Sourcing In The 21st Century

Future City by Sam Howzit


“Sourcing is the proactive searching for qualified job candidates for current or planned open positions; it is not the reactive function of reviewing resumes and applications sent to the company in response to a job posting or pre-screening candidates. The goal of sourcing is to collect relevant data about qualified candidates, such as names, titles and job responsibilities.” (From the US based organization SHRM, the Society of Human Resource Management)

To better understand where we are; let us take a gander back at where we began.

I can recall reading of recruiting in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Individuals (let’s call them Candidates) would document their skills, experience and education on a piece of paper, usually with a typewriter. These resulting documents were called Resumes or CV’s. These CV’s were handed out, snail mailed and dropped off in the hopes that someone (let’s call them Employers) who needed their combination of skills, experience and education would find them. The fax machine expedited the process, allowing for further distribution, slightly increasing the chances of a match of Candidate and Employer, resulting in a Job.

Engineering Department employees, 1962People called Recruiters, figured out in the 1970’s, that if they could convince Candidates to create these CV’s they could actively market said Candidates to prospective Employers. For a fee of course. Some of the, shall we say, nerdier Recruiters leveraged whatever technology that was available to expedite the finding of the Candidates and the distribution of the CV’s. Fax machines got better, lists were found, cold calling became prevalent. Phone systems were developed with automated directories, Recruiters “hacked” them.


Services were developed, like CD-ROM’s with lists of gathered potential Candidates. I started in recruiting about then. Email was starting to take hold. Once a month the new CD-ROM was delivered and we all clambered for it. Of course the data was six months old
when we got it, but it was DATA. We’d add it to our lists and our organized file cabinets of organized CV’s. It was wonderful. It was cutting edge. And recruiting stabilized a bit. But some of the nerdier of the nerdy Recruiters, got really good at finding Candidates using the available technology. We’ll call them Sourcers.

So, you have the Data that leads to Candidates and the delivery mechanisms, whether it be fax, or email, or snail mail or hand delivered; and that’s about how it has stayed. Continued stabilization.

Throughout the 1990’s and the 2000’s, new sources of Data evolved and new delivery mechanisms evolved, but the basics of the whole thing didn’t really change.

Waiting QueueWell, here we are 2013. I was quite hoping we’d have flying cars by now, or at least rocket packs. But less those wonders, we have connectivity. For the first time in human history, we have access to real-time Data. Gobs and gobs of it! Everyone on this planet can be found and categorized according to some basic qualification.

Now the rub… how to leverage all of that. The job boards are still here. They are a continuation and automation of the delivery mechanisms of ye olden times, but Social Media allows us to message individuals and contact them in new ways. So that’s better right? Sure, it’s a step forward, but isn’t it just another delivery mechanism?

I was speaking to a technical architect the other day whose skills are in high demand. She’s been recruited extensively throughout her career. She joined LinkedIn to network with other technical architects and she joined Facebook to stay in touch with friends and reunite with long lost ones. But she explained that something has been happening the last year or so, something she didn’t expect. Showing me her LinkedIn inbox, there were 236 messages from recruiters. She logs into it monthly now and deletes them. Via Facebook, she gets friend requests from… recruiters, and messages suggesting that there are opportunities to network… with recruiters. It’s driven her away from social media to say the least. Social Media, with all its promise, has become another delivery mechanism.

I’ve been working on Talent Intelligence, an offering from Avancos that uses the abundance of data now available to us to identify a candidate pool. Slicing and dicing this data allows for companies to make strategic decisions on where to recruit and how best to approach candidates. Analyzing this data and its flow allows for the creation of unique, purpose driven Talent Pools. Our clients use this Intelligence to determine business growth, market expansion… the options are nearly endless.

How can we do such a thing? Come visit us at the Discover Sourcing event and find out how…

Images from Sam Howzit, Seattle Municipal Archives, Bohman and chumsdock on Flickr

Tips for Sourcing Newbies

Binoculars portrait by gerlos

I get asked about where to start when you are new to the world of Sourcing all the time. I put together a post last year on that very subject, but it is definitely time for an update.

So, here is my totally refreshed guide to sourcing for those of you just starting out.

Just Do It

By far the best way to learn is to JUST DO IT! Everyone has a different style of sourcing, we’re all sourcing for different kinds of candidates and what works for one person will be useless for another. So just get stuck in, join and try every site and tool!

I learned the most by joining Twitter and it still helps me learn new things most days. It’s a great place ask questions as well as network with people in both the recruitment industry and the niche you are sourcing in. Feel free to follow me if you join. If I don’t follow straight back and welcome you – please bug me!

Follow Other Sourcing Experts

It’s probably a good idea to follow some of the great folks in the sourcing world – they have taught me loads!

Bill Boorman:
Bill is the man behind #Tru and a font of knowledge about all things social recruiting. He’s a pretty good sourcer too! He’s especially good at recommending a tool that’ll do exactly what you need.
Blog: Norton Folgate
Twitter: @BillBoorman

Johnny Campbell:
Johnny is so on the ball it makes my head spin. He goes everywhere and knows about everything! His blog is always up to date with all the latest sourcing info too.
Blog: Social Talent
Twitter: @socialtalent

Glen Cathey:
A sourcing legend from the USA. Glen is particularly skilled in searching LinkedIn – his blog posts are very in depth and thorough. When I grow up, I want to be like Glen.
Blog: Boolean Black Belt
Twitter: @GlenCathey

Martin Lee:
Martin knows all the tricks and all the cool tools. If you get a chance to meet him, take it!
You can meet Martin at our Discover Sourcing event this September.
Linkedin Group: Cool (free) Tools For Recruiting
Twitter: @MrMartinLee

Oscar Mager:
Oscar is really passionate about image search. He always carries a camera too! He is the man to follow if you are committed to finding the absolute best talent possible to fill your role. He’s committed to finding Triple A Talent!
You can meet Oscar at our Discover Sourcing event this September.
Twitter: @OscarMager

Shane McCusker:
Shane is probably best known for his video blog about sourcing, technology and all things recruitment. It’s worth signing up for his email reminders, that way you never miss one of his live Google Hangouts.
You can meet Shane at our Discover Sourcing event this September.
Blog: Shane’s Recruitment Blog
Twitte: @1ntelligence

Irina Shamaeva:
Irina’s knowledge of Boolean search is legendary in the world of Sourcing. She’s on a quest for the ever illusive “Dream Software” that will solve all our people search needs!
Blog: Boolean Strings Blog
LinkedIn Group: Boolean Strings

Jim Stroud:
Jim is a prolific blogger and video maker – he makes fantastic sourcing training resources. You might want to check out his book “Resume Forensics”.
Watch: The Jim Stroud Show
Circle Jim: On Google Plus

Tools and Resources

Our top resources here on the UK Sourcers site include:

The UK Sourcers Search Engine Handbook – Downloadable Document
UK LinkedIn Profile Search – Search Tool
3 Sites You’ve Never Thought About Sourcing From – Blog Post
5 Things Not To Do When You Join Twitter – Blog Post
How To Write Great Job Advertising Copy – Blog Post

Take a look at our full list of Useful Resources . There’s all sorts there, including links to helpful stuff all over the web, not just from UK Sourcers.

I also recommend joining the UK Sourcers LinkedIn Group where the other members and I are happy to answer any sourcing questions you might have.

Sourcing Events

Keep an eye on the information coming out of these events in 2013 and try to attend if you can.

Sourcing Summit Europe – Amsterdam, 12 & 13 September 2013
#SOSU (Sourcing Summit) started in Sydney in 2011. This will be the first time they’ve brought the event to Europe.
Follow on Twitter: @sosuinfo and #sosueu

Discover Sourcing – London, 17 & 18 September 2013
Our very own dedicated Sourcing event for the UK, to be held for the first time in London this September. Whether you are an experienced sourcer, you’d would like to learn more about integrating sourcing into your recruitment activities or you are just starting out, there will be something to discover.
Find out more about: The Event, The Agenda, The Speakers, Tickets
Follow on Twitter: @UKSourcers and #DiscSource

#Tru Events – Global, Throughout 2013 and beyond!
The Recruiting Unconference. You get out of these events what you put in and if you come armed with questions then there will be someone there to answer them. There is always a sourcing track on the bill. #TruLondon will be back in September)
Follow tweets from this event: #TruLondon

SourceCon – Seattle, 2 & 3 October 2013
The original Sourcing conference will be back again in the autumn (sorry… I mean fall), this time in Seattle. Not always accessible to us on our side of the pond, but there is always a healthy stream of tweets from attendees and SourceCon often provide a live-stream of the event so that we can watch online.
Lots of great info on the blog, all from top sourcers:
Follow on Twitter: @SourceCon and #SourceCon

I hope you find this useful. If you have any other questions or you’d like to meet up, then do contact me or leave a comment on this post.

Happy Sourcing! 🙂

Photo by gerlos on Flickr.

What is sourcing? #DiscSource

I put this question to some of the speakers of Discover Sourcing a few weeks ago.

In this video Oscar Mager, Shane McCusker and Ralph Meyer give me their thoughts on the subject;

I think of sourcing as the first phase of the recruitment process. It could refer to any activity that gets a candidate into process. A sourcer might be a brilliant researcher that knows how to interrogate information sources like databases, search engines and social networks. They might have an affinity for advertising and marketing, writing fantastic job ad copy and focusing on employer brand. A sourcer could also be a powerful networker – both online and in-person – focusing on relationships and connections within their industry. Some might even be a blend of all those things.

Everyone seems to have a different take on what souring is and what makes a great sourcer, here’s a few thoughts from other Discover Sourcing experts:

“Sourcing is… opening one door to find a hundred more behind it. It’s also about constantly updating our door opening skills and being interested and curious in what is behind every one of them. It’s not just about clever Boolean strings, hacks and technology it’s about people and the art of matching the right jobs to the right people at the right time.”
Martin Lee,

“To me sourcing is about bringing new candidates into process whether in-house or in an agency. Sourcing as opposed to research goes beyond identification, this is about finding someone new who is unknown to you before, engaging with them directly (ideally speaking with that person) and building enough rapport to have that potential new candidate trust you to consider them for roles in the future with clients or your organisation and be happy to maintain a relationship.”
Andy Mountney, Aspen In-house

“Sourcing is like mining for precious stones. Sometimes you can pick them up off the ground and other times you need to move 500 tonnes of earth to find a single one. Sourcing is very similar to this in the sense that intelligent searching and using the right tools determine how easy or difficult a search is going to be. Once you fully understand what you are looking for it becomes a lot easier to know where to look.”
Ralph Meyer, Ernst & Young

What does sourcing mean to you and what skills make you a great sourcer? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.

I look forward to continuing this discussion at Discover Sourcing in September.

Click here to tweet about Discover Sourcing.