Sourcing is Dead

booleanstringsBoolean 8 Comments



The End of Sourcing Is Near … is a post by Dr. John Sullivan on ERE that is drawing lots of attention. I am not going to argue with this point. Let’s just try to read the article carefully.

Dr. John Sullivan writes: “Finding top talent among professionals is now becoming painless to the point where almost any firm can do it successfully.” The posts says that the only reason there still may be some minor need in sourcing [“phone” sourcing, perhaps?? – IS], is not everyone being online yet.

Let me present the same logic applied to a slightly different field: mining precious metals. Please read carefully:

[1] [Fact.] By now there’s a variety of machinery that can identify, whether there are precious metals underneath the ground below any specific point (longitude, latitude), anywhere in Alaska.

[2] [Conclusion.] Because of [1], locating precious metals in Alaska is a simple matter of using this machinery. Anybody can do this.

[3] [Final Conclusion.] The only remaining problem is how to use those metals in manufacturing.

That’s the same logic. Does it work? There seems to be a logical gap somewhere there.

What about a practical example?

Dear Dr. John Sullivan:

I would challenge you to demonstrate how the wealth of social info makes sourcing easy, specifically in application to this sourcing task posted on another ERE-owned site, SourceCon. I know for a fact, that, using your words, “everyone [in this task – IS] can be found through their “footprint” on some combination of electronic sites.” 

Let me know what you find!

Thanks; Irina Shamaeva

I agree that the selling side of recruiting needs improvement, stressed in the article, but that’s not the point.

The large number of re-tweets and shares of the “the Death of Sourcing” article makes me wonder why the death of sourcing  is such a welcome message – while nothing can be further away from the reality. I’d be curious to hear everyone’s thoughts.

Comments 8

  1. For over 30 years as Technology has evolved I always read and hear just how much of an impact it will have on Recruiting. It will put Agencies out of business, it will close print ad newspapers and now the Art of Sourcing will become so easy anyone can do it. Amazing insight, just amazing.

    My experience has been this:

    I have learned over the past 30 years that this saying, in spite of all our technology advances still holds true today.”Chair to thy rear, phone to thy ear and you can start to make applicants appear!!”( Relationship building 101)

    As many new tools and resources become available I am sure that reaching out to any applicant will be much easier. However with the misuse of that information people will not respond. Just like the many choose not to answer the telephones because of telemarketers, the same will happen with the advancement of technology. You may find their foot print but you will never walk in their shoes. 🙂 I still believe that it is often not the ‘message’ that is wrong but the way we choose to deliver that message may be the problem. Relationships establishing trust and respect for that relationship is critical.

    Sourcing is truly an learned skill that draws on many other skills that one needs to build a relationship.
    Building a pipeline takes time and dedication to building relationships that will endure for years to come. I am still in touch with the first Engineer I ever placed, 30 years ago, he is now President of a very large Company. We talk 3-4 times a year. He is a great referral of super talent to me and most of all, we have a RELATIONSHIP.

    I read the article, the comments and the “hype’ surrounding Dr. Sullivan’s views, he is well respected and a great contributor to the Recruiting world in general. However, I really believe that he has done us all a favor. He has us once again talking, sharing and evaluating how we as Sourcers/Recruiters are going to prove him wrong.

    Without well honed interpersonal skills and significant commitment to technology resources, simply identifying a name and title or looking at their Social footprint on the Internet will not make Sourcing easier. Sure it is easier in some cases to identify people on line but turning them into a viable Candidate is a whole other talent. I know the good Dr. Sullivan understands that, but,he may have missed a critical part of the equation to successful recruiting, ‘what do you do after you say hello?”………I hear the silence!

    Be well and these are just my thoughts and not necessarily a representation or the opinion of the Sourcing Leaders of the World! I always enjoyed the story, “The Sky Is Falling” as it has proven to be a never ending story that has endured the test of time!


  2. An analogy: We all know that fish live in water. But do we fish in the ocean, a river, a lake, a pond or a creek? What kind of bait do we use? What type fishing rod or reel? How many weights? Then we need to wait for bites, hook them & reel them in sucessfullly without them getting off our line. Fishing is a time-consuming activity, so is sourcing, even if you know where the candidates are. Most executives choose to spend their time in activites other than accessing the applicant pool, preparing the communications, weeding out the unqualified, wooing the qualified, checking their qualifications & licenses, etc. Just saying…If sourcing is dead, we’d all hire the first 10 applicants on any job board.

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  3. To quote Glen Cathey: “Sourcing candidates is much more than Boolean search strings – they are but one aspect of sourcing.”

    We will always be involved in some level of sourcing…. the environment (internet, social media, book of lists, ect) is ever changing.

    Again Glen Cathey says it best: “Sourcing talent is more accurately and completely defined and described as human capital information retrieval.”


  4. I often find myself questioning the ostensibly provocative nature of Dr. John’s articles. They feel purposely tailored to hook readers with bold statements and evoke social sharing. This article was one of those cases, where I felt that the claim was just bait on a hook to send his message about sales tactics.

    I do appreciate the valuable message about sales and the tactics. I think they are great tips and would have made a fine article by themselves. The remainder are broad, ill-founded claims that don’t address the availability of data, its discoverability, its quality, the difficulty of identifying associations between various data, and the ability to draw conclusions from it.

    Sourcing will change over time, but it won’t go away. Just like sourcing materials (procurement – is not dead, neither will sourcing for talent die. In fact if we look at historical precedent for procuring other resources, we might instead draw the conclusion that sourcing and recruiting in general will become both more prominent and more developed as both art and science.

    It’s hard to imagine the day when universities have degrees in recruiting and companies have Chief Recruitment Officers. On the other hand, there are already programs allow one to major in HR and a quick internet search shows that some people are already using the title “Chief Recruiting Officer”.

  5. Talent Identification isn’t getting easier, it’s merely changing. The picture at the top of this discussion proves that. Yes people are in these places, but is it the right forum, for contact? Will it be a good ROI? Tina hits the nail right on the head in her above comment.

    You always need the experience and intuition of the person to interpret, analyze, and follow their instincts. When it comes to sourcing the most valuable resource companies can have, there has to be someone who can read between the lines, think of new approaches and continually learn with the industry and more importantly have the time to dig in all the right places. That is the sourcer. No, I don’t believe sourcing is dying, it’s just evolving as it always is. Even with more technology to assist the search, it can never replace the person. Your tools and technology should be an extension of you, not think for you. Otherwise we are all living in a Matrix-like reality.

    Great conversation!


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