Five Things I’ve Learned From Sourcing as I Depart SourceCon

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Apr 12, 2013
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

The last ever dolphins message was misinterpreted as a surprisingly sophisticated attempt to do a double backward somersault through a hoop whilst whistling “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but in fact the message was this: “So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish.”

—Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Today is my last day as editor of SourceCon (and at ERE Media) and it has been a pleasure to have served you all. The search for a new caretaker for SourceCon is already underway, and if you have any questions, you can reach out to Ron Mester directly. John Zappe will be taking over as editor in the interim as they look for a full-time replacement.

While my sign off won’t be nearly as timeless as my predecessor’s, I wanted to share with you something a sourcing insider can’t tell you: anyone can learn a lot from sourcing.

I know this because I was about as far from an insider as there was when I took the helm from Amybeth 14 months ago or so. I knew I couldn’t come at the editor position with the attitude of an insider so I came to it from an outsider. I listened to what sourcers were working on and were interested in, and I tracked down those stories. When it came to putting together a conference, I read past reviews and tried to bring my own eye for speakers to the table.

I expected all of that. What I didn’t expect was to learn much more and that it would be applicable to where I’m going in my career (decidedly not sourcing). So what did I learn?

1. Look beyond the obvious

It’s the tagline for SourceCon and a philosophy many in our sourcing community share. For me though, it will always be about trying to think differently about seemingly ordinary stories.  Whether it be a story about a new product, an interesting idea from a conference session or just my basic assumptions about what people know about recruiting and sourcing, look beyond the obvious has been with me throughout.

2. When stuck, reframe your search and mindset

Sometimes, I’ll be looking for answers to my questions and I’ll hit a dead end. Instead of thinking about how I am searching, I’ll just keep trying to go down the same path in a slightly different way. I’m hoping for a different answer but that doesn’t happen. It’s about that time that I remember that I need to back my mind all of the way out of the problem and rethink the way I am approaching the problem solving. It may seem simple, but doing research poorly is a tough habit to break.

3. Your research doesn’t end, it just changes venues

I forgot who I heard this from but someone told me that the longer they source, the better they are at that extracurricular sourcing. You know, overhearing conversations you would just tune out about jobs or bosses or skills. As I’ve grown as SourceCon editor, I’ve found my job is easier because my mindset was better tuned to what I was researching. I’ve approached strangers who were talking about recruiting at an airport to get their take on something. That’s what good sourcers do, too.

4. Innovators don’t necessarily know that’s what they are

I was talking to someone about a type of collaboration they were doing between their hiring managers, recruiters and sourcing team. It was quite different than what I had heard anybody doing (and this was after a year of trying to talk to every sourcing person in our space). They were surprised that nobody had done it before because it seemed like it was common sense. It helped me ask better questions about how people are doing things to uncover interesting, undiscovered ideas.

5. Never stop sharing

A room full of sourcers is a good place to be if you want to learn about sourcing. You know what I never heard in all of my questions (and I had a lot)? “I can’t tell you that.” It has led to the growth of this newsletter and conference and will continue to drive it forward but only if you continue to share. The knowledge exchanged in our community is ginormous and we’ve only just scratched the surface.

I’m looking forward to continuing on in my journey with The Starr Conspiracy and I hope to see many of you at SourceCon when it comes up to my neck of the woods here in Seattle. Feel free to reach out to me if you need anything.

And thanks for all the fish.

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