Talent Circles

Monday, August 12, 2013

Sourcing: What It Was, What It Is, What It Could Be (Part 2 of 3)

Last time, we stepped in the way-back machine to look at what sourcing used to be.
Surprisingly, people got very sentimental over their dusty binders full of candidate prospects.
As someone who keeps stacks of paper - and not very well organized - I can honestly thank my lucky wildcard asterisks for the internet.

Sourcing has changed in three evolutionary ways, according to my perspective. It’s the technology that supports the sourcing activity, the architecture of the teams that tackle the research, and the tactics that today’s sourcers have learned to leverage.


There’s a bevy of sourcing tools out there. Sourcing automation tools are intended for finding larger volumes of candidate prospects. They can take many forms and data sources, including:

- Resume database access from job boards, both general and niche
- Manual and automated search from major search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo
- Custom career search engines like Indeed, SimplyHired and Beyond
- Sourcing aggregators like InfoGist, Broadlook Diver, TalentHook and SourcePoint

Sourcing augmentation tools are about finding those “purple unicorns” or the hard-to-source prospects. The majority of these individuals are passive and have limited information online.
Most of these take advantage of social conversation data, based on influencers, keywords and semantic search.

- Social sourcing platforms like Entelo, Diver, Gild, TalentBin, Rolepoint and OpenWeb
- Alternate search engines like blekko, blinkx, DuckDuckGo, sperse, socialmention
- Twitter Search, Facebook Graph Search, Google+ or FindPeopleOnPlus
- GitHub, StackOverflow, Reddit, the list goes on…


“Sourcing is typically part of the recruiting function performed by the HR professional, but it may also be conducted by managers within the company.”
Full Life-cycle Recruiters
Long-been the champions of the corporate world, the full-desk recruiter manages everything from the approval of the requisition to the job description, the sourcing, screening and assessment, all the way through interview and offer. Taking on every stage of the process means that the recruiter is the admin, brand ambassador, talent advisor, quality control and master negotiator, all in one. Which also means that he or she can realistically only handle so many reqs. The process of sourcing leads typically (but not always) takes a backseat to filtering through existing applicants.

Sourcing Plate-spinners
I’m talking about individuals that serve in a corporate or agency environment supporting a recruiter, or more likely, a team of recruiters. Having spent some time in the RPO world at the start of my career, I understand this model intimately. It wasn’t the most common method at the time, but has gained popularity. By separating responsibilities, you’re able to focus and refine your skills on one aspect of candidate generation: the research. You’re also able to work more closely with each recruiter and hiring manager (depending on the client relationship) to understand the job requirements.

Sourcing Teams
Separating what I call the upstream activities - research, first contact, pipelining and engagement - the sourcing function becomes the new face of the recruiting team. The de facto employment brand ambassadors in a system that understands the value of sourcing. Most teams are divided by internal business function or simply by geography, which allows deep understanding and a network of knowledge about a company’s hiring needs. After the prospect applies in the applicant tracking system, it’s up to the recruiting team, which now serves as more of an assessment and account manager function for the hiring managers.

The hiring managers also do their fair share of sourcing, because they have industry contacts and established networks to give the talent acquisition team a head start.


“Sourcing can identify either candidates who are not actively looking for job opportunities (passive job seekers) or candidates who are actively searching for jobs (active job seekers).”

Sourcing passive job seekers can include direct calls to businesses that employ individuals who match the key requirements of the position. Some people call it rusing, others just call it telephone sourcing. It can also be accomplished through networking with various business-related groups.

Both passive and active job seekers can be located by sourcing job boards, social media sites, corporate alumni associations and through all types of networking. After all, a resume that’s three years old in a job board database, may lead you to someone who’s no longer looking and thus no longer source-able on a career or job site. There’s gold in them there databases.

Another powerful tactic that’s gaining momentum is community engagement, or leveraging inbound marketing strategies to start recruiting conversations. By taking a holistic view of a candidate profile or persona, you can curate shareable content that’s keyword-engineered to attract talent. Using a free service like Google Trends, you can see what others are reading online and searching for by related terms. (Side note: Who knew actuaries like to play Sudoku?)

Becoming a reliable source of information, you gain both of the key ingredients to unlocking employment commerce: 1) trust and 2) relevance.

Next up, Sourcing: What It Could Be

About Bryan ChaneyBryan Chaney is a Talent Branding and Attraction Strategist. He most recently led employment branding and social media for corporate recruitment at Aon. Previously, he developed the recruitment marketing arm of a Texas based RPO provider that serves SMB and Fortune clients. He serves on the board of Social Media Breakfast in Austin and founded careerconnects.org, a community event platform, to gather niche recruiting and HR professionals with candidates to share career strategies. The Huffington Post recently named him one of the Top 100 Most Social HR Experts on Twitter. Connect with Bryan for consulting and speaking availability at Bryan Chaney.


  1. Great post Bryan!

  2. Thanks Jeremy, means a lot coming from Mr. SourceCon. The next post on the future will definitely be interesting.

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