The End of Sourcing Is Near … is a post by Dr. John Sullivan on ERE that is drawing lots of attention. I am not going to argue with this point. Let's just try to read the article carefully.

Dr. John Sullivan writes: "Finding top talent among professionals is now becoming painless to the point where almost any firm can do it successfully." The posts says that the only reason there still may be some minor need in sourcing ["phone" sourcing, perhaps?? - IS], is not everyone being online yet.

Let me present the same logic applied to a slightly different field: mining precious metals. Please read carefully:

[1] [Fact.] By now there's a variety of machinery that can identify, whether there are precious metals underneath the ground below any specific point (longitude, latitude), anywhere in Alaska.

[2] [Conclusion.] Because of [1], locating precious metals in Alaska is a simple matter of using this machinery. Anybody can do this.

[3] [Final Conclusion.] The only remaining problem is how to use those metals in manufacturing.

That's the same logic. Does it work? There seems to be a logical gap somewhere there.

What about a practical example?

Dear Dr. John Sullivan:

I would challenge you to demonstrate how the wealth of social info makes sourcing easy, specifically in application to this sourcing task posted on another ERE-owned site, SourceCon. I know for a fact, that, using your words, "everyone [in this task - IS] can be found through their “footprint” on some combination of electronic sites." 

Let me know what you find!

Thanks; Irina Shamaeva

I agree that the selling side of recruiting needs improvement, stressed in the article, but that's not the point.

The large number of re-tweets and shares of the "the Death of Sourcing" article makes me wonder why the death of sourcing  is such a welcome message - while nothing can be further away from the reality. I'd be curious to hear everyone's thoughts.

Views: 803

Comment by bill josephson on February 14, 2013 at 6:28pm

My clients don't miss anyone in their database unless the candidate's resume is old and they've switched jobs.  Otherwise, if they're sitting in there there's no interest.  My clients are technologically savvy. 

And Sandra's comment not withstanding, the resistance with major companies using external recruiters is fierce.  The fee unjustifiable unless a "problem" req.  My experience is they expect their internal recruiters to get the job done on their own, or replace them with downward pressure against paying agency fees.  I'm in the Defense Engineering world which has been hammered over much of the past several years due to decreasing defense budgets and sequestration threat.  There, there are either no jobs, no jobs with layoffs, jobs with no authorization to use external recruiters and fear of up to 1 million jobs lost if sequestration comes to fruition.

Smaller-mid sized companies, companies without HR departments/recruiters, companies in hot sectors not technologically savvy, disciplines with demand outweighing supply in companies in a hot sector, relo positions, and contract recruiting are doing well and have business.  Many disciplines aren't.  So Sandra and I obviously live in parallel business universes.   Medical Devices, Investment/Financial, and Defense have their challenges.
There's always a market segment somewhere doing well in poor employment times--just a matter of getting in.

As for Sourcing, I don't see it going away but instead supporting almost exclusively the corporate recruiting side perhaps trending in-house.

Comment by pam claughton on February 18, 2013 at 8:13am

Articles like this just make me shake my head. They're just silly, and almost always written by someone far removed from actual recruiting. Reminds me a bit of the doom and gloom posts that were all over the internet when Monster arrived on the scene. Monster was supposed to kill sourcing and recruiting. :)

He is correct about one thing, it's easier to find people. But, finding people is by far the easy part of our job. It's turning that name into a candidate and into a placement that is what we are paid for. And there is still a very big demand for what we do.

I just had a new client call me with a new search on Friday. He was genuinely mystified and wondering how we do what we do. He said he thought it should be so much easier because he has access to Linkedin, yet he and his HR team have had no luck surfacing viable candidates. He asked me how we do it, and I was happy to explain that while he may send an occasional in mail and hope for a reply, we work the phones. We call people, we either recruit them or get referrals.

This is why there will always be a demand for what we do. Even the very best internal recruiters, and I've worked with some excellent ones, simply don't have enough time in the day to actively recruit on all of their jobs. As one said to me recently, "I'm giving you this search because I have 39 others right now, and that means each hiring manager gets about one hour of my time per week." She barely has time to schedule interviews, let alone recruit. Kind of puts things into perspective?

Comment by bill josephson on February 18, 2013 at 11:26am

The key is you have a client with "39 other searches" requiring your help.

The bottom line in our business are clients with jobs which are possible to fill. 

Doesn't matter if they're a client because they're over worked, understaffed, poor recruiters, passive, supply and demand challenged, don't have recruiters, job board/Internet emailers, etc.....  If your client has a fillable job and willing to pay you a fee to find someone, you're employed.

My issue in this market isn't finding candidates.  Any fillable job including difficult ones I'll find candidates.  It's the client side. 

The fact so many have the resources to find candidates, staffed adequately for their needs encorporating a multitude of aggressive contract recruiters, excellent recruiters, and who use the Internet but call candidates directly same as we do.

The challenge is finding clients who require our services building a steady stream of business.  Maybe I need more inept clients.  But that's been my challenge--inability to readily find them.

In I/T in Investment Financial Services--not my current discipline but was from 1983-2003--an internal recruiter stated he put a Sr Business Systems Analyst position on the job boards, received 900 resumes the first 2 hours, 80 were worth phone screening, 20 were worth interviewing.  That wasn't the case in 1999-2000

The business today is about clients.  If you have a stable clientele with a steady stream of business, you're in great shape.

Comment by pam claughton on February 18, 2013 at 2:53pm


I think you may want to consider shifting your recruiting focus. Like Sandra, we are really busy, with no shortage of good clients. I wouldn't consider our clients inept by any means either. They just value what we do!


Comment by bill josephson on February 18, 2013 at 9:05pm

The value for what you do is because they need your services.  If they could find people on their own they wouldn't need you.  Most all companies I'm contacting either have no openings, or have them but don't need or have no authorization to use a recruiter.

Clients are king, and a steady stream of business has been my challenge.

Comment by Thomas L. chaparro on February 19, 2013 at 11:46am

We are paid a fee for providing a valuable service. For some companies, it may be time, for others it may be our intimate knowledge of our area of specialization and our qualified opinion. I have been told by my best clients it's both.

Sourcing is a very small part of the equation. And it will never be replaced by social media or any other internet based tools. Information is only powerful if you know how to use and leverage it. It's all about making a good match, and our clients happily pay us and use us over and over again.

Back in 2001, the company I was working for was acquired by TMP/ Mant at TMP thought the bricks and mortar world of search was a dinosaur and I respectfully left, cashed in my options and never looked back. TMP felt our client list were valuable and paid us a ton. Monster failed miserably in that particular business model. If was laughable. But I'm glad I was able to cash out while the share value was still strong. Every one of my clients followed me. And I am very respectful of non-competes. TMP/Monster couldn't do the job.

Many of my clients can find people on their own. But they cant close them. It's that simple. And I've been at this a very long time and love it more today than when I started.





Comment by Ian Millar on February 19, 2013 at 1:56pm

Thomas is right, in that closing is a significant part of the equation, but that is actually what Sullivan said. However, I will stand with the majority here and say that sourcing is much more relevant and involves more than finding names on the internet. How many times have people overlooked a candidate that they are connected to on LinkedIn (or even 2nd degree) but didn't know that person is exactly what they are looking for? Why? because they aren't competent Sourcers. A good Sourcer is far more than a resume finder.

I recently closed a great hire that NO ONE in my company thought was possible. Why? Not because I closed the deal (I am good at closing), but because I sourced the right person at the right time and put the right circumstances in place. The close was circumstantial to the whole process, because I sourced correctly.

You can't remove the human in the loop, no matter how much technological assistance you get. You still need that human insight and savvy. Sourcing will be alive for a long time.

Comment by Thomas L. chaparro on February 19, 2013 at 2:06pm


When I say closing, I am referring to the entire process from sourcing to understanding the "Whys", to brokering an offer, to being there at the end to provide continual support and confidence to the placement etc. And we have great Sourcers and they are invaluable. We provide our Sourcers with every possible technological advantage.

But you are so right, the human will always be a fundamental part of the process. It's the empathy and genuine concern for all parties that make it work, time and time again.


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