The Tom Cruise of Recruiting
Four A.M. A woman enters a phone booth in a deserted industrial park. She unscrews the face of the phone, removes it, and from within the wire-filled box extracts a small tape-recorder. She turns it on and a static-filled voice fills the air. "Ms Sharib, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is the identification of thirty-two Russian Sales Engineers with PhD's in nuclear physics."
The tape goes on for another sixty seconds describing the targets then, a warning. "If you are exposed during the course of this operation we will deny all knowledge of your existence. If you are interested, exit the booth right now and drive away. If you are not, stay in place to await further instructions." Sharib takes a kerchief out of her pocket and waves it in front of her face. She then leaves the phone booth, gets into her car and drives away. A moment later, the phone booth explodes.
Welcome to the world of talent acquisition. Or, should I say, its underworld for this is its fountainhead, where its sources lie, in bold and dedicated personnel who are willing to do whatever it takes to make its pipleline gush with living gold, the candidates on which the entire talent war depends.
Have you ever wondered what makes such people tick? Well, that's what this interview is all about.
Don't get me wrong, however. Maureen is not a woman of the shadows. Indeed, anything but. If you read anything about recruiting on the internet, you cannot help but run into her. She has a blog (with Vin Dieselevy). She leaves comments on other people's blogs. She runs one discussion group on ERE and another on Yahoo Groups. The latter, Sourcers Unleashed, has 700 subscribers. (And, oh yeah, she ends all postings with about ten lines of signature).
Why all the activity? It's good for business.
I had my first extended conversation with Maureen, recently, and let me tell you, she has a nice voice. She speaks clearly, in distinct segments with a pause at the end to give you a chance to reply. No charging through your remarks. Nice, eh? Useful too, in her game.
But, I can't say that our talk got off to a good start. I called Maureen on JaJah, my latest long distance discovery. And here's what happened.
MS: Are you using that cheap online software?
MS: It's biting off the beginning of the words. Do you want to call me on another provider?
CH: OK, sure. [hangs up and redials]
CH: It's me
MS: It's still awful. Geez! What kind of recruiter are you? No decent long distance? This is unbelieveable.
CH: Sorry. I make mostly local calls. Do you think you could call me?
MS: Me, call you? Is this a joke? Bob, did you hear this? This guy calls me at 6 am to do an interview for his blog and he wants me to call him -- long distance.
Bob: (in the background) Unbelieveable
MS: Okay, I'll call you. Hang up.
CH: I'll send you a cheque.
MS: Forget it. Just hang up. [hangs up and redials]
MS: It's Maureen
CH: Is it better now?
MS: No. I don't know what you're doing up there. Are you really in Canada? This isn't bouncing to Bombay, is it?
CH: Do you want me to sing the national anthem?
MS: No. Let's just do it. Unlike some people, I've got to work.
CH: OK, Maureen Sharib, why only sourcing? How come you're not a full life cycle recruiter? No, wait! Let me ask you another question. No! Okay, go with that one.
Maureen answered that question but that's not where I've chosen to begin. First, I want to make a speech about recruiting.
I would call Maureen a researcher. She calls herself a sourcer. Either way, it means she goes out and finds the people for an "executive" search.
Tony Haley recently wrote that recruiting is one hundred per cent sales. And, I had to laugh because without Maureen's work, there's nothing to sell.
I consider research and candidate assessment to be the guts of recruiting.
If you can do those two things well, you can't help but have the confidence to sell your services. And, I usually find that on the candidate side, the job sells itself, or doesn't, on its own merits.
I will confess that there can be a lot of people management involved. Often, neither the candidate nor the hiring manager has a good handle on the market in terms of what's available at what price.
So, sometimes, you have to help the candidate think a move through. Or, you have to point out the virtues of a specific candidate to the hiring manager.
Still, you can be a recruiter without strong selling skills. But you can't be one without being able to do the sourcing and assessment unless you have someone else to do it for you.
Now, back to Maureen. She writes in her training manual, "I have a drive not to lose at anything."
That caught my attention and, since Maureen is fairly well attuned to what she thinks and how she came to think it, that was, mainly, the topic of our conversation.
So, let's start at the beginning. With the parents.
I am the Canadian Headhunter and I approve of this posting.