On Lazy Sourcing

In a recent article on Forbes, Dan Schawbel wrote, “Job boards are becoming more irrelevant to the corporate recruitment process every single year. They are ineffective because of the sheer amount of competition on them and how they’re perceived by recruiters. Only lazy recruiters source candidates from them.”

Hold the phone (pun intended).

Only lazy recruiters (or sourcers) source candidates from job boards? Last time I checked, I was not a lazy sourcer. Even though in my current role I am not sourcing candidates anymore, I spent a good eight years in direct sourcing roles, and job boards / resume databases were certainly tools I used.

I know I am not lazy. But I also know that there is some truth behind this allegation. Let me explain why…

Chris Hoyt’s post about Schawbel’s statement is what drove me to share some thoughts on this. In his post, Hoyt says,

Companies everywhere are working harder than ever to attract and find the best talent for their teams around the world. This means that they aren’t typically using just one service to connect. It also means that they aren’t typically using just one service to locate talent. In fact, I’d argue that employers and job boards are now actually making more progress than ever in regards to discovering how YOU want to connect and apply for jobs.

Now, before we go any further, I will point out that, in fact, Hoyt knows what he’s talking about. He’s spent the last 10+ years in very large organizations working on talent attraction, employment brand strategies, and marketing initiatives for hiring efforts. During this time as well, and prior to it, he was in the trenches cold-calling and recruiting candidates for both agency and corporate organizations. Unlike Schawbel who has never recruited a day in his life. So from an expertise standpoint, I know whose opinion I’d listen to.

But I think there certainly is SOME merit to what Schawbel said — though I feel he went about it in the wrong way with an incredibly blanketed statement. You see, in my personal opinion, a truly lazy recruiter is one who only uses one method of sourcing. And unfortunately, the majority of recruiters who are “one-trick ponies” gravitate toward job boards. But there are others, as well. They won’t want to hear this, but there are lazy “social recruiters” out there who rely solely on their “tweet and pray” or “Facebook and pray” efforts. To me, that is no different than generalizing recruiters who only use job boards to source candidates. These are the ones who don’t consider using a job board for competitive intelligence gathering or diving into resumes to find other sources of talent based on an applicant’s job history or hobbies, and so forth. And as sourcers — as GOOD sourcers — we know that there is a wealth of information available with these paid resources beyond just resume mining. (As a shameless promotion, I hope you’ll come to SourceCon this fall and learn some best practices for using paid resources from our panel of sourcing experts!)

I love Hoyt’s “chicken-plucker” analogy, so I’ll go with something similar to make my point. When you rely heavily on one source, that’s like only eating the drumstick or the wing because they’re the easiest to detach from the rest of the chicken and arguably the tastiest parts of the animal. But if you take the time to butcher it properly, you’ll find other (even more) delicious parts of the creature that aren’t quite as easily accessible and sometimes need a little prep to develop their tastes. Relying only on job boards (or any other singular resource) as a candidate source means you’re missing out on all the other yummy parts of the talent attraction process — the industry associations, the social networks, the in-person handshakes, the phone calls, the ‘I’ve worked in the industry and have developed a good reputation as a subject-matter-expert’ types of sourcing channels.

As a sourcer, I know that not everyone wants or is able to take the time to do this — but for those who do, you will learn skills to excel your recruiting career to new levels and put you leaps and bounds ahead of others — the “lazy recruiters” if we still must insist on calling them that.

With that being said, there is the perception of candidates, hiring managers, and then of course the “talking heads” like Schawbel who would would push the issue that recruiters are lazy because they use job boards. Below are just a couple of examples of some of these perceptions:

“In the pre-cambrian time, recruiters (AKA Headhunters) were largely specialized. They often came from the industries or disciplines that they focused on, and thus had extensive networks of colleagues and talent. Their value was that they “knew” people, and had a reputation to uphold. People who were in the trade, or who had demonstrated capabilities that would indicate that they would be successful in a role. This network, or rolodex, took years to develop and a significant amount of time to groom and keep current. They would periodically touch all their sources, and keep an active conversation on the status, and any recommendations that the network might have.” –written in March 2011 by Geoff Anderson, a Sr. Product Manager at Open Text. (NOT a recruiting professional)

“Good recruiters use their candidate database as a starting point for a search; the bad ones use it for the start, end and all points in between.” –written in 2007 by Ian Kayne, an IT security specialist and solutions consultant based in the UK. (also NOT a recruiting professional)

Rachel Pennig, a Senior Support Manager at Recurly, recently tweeted:

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(by the way, she studied Library Science! I’ll bet she’d make an excellent candidate sourcer…)

These perceptions certainly need to be dealt with — and I think a great way to start is by diversifying your sourcing channels. Broaden your mind and don’t discount a resource just because of hearsay. Get creative and try something you haven’t tried before — see if it works for YOU. You might be surprised at what you find.

Recruiters and sourcers — you are NOT lazy because you use job boards. You are lazy if you ONLY use job boards. Just like you are lazy if you ONLY use social networks, or ONLY write Boolean search strings and surf the web, or ONLY rely on the telephone as a recruiting tool. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say you’re not lazy, you’re stupid if you’re relying solely on one method of sourcing candidates and not getting creative with how you use your resources.

Putting all your eggs in one basket only leads to a scrambled mess. Find creative methods of digging deeper into your resources — both paid and free. Don’t be a one-trick pony — and if you are, don’t blame the resource for your lack of creativity.

Oh — and be careful who you listen to 🙂

…the days of ‘lazy recruiters’ are essentially over.

Words spoken by Conference Chair Matthew Jeffery at the spring 2011 ERE Expo. A guy you should definitely listen to.

Happy Sourcing!

image source: Ollie Crafoord

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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