Get Super Specialized: Sourcing For a Start-Up

12 11 2008

I am establishing a new high tech consulting company called eLumenotion, LLC.  The focus will be on SharePoint Training and Consulting.  So with times like they are right now, how can one make it happen with a high tech start up?

When you want to start up a new company….you don’t want just any kind of people, right?  You want great people!  Well, here I am trying to build something special here at eLumenotion, LLC.  But before getting started on this new company the following question came up:  Aside from closing business, how do you effectively source people for a start up?  And remember; don’t forget the backdrop where you have these macro-economic events taking place.

Well, let’s take a step back for a second.  Let’s first consider our industry: recruiting.  Recruiting plays such a key role in our economy.  We provide a service.  We serve people by helping them get jobs.  I personally love it when I have brokered a deal for a job seeker to get a new job. Think about it.  Someone actually landed a job that is meaningful and rewarding.  But as you look at the recruiting industry, there is a variety of specialties once you peel back the outer layer. 

In the recruiting industry, you can find many types of recruiters.  There are recruiters in high tech, healthcare, manufacturing, distribution, and legal services…just to name a few.  Dive further.  There are corporate recruiters, independent contract recruiters, and staffing agency recruiters.  Dive even further.  You can find a breakdown of the recruiting function to different areas of specialization.  You can find researchers, sourcers, and account/relationship managers…just to name a few.  Now, there are accomplished full life cycle recruiting pros out there who serve much of the market quite well.  Yet, there are certain times it’s hard to be all things to all people.  I am not saying by any means it can’t be done.  It’s just that there are situations (perhaps due to scope, time/deadlines, scale, geographies, locations, roles, or specialities) where it makes sense to breakdown the full life cycle in to these dedicated areas of specialties. 

The same goes for recruiting in the high tech industry.  There are many players in the high-tech industry.  There are so many companies.  For example, let’s dive into firms that specialize in hardware and software.  For the sake of discussion, major ones that come to mind are Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Sun, Cisco, Nortel, HP, IBM and Dell.  It’s a steep challenge to be a generalist recruiter and cover all of these effectively.  You may very well end up being a ‘jack of all trades and a master of none’. 

Solution: Consider narrowing your area of focus.  Pick a niche (or product stack) and make it your area of specialization!  Pick a company, such as Cisco, SAP, or Microsoft, and make it your speciality.  If you are scared or unsure on where to focus, then pick two:  a major and a minor.  And see how that goes for you.  Doing so will truly enhance your network and success.  I would like to call this being a Super Specialized Recruiter.  No, it’s not like being super sized when you go to McDonald’s.  J  I am saying let’s super specialize your career!  Have a laser focus in one company or product stack. 

Being a super specialized recruiter has many benefits.  The top three benefits are:


  1. You will develop a deeper understanding of the technology.  In turn, that gives you instant cred when you talk to candidates!  Candidates like it when they are talking to a recruiter who actually knows what s/he is talking about! 
  2. You will have a deeper, richer and more meaningful network.  Yes, it’s nice to leverage tools on line to research and source, but a personal relationship with someone can’t be beat.  Don’t forget, not all people use LinkedIn, Spoke, Twitter and Facebook every day.  There is a passive, hidden community out there.
  3. You will be more successful, be more efficient, and make more money.  You will turn around job requisitions much faster.  No OJT (on the job training) trying to cover requisitions in Cisco, HP, Sun and SAP all at the same time.  When you pick a niche, you can step in and hit requisitions with a running start. 

Allow me to share something.  Personally, I have recruited for Microsoft Gold Partners for nearly 12 years now.  Having developed throughout the years a network rich in Microsoft talent, this being my personal area of speciality, will enable eLumenotion, LLC to have a highly successful recruiting function. 

Yes, these are tough times.  However, turn lemons into lemonade.  Turn a negative into a positive.  Leverage your gift of networking by helping people in your area of speciality get back on their feet.  Treat others as you would like to be treated.  The Golden Rule – an oldie but a goodie.  At a time when people may be struggling, hurting or feel like they need lifeline, you can help!  It is a noble and honourable gesture.  It’s the right thing to do.  And people will remember you for that.

The recruiting industry plays a key role in our American economy, here in the greatest country in the world.  And your reputation as a recruiting professional is everything.  Helping others, in good times and in bad, will be remembered.  They will remember you helping them out of a ditch.  I have many stories I can share from the crash of 2001.  Helping each other and serving each other matters.  It’s true. And I stand by that. 

So there we go.  Inventory your skills and gifts.  Then consider leveraging all of that in a particular product stack or niche by getting super specialized.  You will be glad you did. 


dal-cerro-michael-picNicknamed “Michael D”, Michael Dal Cerro has over 12 years of experience in the technology and management consulting industry, 10 of which primarily focused on the recruitment of human capital. His responsibilities have spanned across full lifecycle recruitment, employment branding, college relations, affiliate management and vendor relations. 


Based in Atlanta, Georgia, eLumenotion, LLC is a consulting boutique specialized in SharePoint Training and Consulting. The firm has been enlisted by Microsoft to help train Microsoft Partners on the implementation and customization of the SharePoint platform.



SourceCon Thoughts – Marvin Smith

12 11 2008


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

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

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

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

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

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

SourceCon Spotlight: Up and Coming Sourcers – Lisa Offutt

12 11 2008

offutt-lisa-picOur November Spotlight is Lisa Offutt, Internet Researcher and Recruiter at BizWerks in Mossville, IL.

Lisa has been with BizWerks, a small agency in Madison, WI, for a year. The company, owned by Julia Stone, employs four people and works primarily on technology positions – software developers and the like.

Lisa got into sourcing because Julia thought she would be good at it. She met Julia and her husband Brad through a community effort they were all involved in when they were living in Peoria. As part of that effort, they worked together on researching and putting together a document of evidence, and she believes that may have been the beginning of it all.

Initially, Lisa’s work was almost exclusively sourcing. She has been encouraged steadily to broaden her involvement and extend herself. According to Lisa, she is not naturally gregarious, so calling passive candidates on the phone was a huge step for her. She thought she would get chewed out or hung up on at least once, but instead she had a number of interesting and pleasant conversations. Lately, she has been doing more recruiting work, in particular using sites like BountyJobs and TalentMaze. Recently she placed two candidates, having taken them through the process pretty much independently for the first time.

Considering that Lisa had never thought about internet research as something one would be paid to do until she broached the subject, meeting Julia is one of the most impactful events Lisa notes that has affected her research career. Lisa had been a stay-at-home mom for several years at that point, and she worried that any paying work that would really fit into her life would be something boring and minimum-wage, or involve inviting friends to her house to buy things. She is thrilled to have work that’s interesting, rewarding, and that continues to challenge her.

Having worked in some larger organizations in the past, Lisa says that in those settings oftentimes it was hard to feel like what she was doing was terribly important to the organization. She likes the fact that with BizWerks she knows that when she does well, it’s felt and it really makes a difference; it’s very motivating.

When it comes to sourcing tools, Lisa mainly uses Google, LinkedIn, and the Broadlook tools. Lately she has been using Shally’s LinkedIn hacks a lot. She has also used Twitter searches to find people from time to time. What she uses depends a lot on whom she is looking for, of course.

Lisa is one of the lucky folks who gets to work remotely. She says that she loves it; the flexibility makes it perfect for her right now. She did say that it’s a bit isolating, though, and sometimes she thinks her learning curve would be a bit steeper if she were around other sourcers more. It helps a lot to have online communities like SourceCon, Recruiting Blogs and Sourcer’s Guild, so she tries to make time to check them out regularly.

On a personal note, Lisa has two sons, a 4th-grader and a 7th-grader, and she volunteers at their school. She is also very active in her church, particularly with children’s religious education and social outreach activities like cooking for the homeless. In addition, Lisa is active in Peoria Families Against Toxic Waste, an organization working to prevent the expansion of a hazardous waste landfill on the outskirts of Peoria. Just for fun, she reads a lot (maybe too much), likes to hike in the nearby Illinois River bluffs, and every Tuesday evening she goes listen to live jazz at one of her favorite hangouts, Panache.

Connect with Lisa Offutt:


Using Social Media Tools To Bridge The Generation Gap

12 11 2008

I recently had the opportunity to present to a rather large group of students in the Accenture Chicago office with a panel of some of the leadership at Accenture, including 4 Sr. Executives, 2 Sr. Managers, 1 Manager, and 2 Recruitment leads.  The majority spoke on various topics about choosing a career path or how to know what you want to do at a young age. I had the opportunity to present on the topic of “building a personal brand” through the use of Social Media in the Business Environment.

I spent a good amount of time researching trends on how employers are increasing the use of social media in the recruitment process to source, qualify, and for some disqualify entry level employees.  After presenting this to the group, the reaction was nothing short of phenomenal, and most surprising was the Accenture management reaction.  The Accenture executives and managers used a great deal of the Q&A time to ask questions about the technology and how powerful it can be when leveraged in the workplace.  I let the younger generation educate and answer some of the questions asked by the executives and mangers. This was an awesome experience, to see how excited the young students were to explain a foreign topic to an older generation.

The students were interested to hear how employers view the profiles and how often they do so.  I explained that they should approach the use of social networks and other social media as building a brand name for themselves.  I expressed the importance of keeping a professional image in virtual worlds to always keep and promote a positive “brand”.

The reaction from the students was very positive, and interactive, as they were already incredibly educated in these emerging technologies as functional users.  The students were excited to be able to relate to a successful global leader of technological innovation in the realm of the “real world”.  The reactions I got from the students upon the mention alone of Facebook, Second-Life, and Myspace instantly lit up their attention to the presentation.  Over the past few days since the presentation I have received interesting questions via email from the students on topics of how to effectively use other forms of media like LinkedIn, which I referred to as the “Facebook” of the working professionals’ world.  It was great to see proactive interest from these students and how they want to build larger networks in the professional arena at such a young age, still being 4-6 years away from joining the entry level workforce.

It was also interesting to see how they instantly felt part of the business world when I acknowledged the incredible value of the skills that they are acquiring through the use of social media, and how that most importantly they are already being recognized as being experts with skills in resourcefulness.  The skills that social media foster have already evolved business in many areas outside of talent acquisition and recruiting research.  I feel that this large population, the youth, is eager to learn how to promote themselves online and would greatly benefit from more education on how to effectively build a positive brand through social media to better themselves in the future.  Equally important is the need to educate the older generations on these technologies and how they are rapidly changing the way we reach not only talent but also to potential customers and consumers.

Editor’s note: the corporate world is already starting to see a lot of this kind of “reverse mentorship” – where the younger generation is helping to mentor more experienced professionals on the importance of using and mastering social media tools for today’s business dealings. These kind of symbiotic relationships could certainly provide some unique recruiting situations by creating opportunities for young folks to instantly add value to their new organizations.


Anthony Knierim works as a Pipeline Generation Expert with Accenture in Chicago, IL. He is responsible for strategizing methods for improvement in pipeline generation and sourcing efforts on their Mega Portfolio in Application Outsourcing to increase traffic in supporting and fulfilling client based project needs.

Ask The Sourcing Dude

12 11 2008

We’ve enlisted the help of the Master Sourcer himself, The Sourcing Dude, to answer some questions that are at the forefront of many of our minds. In each issue of The Source, The Sourcing Dude will respond to some of these questions.

If you have a pressing issue you’d like the Sourcing Dude to answer, please email us and we will bring it to the SourceCon shrine for consideration.

With the economy the way it is now, how do you think the sourcing function will be affected within corporations? Is now a good time to consider becoming a contractor, or do you think sourcing will stand through this test? Do you have any advice for sourcers to follow during rough economic times?

These are great opportunities to focus on the building of pipelines, identifying and development passive candidates for future openings.   It is also a great opportunity to build out your sourcing strategy within your organization, and bring in additional training to re-tool your recruiting staff on various sourcing methods.  Under normal conditions, there never seems to be enough time for on-site training, webinars, conferences, etc. without impacting production.   So seize the opportunity to provide your teams with whatever training they need to become strong sourcers or to implement a sourcing strategy.

 A short-list of some things to consider would include:

  • Participate in sourcing webinars as individuals or groups
  • On-site training for the entire team in areas of sourcing and productivity
  • Attend industry conferences – SourceCon, ERE, Kennedy
  • Look into your options for implementing a CRM tool to track passive candidates
  • Implementing a new ATS
  • Look at your outbound channel grid for sourcing passive candidates – are you getting the optimum results from each channel?
  • Put more time and effort into developing your passive candidate talent pools – proactive outreach, community development, special projects, etc.
  • Do you have good metrics for your sourcing?   It is a good time to take advantage of a hiring “pause” and look at the metrics and results from the last 3 -6 – 12 months

If you are currently in a full time position, I would hang in there until the storm blows over. The market for contract sourcers is getting tighter every day as the layoffs have flooded the market with some outstanding talent.

The Resilient Recruiter: Got Resiliency?

12 11 2008

Part One of Four: Intro to Resiliency
An Interview with Resiliency SME, Michael Ballard

Gotta love Facebook.  That’s where I discovered Michael Ballard.  When I saw his picture with a life-sized Elmo, I had to find out what this man was about.  I was gripped by his personal story of resiliency as I learned that he managed to place 7th in sales out of a sales team of 78…in the midst of a four-month multi-treatment battle with cancer one year.  That’s resiliency!

Michael specializes in resiliency programming. His practice includes work as a consultant, facilitator, workshop leader and writer.  He has over 19 years of experience helping clients throughout North America and the Pacific Rim. He assists individuals, families, teams and organizations in building resiliency skills for greater levels of durability and success.

Having been through some resiliency…ahem…“opportunities” of my own in the past couple of years, I pondered the relationship between resiliency and recruiting success after chatting with Michael.  I thought about the many factors that come into play in the making of a “rockstar” recruiter…or even just a consistent producing recruiter:  experience, training, personality, technology, networks, tools, gadgets.  I am a closet geek and suffer from bouts of gadget-envy with a hidden belief that more tools and gadgets will make me a better recruiter.  We do need to learn best practices and discover how the latest technologies, tools and gadgets can improve our game; but…what good are tools, gadgets, training, experience, etc. if we are not resilient? 

Resiliency separates the pros from the amateurs in any profession.  Resiliency skills take a quick front seat during difficult times.  Those who push through adversity with well-developed resiliency skills will come out stronger on the other side.  Those who let adversity take them down, however, will lose…and they will often take others down with them.

Emotional Quotient (EQ) is a significant component of resiliency.  I was intrigued to discover that studies by Hunter, Schmidt and Judiesch 1990, and Goldman 1998, show that:

  • Emotional Quotient (EQ) is more important than leadership skills in management positions. EQ impacts performance more than IQ, cognitive ability and technical skills combined.
  • High EQ sales professionals are up to 25% more productive than their low EQ counterparts.
  • In some environments high EQ staffs have 63% LESS turnover!

Got your attention now?  Those stats have staggering implications for organizations…for HR…for recruiting!  In this first of a four part series, we will introduce the subject of resiliency in an interview with Michael Ballard: 

Wendy:    Michael, how do you define resiliency?

Michael: Experts define resiliency as our ability to deal with adversity and bounce back.  Resiliency consists of a set of skills. 

Wendy:    Why is resiliency important?

Michael:  Our resiliency or lack thereof can greatly impact our ability to succeed at work, home, school and in society. We need to nurture, mend and strengthen our mental health. Our quality of life depends upon it.  Resiliency skills help people to keep moving forward in life. These skills assist us to stay “up right”.  It’s a skill set that most of us don’t enjoy having to use, yet it is vital to our ability to maximize our potential and minimize the downside of adversity.

Wendy:    How might we recognize a resilient person?

Michael:  Resilient people share several traits.  These include: acceptance of reality, a deep belief that life is meaningful, and an uncanny ability to improvise.  They see opportunity in every crisis and move forward in life despite many obstacles and challenges. 

Wendy:    How does resiliency develop?

Michael:  Learning to deal with setbacks is something we all learn about starting from an early age.  Regardless of whether it is dealing with the playground bully, a failure at school,  a personal or family crisis, financial difficulties, injury, illness, tough economic times or a serious blow to our career, we will all have the opportunity to discover how resilient we are…or aren’t…at various times in our lives.  While some people are born with personalities and traits that result in them being more – or less – resilient than others, there is great news:  each of us can exercise, flex and grow our resiliency muscles.  Learning to develop and deepen our resiliency is a lifelong process that, if done well, will help us enjoy a life with greater accomplishments and less down time spent in a state of anxiety, fear or worry.

Wendy:    As recruiters and sourcers, few of us are not impacted in some way by the spirit of fear and uncertainty that has swept the U.S. in recent times.  Hiring managers expect more for less, while others are laying off.  Meanwhile, growing competition nips at our heels.  What better time for us to assess and strengthen our resiliency skills than now!

Michael:  Yes!  To combine book titles of the bestselling author Thomas L. Friedman “The World is Flat, HOT and Crowded!” I’d add and Hyper Competitive Too!

Wendy:  When we spoke, you mentioned inner and outer resiliency.  We will address these aspects of resiliency in subsequent articles, but can you give us an overview of them now?

Michael: Sure.  Inner resiliency is about our own personal mindset and beliefs and what we choose to do in our minds during adversity. 

Wendy:   I can relate.  I have found that beliefs (for me, specifics around faith) coupled with the ability to harness thoughts are of paramount importance during crucial moments of a difficult…or… traumatic situation.  What about outer resiliency?

Michael:  Outer resiliency has to do with the support systems, resources, etc. we put into place in our lives to increase our resiliency…those factors outside of ourselves, but put into place by us. 

As we move through this four part series, I look forward to delving into questions we can ask ourselves, as recruiters, to determine our resiliency and to assess where we might want to work on improving our resiliency.  We can take it further and increase quality of hires as well, if we start to assess the resiliency of our candidates, too. Thank you to Michael for sharing your knowledge about resiliency with us.


As “The Recruiter’s Recruiter,” Wendy Albrecht Kembel enjoys placing recruiting professionals.  View Wendy’s profile at company, Integrity Recruiting Group, Inc.,  works in alliance with Anderson Recruiting Consultants, Inc.  www.andersonrecruiting.comFeel free to email Wendy at

To find out more about the work and services provided by Michael Ballard and his firm Resiliency for Life, you can contact him at or visit his website