SourceCon Thoughts – Marvin Smith

Sourcecon 2008 was a perfect example of “refrigerator art.”  I think of a refrigerator as a canvas that contains the art that is important in our lives.  Another aspect of refrigerator art is that it generally is more personal.  For example, my grandson’s photo and the display of his latest pictures reflect the blossoming talent of a 4-year old; the older grandchildren in action shots of a goalie making a game saving goal or smiling in their annual school picture.  Reminders of things that are important such as telephone numbers for Chinese food and our favorite pizza delivery; emergency telephone numbers and reminders of upcoming events.  Refrigerator art juxtaposed to Picasso or one of the masters whose work touches our soul, but normally, as I gaze on refrigerator art, a smile crosses my face and tugs at my heartstrings.

When I think back at SourceCon 2008, a smile crosses my face.  While we had our Picasso in Gerry Crispin, the refrigerator artists filled their canvases with personal perspectives and insights that framed creative ways to identify, target and pipeline talent as well as, several other mediums.  The artists that I observed were skilled and a couple might just turn into “masters” someday.

As I reflect on SourceCon 2008, I marvel at the style of the refrigerator art.  The event was set up for community.  Sometimes, I was sharing and teaching.  Other times, I was a student, lost in the insights of my colleague/teacher.  SourceCon above all else is a forum for learning and discussion and community.  There seemed to be a lack of egos; a lack of competitiveness; and genuine respect for our fellow artists and an overwhelming willingness to share our secrets and discoveries.

What was important is that we shared our canvases with each other—even if the painting was completed.  There did not seem to be any barriers to transparency and full disclosure.  Perhaps it is because the technological changes are rushing at us so quickly that individually we do not have the bandwidth to get our heads around and vet the potential of web 2.0 tools, social communities, and beyond.  Perhaps it is because there is a feeling of “we are all in this together” since the total number of sourcers in the world may only be “around 1000” artists (Doug Berg).  Or, perhaps sourcers understand that our art is more than knowing the same foundational brushstrokes—our artistry is demonstrated with the brush touches the canvas and the finished product is truly a reflection of our gifts, abilities, and individual creativity.  Whatever the reason, I hope that the spirit of SourceCon lives on.

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SourceCon is not the only gallery showing the artists’ works.  In the last few days, the ERE Fall Expo occurred.  I noticed Gerry Crispin and the Web 2.0 panel, as well as Michael Marlatt, hung canvases at that event.  Our art does not just belong to SourceCon, has its place in the bigger picture of human capital and talent acquisition.  Keeping our perspective about the context of how we fit into the recruiting world is important, but I look forward to an event where we can come together as a community of sourcing artists and spend a few days discussing our craft and our art.  A few days where we learn from each other.

Hats off, props & a big shout out to Leslie O’Connor and the rest of the folks who helped out for creating this venue.  Who knows what surprises await us in SourceCon 2009 (the Global Sourcing Conference)?  My hope is that we have some time for refrigerator art.

Marvin Smith is veteran talent acquisition practitioner who focuses on strategic talent sourcing, talent community building, social recruiting, employment branding, and the use of technology to drive talent identification and engagement strategies. He has been on teams that were at the forefront of resurgence of talent sourcing as a strategic weapon in talent acquisition. These teams piloted groundbreaking programs (ERE-Media-award-winning) work that used business intelligence, data, and technology to segment the target talent audiences and build talent pipelines and communities. His current role is a strategic talent sourcing consultant with Lockheed Martin, where he is responsible for talent pipeline building for critical skills talent; project management of a RMP (recruitment marketing platform); and driving corporate-wide, talent community initiatives. Previously, he served as senior research recruiter on an internal executive recruiting team with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; a strategic sourcing program manager with Blackberry (Research In Motion); and a talent sourcer/program manager for Microsoft. He is a writer and speaker on the topics of talent communities, strategic talent sourcing, Moneyball sourcing, and talent acquisition strategies. You can follow his blog or join a community that he created on talent community development or follow him on Twitter.

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