Recently, I’ve been given the opportunity to train a couple of co-workers on sourcing. Somehow someone heard that I use to do that very thing, and thought it was time for me to pass on the knowledge. Please twist my arm–sourcing is my first love, and the part of my career I have enjoyed so much. It’s so interesting, circling back to something that you truly have a passion for, and thinking about how you can build a better sourcer. I have a deep envy of anyone going into a dedicated sourcing role now because there are deep networks, within local communities and internationally, to have “how to” conversations and network.
Years ago, if you asked me to train a sourcer, I’d lay out Boolean A-Z. That was the fundamental of sourcing to me, how to build an amazing search string that extracted a list of potential candidates.
Today, I’m more focused on a “holistic” view of sourcing training. Maybe it’s because I’ve been in multiple industries as well as worked in corporate and retained search. But my thought process tends to lean more towards a big picture than just “let’s build a search string.” What I’m finding as I train sourcers today is they need these key items covered:
Know Your Client. I have this conversation often in the workplace. You need to have a clear understanding of your company and your hiring team. The company will stay consistent, but the hiring team can fluctuate. During the intake session, if the sourcer doesn’t have a direct relationship with the hiring team, it’s very important for them to be in the room, to hear the conversation and develop a sense of priority from the hiring team’s point of view.
Look Before You Leap. It’s tempting to just start typing away, diving into your search engine of choice, but this often leads to multiple rabbit holes with limited productive results. Thinking clearly about “Who am I trying to find? How will I bring diverse candidates into this search? What resources can I leverage?” Those questions create a structured sourcing plan that can be implemented, and results can be analyzed.
Use your tools. If you are fortunate to have a bevy of tools, LinkedIn or other subscription databases, mine them daily. You have to make the tools pay for themselves and the only way that happens is by using them daily. Work with your management to determine goals, and figure out just how many hires will make a tool pay for itself. Beyond that, use tools to save yourself time. Where to begin? Start with Dean DaCosta, his writings on sourcing tools are prolific. When I need a tool of any kind, I look up what Dean has found first.
Practice. I still train the fundamentals of creating a search string. I completely take for granted all of the sourcing training I attended and presented. The fundamentals of building search strings truly haven’t changed. But like anything, the more you practice writing them and seeing what works and what does not, the more adept you become at using them. I’ve always recommended spending the first hour of the workday, before you check email or anything else, in practicing search. Without distraction. Save what works and what doesn’t, you don’t want to retread previously covered ground, so organization is key.
Organize. However you prefer to do it, track, track, track. Track your searches and your sourcing resources. Not only will you have your own personal directory for sourcing that will grow and expand with your career, but you’ll also be able to expedite the process of creating a strategy, and even better, develop a habit that will have you saving search strings and documenting how candidates are found that will keep compliance happy.
Read. Read everything. My new favorite read? Recruiting Brainfood. It’s curated recruiting and sourcing content delivered to your mailbox. I still check in on Boolean Strings, Sourcecon and a variety of sourcing groups on Facebook. When it seems like you have no time, make time. These resources are your pulse check on what you can try next in your sourcing strategy.
Be on Social Media. Even if it is silently. I’m always impressed by the Millenials and Gen-Z crew that hate Facebook and LinkedIn and avoid them like the plague. I get it, boy do I get it. But they are necessary evils in this line of work, and you don’t have to use them personally. Creating professional profiles that enable you to access the myriad of recruiting groups and resources available will keep you at the top of your game.
Sourcing today is so much more than creating strings and scraping names. The more well rounded your approach and thought process, the easier it will be to develop thoughtful strategies and have informed conversations with your hiring team.
Have you recently trained a sourcer? Have a strategy that’s been missed? Hit up the comments, I’d welcome any additions to the thoughts above.
Kelly is the Recruitment Manager for Westat, a leading social science research organization headquartered in Rockville, Maryland.