I’m sure you have seen vendor sponsored white papers galore that claim that they have created the best sourcing tool ever known to humanity. It is AI powered, comes in a variety of colors is inexpensive and even does the dishes! While the dishes pile up on me I’d like to also, respectfully, refute any vendor’s claim of having created the ultimate sourcing tool, AI powered, shiny button heavy or otherwise.
“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” – Albert Einstein
I’m here to share a revelation that might shock you to the very core. The best sourcing tool in the world is located directly between your ears. The most valuable asset you own is your mind. The most important trait for any sourcer to have is a passionately curious nature. That may seem counter intuitive. After all, we spend countless hours learning how to create better searches or how to write better outreach and wrangle unrealistic expectations of our hiring managers.
A claim without evidence is just an anecdote so I will try to convince you that while the shiny toys are nice and they can help us with our work there is no substitute for a curious mind. The first professional example I have came early in my career.
In 2009 I attended the first Recruit DC conference. The featured key note speaker was Gerry Crispin. He gave a great presentation on candidate experience and I waited to speak with him after he was finished. I remember extending my hand to him, introducing myself as a recruiter for the company I was working with at the time. He extended his hand back to me and said, “Gerry Crispin, eternal student.”
Gerry has forgotten more about recruiting than I know but his introduction was a key turning point in my career. I have taken his words to heart and it has paid rich dividends over the course of my career. In 2011 I was working as a sourcer for a large financial services firm. I was required to attend a meeting about how our jobs were posted. As a sourcer, I had little interest in a meeting about job postings but I attended all the same.
During the meeting, the presenter shared with us that the prospect that had started filling out an application but had not completed it, had their information stored in what was called a drop off report. In a meeting with roughly 300 recruiters, I was “that guy” and asked how a person could run that report. I was given the instructions and acted accordingly.
Once I was granted access I ran the report for all of the jobs I was working on. I had over 800 results. I thought to myself, what if I just run the report for the entire company? After seeing the spinning circle of death, I got up to get a cup of coffee. On the way back to my desk I stopped to have a quick chat with my boss. When I returned to my desk I was able to download over 11,000 prospects. Over the weekend I divided up my contacts and delivered them to the different business units on Monday morning. I learned a valuable lesson. Stephen Hawking had this to say about asking questions “As a father, I would try to instill the importance of asking questions, always.”
The most valuable thing I have learned from my mentors and my heroes is the importance of asking the question. The most brilliant minds that humanity has produced have passed on the same advice over hundreds of years. It helps me to think even the greatest minds were never satisfied. My advice to you is to ask the question the little voice in the back of your head presents you with. Never silence that voice. Many times it might lead you nowhere but I appeal to the words of someone who was much smarter than I am:
“no great discovery was made without a bold guess.” –Isacc Newton
In parting, I leave you with one more bit of wisdom about a life of learning from the same genius:
“What we know is a drop, what we don’t know is an ocean.”
Mike Wolford has over 15 years of recruiting experience and is currently the Director of Analytics at Wilson HCG. He has worked with such companies as Allstate, Capital One, NPR and Twitter. Mike has also published 2 books titled “Becoming the Silver Bullet: Recruiting Strategies for connecting with Top Talent,” and “How to Find and Land your Dream Job: Insider tips from a Recruiter.” An active member of the recruiting community, In 2022 Mike spoke both at SourceCon and HRTX in an effort to help elevate the level of professional skills. Follow Mike on Twitter, or connect on LinkedIn.
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