Living Out Simplicity in Sourcing

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Aug 2, 2016
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” – Confucius

“Sourcing is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” – Me

Having been around the recruiting world for a very, very, very long time (let’s just say I had hair when I started), I have seen my fair share of fads, tools, and ideas come and go but the one thing that has never quit working is a sourcing strategy that stays simple.

While some might put together sourcing diagrams that take 30 minutes to explain and six years to get through all of the steps I prefer the following –


  • Know what you are looking for. This is where it all starts – if you don’t understand this you might as well pack it up and go home. The absolute minimal information needed here includes an understanding of the job, the variations the hiring manager is willing to consider, deal breakers for the hiring manager, companies to go after, companies to stay away from, and job titles to target.
  • Start with low hanging fruit. This could easily go down the whole sourcing snob conversation if we let it but for today consider this – your hiring manager could care less if you find a really good candidate from a job board database so use them if they are available.
  • Move on to (somewhat) passive candidates. Generally speaking, LinkedIn is still a sourcers best option for reaching candidates that (sometimes pretend) to be passive.
  • Move on to open web & social media search. Open web search can be a great way of finding a needle in a haystack, but why start there if you can find everything you need in a quicker and easier fashion? Again – your hiring managers are NOT going to care where your candidates come from.



 Know why your company and the team you are working with is the place to be. If you don’t know what you are offering and why a candidate should be interested don’t even bother.

  • Don’t be THAT guy. As sourcers, we are not living out Glengarry Glen Ross and Alec Baldwin is not going to walk through the door to tell you coffee is for closers.
  • If you present yourself as a recruiter/sourcer your responses will stink. No one likes recruiters (outside of recruiters) – pounding them over and over with the fact that you are one of “them” will hurt your chances.
  • Make it personal. You don’t need to know their spouse’s birthday to do effective personal outreach, but you do need to know basics about them to make it work. Things like where they live, where they went to school and interests / hobbies (if they are listed) are enough to give you the ammunition you will need.
  • Make them laugh. If you can make someone laugh you will greatly improve your chances of having success with them throughout the process. You don’t have to be Seinfeld, Chappelle, Pryor, or Murphy – you just need to find little ways to get a chuckle out of people.


So if one of your business / recruiting partners asks what your strategy is you don’t have to break out a super complex diagram like in this scene, you can simply say:

  • You begin with an understanding of what the search really entails and why candidates who work in that space should be motivated to talk to your organization.
  • Next, you search for active candidates from job boards and other resume databases (including your ATS) to get some top candidates into play quickly.
  • At the same time, you search for passive candidates from LinkedIn and use your knowledge of the area to sell candidates on the opportunity and bring them to the table.
  • As you are finishing up with the previous two, you start diving into the open web and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to find candidates that are off the beaten path.


If all that fails, which it won’t if you work if correctly done, you can always refer back to SourceCon to make sure you have all of your bases covered and read up on the latest and greatest.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.