How To Job Hunt Like a Sourcer

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Jan 25, 2024

We are living in interesting times. This is a saying that has never been as relevant as today. So much is going on in the world, and certainly in the recruiting industry. Last year, there was buzz about artificial intelligence (AI) replacing recruiters and although that has been debunked by multiple naysayers, the anxiety continues. AI will definitely upset and change recruiting processes without a doubt, but as much as that impacts the future of recruiting, the present-day status of recruiting is hindered by layoffs. Check out this quote from Forbes

Recruiters are the canaries in the coal mines, as they know what will happen before anyone else. When the job market is blazing hot, headhunters are the rockstars held in high regard and relied upon to secure the best talent for their corporate clients. However, in recent months, the white-collar job market has been plagued with layoffs at several companies in various sectors.

In a challenging economic environment, the demand for recruiting services slows down. Once companies start letting go of recruiters, it’s a sign that the firm will increase layoffs and enact hiring freezes.

That quote was from March 2023, a more recent proof that laying off recruiters is a trend can be found in a September 2023 quote from Business Insider.

The company laid off 12,000 employees in January, the biggest cuts in the history of the internet giant. The latest round of cuts affects only recruiters but includes hundreds of full-time positions at the company.

The company has slowed hiring in recent months, which has reduced its need for recruiters.

“As we’ve said, we continue to invest in top engineering and technical talent while also meaningfully slowing the pace of our overall hiring,” Courtenay Mencini, a Google spokesperson, said in a statement. “In line with this, the volume of requests for our recruiters has gone down. In order to continue our important work to ensure we operate efficiently, we’ve made the hard decision to reduce the size of our recruiting team.

The more companies layoff their workforce, the more recruiters’ livelihood is jeopardized. According to the 2023 Global Severance Research conducted by Randstad Risesmart, 96% of organizations have taken some kind of downsizing action over the last 12 months, and 92% anticipate taking further action in the next 12 months. This is a very concerning data point for the recruitment industry in general and all the more fearful for recruiters who are unemployed.

Sutton’s Law

That being said, there is still hope in finding employment opportunities. I say this as someone who has ben laid-off multiple times and managed to land on my feet each time by God’s grace and strategic exploration. I learned early on that its to my advantage to look for work with a Sourcer’s mindset and not a jobhunting mindset. For example, as a job hunter, I apply for hundreds of jobs, ask for job leads, and network ad infinitum. Nothing wrong with that! In fact, it is something every job hunter must do. However, looking for work with a sourcing mentality takes more creativity and planning. For the sake of anyone in the SourceCon community and beyond, I want to give some insights on how to approach a job search with a sourcers mentality. I call this maneuver – the Willie Sutton rationale.

For those who don’t know, Willie Sutton was an infamous bank robber. When he was interviewed by a reporter as to why he robbed banks, Sutton’s response was “Because that is where the money is.” During his forty-year robbery career he stole an estimated $2 million, and he eventually spent more than half of his adult life in prison and escaped three times. For his talent at executing robberies in disguises, he gained two nicknames, “Willie the Actor” and “Slick Willie.” Sutton is also known as the namesake of the so-called Sutton’s law, although he denied originating it. Sutton’s law states that when diagnosing, one should first consider the obvious. Let’s apply Sutton’s Law to job search.

There are a lot of companies laying off, for sure, especially tech companies. However, tech is only one industry. Are there other industries that are thriving or are projected to grow? Let’s do some research on that. I head over to and ask the question, “Which industries are projected to grow in 2024?” The AI gives me a list based on articles found online and the source of that info.

Based on the search results, several industries are predicted to grow in 2024. Here are some of the key industries:

  1. Technology: The technology sector is expected to continue driving the digital revolution and experience significant growth
  2. Renewable Energy: The renewable energy sector, including renewable hydrogen production, is projected to see exponential growth and substantial impact.
  3. E-commerce: The e-commerce industry is expected to continue thriving and shaping the future of the global marketplace.
  4. Healthcare Technology: The healthcare technology sector is poised for growth, driven by advancements in medical technology and digital health solutions.
  5. Biotechnology: The biotechnology industry is predicted to expand and create exciting opportunities in areas such as pharmaceuticals, genetic engineering, and agricultural biotechnology.
  6. Professional and Business Services: Within the professional and business services sector, industries such as employment services and computer system design are projected to experience significant job growth.
  7. Global Economy: Overall, the global economy is expected to have a positive outlook in 2024, with strong performance anticipated across various sectors.

Just for giggles, I inquire on Bing as well. It cited data You shared with me and a few other resources as well. For instance, it pointed out a Forbes article that had these points.

  • The convergence of 5G and IoT will create more opportunities than AI.
  • Edge computing will shape critical industries ranging from transport to healthcare.

Its important to note that when I made my query on Bing, my “conversation style” (see pic below) was set on “More balanced.” When I set the parameters to “More precise” I get more info that I can use. Here is a quote.

Here are some industries projected to grow in 2024:

1. Technology: The convergence of 5G and Internet of Things (IoT) will create more opportunities than AI in 20241. By 2025, 5G networks could cover one-third of the world’s population, enabling 1.2 billion connections1. This will power IoT, and by 2024, it’s predicted that there will be approximately 17.08 billion connected devices driven by smart homes and cloud computing.

2. Automotive Batteries: Due to the proliferation of hybrid and electric vehicles (HEVs), the demand for automotive batteries in the U.S. is expected to surge at a 12% annual increase, rising from a base of $7.2 billion in 2021 to reach $12.8 billion in 2026.

3. Pet Supplements: The pet supplement market achieved an impressive double-digit growth rate in 2022, increasing by 10.5% to surpass the $1.0 billion milestone.

4. Motion Pictures: Due to the ongoing expansion in streaming platforms and associated revenue throughout the industry, the US motion and picture industry is projected to grow to $153 billion in 2027, rising at a 9.3% annual growth rate during the forecast period.

5. Credit Cards: General-purpose credit card and debit card payments are expected to hit a value of $13.7 trillion in 2026, with annual gains of 8.9% from $9.8 trillion in 20222.
Please note that these are projections and actual growth may vary.

So, if these are growing industries then the companies in those fields are likely hiring to accommodate their expansion and that means a higher potential for recruiter jobs. Sutton’s law in action. If you want to go even deeper, consider this data from Statista which looked at jobs with the largest employment gains and the jobs with the biggest increase in job advertisements.

The Otis Collier Method

A very good friend of mine is a brilliant fellow named Otis Collier. We have worked together on several occasions and gained a high-level of respect as an AIRS trainer, back in the day. He once gave me a job hunting strategy that made me say… “Wow, why didn’t I think of that? Its like… so obvious and would work too.” But I digress, here is his plan, something I call “The Otis Collier Method” (Patent pending)

Step 1: Find a job that you want.

Step 2: Find out if the company has an employee referral program. (And who doesn’t these days?)

Step 3: Approach someone in the company and say, in so many words, how would you like to make a couple of bucks? All you have to do is forward my resume to your company recruiter. If I get hired, you get the employee referral bonus. If I do not get hired, its bad for me, but nothing happens to you. Its a no-risk way to earn extra cash with VERY little work.

How smart is that? I thought it was very smart. In fact, as soon as he shared that gem with me, the little hamster in my mind started running in a wheel. Does every company have an employee referral program? Hmm… The quickest (and easiest) way to find out is to go to the career section of the company I am interested in and look at their Career section. Here are a few examples on how I would do that.

Via Google:
“employee referral program” (“career rewards” OR “career opportunities”) intitle:career “employee referral”
“Our company” “we offer” “referral bonuses”

Via Indeed:
“referral program”
“referral bonus”

Via Perplexity

Prompt: “Give me examples of autoomotive battery companies that offer an employee referral bonus?”

Despite my misspelling of automotive and adding an unnecessary question mark (my bad), Perplexity figured out what I meant to say and gave me a great answer. I quote…

Several automotive companies offer employee referral bonuses. For example, VinFast is known to offer cash bonuses or other incentives to employees who refer successful hires for positions like electrical engineering. Volkswagen Chattanooga announced a $3,000 bonus for production employees and new hires, along with additional incentives such as a relocation stipend. Renesas, a semiconductor manufacturer for the automotive industry, emphasizes the importance of employee referrals and has a bonus structure in place as part of its unified referral program and processes. These examples demonstrate that employee referral bonuses are indeed offered by various automotive companies.

Okay, as much as I like Perplexity, there are other LLMs on the block. Look what I get when I query Google’s Bard for answers.

Prompt: Give me a list of 10 fortune 500 companies with employee referral bonus programs. Where possible, share the reward offered per hire.

Okay, so at this point, I know where the jobs are (or at least should be, based on growth projections) and while all employee bonus payouts are not public, most companies have one. With this in mind, I head over to ChatGPT and ask it to write emails I can use in pursuit of a job referral. These are my prompts and my results; one for when I know the reward and one when I am clueless.

Prompt #1

Your task is to write a cold email that incentivizes someone to refer me as a top candidate for a job at their company. Leverage the fact that the company has an employee referral program that pays $1000.00 per hire made by employee referral.

My qualifications:
• 5 years of experience recruiting software developers.
• I have worked for top tech companies like Google and Microsoft.
• I have multiple recommendations on my LinkedIn profile.

Frame the email as a low-risk, highly beneficial opportunity for them. Keep the tone casual. You will be penalized if the email is not compelling.

Once that is done, think like an award-winning copywriter and create a list of 10 intriguing subject lines that don’t sound like clickbait but rather a friendly outreach from a peer professional.

ChatGPT result:

Hey [Recipient’s Name],

I hope this email finds you well. I came across an incredible opportunity at [Company Name] and couldn’t resist reaching out to you. Given your expertise and our shared professional background, I believe your referral could make a significant impact.

Here’s the exciting part – [Company Name] values employee referrals and runs a fantastic Employee Referral Program. They’re offering a generous $1000.00 for each successful hire made through employee referrals. Now, I know what you might be thinking – “What’s in it for me?” Well, I’ve got you covered!

Why refer me?

1. Extensive Recruiting Experience: With 5 years of experience in recruiting software developers, I bring a wealth of knowledge to the table.

2. Tech Giants on My Resume: I’ve had the privilege of working with industry giants like Google and Microsoft, gaining insights into the best practices and innovative approaches.

3. Proven Track Record: My LinkedIn profile showcases multiple recommendations, reflecting the trust and respect I’ve earned from colleagues and industry professionals.

This is a low-risk, high-reward opportunity for you. If my application is successful, not only will you be contributing to building an exceptional team at [Company Name], but you’ll also earn a handsome reward for your referral.

I understand the value of your time, so I’ve attached my resume for a quick overview. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or if you’d like to catch up over a virtual coffee.
Looking forward to the possibility of working together and creating something amazing at [Company Name]!


[Your Full Name]
[Your LinkedIn Profile]

Subject Lines:

1. “Build the Dream Team and Earn $1000: Your Referral Counts!”
2. “Unlock $1000: Your Chance to Shape Our Team!”
3. “Help Wanted: Your Referral, Your Reward – $1000!”
4. “Let’s Build Something Great Together: $1000 Awaits Your Referral!”
5. “Calling All Connectors: $1000 for Your Next Great Referral!”
6. “Your Expertise Needed: $1000 Reward for Referring the Best!”
7. “Elevate Our Team, Elevate Your Bank Account: $1000 Awaits!”
8. “Make Your Network Work: $1000 for Your Valued Referral!”
9. “Beyond the Resume: $1000 Thank You for Your Referral!”
10. “Your Network, Your Reward: $1000 for Referring Top Talent!”

Prompt #2 (Variation of my first prompt)

Your task is to write a cold email that incentivizes someone to refer me as a top candidate for a job at their company. Leverage the fact that the company has an employee referral program with some monetary reward.

My qualifications:
• 5 years of experience recruiting software developers.
• I have worked for top tech companies like Google and Microsoft.
• I have multiple recommendations on my LinkedIn profile.

Frame the email as a low-risk, highly beneficial opportunity for them. Keep the tone casual. You will be penalized if the email is not compelling.

Once that is done, think like an award-winning copywriter and create a list of 10 intriguing subject lines that don’t sound like clickbait but rather a friendly outreach from a peer professional.


ChatGPT result:

Hey [Recipient’s Name],

Hope this message finds you in great spirits! I’m reaching out because I recently came across an exciting opportunity at [Company Name] that aligns perfectly with my background, and I couldn’t resist tapping into our shared network.

Why am I bothering you with this? Well, first things first, [Company Name] has this awesome Employee Referral Program, and I heard they value recommendations from the inside. Plus, they’re offering a nice monetary reward for successful hires through referrals.

Now, I wouldn’t ask for your help if I didn’t think it was a win-win. Here’s a bit about me:

1. Recruiting Know-How: I’ve been in the game for 5 years, specializing in recruiting top-notch software developers.
2. Big Names on the Resume: I’ve had the privilege of working with industry giants like Google and Microsoft, learning from the best in the business.
3. LinkedIn Love: If you peek at my LinkedIn, you’ll find some glowing recommendations that speak to my work ethic and knack for building stellar teams.

So, why consider referring me?

Low Risk: I’m not just another random resume. With my background, I’m confident I’d be a valuable addition to the team.
High Reward: Beyond the warm fuzzy feeling of helping a fellow professional, there’s a nice monetary reward waiting for you if my application pans out.

If you’re up for it, I’ve attached my resume for a quick peek. I’d love to chat more about the role and get your insights. Of course, no pressure – I totally get how busy things can be.
Thanks a bunch for considering, [Recipient’s Name]. Looking forward to catching up soon!

[Your Full Name]
[Your LinkedIn Profile]


Subject Lines:

1. Quick Favor? Your Referral Could Make Both Our Days!
2. “Coffee Chat? Your Referral Might Just Earn You $!”
3. “Favor to Ask: Your Referral + My Resume = Win-Win!”
4. “In It Together: Your Referral, Our Success, and Some $$$!”
5. “Quick Question: Can Your Network Help a Pro Out?”
6. “Career Move in Mind? Your Referral = Mutual Benefit!”
7. “Tap, Tap: Your Network Skills Can Pay Off Big!”
8. “Referral Request: Let’s Turn Connections into Cash!”
9. “Friendly Ask: Could Your Network Launch My Next Chapter?”
10. “Help a Colleague Out? Your Referral Comes with Rewards!”

I like the emails and several of the subject lines. So, I have more of what I need to proceed with my job hunt. Oh! You may have noticed that I used the phrase, “You will be penalized if the email is not compelling.” That’s something I picked up from a research paper that looked at ways to get better results from ChatGPT prompts. (Check out page 5 and 6.)

So all that to say, to job hunt like a Sourcer search for work among growth industries. Once done, reach out to employees of the companies you are targeting and shoot your shot. As Sourcers, it should not be difficult to find people who work for a particular company. There are plenty of tools out there, least of all LinkedIn. As to whom to reach out in the company, I’m not entirely sure. A $1,000.00 referral bonus would likely mean more to someone who is a non-executive. Then again, the economy is not in the best shape so anyone at manager level and above might appreciate an extra grand as well. Try your luck and see who bites. Its too much of a win-win strategy to ignore.

Post your comments to this article on social media and tag @sourcecon with your thoughts. I may feature them in an upcoming episode of The Source!