It’s pretty apparent that sourcing and recruiting go hand in hand – you can’t hire successfully without finding candidates first. And you can think of sourcing any which way you want. Sometimes it’s like a spring that recruiters drink from, with a constant flow of fresh, qualified candidates pouring in. Other times, like now, when the job market tightens up, sources can slow down and even dry up. That’s why we (meaning talent acquisition pros) need to look beyond the obvious and learn to source from all sides. Because quality sourcing, the kind that helps build pipelines and improve outcomes, will almost always require more than a cursory search over on LinkedIn.
As a result of this need, we see a lot of articles talking about espousing tips and tricks, dos and don’ts. But before you get to that, you need to understand the difference between excellent sourcing and hack sourcing.
Making the Distinction
Truly great sourcers border on sorcerers (say that three times fast). They’re able to produce potential candidates from seemingly thin air, using a combination of imaginative thinking, tech-savvy, unique search skills and good old fashioned persistence. They look in places others wouldn’t think of, they connect and network with like-minded individuals and make their presence – and passion – known everywhere they go. These are the folks you want in your corner when unemployment rates drop and top talent goes the way of the buffalo.
When you come across such a fantastic resource, you may marvel at their findings and wonder how they do it. And while there are some secrets at play, the fact is these people put in the work. They take the time to figure out what they’re searching for; they spend hours crafting their searches and expand from there. They take into consideration other initiatives like diversity and inclusion and adjust their strategy accordingly. After that, they review the results, looking for buried treasure and new directions to explore. They keep thinking as the process progresses, refining their approach as they go.
Hack sourcers don’t do any of that. They stick with what they know and what they’re given, and that’s about it. They rely on a select source or two to find a handful of maybes that will satisfy the base requirements. They rarely think outside the box, comfortable with their existing routine and approach. Their concerns rest with simply fulfilling the request, nothing more and nothing less. They tend to fly under the radar, unable to offer any more than what’s asked.
Being a hack sourcer doesn’t make them a bad person per se, more likely it makes them uninspired or uninterested in their job. You wouldn’t want to be that sourcer, and you certainly don’t want to hire them to help with hiring others.
Resources for Sourcers
Of course, it’s possible to grow and evolve one’s sourcing practice, too. Few of us have any idea what we’re doing when we start a new job, having to take weeks or even months to feel comfortable and become productive. There’s hope for sourcers across the spectrum, provided they have the drive to take their craft to the next level. And this is where recruiters and hiring managers come into play. Because sourcing is a collective effort. It involves input and direction to get them started, far beyond a few bullet points or keywords to search. It requires alignment between stakeholders, and agreement around the job description. Even the best sourcers need guidance. Otherwise, the whole exercise will be for naught.
Too often you read missives outlining the tensions between recruiters and hiring managers, but rarely, if ever, do you see how this impacts the sourcers. Think of a three-legged stool. Recruiters, hiring managers and sourcers each take a leg. What happens when you remove one of the three? The stool falls. So if you’re looking to improve sourcing, you need to think not just about who you’re working with but also how you’re working together. What do you bring to this equation? The less you give, the less you get. The more you give, the more you’ll get in return. This isn’t rocket science; it’s how the world works.
By actively supporting sourcers, opening up lines of communication and providing thoughtful feedback, you can strengthen the entire recruiting process. Likewise, for sourcers, gathering up the right resources can dramatically improve your success rate – and sometimes, that means asking more questions before engaging.
The point is sourcing functions as the backbone of recruiting. By keeping your practice robust, you’re able to stand up and tackle any req that comes your way – allowing this to slouch does you a disservice in the long run. So before attempting that next shortcut, take a look at who is sourcing and what they’re working with – and leave the hacks to the professionals.