Amybeth Hale – Research Goddess

What Do Researchers Do – Part III
October 16, 2009, 7:00 am
Filed under: Recruiting, Research

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.


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[…] What Do Researchers Do – Part III Found 7 hours, 18 minutes ago 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 repost them over the next few weeks This week the article is about some img alt border0 srchttpstatswordpresscombgifhostresearchgoddesswordpresscomblog2703697post1216subdresearchgoddessreffeed1 From: […]

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