Everyone who knows me knows I love analogies. I also love comparing job functions across different industries. While I worked in the PR world, I saw so many similarities between PR and recruiting that it really made me think about how we, as research, sourcing, and recruiting professionals, need to understand public relations better than many of us do. I recently read an article by Todd Defren on his blog, PR Squared, entitled “What PR Cannot Do For Clients“. After reading through his article, I thought “This is exactly the relationship between researchers/sourcers and recruiters, and even on to hiring managers!” An excerpt from Todd’s article:
“Public Relations is not Sales. PR can absolutely help guide the prospect toward a purchase decision, in a measurable way. PR can surround the prospect with thoughtful, candid, compelling conversations and content and references until they think, “Wow, okay, I’ve got to check these guys out.”…But when the prospect gets to the website or picks up the phone or shoots over an email: PR’s work is done.”
Let’s change just a couple of words, and apply this statement to the role of research and/or sourcing:
“Internet Research / Sourcing is not Recruiting. Sourcers can absolutely help guide the prospect toward a job opportunity, in a measurable way. Sourcers can initiate the relationship and provide the prospect with interesting and compelling high-level information about a job until they think, “Wow, okay, I’ve got to check these guys out.” But when the prospect gets to the website or picks up the phone [to interview with a recruiter] or shoots over an email: the sourcer’s work is done.”
The last sentence of the article strikes me: “PR can set you up for success. It cannot make you a success.” This is no different from sourcing – a good sourcer will set you up with people to speak with and to present your opportunities to, but it’s up to you as the recruiter to intrigue them to the point where they would be willing to interview for and eventually accept your position. Once your sourcer has brought you what you’ve asked for in basic qualifications, their work is complete. Placing blame back on research for failure in a part of the recruiting process that is beyond the scope of research is simply unfair. That’s like blaming the butcher when the chef at the restaurant undercooks your steak. Sure, the butcher was involved by providing the meat to the restaurant, but it’s the chef’s ultimate responsibility to ensure that your order is correct, not the butcher.
I’ve never understood metrics that hold sourcing responsible throughout the entire hiring process, because of these facts. You cannot measure someone’s success in a process in which they are not involved. I appreciate Todd writing this brief, yet thought-provoking article and jogging my brain as to how this also holds true to my own job function. Please read his article in its entirety here: What PR Cannot Do For Clients.
Filed under: Article Reviews
I think Jason Falls is a rockstar. He lives about 2 hours down the road from me in Louisville, KY, but we’ve only “met” once (I use the term loosely because we were both in attendance at a Cincinnati Social Media Breakfast meeting last year, but we didn’t get to have a conversation). His blog is always chock-full of great content, thoughtful ideas, and blunt honesty. About a week ago, Jason discussed a topic that I too have been thinking a lot about lately – the idea that so many things today are “free”, or so we think, and how long that can possibly last. After all, businesses are in existence to make money for themselves, not to provide us with cool free stuff.
Jason’s inspiration for the post was a conversation with a friend who said, “I love my DVR. I haven’t watched a commercial in months.” When asked how long he expects to still be watching his favorite shows, the friend looked puzzled. Jason’s reply:
“The avoidance of those commercials means those shows will eventually be cancelled. You’re killing your own chances of being able to watch them by watching just them.”
Nothing is ever truly free. Henry A. Wallace, the US Vice President from 1941 – 1945, wrote an article originally published by The Atlantic Monthly in which he suggested a post-WWII worldwide economic regime offering ‘minimum standards of food, clothing and shelter’. While this sounds well and good, an observant journalist named Paul Mallon wrote a response to the article which was published in several US papers:
“Mr. Wallace neglects the fact that such a thing as a ‘free’ lunch never existed. Until man acquires the power of creation, someone will always have to pay for a free lunch.”
Think about the unconferences, podcamps, social media breakfasts, and other various gatherings we attend today where we’re not charged. Someone has to provide the meeting facilities, the equipment, and the ‘free lunch’. In exchange, we owe it to these people and companies to hear what they have to offer. But oftentimes, we brush it off as just another sales pitch. Continuing with this entitlement attitude will cause these fantastic free events to no longer be available to us, and then we’re going to have to *gasp* start paying for stuff.
Jason continues on to say in his post:
“What we’ve created is a marketplace that isn’t sustainable…While I’m not one to predict all the good ideas have been had, the disproportionate amount of money that is being poured into technology startups these days makes me shudder to think what the entrepreneurs will do when the investors come calling wanting their money back.”
Hey, I’m with you. I do love Hulu, and I’ll be the first to admit that I love getting a good deal and I’m all about the free stuff. But we need to pay our respects to the companies that provide us with the freebies.
I think back to one of my favorite books as a little girl, Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. In the book, the little boy always takes from the tree, never giving anything in return, until finally the boy cuts down the tree in order to make a sailboat, and the tree has nothing left to give. Some say that this book is a story about selfless love, but in this sense we are the little boy who continually takes [freebies] and never gives anything in return [purchases]. Eventually, our giving trees [the companies and individuals which provide us with the 'free' stuff] will be merely treestumps, and we’ll be sitting beside those stumps wondering what happened.
Let’s not take too much advantage – support those businesses and people who support you with the freebies, or else they won’t be around for long. Please check out Jason’s entire post here, The Economy of Free Is Stupid.
Wolfram|Alpha, a new search engine that just launched in Mid-May 2009 to the general public, is the talk of our industry right now. Some say that it’s going to be a Wikipedia- or a Google-killer. Others (including me) think it’s neat, but that it’s really just a big calculator at this point. Still others are enjoying playing with it and discovering ‘Easter eggs’ hidden within.
Wolfram|Alpha is “a computational knowledge engine: it generates output by doing computations from its own internal knowledge base, instead of searching the web and returning links.” It’s a fact-machine – you ask it a question, and it will do its best to spit back an answer for you.
When it comes to academia, there are plenty who sing its praises. This will be quite a handy tool when it comes to researching academic matters. For example: if you wanted some quick facts about Winston Churchill:
However, if you wanted to know who just won the most recent Dancing With The Stars, Wolfram|Alpha is going to tell you:
As with any tool of our trade, what you get out of it depends largely on what you put into it. In addition, with Wolfram|Alpha, what you’re looking for is a big factor too. If you’re looking for hard scientific, mathematical, or historical facts, chances are Wolfram|Alpha’s going to help you out. But if you’re looking for current events or assistance with your sourcing efforts, you’re going to be disappointed.
Now, researching companies within an industry – that’s a different story. The database does side-by-side in depth comparison of companies and provides details on # of employees, revenue, etc., and on an individual search basis will also provide you with some basic company information (website, location, industry):
This could prove to be helpful when conducting competitive research within an industry or beginning to build a list of companies to target.
From a sourcing perspective however, the information we seek isn’t contained in its extensive knowledge base – that is, where precisely to find certain types of people for potential candidacy for our open positions. I tested this out, just to make sure:
Nope – not what I was looking for, though this is interesting information, and I believe Wolfram|Alpha will give financial search engines such as Google Finance and Yahoo Finance a run for their money. Wolfram|Alpha will do detailed, side-by-side comparisons of stock symbols where the other two currently do not, at least in great detail.
My assessment is that Wolfram|Alpha isn’t going to make any waves when it comes to useful recruiting tools, at least from a candidate search standpoint. Furthermore, I do not think it will be replacing any major search engines or information sources in the near future. In fact, if you click on the Source Information link at the bottom of the Winston Churchill search, you’ll see that Wikipedia is listed amongst the information sources from which it frequently pulls:
Regardless, Steven Wolfram has come up with a great start to tackling the issue of pure semantic search. (interestingly, plugging ‘semantic search’ into Wolfram|Alpha produces no results) I think this will serve as a good jumping-off point for others to build upon. Check it out and give it a whirl yourself.
John Sumser recently posted a call for nominations for the Recruiting industry’s key influencers. He calls out a few specific categories:
- Some people go to a lot of conferences and exert their influence through pure networking.
- Another group of people spend a lot of time giving talks at conferences and publishing their work online.
- There’s a third group of people who, for some reason, have the industry at heart.
- The last group of influencers…are customers and practitioners who make the whole thing go around.
- John also specifically called out for female influencers, citing that he “really want[s] to understand why the leadership of our industry is predominantly male while the trench level workers are predominantly female. Of all the places in the world, our business is the last place you’d expect to see that sort of inequity.”
I think this is a great idea, especially to broaden the sphere of influence beyond strict recruiting because there are so many pieces of the puzzle that fit together to make our community a great one. So I encourage you to visit John’s post and leave a comment with your nominations. Here are a few of my own:
- Category 1 – Networkers: I nominate Susan Kang Nam. She’s everywhere, and she seems to be well-liked. She’s also an up-and-comer and made quite an impact in a short period of time.
- Category 2 – Speaking/Publishing: I nominate Bill Vick. I love watching his Xtreme Recruiting TV interviews with various industry personalities. I believe he does this to help expose great skills of intelligent people who might otherwise not be recognized.
- Category 3 – Heart of the Industry: I can’t think of a better person to nominate than Susan Burns. She not only cares about our industry and making it great, but also the individual people who make it up. She’s like the industry mom :)
- Category 4 – Users: I will nominate Jason Davis here. He has given us so many valuable places to gather and glean knowledge from each other including the old http://www.recruiting.com, www.recruitingblogs.com and www.splits.org.
- For industry female influencers, I would nominate Leslie O’Connor, she was listed as #89 on Inc. 500’s Fastest Growing Companies for 2008, as well as #4 in the HR Category and #5 in the Women-Led category.
- My own Category – Pure Recruiting: I’m going to nominate one of my all-time favorites Jordan Rayboy, the awesome RV Recruiter. Jordan started in this business as a young 20-something kid and work hard to rise in the ranks of MRI. He continued on to start his own recruitment company and is now living out a dream by working completely remotely from his RV with his wife Jeska. He’s going to be sharing his story at the Fordyce Forum this June.
There are so many others who deserve to be included, such as Amitai Givertz, Glenn Gutmacher, Ritesh Nair, Glenn Cathey, Traci Wicks, Jim Stroud, Suzy Tonini, Jennifer McClure, Michael Marlatt, Marvin Smith, Dan Harris, Dave Manaster, Kris Dunn, Shally Steckerl, and so many others that if I continue on I’ll hurt someone’s feelings by leaving them off.
Visit John’s blog post and leave your nomination today!
I recently read an article from The Economist titled “You’re hired—next year“. The article takes a look at some of the new direction recruiters and their companies are starting to move in when it comes to hiring during the recession period.
I’m so glad others have taken notice of this! About a month ago I was having a conversation with a colleague about this very topic, having noticed that lots of companies seem more interested in hiring contractors than permanent employees right now. My guess was that this is a sort of “test drive” option as well as not having the funds for full-time benefits and such. The article states:
“Most obviously, the hiring of freelancers and consultants has become more common, allowing companies to avoid spending on employee benefits and delay hiring decisions until the economy picks up.”
In addition, the article goes on to say that companies are marketing to candidates with different incentives than the usual sign-on bonuses and extra perks: “Their new selling points are sandwiches with the boss, opportunities for advancement, flexible working hours and more holiday time.” This sounds very much like companies are starting to understand the desires of the up-and-coming millennial generation, who tend to prefer incentives like more flexible work conditions and opportunity to further themselves.
The article also briefly touches on the fact that many companies are developing a social media presence as a low-cost way to reach potential new hires. This is apparently a topic in which companies are very interested and want to learn more about, as there are many who are offering webinars and training sessions on using these tools in a recruitment capacity. Even I’ve jumped on the bandwagon; I’ll be giving a presentation in June at the Fordyce Forum on incorporating social media tools into your recruitment strategy.
Please take the time to read the entire article here.
(hat-tip to Deborah Maggart for alerting me to this article, as well as David Simonds for the awesome illustration)
“By the time they reach an age to think about what they’d like to do, most kids have been thoroughly misled about the idea of loving one’s work. School has trained them to regard work as an unpleasant duty. Having a job is said to be even more onerous than schoolwork. And yet all the adults claim to like what they do. You can’t blame kids for thinking ‘I am not like these people; I am not suited to this world.’”
This wonderful post by Paul Graham takes a very insightful look into why we pursue certain careers and why we avoid others. Loving what you do is not something that many people have the luxury of saying, or doing. I’ve always believed that a true test of career love is if you’d do it for free. Graham says,
“To be happy I think you have to be doing something you not only enjoy, but admire. You have to be able to say, at the end, wow, that’s pretty cool.”
Graham goes on to say that many people tend to select professions not based on what they love deep down inside, but based on a direction in which their parents steer them, or worse yet, based on the prestige of a particular career. He says,
“Prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you’d like to like.”
Loving what you do comes from keep yourself disciplined. Do well at whatever it is that you’re doing, even if you’re not ‘in love’ with it yet. Always be a producer, and understand that knowing what you like to work on doesn’t always mean that you’ll get to work on it. Know proper timing for working on pet projects and working on things that are required. You’ll respect yourself, and your peers will respect you. The love will come eventually.
Graham described two routes that will lead to loving what you do:
- The organic route, which is essentially gaining experience and gradually increasing the amount of time you spend in your job on the elements you enjoy vs. those things you don’t, and
- The two-job route, which is working a ‘day job’ to pay the bills and pursuing your love in your spare time.
He says more people tend to work the organic route, because the two-job route requires a deliberate choice. However, my personal feeling is that with the state of the job market today, we will see an uptick in the number of people working a job that simply pays the bills in the daylight hours while pursuing a hobby, or another degree, in the evenings or in their spare time, with the ultimate goal of doing something they love.
A tip to college students: you don’t need to know exactly what you want to do with the rest of your life! From Graham:
“A friend of mine who is a quite successful doctor complains constantly about her job. When people applying to medical school ask her for advice, she wants to shake them and yell ‘Don’t do it!’ (But she never does.) How did she get into this fix? In high school she already wanted to be a doctor. And she is so ambitious and determined that she overcame every obstacle along the way—including, unfortunately, not liking it. Now she has a life chosen for her by a high-school kid.”
Want to love what you do? Explore many options before making a definite decision. Don’t lock yourself into one niche before you’ve tested out a couple of others. In my own experience, I discovered within the last three months of college that I HATED what I had been pursuing. Thankfully I was able to find a career path shortly after graduating that I’ve fallen in love with.
Finally, don’t let money be the center of your decision-making. Taking care of your financial needs should certainly be a deciding factor for sure, but would you sell your soul for a price tag? “Much as everyone thinks they want financial security, the happiest people are not those who have it, but those who like what they do. So a plan that promises freedom at the expense of knowing what to do with it may not be as good as it seems.” My advice – work hard at what you love to make yourself worthy of a higher salary. Pay your dues. You’ll appreciate what you earn more when you’ve had to work hard for it.
The takeaway here is this: take some time to figure out what you love. Don’t rush it! Sometimes it may show up nice and subtle, but it might just smack you in the face too. Be open to whatever it is – the old saying goes, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Be sure to read Paul Graham’s complete article, “How To Do What You Love”.
A guy I respect a lot in the world of PR, and fellow blogger, David Mullen, recently wrote a couple of posts discussing the value of a PR pro. He first wrote “10 Clues Your PR Pro is Nothing But Show“, and followed that up with “10 Clues Your PR Pro is Worth the Dough“. With exception of perhaps 2 of the 10 items he listed, these are all also ways to determine if you have a truly strategic sourcing professional. Here’s David’s list – are they worth the dough:
- They dive headfirst into your business and industry, and immerse themselves in learning every in and out within both.
- They ask smart questions.
- They are strong writers and great storytellers.
- They proactively sync up with marketing, advertising, interactive and media planning to help create compelling, robust campaigns aimed at achieving your business goals.
- They challenge you to step outside your comfort zones and try new things.
- They know what they don’t know.
- They are resourceful and create solutions to overcome challenges.
- They listen as much as they talk.
- They bring creative energy and a positive attitude to the table.
- They own their mistakes, learn from them and put processes in place to minimize the chance those mistakes happen again.
Revise this only slightly, and you have a list of clues letting you know that your SOURCING pro is worth the dough:
- They dive headfirst into your business and industry, and immerse themselves in learning every in and out within both. (true for sourcers; they’ve got to know the industry(ies) in which they source or they’ll be labeled a hack pretty quickly)
- They ask smart questions. (not just the general salary / years of experience / degree or not types of questions)
They are strong writers and great storytellers.They don’t rely solely on resume databases and LinkedIn to make connections; they actively engage in the communities from which they source, and develop relationships with individuals. They proactively sync up with marketing, advertising, interactive and media planning to help create compelling, robust campaigns aimed at achieving your business goals.While respecting traditional sourcing methods, they aren’t afraid of embracing new ways of doing things and find creative methods of combining old and new.
- They challenge you to step outside your comfort zones and try new things. (will appropriately question your specs and ask you to think outside the box on candidate requirements)
- They know what they don’t know. (no strategic sourcer can know all of the resources and all the answers to every single research question, and a good one will readily admit this and surround themselves with others who can provide answers)
- They are resourceful and create solutions to overcome challenges. (if one tool isn’t working, they find another one, or find a way to make it work)
- They listen
as much asmore than they talk.
- They bring creative energy and a positive attitude to the table. (they find ways to draw candidates to them rather than constantly having to chase down candidates)
- They own their mistakes, learn from them and put processes in place to minimize the chance those mistakes happen again. (can’t add much to this :) )
Thanks to David for being the brains behind this list. I think it’s also good to take a look at the many intangibles your sourcer brings to the table in addition to these items. You’ll find true value in a strategic sourcer who can prove themselves in each of these areas for your recruiting efforts, and also translate this value in other areas of your business.
I’ll end by asking the same question David did at the end of his post: what would you add to this list? Leave your thoughts in a comment below!