Seven Days Without Sourcing Makes One Weak

Jul 23, 2008
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

Borrowing from comedian Monty Walker of Beatle Bailey fame, the title reflects a bit of light humor in what is often a spirited debate surrounding the question of “How much is enough sourcing?”

This is perhaps the most commonly asked question I get when presenting workshops, seminars, and keynote addresses. Allow, via this humble blog post, my attempt to answer this question for recruiters by and large. Please note that I am writing this not with full-time, dedicated sourcers in mind, but for you, the full-desk recruiters who struggle to create time enough for completing your required tasks, much less for filling a pipeline with so-called passive candidates.

As my full-time sourcing brethren well know, there can never be enough research conducted as there will always be more we can do to find the right people for the right jobs, so please excuse me, but this is not written for you. For all the rest of you who carry large loads of requisitions, I hope this gives you peace of mind.

Not All Reqs Are Created Equal

Though it may feel like they are, not all of your requisitions are of the absolute “highest priority.” In fact, most of them don’t require much sourcing at all. Before you guffaw, let me define what I mean by sourcing — I mean research and identification of leads for hard-to-fill positions. Or another way to put it would be name generation for positions which cannot possibly be filled using traditional talent sources. Most reqs could benefit from some downloaded resumes, but that is a task simple to automate and one that creates little heartburn for experienced recruiters.

About 10% to 15% of open requisitions on a typical recruiter’s desk can only be filled by some kind of direct sourcing activity. To avoid a debate about this point, let me explain that of course that percentage is going to vary by industry, by function, and even by organization, but 10% is a good starting point for this example. Say that you work 35 simultaneous requisitions. Then by this calculation roughly four of those may require serious research. The rest will have an influx of candidates from one to a myriad source, with varying quantities and assorted quality.

Set Aside a Sourcing Block

Allocate a block of sourcing time lasting 60 minutes of research once per week and work each of those four reqs for 15 minutes straight. During this 60-minute sourcing block time, be absolutely jealous about your time and focus strictly on generating leads for those four reqs. In other words, during your weekly sourcing block do not:

1. Answer the phone
2. Check voicemail
3. Call anyone back
4. Reply to emails
5. Go to meetings
6. Initiate contact with any of the leads
7. Follow “interesting” links that appear to lead to cool info
8. Take a “coffee break”

Instead, unplug your phone and email, let calls go to voicemail, let your inbox fill up, and bookmark any links for later review. You can get to everyone right after your “sourcing hour.” Put a “Do not Disturb” sign on your door if that’s what it takes. Keep all the leads you found in a spreadsheet, but don’t spend any time grooming the list during your sourcing hour. This spreadsheet becomes your call list for the week, and you can groom it later as you make the calls.

The vastness of information available on the web makes it quite likely that you will waste time online if you do not focus this activity. Such focus will keep you on track and make you more effective, and prevent the loss of important steps and details. The problem with stop-and-go sourcing is that you can easily lose track, and research is a task that requires intense concentration. Any time-management course will teach you that blocking out time for important activities during your day makes you more efficient. All the distractions that make up your day, from the necessary meetings to the incessant phone calls, make it very difficult to focus on research. Blocking out this sourcing hour is the most significant time management activity in which you will engages.

A Sourcing Block Does not Suffice

So you have been disciplined about doing your weekly sourcing block, and you’ve held your ground without getting distracted. Congratulations! That’s your first step. The next step is to commit to specific results during that block of time. This is a bit harder, but while sticking to the sourcing hour commitment is good, actually achieving a target number of leads is even better.

Set aside a reasonable goal of identifying anywhere from 20 to 50 useful leads during your sourcing hour. Some projects of course are going to be much more difficult, but 50 is a good round number of cold calls to make in a week, so shoot for that to start. And remember not to stop to call or email someone who looks good! This isn’t the time. Put them in the spreadsheet and call them later. Besides, it may take you a bit more research to get an updated number or email address. That is something that better suits a stop-and-go workday where you can “sneak in” a few research minutes here or there.

Once you establish and get used to practicing your “sourcing hour” you will find that during that hour you are able to find more leads than you would during a regular week full of interruptions. As an aside, such focus is also quite useful when improving your cold-calling skills. Once you have collected your 20 to 50 leads, you can set aside an hour or two during your day to run down the list and call them all. Since calling takes longer than sourcing, you may likely need to block out a cold-calling hour each day of the week.

After you, and your co-workers, get used to your “blocked out times” you may find that setting aside a bit of time daily when you reply to voicemail and non-urgent email may also help increase your efficiency.

Additional Resources:

• Get more efficient with “Managing Information Overload”


• The JobMachine “12-Step Sourcing Program”


This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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