Everything I Learned About Sourcing, I Learned From the Movie Boiler Room

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Dec 3, 2018

One of the very first movies I loved as a young adolescent was the movie Boiler Room. This movie tells the tale of a 1990s stock trader loosely based on Jordan Belfort featuring a young Vin Diesel and the lead played by Giovanni Ribisi. We follow Ribisi’s rise from an entry-level broker to a multi-million dollar producing stockbroker before the eventual demise of the firm.

While this is not a movie review whatsoever (I’ll leave that up to Siskel & Ebert), I have always seen many similarities between the concepts of this movie and the sourcing/recruiting field as soon as I pivoted into this space. Another essential character in this film, Jim Young, the head recruiter there at fictitious stock brokerage firm J.T. Marlin, took no prisoners and took no crap. When I graduated from college, I loosely modeled my approach to the HR world after him (I was young and didn’t know better!). While his strategy would seem abrupt to many, he got massive results and could back it up. He was confident, to the point, and identified those that had the “hustle gene.”

While sourcing candidates for various jobs aren’t exactly similar to being a stockbroker, there were many common themes I picked up throughout the movie that showed a defined pathway to being a high-performing sourcer.

Always. Be. Selling.

This really is a cornerstone to any high-performing sourcer or recruiter. Being able to effectively extract someone out of a stable situation and sell them on why they need to come work for your firm/client/company is paramount to being effective at your job. In the film, you see the characters always selling a vision and an opportunity.

Also, Always. Be. Closing

This closely ties into the first point; all the action in the world does not mean anything unless you can seal the deal. Be high touch with your candidate. Connect with them in multiple ways, don’t go “in the dark,” and always be showing your company/client/department’s value proposition.

Get Comfortable On The Phone

This concept runs rampant throughout “Boiler Room,” and this is not always the easiest for new (and sometimes experienced!) sourcers. I think Greg Weinstein (played by Nicky Katt) hits the nail on the head on this concept when he says, “this entire business revolves around the phone, play the numbers this is a contact sport; meaning, the more people you contact the better you will do.” To be effective as a sourcer, you must be able to pick up the phone and make it happen.


In order to see extreme results, you have to take extreme action. The characters in Boiler Room worked their backsides off and moved fast, and they made it happen and they enjoyed the results (a bit misguided at times). You have to hustle, and you have to move fast because in most industries, in this economic climate, it really is a numbers game, and the faster you can move with that high performing applicant before they get another offer, or that passive candidate you have been extracting out of their current situation for a long while, the better.

Show The Career Pathway

This is essential, especially for the millennial crowd. Throughout the movie, the stock brokers were selling people a vision of the future to come. While this ties into some of the concepts above, showing a career pathway is key to sourcing success. Identify the “why you” when reaching out to a candidate and show that upward mobility; that ability to rise up within a company is a major selling point for millennials and can be a major key to sourcing success.


If you can get beyond some of the questionable scenes in Boiler Room, some of the concepts can really elevate your game as a sourcer so you can enjoy high-performing sourcing success.

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