BREAKING NEWS: ERE Acquires SourceCon

6 10 2009

Many of you may have been wondering about The Source as of late – we haven’t posted much this summer, and there is a very good reason for this! Moments ago, ERE released a statement that they have acquired SourceCon, which you know is the umbrella under which The Source Newsletter is released. Here is that release from the ERE site:

I’m proud to announce that ERE Media has acquired SourceCon, the only live, in-person event for sourcing professionals in the world.

SourceCon is unique. It brings together the best minds in the sourcing profession to focus on minute intricacies of the art like no other event in existence.

I was at the first SourceCon, and remember being impressed by the vibe. There was an excitement in the air of a community coming together face-to-face for the first time. Several people came up to me unsolicited and told me how amazing it felt to finally be in a place where there were other sourcers “just like me.”

Since the current recession began, there has been talk of the death of sourcing. I disagree, and now ERE is putting its money where its mouth is.

So what does this mean?

For sourcers, this means that SourceCon is back, plain and simple! I and the ERE team respect the grassroots nature of the Sourcing community, and as we grow the event, we will do it in a way that respects the distinct (and quirky) ethos of the community.

For Leslie, SourceCon’s Founder, this is the result of years of her hard work building SourceCon into an amazing event. I and the ERE team will do our best to run the event as she has done, and hope to have her continued involvement for a long, long time.

As for us, SourceCon represents what ERE is all about — extending deeper into the talent acquisition community with another event that helps us to educate the profession.

We’ll be announcing the dates for the next SourceCon shortly, but if you can’t wait for your SourceCon goodness, check out The Source newsletter.

We couldn’t be more excited about this! Being a part of the ERE team is huge – and though we’ll no longer be working under the direct tutelage of Leslie O’Connor, I know she’ll still be involved and quite interested to see where things lead.

That being said, The Source will still be published as its own blog/newsletter. You will still find us here at and as always, we are eager to get contributions from the community for great content.

We are looking forward to being part of ERE’s family and joining the ranks of folks who put out excellent content through ERE, The Fordyce Letter, and the Journal of Corporate Recruiting Leadership.

Stay tuned to ERE and here as well for more info on SourceCon 2010!


Being on the Cutting Edge Can Be Challenging

1 10 2009

This is the second of a series of three articles discussing Microsoft’s approach building pipelines and talent communities.  The articles are entitled:

  1. Being on the Cutting Edge Can Be Rewarding
  2. Being on the Cutting Edge Can Be Challenging
  3. Being on the Cutting Edge Can Be Painful

In the first article of this “Being on the Cutting Edge” series, I discussed our Web 2.0 Recruitment Marketing Platform how we achieved success both from the solution we implemented from acknowledgement from the recruiting industry.  But the greatest barometer of success was how we performed for our business clients.  The article pointed out that by using Search Engine Optimization (SEO), over 95% of our jobs were on the first page of Google (the holy grail of SEO).  We saw how SEO reached a significant portion of the target audience that was actively looking for work.  In addition the talent that was demonstrating online behaviors that mirror active candidates (i.e. looking at jobs) could also be reached with our outreach.  But, even with the efficiency of SEO, we were not reaching the remaining 75-80% of the talent supply.  To put that article in the context of this discussion, SEO is a tactic that we employ as part of our talent engagement process (figure 2 below).

In this article we are going to look at our process at a high level and discuss the challenges that this type of initiative must overcome.  The challenges segment nicely into three buckets—designing a process that incorporates Web 2.0; the technological challenges of finding a solution; and the human challenges.  This article will also illustrate how we reach into the 75-80% of the prospect talent pool that is not demonstrating the online behaviors of an active job seeker.

Process Challenges

Designing a process that incorporates Web 2.0 proved to be very challenging; the process needed to connect to social media as well as incorporate a diverse target audience that represented the ten different business talent pipelines (micro-segments) that we were building.  The micro-segments of talent required a method of identifying and engaging them in a manner that incorporated the uniqueness of each segment.  And speaking of challenges—creating and implementing a solution at Microsoft and its complicated environment proved daunting at best.  The challenges of our process development can be summarized in terms of four considerations:

  • Microsoft Staffing Goals
  • Segments of Talent Supply
  • Talent Acquisition Strategy
  • Talent Engagement Model

Microsoft Staffing Goals

The reoccurring themes of Microsoft staffing goals—to source|recruit the best prospects|candidates in the world and to enhance the candidate experience were a part of the DNA of our approach.  Identifying the best prospect versus the best available candidate required that we incorporate great competitive and talent supply intelligence into our thinking.  The improvement to the candidate experience is not targeted at the people who go through the Microsoft interview process (which post interview surveys’ reveal is a great experience), but rather to the ones that got away.  They got away by not being ready to interview for a new job; or not seeing the right job; or by being screened out (and not knowing it); or a host of other reasons.

Segments of Talent Supply

A reoccurring element of the conversation about challenges is illustrated in the graphic below—the segments of the talent supply.  Rather than just active and passive, the governments suggests there are four segments of the talent supply—active, casual, passive and  those not looking.  The fact that our respective target audience is in a state of flux adds to the challenges as different parts of our audience are in different places at any one time.  I like to think of this as the “job search cycle.”

Figure 1: Segments of Talent Supply

Talent Acquisition Strategy

Our talent acquisition strategy is highlighted in the graphic below.  To have our “recruiting house” in order, we need to think about talent identification and talent engagement.

A significant challenge to “talent identification” is that we must pipeline talent that is segmented into target audiences that map to our respective businesses.  Our approach to talent identification and mapping to each business is unusual.  It is not the mapping that makes it unusual, it is the volume of the information harvested that sets us apart.  If you asked me one difference between what we do and the majority of the sourcing community is that we pipeline thousands of targets for each of our businesses.  While the prospects are vetted for general quality and education, it is the quantity of prospects that allows us that we can reach deeper in the pools of prospective talent.  We are getting the “gettable” talent, but also, we are engaging the typically “ungettable” prospects.

The talent engagement tactics are outlined in each of the pillars.  The list of tactics is not exhaustive, but provides an overview as to our thinking about the challenges of a comprehensive Talent Acquisition Strategy.  Our approach to talent engagement is amplified in the process flow chart in the next section.

Figure 2: Talent Acquisition Strategy

Talent Engagement Model

One of the greatest challenges to engaging prospective talent is not just the just the sheer volume of prospects, but also honoring the unique gifts and abilities of each individual.  To improve the candidate experience, you must treat your worst prospect as your best friend.  We must do this because the Microsoft brand is perceived is not what we say it is, but what our respective target audiences say it is.  While we can influence our brand (discussed in greater detail in the final article of this series) we do not control it—our audience does.

Back to the talent engagement!  In a recent article, I discussed our “talent engagement model” (see figure 3) in greater detail.  The essence of our thinking was to find a way to break the “apply or goodbye” nature of much of our relationships we forge with prospective talent.  By staying in a transaction model, we miss the opportunity to deepen the relationship with the prospects that we worked hard to develop.  It is similar to a sales force that develops new prospects as opposed to making additional sales with their existing customers.  We think it is not an “either|or” proposition, but rather a both|and opportunity.

Figure 3: Talent Engagement Model

Are We Really Reaching The Passive Prospects?

I realize that most recruiters approach passive prospects–but are they really reaching the potential of the passive market?  I think most often we reach passive prospects that have behaviors that mirror an active prospect.  The true passive audience can only be reached by mirroring the actual web activities that the passive prospects are engaging—that is usually related to their profession, additional training, etc.  This outreach can be automated such as a Recruitment Marketing Platform that aggregates information on                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           the target audience and iteratively reaches out to that audience with different messages that address their interests.

While we look at the talent supply (see figure 4) in terms of active, causal, passive and the non job seekers, it is useful explore the subject a little more deeply.  If we looked at the talent supply in the context of the methods that are used to reach our target audiences it is easy to see the challenges of working with a job search cycle that is nuanced.  The Recruiting Roundtable illustrates this point with the cleaver labels.  This graphic also points out another important point—much of the sourcing of passive prospects is aimed at the very difficult to recruit prospects.  To reach this audience, it takes the best research and highly impactful headhunting tactics.  While effective, it is difficult to leverage this approach to any scale that makes economic sense (particularly in a high volume, high bar type environment).  In short, it takes more than a simple human touch—it takes a “high touch” to engage these prospects.   A conclusion arrived at is that we tend to work at both ends of the spectrum—to engage the very easy to source and the very difficult to source.  And, I believe, we tend to miss a casual and passive audience that falls in the “easy to source” and “difficult to source” categories.

Figure 4: Job Search Cycle

Another layer to the discussion is “touch”—technology and human.  In my previous article, I made the case that SEO was the “technology touch” in our discussion.  And indeed, a technology outreach could capture some of the “causal” audience that was demonstrating web behaviors that mirrored an active job seeker.  This part of the audience was described as “SEO Gettables. “  But, we still have that opportunity in the middle.  We estimate that 30-40% of the available causal and passive audience is not reached with normal sourcing efforts.

It is the Talent Engagement Model that facilitates a human touch.  Just as a high touch is key sourcing and recruiting executives and key contributors, we leverage technology and a human touch to engage a more skeptical and the less active prospects.

Figure 5: Reaching Target Audience

Our experience with community has convinced us that we can scale a human touch using social networking sites.  We think about building relationships with prospects as Guanxi—capturing the spirit of the well-know Chinese core value.  Our goal is to place a significant premium on the relationship that we have with causal and passive prospects (something that is lacking in our world of transactions).

We created community on the existing communities (LinkedIn, Twitter, & Facebook) and used the respective platforms to engage the appropriate segments of their membership.  Research indicates that people are flocking to social networking sites to meet people, entertain themselves, learn something new or to influence others (Complete, Inc survey).  Forrester’s Technographics research indicated the majority of adults in our society (especially the best educated, highest paid professions as well as the new entrants to the job market) have joined social networking sites.  So when you consider that Facebook (in the near future) will have as many members as the population of the USA; that LinkedIn has over 41 million members representing many of the professions recruiters seek; and Twitter with its explosive growth, has a high quality (“early adopters” and ”persuaders”) membership that is also attractive as a target audience.

Figure 6:Community of Communities

Joining Existing Communities

While we have created talent communities (Jobster & Job2Web), we strategically decided to create community where communities already exist.  .  One way to think about forming community in existing communities is that we are organizing an existing community in a way that could enhance the functioning of that community as long as it aligns with the interests of its members.

An important “ah-ha” of the last two years is that only about 10% of a target audience will join a new community (those numbers held true in multiple situations).  We quickly understood that a community of communities would be the best approach.  The Recruiting Marketing platform facilitates the distribution of information to the respective communities.  The graphic below illustrates the distributive nature of our approach.

Figure 7:Connecting The Moving Parts

Technology Challenges

Matching a process that will work for Microsoft with a vendor solution is quite challenging.  Add the dimension of allowing for community and conversation and we have just doubled or tripled the challenge.  Most technology solutions that we looked at did not allow for web 2.0 community.  While they are great at processing a transaction, the available solutions are not designed for how candidates want to interact with potential employees.  In general terms, most of the solutions we reviewed were a web 1.0 solution in a web 2.0 world.

We discovered our vendor partner Jobs2Web about one year ago.  While their solution was the best and most affordable, we made the selection on their ability to migrate their existing platform to match the processes we designed.  While the rollout has been challenging, I believe we have made each other better.

As we have worked through the technology challenges with our vendor partner, Jobs2Web, we are still left with the human challenges of adopting this model.  The SEO piece is easy as it doesn’t require any real change in recruiter behavior.  But the “human touch” aspects of community building are the remaining challenge.

The Greatest Challenge of the Cutting Edge– “The Year of Guanxi”

Early in this work stream, we realized that it was going to be extremely difficult and challenging to introduce this approach into a recruiting process that was basically comprised of a series of transactions.  And, to make things even more interesting, we reward recruiters on the basis of executing those transactions at a very high level.  Talk about strangers in a foreign land!

So, at the end of our second year, the one last hurdle to greater success comes down to people.  It comes down to our ability to engage our recruiting colleagues and their hiring managers in the process.  The Recruitment Marketing Platform is in place; all the moving parts are connected; the activities can be metrixed—but internal engagement is required to move success to the next level.  We will report on our progress towards meeting this challenge in the future.

In the final installment—Being on the Cutting Edge Can Be Painful-we will explore what my boss calls—creating under the corporate microscope.  Also, we will discuss other pain points that this type of initiative.

The hunt for the August Roosters – Solving SourceCon Challenge #1, 2009

22 09 2009

We want to thank everyone for their participation in this contest. The competition was the fiercest we have seen and there are some phenomenal sourcers who participated in the challenge. SC’s Mom, Loretta, would have sent her thanks as well, but she is off to a 3 day seniors speed dating event and did not have time. So for those of you who are curious, Loretta was able to find three of SourceCon’s best friends, but SourceCon had left them so he is still missing. It appears that SourceCon has been missing for longer than even we had expected, and while he appreciates all the hard work done in his absence, Loretta A. Smith aka SourceMom will be taking over managing both Ning talent communities until he returns.

So feel free to join us at either community for updates, information, and upcoming conference details. The bulk of information can be found at while we try to rebuild the other site that was destroyed this weekend. We are still trying to figure out if the dingos ate the site, a fire at Ning destroyed only that site, or if hackers took over. The site will eventually be rebuilt at and always, you can continue to find information here at The Source Newsletter. Keep your eyes open for the next challenge before the end of the year.

A few people worthy of an honorable mention this time in addition to our winner include

  • @TheSourceress aka Katharine Robinson
  • @LisaOffutt aka runner up in last year’s #2 challenge
  • @miranda50 aka Miranda Hinshaw (who provided me with endless vacation destination ideas)
  • @SLCMyers Shannon Myers who won last year so she is not technically eligible to win but gave it her all in trying to solve the challenge anyway.

And the winner is… Irina Shamaeva!

A little bit about Irina:

Shameave, Irina photoIrina is an Executive Recruiter, an Expert Sourcer and a Web/Social Media Researcher. For the past five years she has been a Partner with Brain Gain Recruiting, placing senior full-time employees in IT, ERP, strategy consulting, and finances. She has an MS in Mathematics and a strong technical background. Irina teaches Recruiters and Sourcers how to search for prospects on the Internet and on Social Networks. Read about her training webinars and DVDs on her blog Boolean Strings + Social Media. Here is Irina’s LinkedIn Profile. Follow her on Twitter at @braingain.

Irina has created these active and successful recruiting communities: Boolean Strings LinkedIn Group and Ning Network, Twitter for Recruiting Group, and Social Media Recruiting Ning Network and LinkedIn Group (co-run with experts in the field).

Read how Irina solved the first SourceCon Challenge below. It was quite an accomplishment and Irina certainly has earned the title of Grand Master Sourcer. Let her know what you think of her hard work by leaving a comment below or contacting her at

When I first read the announcement on The Source Newsletter, I noticed the mysterious “colapts auratus”, pasted it into Google and it turned out to be misspelled “colaptes auratus” which is “Northern Flicker”. It prompted me to go to Flickr to look. A search for “tweety bird” landed on Mary’s profile, which had 7 images, many tags and a profile. Most of the pictures on the profile were taken around Phoenix AZ. There was also a map that pointed to somewhere on the 42nd street which Google maps showed as a place with warehouses and ruins of houses. That was probably where they were growing up.

Mary’s profile mentioned “a rocking good time with Ed Twinge”. Searching for “Ed Twinge” on Google leads to related to shows in Edinburgh; it allows to tweet about actors using the tag #edtwinge.

Searching for this tag on twitter leads to the profile of with just one message, that was clearly related to our story. The profile had a name of “Lady Denman Drive”. If you search for “Lady Denman Drive” on Google you will discover first that it is in Canberra Australia, and then that it’s the “Canberra Zoo and Aquarium” address. mscott42’s twitter profile pointed to Diigo. I spent quite some time on Diigo till I guessed to look for links to the Edinburgh performance and discovered Mary’s husband Monty Scott’s profile. I also went through the “ate my babies” page and saw that the image on his profiles was of a dingo, the wild dog. I think I was the first one to find Monty on Diigo.

Since anybody can see what you do on twitter and on Diigo I presented myself as an incognito profile and (just for fun) put the glowing egg pic on it from the Edinburgh site. This resulted in lots of DMs on twitter from buddy #scchallenge hunters – which lead me to tweeting a few vague sentences. (Sorry.) A gathering at Plurk called by my friend Jer E My was fun but it didn’t seem to be anything but a chat. After getting in touch with Monty on Diigo it all came to a halt for me. Dozens of people were catching up on Flickr, Twitter and Diigo profiles, and I couldn’t see where to go next.

When the charming Loretta had tweeted about Blondie, Dark Girl and Big Fella, I made a bit of progress, or so I thought. I Googled for “Blondie DarkGirl BigFella” and found pictures of them; they were bears at the Zoo! I landed on a few pages with their photos including I joined tripadvisor and some other photo sharing sites. This didn’t help at all. I then found a Zooquarium PDF file with all the names. It seemed it was a useful file. It had Mike among other animals there and I thought that was “the” Mike. Mike was a “little penguin”. Those are tiny penguins and they are blue. I was thinking that Mike was perhaps a “blue bird” and was looking for Mike Bluebird for a while.

Another day passed. Shannon Myers and I exchanged a few emails and I got some “moral support” from Shannon (thanks!:)). I had to work and to spend time with my son Peter (who is not in favor of me sitting at the computer) and that was good because it’s hard to be stuck for hours… Loretta mentioned “delicious” so many times in various forms that I felt something must be there but couldn’t find anything. Last night Loretta mentioned N.M. on Diigo that a few people had found and I rushed back to Diigo. Somehow I missed the familiar link to the Zoo’s list of animals that I had visited several times.

It was in N.M.’s profile. The profile had some info – but I first went to to see where else naveedmuhammad is a member. After that, it was easy. naveedmuhammad was on twitter at; he tweeted to – and that was Mike! Mike had a link to a Facebook page, used #yatchshow tag on twitter for the sailing stuff, and had a BubbleTweet (I’d never seen that before). Lots of info…

Then I went back to Pipl to look for other places where mjackson4242 was. Pipl showed that Mike was on the Pandora and related to the “The Roosters Radio”. Mike was also on Delicious with a link to Kopan Monastery, Kathmandu Nepal, and a phone number to call. I called and it turns out that was the way to reach the real SC Dude!

Thanks to all and especially to:

Boolean Strings community:

the Social Media groups:

Twitter for Sourcing and Recruiting

Social Media Recruiting Group

Network: – where we all learn from each other.

Please join us!

Thanks so much for the Sourcecon folks for the fun Challenge.

A Letter From SourceCon’s Mother

15 09 2009

We received this letter this morning from SourceCon Dude’s mother. Please re-post and pass the word along…

Being on the Cutting Edge Can Be Rewarding

13 08 2009

This is the first of a series of three articles discussing Microsoft’s approach to building pipelines and talent communities.  The articles are entitled:

  1. Being on the Cutting Edge Can Be Rewarding
  2. Being on the Cutting Edge Can Be Challenging
  3. Being on the Cutting Edge Can Be Painful

One year ago, I began a discussion of our work at Microsoft by suggesting that “Building a 21st century talent community requires using the right mix of recruiting art and science. “  I felt “we needed to dip back into the prehistoric art of developing relationship with prospects.”   I noted that while a “21st century recruiting technology” optimized a “technology touch” it is the “human touch” that is so valued by the potential prospect pool. I concluded “the challenge with ‘human touch’ is that it doesn’t fit well into our transaction based recruiting model.

guanxiAs we end the second year of this talent community pilot program, the tension between the “technology touch” and the “human touch” has become increasingly evident.  In fact, I believe the third year of this pilot rollout should be coined “The Year of Guanxi.” ([guan-shee] the basic dynamic in personalized networks of influence in Chinese society. As I reflect on our work for past year, it is evident that we have reached our goal of creating a platform that exhibits a very thorough approach to “technology touch” by creating a job distribution network that reaches deeply into active and passive talent pools.

Venues|Platforms for Evangelism

From the beginning, we have shared the work on this talent community pilot effort with the recruiting industry as a method of inviting feedback and fostering sharing of best practices with similar projects that are ongoing in the recruiting industry.  It has been quite a year of evangelizing our work.  We have enjoyed positive feedback from our initial presentation at Sourcecon 2008 to Human Capital Institute webinars to CareerXroads and Corporate Sourcing Leadership Council; SMA Event, HR Executive Forum, and other related venues.

Another purpose of these articles is a preview of our presentation for the Fall 2009 ERE Event, where our talent community pilot will be discussed in the broader context of Web 2.0 Beyond the Social Recruiting Hype: Microsoft’s Approach to Building Talent Pipelines and Communities.


The accolades for our pilot have been very re-enforcing and flattering.  ERE acknowledged our work with a “Most Strategic Use of Technology Award ” and industry thought leaders like Dr. John Sullivan called our work “pioneering.”

Microsoft Goals

Internally, at Microsoft, two of our corporate staffing goals are sourcing|recruiting the best candidates in the world and enhancing the candidate experience at Microsoft.   While external acknowledgement is very complementary, how we perform alongside Microsoft goals and commitments are all that matters.  In this talent community pilot, we see an opportunity to fulfill those goals.

Web 2.0 Recruitment Marketing Platform

At a high level we are creating a Web 2.0 Recruitment Marketing platform for our jobs that will be distributed to search engines, social networking sites, blogs and other relevant sites.  In this manner, we will reach deep into talent pools with a “technology touch.”  We will enhance the candidate experience by direct outreaches to micro-segments of our target audience and by establishing talent communities that will enhance the “human touch.”  It is at the intersection of art and science that success is realized.

The “technology touch” of the Web 2.0 Recruitment Marketing sits on the Jobs2Web platform.  Not only do we employ their unique dynamic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) technology, but we take advantage of total power of this platform to connect jobs and social networking sites as well as a CRM-orchestrated targeted outreach.  We not only reach the active job seeker, but we capture passive seekers who visit the site and sign up for our email alerts, RSS feeds or any of our talent communities which allows us to maintain contact and cultivate ambient relationships with these prospects until they are ready to go deep with an employment conversation with Microsoft.

And best of all, we can measure every aspect all the moving parts using Jobs2Web Recruiting Dashboard which gives us visibility to all activity and exact sources of all candidates that come to our talent community (without asking the prospects) which helps us to know what sources are providing the best quality and quantity of candidates in the highly fragmented Web 2.0 World.

How We Measure Success

For the active (and a percentage of passive) prospects, success is measured by our jobs “being seen” or “being found” in the keyword search results.  The chief reason to “optimize” our jobs is because job seekers primarily use search engines to look for a job (as opposed to job boards).  The highlight outlined below illustrates the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) of our jobs on Google (which enjoys 70% of the market for job searches).  As the graph demonstrates-97% of our targeted recruiting keywords (i.e. Seattle Developer Jobs, Washington .Net Jobs, Washington Tech Jobs, etc.) show up in the first page of Google search results.

To reach our ultimate goal of sourcing|recruiting the best talent in the world, we must use this “technology touch” to reach into talent pools that can be described as causal, passive or non-looking job seekers.  When you think about active vs. the more passive job seeker, we have to remember that only a small percentage of the job market is actively searching for a new job at any point in time.  The graph below illustrates this point.  This graph was created using 2006 Bureau of Labor Statistics (the last official year), so we could conclude that the active job seeker market must be greater today given the high unemployment rate.  So let’s say it is 20% today.  Even at that level, that means that 80% of the available talent is not actively looking for work.

If we view the Job Search Cycle from a slightly different angle, we are able to see a more discreet method of classifying active vs. passive job seeking. The Recruiting Roundtable suggests we add the filter of” difficultly to source” as we move from left (easiest to source) to right (the most difficult to source) on the graph below.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Recruiting Roundtable

The degree of difficulty to source adds a deeper dimension to our thinking.  So rather than just active or passive, we think about “gettables” and the “ungettables.”  Most recruiters have antidotes about convincing a person not seeking a job to take a look at their opportunities.  So I think that it makes sense that we can convince someone to look at a job.  In fact the Recruiting Roundtable recently published a study that 83% (I have no idea why it is not 100%) of active job seekers would consider other jobs, while 42% of passive job seekers will consider other jobs.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Recruiting Roundtable

It is difficult to project how many people will respond to “technology touch” vs. the “human touch.”  Research tells us that even passive prospects engage in active prospect behavior.  To that extent, we are able to connect with the “gettables” that may be casually or passively looking, the reach of technology touch will be far greater than just optimizing our jobs for the active job seeker.  The “gettables” that can be reached by our SEO activities are highlighted in red below.  The overall reach of our technology touch is depicted in green.  How we reach the prospects in the green shaded area will be discussed next month.

To achieve the Microsoft goal of sourcing|recruiting the best candidates in the world, we must reach deep into targeted talent pools.  Using the technology touch of our Recruitment Marketing platform, we are able to reach out to a greater targeted audience.  The first step in how we measure success is with search engine optimization of our jobs that will be viewed by gettable talent.  At the same time, we need to remember our second goal of enhancing the prospect|candidate experience.  Next month, we will look at our second step, which examines how our Recruitment Marketing Platform connects social media as well as targets micro-segments of the target talent audience.

About the author:

smith-marvinHaving been in the recruiting world for over two decades, Marvin Smith currently works for Microsoft. He provides the Microsoft Entertainment & Devices Division staffing team with mission critical talent by identifying and cultivating relationships with target talent community. His talent community development strategies include competitive intelligence, e-sourcing/recruiting,online recruiting, social networking, and talent database acquisition.

Sourcing: Group Training Best Practices

12 08 2009

image by via Creative CommonsWhat is the most effective way to train people in the art and science of sourcing?

One of the most common forms of group training in the sourcing community is the webinar. Some are free, others cost money. Some are internal corporate trainings, and others are delivered by 3rd party trainers. Although web based training is relatively easy to deliver and it offers the ability to train large numbers of people across multiple locations – the question must be asked – how effective is it as a training method?

The ultimate measure of any training method’s effectiveness is the extent to which trainees can reliably and properly execute the techniques, tactics, and strategies that they were exposed to during the training.  The reality is that most people do not absorb and retain information effectively by watching and listening to a trainer – this applies to web-based training as well as live classroom training.

Research in occupational training shows that people retain about:

  • 10% of what they read
  • 20% of what they hear
  • 30% of what they see
  • 50% of what they hear and use
  • 70% of that they say
  • 90% of what they say and do

That means that any training that only involves reading, listening, and watching has about a 30% retention rate. Would you say that’s a good return on investment?

I’ve delivered many web-based trainings myself out of simple necessity – it isn’t always practical or even possible to perform live training for large groups of people who are geographically dispersed – and I’ve been amazed at how little people actually retain from 1 to 2 hour web-based training sessions. No matter how knowledgeable the trainer is, the simple fact of the matter is that people retain only about 30% of what they see and hear.

Retention might improve somewhat (research would suggest 50%) if people would leave a training session and immediately go try everything they were just exposed to, but in my experience most people don’t. Even if they did, without the benefit of an on-site expert/trainer to observe what they’re doing and provide the appropriate guidance, most people aren’t able to self-evaluate, particularly with newly gained skills.

The Missing Link

What’s missing from most training – web-based or live – is having the trainees actually use what they’ve been exposed to during training and while they’re doing so, explain what they’re doing and why. This is where the magic happens – the trainer/mentor can actually verify the trainee’s level of understanding by observing and evaluating the techniques, strategies, and thought process they apply when faced with a practical (“real world”) challenge. Only when a trainee can solve multiple challenges by properly applying the techniques they’ve been taught and they are able to explain WHY they used the technique/approach they did can the trainer have confidence that there has been true knowledge transfer.

The What vs. the How and Why

Most sourcing and recruiting training that I have been exposed to focuses heavily, if not exclusively, on the “what.” The “what” is domain knowledge – such as “here are a bunch of Twitter search apps,” “this is LinkedIn’s search interface,” and “here are Google’s search operators.” While this can be very good information, it’s not very different than reading an instruction manual, and instruction manuals don’t typically produce experts.

The “how” goes beyond simply how to use with something such as LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google to search for people  (e.g., syntax, fields, etc) and into exactly how to find the right people using such tools. This is process knowledge and can be quite valuable.

The “why” is perhaps the most critical aspect of training and knowledge transfer. Being able to go through the motions and copy what a trainer has shown you isn’t real learning in my opinion. If you are able to explain precisely WHY you’re using a particular site, syntax, or search strategy, then as a trainer I can truly assess whether or not you really understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

If you recall the occupational research statistics, people tend to retain approximately 50% of what they hear and use, 70% of what they say, and 90% of what they say and do. What’s missing from most sourcing training is incorporating hands-on use of the training by the trainees into the training program/session, along with having them explain what they’re doing and precisely why. That’s exactly how a training session can go from 30% retention of material to 90% retention.

It’s no secret that the vast majority of people learn by doing, so for maximum knowledge transfer, it’s critical for training programs to allow for attendees to use and apply what they’ve been exposed to in the training. This enables the trainer to assess each attendee’s level of understanding and provide appropriate guidance to those who do not fully understand the training and techniques. While it may not be practical to incorporate this level of two-way interaction in some web-based training scenarios – especially with very large groups – it’s not impossible.

In Conclusion

For consumers of sourcing training, demand more of the how and the why, and whenever possible, choose training programs that allow you to use the techniques you’re being trained in under the guidance and evaluation of the trainer.  For sourcing trainers, be sure to incorporate some form of assessment into your training programs whenever practical.

Expecting to master sourcing techniques and strategies from web-based or live training that doesn’t involve interactive assessment and evaluation of your understanding of the content is like expecting to master golf by watching a golf video or by taking golf lessons where the instructor doesn’t let you actually swing the club in their presence and offer guidance and advice.

Expect more from your training!

About the author:

Cathey, Glenn photoGlen Cathey is the author of, a blog about sharing best practices for leveraging the Internet, job boards, resume databases, and social networks for sourcing and recruiting. With over 12 years of experience in the recruiting and staffing industry, he currently serves as the V.P. of Recruitment for a large staffing firm and trains hundreds of recruiters every year in the art and science of leveraging technology for talent identification and acquisition.

Connect with Glen:

Research is Research, No Matter What

10 08 2009

Just about a year ago, if you said to me recruitment research is very similar to business research, I would probably think you are from Mars.  Don’t get me wrong, not that I was against recruiting or anything like that, I just hadn’t been exposed to that side of the world yet.  Being an Information Professional for over 17 years, I have been taught and trained to always looking for authoritative, creditable sources when it comes to business and competitive intelligence.

I started my career with McKinsey & Company where valuable information is critical to client’s success; I spoke to associations sharing industry insights, I searched high & low on commercial databases (Lexis, Factiva, EBSCO to name a few) for valid facts, and I networked with internal consultants to seek their expertise.  After that I went to work for a major bank here in Canada, again supporting research for Investment Banking and Enterprise-wide initiatives.

Reputable resources are never fully accessible on the net for free, so imagine my shock when I first heard the term “Internet Research”.  Well, that was then.  My current job started last September, and I got in because of the competitive intelligence aspect of it but fell in love because of the interactions I had with candidates.  Applying the skills and knowledge I gained over the years to sourcing, I quickly realized research is research, no matter what.

Since I am a trained Information Professional who works best with visualization, I have drafted a simple diagram here to exhibit in business and recruiting worlds, the ultimate information we are looking for are as follows:

In one of Amybeth Hale’s posts, ” What Sourcing Is Not Responsible For“, she pointed out that once the Sourcer/Researcher has delivered what the Recruiter has asked for in basic qualifications, their work is complete.  I couldn’t agree more even applying in the business/intelligence research; once we researchers exercised our curiosity practice and did it in a MutuallyExclusiveCollectiveExhaustive way, it’s really up to the management to decide whether, and how, to use the information, because behind every good business decision is an information professional.

In business, investigation is a ‘must’ process during CI information gathering, and when I was looking into recruitment research not too long ago, Geoff Webb, a highly regarded Sourcing Master here in Canada, said to me, “Good Researchers/Sourcers are investigators, but not necessarily recruiters”. It was a valid point. The only difference is that in recruiting, we deal strictly with people, and as we all know people are complicated and, quite often, unpredictable.  This is what makes it more challenging and interesting.

So, Research is Research, No Matter What.  I’ve said it and I am glad I did.  This is just my two cents of being a newbie Recruiting Researcher and an experienced Business Researcher.

About the author:
Chi, Sara photoSara Chi is a Research & Information Specialist who enjoys hunting ans   wers and connecting dots for business/competitive intelligence research. She spent over 15 years working in this field and has recently expanded her horizoninto recruiting. She currently works as a Recruiting Researcher for CriticalKnowledge.

Connect with Sara: