What Sourcing Is and What It Isn’t

Feb 26, 2008

Sourcing is one of the most misunderstood concepts in the field of recruiting.

The “boards” are always trying to sell their “sourcing systems” by appealing to the

“You will never have to source again if you use our system”. Because many recruiters secretly don’t want to source, they readily buy into the too-good-to-be-true, no-sourcing-required philosophy.  It’s an excuse filled existence in the recruiting business.  Buying into the myth of these sourcing-free systems, failing to learn sound sourcing approaches and abandoning the need to continually develop new skills, is the sure-fire route to endangering your recruiting livelihood.

Sourcing may be defined as “seeking a potential candidate, with a vision of success.”

“Seeking” is an action word.  “Action words” are high-impact words; they avoid the passive sense of being.  “Wishing” and “waiting” and “hoping” for something to come of the candidates procured “off the boards” are activities used by those who employ passive vocabularies and minds sets.

Sourcing = Seeking

Sourcing involves finding people who can fill your open positions.  It requires an active tool set.  It also requires that you have, as our definition spells out, “a vision of success”.

Sourcing requires positive expectations.  This is aligned exactly with a positive mindset requirement – mostly to overcome all the nay-saying recruiters who don’t source, who don’t value it and are always on-hand to denigrate it, you and your vision.

As a new Sourcer in 1996, I knew very little about the arcane subject except what I brought to it from my years and years of experience in the real estate industry.  I knew then that in order to “sell” something I had to have it on the shelf.  In the real estate business, having something “on the shelf” means you have good listings.  I always concentrated my efforts in obtaining a lot of good listings and success always followed those numbers.

As recently as only a couple years (3-4) back, there wasn’t much talk on the boards about “sourcing”.  Sure, once in a while it was mentioned, but there wasn’t much “buzz” around it and for the most part it seemed to be treated like a red-headed stepchild. Furious trumpet debate would sound when the subject would come up; fingers would point and wagging tongues would trash talk the subject.  I remember being appalled by how the subject was received (and perceived) in the community.  At about the same time, it seems, several of us made a decision and a commitment to talk about the subject, realizing (on my part, for selfish reasons) that if the subject was not illuminated it would continue to occupy the same shadowy corner post it had been relegated to.  My commitment hasn’t changed and is only bolstered by the commitment and fine contributions made by the thought leaders in this newly recognized Industry.
What Sourcing Is:

Process Organization
Calling into companies to find potential candidates that might fill your open positions
Calling people in your own influence sphere who might connect you to others who might fill your open positions
Learning, always learning, new ways
Speaking up and out in your community on the subject – you can do this in a variety of ways

Utilizing imaginative and innovative Internet search techniques that take you deeper, and more fully, in contact with potential candidates than anyone else

Hard work
Long hours
Mostly “lone” wolf work
The pathway to recruiting success

What Sourcing Isn’t:

A 9 to 5 activity
A lot of yakkity-yak
Pulling candidates off the boards
These days, pulling potential candidates off the “first layers” of the Internet
Pushing paperwork around your desk (or your computer) so you “look” busy
Setting up a website and expecting it to do the hard work for you
Paying to get placed into search engines so you can be “found” – once they find you, what’re you going to do then if you don’t know how to do it?
Cutesy mimicking marketing
Gang warfare
Joining organizations just to be “listed” as a Sourcer
Relying on e-mail to contact potential candidates – this goes along with:

Relying on leaving VoiceMails and then “waiting” for call backs from the potential candidates
The pathway to recruiting mediocrity
In the recruiting business, you can’t make a placement if you don’t have those listings “on the shelf”.  “Listings”, in the recruiting business, are candidates.  Go getchya’ some.