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Posted on September 19, 2006
Filed Under Banter, Events, Sourcing Technologies | 7 Comments

So my friend Jim Stroud and I were chatting away about my experience sitting through a presentation by “He who shall go unnamed.” Prior to the ‘presentation” the audience was asked to wiggle limbs and massage the person behind and in front of us. Now, for those who don’t know me, I am not into wiggling my arms left and right because someone tells me to, … unless it’s my wife and depending upon the particular venue. I would be predisposed in favor of a free neck massage however and I didn’t mind that as much. I did however take issue with the rudimentary nature of his spiel on “Passive Talent Acquisition” and I did for the very particular reason that I did not want what we as sourcers do, in both in a strategic and tactical sense, to be in any way associated with the thrust of the speaker’s statements. This wasn’t Advanced Recruiting, nor was it Recruiting 101 …. it was ‘special’ for all the wrong reasons, but I give an A’ for effort …. just getting up on stage takes a lot of guts, let alone trying to be original.

As for me, I tried to get up to leave, but my colleague, Lisa Grinde, (Management Consultant. Staffing at John Laing Homes) said I shouldn’t unless I had a bathroom break to attend to. I took the initiative… So did colleagues at T-Mobile, Starbucks, Yahoo, and AMD (and it didn’t even take my secret bird call, “Caw caw, caw caw!”)

I followed up with the speaker in the hall way and learned that none of the typical advanced passive technologies had a place on the presenter’s utility belt.

What concerned me wasn’t the presentation (God knows I wake up in a wet sweat dreaming about what I would come across like). What concerned me were the questions from the audience, like this gem: “So when you find a passive candidate do you call them or email them?”

We all have our specializations, but certain “how to’s” should come across as basic, it’s what they pay us to do as second nature to our expertise, right?

Another colleague of mine once commented that our circles present on a level that comes across “like stuff out of NASA.” I sat across from a fellow recruiter who said advanced techniques were too complex and she “didn’t have the time” because it was “too complicated.” That’s just laziness was my initial reaction.

Steve Levy and I discussed the issue and he made an excellent observation: perhaps our side of the table isn’t doing it’s job of communicating what we have offer on THEIR terms, and that in our effort to highlight advanced passive sourcing techniques it’s about how effectively we train our colleagues to provide for a more fulfilling and qualitative hiring experience, especially given the prolonged life cycle demands inherent in our pursuits.

The one area of agreement to underline, among many, is that there has to be a desire to learn. We, as bloggers, as evangelists for our respective causes can only do so much. You, the audience of fellow recruitment professionals, have to ask for it and ask for more. Essentially, it’s your career at stake and it’s your client’s ROI.

It seems obvious to desire knowledge, to “up your game,” but too often, the easier road is followed and you can readily observe at the venue of your choice how easy it is to follow those who would lead us towards that road of what has been tried and failed before.

I asked myself, what would Shally do? He would say: “To go nowhere, follow the crowd,”

NOTE: Okay, I’m getting too serious, time for comic relief from our sourcing guru-comedian, Jimmy Stroud, to redramatize my experience at the presentation as follows here and here.

Danny Crane!

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  1. Shally on September 19th, 2006 7:56 pm

    I’m also fond of saying “roads with no obstacles lead nowhere” 🙂

  2. Jason Alba on September 20th, 2006 9:22 am

    hey Dave, I have a question for you… somewhat related to this post and all the rest…

    How do you define “passive candidate?” Are there two categories: active and passive, and everyone falls into one of these two? Or are there three categories, active, passive and “other?” If so, what is “other?”

    Perhaps this would be its own blog post… I’d love to get your 2 cents on it.

  3. Glenn Gutmacher on September 20th, 2006 1:09 pm

    El Dave, you captured the key factors to learning sourcing, but the last step is the most important or the training effort is wasted. 1) Teach them in a way that they can grasp well (I like Steve Levy’s “on their own terms” metaphor — he’s always been sharp in observing recruiting behaviors); 2) Desire to learn (you’d think anyone who takes the time to attend a class and/or gets their company to pay would be motivated, but sadly, often not); and 3) Build time in one’s schedule to try new things that ultimately save you time.

    This last one is usually the killer for even great trainers, because you can’t control what they do with your fabulous information after they leave you. You can follow up with encouraging emails and calls, you can give follow up tasks to their managers to distribute and oversee, but if they don’t make it part of their new mode of work, then it’s like the recruiter you cited who found it too complicated and doesn’t have the time. Too many who don’t get 100% super results the first time they try a method just give up. Five minutes of practice/tweaking would turn them into relative experts and they’d have that method available for the rest of their tenure.

    I think I’m quite good at training advanced sourcing methods, demystifying it by breaking it all down with clear, adaptable examples so it’s not complicated, building in practice time and encouraging Q&A. However, I still get frustrated when I see people not able to give a little time to master new methods that would improve their results. Fortunately, I’ve also seen enough people who do and whose results inevitably improve, which keeps me motivated.

    I know I’ve learned something well enough when I’m able to teach it. And when I teach it, I learn at another key level: how to present it better to different audiences. This is why I recommend that each company have an internal trainer (officially or unofficially) who also is a practicing recruiter or sourcer. That person is expected to learn methods and tools well enough to be that ongoing resource. And because they know the needs of their recruiting operation and the people in it better than any outside trainer ever will, they have the best chance to help ensure success. That’s because their peers will see the benefits in the context of their own reqs (on their own terms) and make the time.

  4. Daily itzBig Links 2006-09-20 - The itzBig Blog - Serving the Unserved – Recruiters, Job Seekers, Quiet Working Professionals on September 20th, 2006 2:15 pm

    […] Six Degrees from Dave: To Go Nowhere Follow the Crowd “We, as bloggers, as evangelists for our respective causes can only do so much. You, the audience of fellow recruitment professionals, have to ask for [advanced passive sourcing techniques] and ask for more. Essentially, it’s your career at stake and it’s your client’s ROI.” […]

  5. Steve Levy on September 20th, 2006 6:04 pm

    Glenn said it well – learning is lifelong and each time we teach someone a tool or technique we are obliged to do it better the next time. By no means is this easy.

    It really goes back to the “you have two ears and one mouth – use them proportionally” maxim. We all become frustrated when someone doesn’t see it the way we do. I’d like to say that in instances like these I always stand back, reflect on the situation, and come up with a better way – but I’m human and FUBAR it from time to time. In the end, what I do know is that we really are passionate about our craft and need to continuously improve the manners in which we impart our knowledge to others.

    But herein lies the crux of the problem; take leadership training – groups of executives are sequestered in a far away place to climb rock walls, walk across fire pits, and eat dirt. Oooo,, and they all get it done. But back at the company they find that (a) there’s no climbing wall in the lobby, (b) no fire pits in the hallways, and (c) the cafeteria doesn’t have dirt on the menu.

    Same is true with training sourcing. So the question is “how can we make it easier to apply what we team when the situation isn’t as contrived?”

  6. Jim Stroud on September 21st, 2006 12:48 am

    I think Glenn “The Great One” made some good statements. For one, people will always lean towards the path of least resistance. Sure you can train, train, train, but any training anyone offers is only as good as the person willing to receive it. Fortunately, I am seeing a promising trend among some of the more forward-thinking companies (which shall remain nameless).

    Corporations ARE beginning to hire “sourcing coaches” to work internally to train, encourage and be an in-house guru on all things sourcing. (Trust me, its true.) I would not at all be surprised if this trend increases.

    There are great benefits with that stategy of course; a “coach” can give perpetual personalized attention, focus on specific industries and the players involved, experiment on the latest tools and gadgets and present how-tos corporate-wide. Nice work if you can get it (and even better if they can afford you).

  7. Dennis Smith on September 21st, 2006 4:38 pm

    Nice post, El Dave. I must say, I wasn’t surprised at all when our favorite blogging maven, Heather, hit the exit sign once the massage therapy started!

    I caught up with her later and told her I was going to blog about it. You’ve done such a nice job here that there’s no point in going further.

    Wave goodbye to the crowd and keep forging ahead,