy feeling for the companies we represent. This researcher certainly hates to admit it – I have spent the greater part of my research career saying “I don’t talk to people”, and I’ve lately found myself striking up conversations via various social tools in order to build relationships. What used to be a skill and function reserved mainly for recruiters has now crept a little into our world. And as much as we may resist, it is a reality.

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Have no fear though – for as much conversation around automation as there is, we will still need butts in the driver’s seats for all of the sourcing tools that are out there. Automation can be achieved in many parts of our job, but there there will always be a need for someone to manage. As Bryan Starbuck of TalentSpring shared with me, through the evolution of digging with your hands, to a shovel, to a bulldozer, there has always been a human involved in the work. We will certainly see lots more automation, but our job will never be 100% automate-able.

So where do we go from here, sourcing community? I have five next-steps to task you with:

  1. Never stop learning. Continue to remain relevant by educating yourself on as many tools and processes as possible. Don’t resist change, learn to bend and adapt to it. Keep in mind that the best education comes from making mistakes and learning from them. If you’re not green and growing, then you’re red and rotting.
  2. Embrace and uplift the community. Encourage each other in all endeavors. Never forget that you were once a sourcing newbie yourself, and show the same kindness that was given to you to the newcomers. Give praise generously and provide positive, constructive feedback when you see areas for improvement. (privately is usually the best way!)
  3. Communicate freely with your recruiting teams. If they have questions about your job function, find out what they are and where they come from, and help them to understand the value you bring to the table. Hold regular meetings with your colleagues and teach them about the tools you use to help them do their jobs better. It is easier to dismiss that which we do not understand, so providing understanding to your teammates will help them to appreciate your job function.
  4. Get involved with The Source! This newsletter is for all of you, but it’s also BY all of you. We’d love to have an article, video, slideshow, etc. from you to share here. We do have a slate of regular contributors but we certainly want to include postings from lots of other people.
  5. Plan to come to SourceCon 2011 and share the successes that you’ll surely have over the next year. There aren’t any dates in place yet, but the learning experience is priceless (ask anyone who has ever attended one!) and the offline discussions are an added bonus. I can’t even begin to describe to you the joy I experienced seeing so many of you in San Diego that I hadn’t seen in a couple of years.

The conference was a success only because you all made it one. From the presenters to the attendees, it is always about the people. Thank you for making SourceCon 2010 a must-attend conference, and I look forward to seeing my family again at our next reunion.

Amybeth Quinn began her career in sourcing working within the agency world as an Internet Researcher. Since 2002, she has worked in both agency and corporate sourcing and recruiting roles as both individual contributor and manager, and also served previously as the editor of The Fordyce Letter and SourceCon.com with ERE Media. She currently works as Sr. Manager, Technical Talent Sourcing for Walmart eCommerce. You can connect with her on Twitter at @researchgoddess.

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