An almost intimate look at the man with one name
Is Shally Steckerl the Elvis of recruiting? The big guy in the flashy jump suit whom everyone knows by one name alone?
I can't think of anyone else who fits the bill. Maybe a couple of Microchicks, but no guys.
So, I asked Shally if I could have some of his time for an interview. And he agreed. It took months of constant nudging to actually sit him down but finally, the day came. And, I said, "Shally, tell us. How did you go from singing to recruiting?"
Shally: I've never been a singer.
Me: I was going to ask you for a few bars of "My Way".
Shally: I'm not a singer.
Me: You've never been a singer?
Shally: I'm a recruiter, you idiot! Ask me a relevant question!
Me: Okay! -- If you won the lottery would you still be a recruiter?
Shally: Next question.
Me: If you were a musician, who would you be?
Well, let me tell you, Shally has led an interesting life, I'm sure. But don't ask me about it because while he loves to talk about recruiting, trying to get an answer about a personal question is a bit like pulling teeth.
But I did manage to get some information and here it is.
You see, I thought Shally was a techie who did advanced Google searches for recruiters. And I expected our conversation to be all about my favourite orchestra, the Boolean Strings. But that wasn't the case at all.
Not A Techie
Shally is not a techie. He's a recruiter. He has always had "a unique ability to identify talent using electronic methods" but, for him, that's just part of the larger research process and not an end in itself.
But before I delve into that, I want to take you back. I want to take you way back. To the twentieth century. At age 13, Shally is the first kid on his block to get a computer. Then he goes to college to study physics. Doesn't like it. So he switches to Computer Science. Doesn't like it. So he settles for a BSc in International Business. What's that? He says the focus was on Management Science and the use of technology in business.
What do you do with a degree in Int Biz? Well, Shally joined the Peace Corps. But our real story really begins when he returned home and joined a staffing firm as a full lifecyle recruiter placing contract LAN Technicians, Database Analysts and lots of people for Y2K.
Shally had discovered the internet in college in 1989 or 90. It wasn't called the internet then but he had an account through the school and discovered bulletin boards about gaming so by the time he got into recruiting he was familiar with the online world and was able to stumble upon usenet groups where good candidates or those who knew them, spent their time.
He'd hang around a discussion focussed on some technical specialty (like oracle databases), identify the people with expertise and try to recruit them or get referrals.
One of his strengths in doing this is a facility for "social engineering", the ability to get people to do what you want or give you information they might not ordinarily share.
Tom Sawyer got his friends to whitewash his fence through the use of social engineering.
But the approach Shally prefers is the accumulation of a mass of small bits of information until they can be assembled into a larger picture that tells you exactly where to go to find the people you need.
Shally is positively evangelical about this technique.
And it's the one he uses today. At Microsoft, he manages a team of researchers skilled in identifying passive talent. Their job is to gather information and then make sense of the massive amounts of data they've collected.
Then they pass their results on to Networkers / Recruiters who present the jobs to the people the researchers have identified. (Shally says it's unusual to find people who are good at both researching and networking).
If you want to make Shally mad, tell you him you think online research is Monster-mining.
According to him, most people think research is a sissies' game, the weakest part of the recruiting process. And the proof lies in the many applications he receives from so-called researchers who are little more than admins who know how to point and click.
But Shally says that's not true and I agree. For as Tom Petty says, "The sourcing is the hardest part".
Find Part 2 of this profile here