What Would We Do Without Competition?

Maureen Sharib's picture


Wait a minute; we are doing without competition!

I know many of you have heard me say that most (90%+) of the available workforce is not traceable (to a specific opportunity) on the Internet.

I also know that many of you (silently) disagree with this assessment.

A recent conversation with TalentBin founder, Peter Kazanjy had the two of us twittering back and forth on this very same subject.

TalentBin is a site that encourages people to “source candidates across the *entire* professional web.”

One of its main points is that relying on any one site to generate leads is foolish.  With their product, they say, you’ll gain access to everything on the web that applies to your search.

After looking at the site I tweeted that they had the right idea but still 90% of the workforce will go missing.

Quick to the draw, Peter tweeted a question to me asking why 90% of the workforce will be missed.

I said, “Because 90% of available workforce is not online in a capacity that links them as a prospect for your open opportunity.”

He asked me if I believed they stayed offline, or moved online, “as has been the trend?”

I answered, “I believe a far greater amount than 10% are online already-they just don't identify themselves as someone who could fill a specific job.”

Peter then stated in different and better words what I was trying to say:

“You don't believe their online 'exhaust' sufficiently characterizes them, professionally, to source them?”

To which I simply answered, “Yes.”

We then bantered back and forth a little while longer before each of us felt satisfied that we’d made our points.

What I didn’t say (and wish I had so I’m saying it now) is that the lack of exhaust is worse than insufficient - if you''re relying only on Internet sourced results you may as well suck on a tail pipe.

Some of you interpret what I say as being single-minded: that all of you have to phone source (cold call).

The fact of the matter is some of you don’t want to phone source!

The bigger fact is some of you don’t know how to phone source!

The biggest fact is some of you can't - and aren't able to - phone source (for various reasons)! 

I know that and I’ve tried, over the years, to demonstrate to you different methods I use to try to remove the onus the subject elicits for many people.

The recent class-action lawsuit that appears to be going to trial next year in California between five software engineers and seven (so far named) tech giants over the fact that the tech companies agreed between themselves to not cold-call each other’s employees looks to be a coming watershed event in recruiting (and sourcing).

The noncompetitive action, says the complaint, cost workers hundreds of millions of dollars because it eliminated competition for labor thereby limiting pay.

The class action claim, brought under the federal Sherman antitrust law, reiterates District Judge Lucy Koh’s statement that the existence of "Do Not Cold Call" agreements among various defendants "supports the plausible inference that the agreements were negotiated, reached, and policed at the highest levels" of the companies.

In my opinion, this thing got legs in the first place because many staffing departments would welcome, with a collective sigh of relief, an edict coming down from on-high that they don’t have to cold call (phone source) their competitors!

Add those two subjects together – the recruiting community’s reluctance to aggressively cold call (phone source) the competitor community and the approaching anti-trust trial and it spells trouble for the recruiting community.


Many more in the recruiting community are guilty of the same thing that Google, Apple, Intel, Adobe, Intuit, Walt Disney’s Pixar unit and Lucasfilm Ltd are being accused of.

You join in the collusion when you discourage members of the community from actively and aggressively and proactively using the telephone to source names.

You cost workers hundreds of millions of dollars when you do not attempt to reach them by telephone cocooned within the sacred walls of your competitors.

Let me be the first to applaud ERE in giving a platform to the controversial practice of phone sourcing and point out that ERE was way ahead of the curve in embracing the subject.

Let me also recognize that without ERE’s assistance the subject of phone sourcing would have remained a backroom secret.

If you believe, in your gut like I do, that 90% of the potential candidate base is eluding your efforts to find them on the Internet an argument can be made that only using the Internet to ”find names” is really perverse divisive selection.

By giving phone sourcing the attention it has ERE has been foremost in alerting the community of an approaching danger.

Much of the recruiting community, in their desire to remove themselves from the front line of the battle, is not practicing an expected standard that is taking a federal anti-trust trial to expose.

“Competition is the keen cutting edge of business, always shaving away at costs.” ~Henry Ford

That’s all well and good but when you seek to “shave costs” by acting in concert to some ill-defined community practice that limits the opportunities of others you’re barking up the wrong tree.

What remains is the subject of competition.  Competition is battle; it is bloodletting in the streets.  That’s what natural selection produces – organisms that can withstand the onslaught of evolution.

It’s not pretty and it’s not nice but more importantly, it’s not ineffective!

If we are not representing our companies on the farthest-most forward position of the talent battle there are going to be repercussions.

We’re not going to survive.

We’re going to pay a heavy price.

“Number one, cash is king. Number two, communicate. Number three, buy or bury the competition.” ~ Jack Welch