I was going through some of my old blog posts when I stumbled across one of the very first series of articles that I wrote, discussing the role researchers and sourcers play in their companies. I have decided to update and re-post them over the next few weeks. In this final week, we’ll discuss and dispel some common myths associated with the role of the researcher/sourcer on a recruitment team. Enjoy!
So, I’ve talked about what a researcher does and doesn’t do. I’ve given you some of my thoughts on where to look for a researcher for your office, and what qualities in an individual might lead them to be a good researcher. I’ve also given you some insight into the day in the life of a researcher. What’s left? How about some fun things: some common misconceptions of what a researcher is. Yes, I believe every researcher has beaten this topic to death at some point or another. But now, it’s my turn! The goal of this is to shed some light on some of the things that are incorrectly associated with internet research, and hopefully offer some suggestions on the correct way to classify this increasingly vital part of a recruiting operation.
Myth #1: “The researcher will find you candidates.”
You may think, ‘How is this incorrect? That’s what researchers do isn’t it? Source candidates?’ Not exactly….as I’ve mentioned in prior postings, a researcher’s duty is to source leads. YOUR job, as a recruiter, is to turn them into candidates. Now, there are times with this does apply; for example if you have a researcher who also pre-screens the contacts/leads they source before passing them along to the recruiter. But for the most part, we researchers generate the leads, and you recruiters qualify them and turn them into candidates. Call this a simple play on words or whatever you like, but I felt it needed to be included here.
Myth #2: “Just find me resumes.”
Sure, your researcher will find you resumes. Some of the time. But depending on what resources they are provided, the majority of the leads that your researcher can and will provide you with might just be a name, title, and method of contact. Perhaps also a short bio. When doing high-volume searches, I do use pay-for job boards (Monster, CareerBuilder, HotJobs, etc.) for portions of the search, however when working on one-off searches, I will typically start with social networks. Most (good) researchers do not rely solely on resume boards. Should I even go so far as to say a good researcher will not only also use professional networking sites like LinkedIn to source? I might get some hate mail for saying that, but it’s true. Researchers will from time to time come across an HTML resume or a personal website with a resume posted on it. But most of their leads may be simply names and contact information. Just be realistic, and get excited if your researcher DOES give you a resume! Don’t get salty if ‘all’ they give you is a list of 50 names and contact information. 🙂 Get pumped about all the networking you can do when you call those people!
Myth #3: Being an internet researcher is a ground-level starting point for becoming a recruiter.
Not in every case! Recruiting professionals across the board talk about this concept of the “junior recruiter” – some stating this as correct and others calling it a false assumption. This label is as dumb as thinking that all tall kids want to grow up to be professional basketball players. I for one have no desire to recruit. I enjoy the thrill of hunting down leads. Other researchers I know partake in some of the recruiting process and yes, they would aspire to be a recruiter one day. But don’t pigeonhole your researcher into being fast tracked to the divine status of “recruiter”. Take a few moments to find out what excites them and encourage them to develop their skills and pursue their own career goals.
Myth #4: I can do my own research. I don’t need to waste money on hiring a researcher.
Um, I’m curious how you successfully keep up with your own industry and not work 24/7 if this is your attitude toward research! In a conversation I had with a recruiter who had taken some time off, he mentioned that for two weeks prior to getting back on the phones he spent at least 10 hours a day researching the latest news in his industry. Yes, you read that correctly – 10 hours a day, for two weeks. And this recruiter still uses researchers on a daily basis! I presented this question to my LinkedIn network and was shocked at the number of responses I got that said “No, I do not use a researcher; I do my own research.” In my personal (honest) opinion, this is very cocky and I can’t imagine that many of those recruiters are big billers (as I prepare to be sent more hate mail for saying so!). As a recruiter, your bread and butter is earned by being on the phones during the day, not searching news sites and conducting research. I’ll bet the majority of those who do their own research do this on their own time – in the evenings and on the weekends – thus sacrificing family time and any resemblance of a personal life to do so. So, tell me again that research is easy and doesn’t take much time and that hiring a researcher wouldn’t be beneficial? Okay then…
I don’t think any explanation is needed here. This post is ALLLLLL kindsa wrong, IMHO! Please just read the list of what duties the author thinks a researcher can be responsible for and see if it doesn’t steam you. My favorite in this list has to be “watering plants”…
Myth #6: Researcher = data entry/PC troubleshooter/anything-I-don’t-feel-like-doing person
Yes, I think most researchers have a love for technology, which predisposes them to being good at all things computer-related. However, know that the more you ask your researcher to deviate from their research duties, the less time they will be able to spend on what you hired them to do – research! The last thing in the world you should be asking your researcher to spend a great deal of time on is data entry. This is a job for which you can hire someone at $8/hour. While it’s definitely part of what the job entails, using your researcher to do a large amount of data entry is, quite honestly, wasteful of your payroll dollars. A good friend of mine and former fellow researcher stated once that his job description was “All duties that no one else in the office wants to do.” Turning your researcher into a gopher is a gross misuse of talent and will inevitably turn your researcher off.
Remember – research is a vital part of your recruiting operation. There are four foundational parts of a successful recruiting office:
- Process (Operations)
- Client Relationships (and/or Business Development in agency settings)
Eliminating any one of these components will cause your recruiting operation to run inefficiently, and research is an especially vital part of this foundation. Research is the backbone of the recruiting body; it supports and facilitates necessary information to reach the rest of the parts.
Don’t let the myths of what research is cloud its importance in the functioning of your recruiting practice. If you’re unsure how research will play an important role in your office, I urge you to contact someone who does use research and talk to them. Or you can call or email me; I’ll be more than happy to share my thoughts with you!
I hope this series of articles has helped you get ‘warm and fuzzy’ with research. My intent was to help the recruiting community better understand what research is and also learn about the thought process that goes behind it. Remember: researchers are real people too, and real important in the recruiting process! Even though we’re not actively generating the dollars, you really can’t put a price tag on the value that we bring to a recruiting operation.
I was going through some of my old blog posts when I stumbled across one of the very first series of articles that I wrote, discussing the role researchers and sourcers play in their companies. I have decided to update and re-post them over the next few weeks. This week, the article is about some of the daily activities that keep us researchers occupied. Hope you enjoy!
Bob: You see, what we’re actually trying to do here is, we’re trying to get a feel for how people spend their day at work… so, if you would, would you walk us through a typical day, for you?
Peter: Well, I generally come in at least fifteen minutes late; I use the side door – that way Lumbergh can’t see me…and after that I just sort of space out for about an hour. I just stare at my desk; but it looks like I’m working. I do that for probably another hour after lunch, too. I’d say in a given week I probably only do about fifteen minutes of real, actual, work.
Sound like what a lot of people think you do as a researcher? Well, don’t feel alone! There are a lot of people out there in the recruiting community who have no clue what a day consists of for a researcher. I’ve had people ask me if I just stare at my screen all day or surf websites or just sit there and basically do nothing! While I do ‘stare at my screen’ a lot (been known to go cross-eyed on occasion!) what I do all day is not simply surfing websites. It’s more complicated than that, and in this posting I would like to walk you through a typical day (if that in fact even exists!!) of a researcher.
First of all, I think that it’s worth mentioning an article I wrote on my own blog, Effectively Managing Your Research Projects, at this point. The reason I think this is worth mentioning here is because it provides a rough guideline of how I actually (attempt to) organize myself each day. Now, as any researcher knows, you can plan the activities you want to do as much as possible, but there is always going to be something new that crosses your desk every day that will need your immediate attention. So – I think it’s a good idea to plan as much of your day as possible; but you must be willing to be flexible and take on new tasks as they come to you. Here are a couple of suggestions on how to determine what takes priority for new projects based on what I do personally:
- Who has given you the new assignment, and what is their track record? If the person giving you a new/urgent assignment is someone who does so on a regular basis, you may want to question the actual urgency of what they need. If it’s from someone who normally follows your procedure for submitting search requests, then it’s probably something that does require your immediate attention. Also, if it is a request coming from the person who makes out your paycheck, you should probably do it first.
- Is the client expecting results within a given timeframe? If the client company has been promised certain results by a certain time, then it might be a good idea to bump the new assignment to the top of your list. Now, if the timeframe is a bit unrealistic, it might be a good thing to speak to the recruiter about setting realistic expectations with their clients. But if your client, who will be the one cutting the placement fee check should you find them a good candidate, is expecting results, best to get them some.
- What is the amount of time you’ll need to complete the project? If someone hands me an urgent project that is going to take 15 minutes or less to complete, then I’ll usually do it right then and there. If it’s a search assignment or another project that will take more than 30 minutes, then it gets FIFO’ed (first in, first out). There is no reason to put a bunch of 5-minute assignments in sequential order; you might as well just do them and get them out of the way.
OK – now that we’ve dealt with the ‘emergency projects’ which will more than likely be a daily occurrence, let’s move on to what is actually on the plan of attack to begin with. Here’s what a normal day is like for me:
- I read through my RSS feeds. This gets me up to speed on today’s goings-on. I have an RSS feed specifically for recruiting/researching topics. I also have several other RSS categories for business, social media, telecommunications, and new technologies. This way I can not only stay on top of industry news and forward my coworkers good articles, but I can also find good passive candidates who might be quoted in a press release that comes through my feed.
- I check my emails. I check to see if any new searches have come in since the previous day or if there are any responses to questions I may have asked of one of my associates. At this point, a lot of people like to close down their email and not touch it again until lunchtime, or the end of the day. I personally check my email periodically all day long due to the nature of what I do. It’s personal preference here. If you think you’re easily distracted by returning email messages, then I’d shut it down. But for most researchers, email is a main method of communication so it stays open all the time.
- I look at my weekly project log. What did I decide last week that I needed to complete this week? How far have I gotten, and have the most important tasks at least been started?
- I look at my Search Request Forms in my inbox. I use FIFO to complete my assignments. On a good day when I have very few interruptions, I can complete 2-3 search assignments. A lot of this is dependent on the difficulty of the assignment and/or the other activities I have to complete over the course of the day.
- I check my search agents and saved searches. Currently I am working on several high-volume searches, and I utilize AIRS SourcePoint to manage search agents for my high-volume searches. I check these as well as several of my saved LinkedIn searches for new matches to my jobs, and to make sure they’re still yielding results. If the results have fallen off, I’ll take a moment to tweak the search.
- I check in on Twitter and Facebook. Since AT&T has both Facebook and Twitter accounts that I help out with, I monitor these each day to see who’s been interacting with us. I’ll send replies as necessary, post interesting articles, and update our employee spotlights when needed.
- I work on organizing my own research database as well as coming up with ways to keep our company databases in working order. This in itself could be a full time job! My goal is to spend a little time each day on database organization since in large quantities it is a pretty daunting task. Breaking it down into bite-sized pieces makes it a more manageable daily task.
- At least once a week I try to learn something new in the realm of research. This could either be through a webinar I sign up for or perhaps a conversation with a more experienced research mentor.
- Other random tasks that come up from time to time: email marketing campaigns, introduction to new employees, non-recruiting related research projects for my manager, corporate organization brain-storming sessions, reviewing and recommending new technology products, etc. These are not typically daily tasks but they are worth mentioning as they do come up frequently.
So, for those of you who thought your researcher just sits and stares blankly at their computer screen all day, think again! There are A LOT of things that researchers do on a daily basis, not the least of which is conducting search assignments. This is just one of many tasks for which a researcher is responsible. So the next time you think you catch your researcher “spacing out” at their desk, they are probably just trying to re-focus their eyes after having gone cross-eyed from looking at too much information.
I recently received a phone call from an old colleague of mine at a company we both used to work for. It was great to hear from him and to get caught up on the last several years. In our discussion, I discovered that the company has had a difficult time finding (and keeping) researchers who produced any kind of quality for the recruiters. There have been at least 3 researchers that have come and gone since I left and unfortunately they haven’t lasted long. I asked a little about the researchers and discovered that they were all fresh out of college when brought on. Which got me thinking about a couple of things…
This post is not to say that people who are fresh out of school can’t do recruiting research. They certainly can, and they can excel at it as well. But there are a couple of considerations that must be taken when you are looking to build your internet research team, the most important of which is this: you WILL get what you pay for. I have 2 suggestions for making investments in your research and ensuring that you don’t have a revolving door of researchers in your organization:
- If you need research and you need it now, hire for experience. Invest in a seasoned, experienced researcher who comes with knowledge of resources, procedures, recruiting tools, and industry. This will cost you however; good researchers typically command anywhere from $50,000 on up for base salary, based on how experienced they are. The return on your investment is that you will have a person who needs little training and who can hit the ground running upon being hired.
- If you need immediate cost effectiveness, go ahead and hire the new college graduate. But you will need to provide them with proper training, tools, and resources in order to protect your investment. Without proper training, you are setting a newbie up for failure from the get-go, and you are starting a revolving-door process that will end up costing you more in the long-run than if you invest a little initially to get your new researcher up to speed. Sending a soldier into battle with no armor will almost guarantee them not to return alive.
Sadly, a lot of what I have seen over the years is the cheap hybrid of these two: hire a new college graduate, and expect them to be a great researcher with just a cheat sheet and a free LinkedIn account. While one in a million will find a way to make it happen (and if you have that individual – they deserve a raise or you’ll lose them fast), most will flounder without appropriate training and resources. You really can’t have your cake and eat it too in this situation. Research is not, and should not be, an afterthought on a recruiting team. It’s not something that, upon signing up for a free LinkedIn account or running someone through one free “Sourcing 101” webinar, will yield much quality. If you care for the success of your researcher, and your company, you need to invest – either by hiring experience or investing in appropriate training for your brand new researcher.