As sourcers, we have a unique set of skills that enable us to search for and find elusive candidates. We tend to get creative and go far beyond job boards. We’re continually finding and verifying contact information, many are exceptionally skilled in OSINT and have the drive to always investigate further.
What many of us don’t realize is that our sourcing skills have the potential to be used outside of talent acquisition to make a real impact on those around us in simple or significant ways. These are four unexpected ways that you can consider using your sourcing superpowers for the greater good.
#1 Responsible handling of information
We’ve all had times where we go down the rabbit hole during a search, and it’s not uncommon to stumble upon information that could be considered sensitive or damaging. Being an ethical sourcer is sometimes defined by what you don’t do. If we find sensitive information on someone, we have the capacity for doxing or gaining unauthorized access to accounts.
Recently when doing a reverse email search, I came across a Pastebin entry that contained dozens of Disney+ usernames and passwords, including one belonging to a candidate I intended to contact. While accessing someone’s streaming account may not seem like a major security threat, many people use the same or similar passwords for other accounts like online banking or personal email. Not only is it unethical to use this information to access accounts, but we also have an obligation to inform the candidate that their information is exposed.
#2 Keeping your friends and family from being scammed or catfished
A Catfish is defined as a fake or stolen online identity created for initiating a deceptive relationship. It’s now more common than ever to pursue friendships and romantic relationships online. Unfortunately, many people create deceptive profiles for a variety of reasons, which can lead to bullying, financial scams, or just complete heartbreak. Knowing the common warning signs and educating friends and family who are online dating can save them a lot of grief.
If you suspect that a loved one is communicating with someone who may be deceiving them, there are several simple ways to start an online investigation. I recommend the OSINT Essentials Starter Tool. It provides suggestions of tools and methods based on what information you have available, whether that is a photo, username, phone number, email, etc.
#3 Help to solve non-criminal matters on the RBI subreddit
RBI stands for the “Reddit bureau of investigation.” The community is self-described as “Using the power of the internet to solve real-world problems.” If you spend a little bit of time reading through the posts, you may come across situations like users asking for help locating lost relatives, requesting advice as to whether they’re being scammed, or finding the identity of the sender of mysterious emails. There is a lot to be learned on this subreddit when it comes to online investigations, and often the posts resemble hack-a-thon questions. This is a unique opportunity to offer up your sourcing skills to help others solve problems.
The community even has a small toolbox with resources that help solve some of the most commonly asked questions.
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#4 Assisting in Europol Investigations to Stop Child Sex Trafficking through the “Trace an Object” Program
Europol is currently in possession of over 40 million images of child sexual abuse from around the world. Due to the sheer amount of evidence, they have asked for the public’s help to identify the country of origin of objects found in these images. Sometimes the most mundane clue is what leads to a major break in a case. The agency releases censored extracts from explicit images periodically. As a disclaimer, some of these images are difficult to see despite being heavily censored. Since the program’s inception, it has led to over 24,000 tips, and ten children have been rescued.
The origin of the image above was identified by the Bellingcat community, which specializes in open source intelligence news and resources. It is believed to be a Burger King poster that was advertising for home delivery service in Mexico City.
As a sourcing community, our methods and tools can be applied in identifying these objects. Logo detector, Remove Background, Yandex, and TinEye are commonly used for advanced image searching by both the Reddit and Bellingcat community members that commit time to assist in this program. Neither of these communities is officially affiliated with Europol. Still, they serve as a resource for learning, collaboration as well as directing any tips to be submitted to the agency with the proper protocol.
Using your sourcing superpowers in a talent acquisition setting is impressive and impactful. Still, we should always consider the versatility of our skill sets and use them to their full potential. The ability to conduct an in-depth online investigation could make a difference in countless lives in the most unexpected ways.
All tools and resources mentioned plus many more can be found in the Sourcing for Good Toolbox