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May 24, 2017
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

For your colleagues who have worked in the sourcing field for a number of years and been to past SourceCons, or have yet to attend, but looked at the agenda, and said to themselves, “been there, done that,” you can promise they’ll walk into a new world by coming to the newly-added Programmers Track in Austin this September.

So what’s this about? When sales, product development or some other money-making part of your company needs coding done, they just say to put a few software engineers on the project and make it happen. And it gets funded and done. Now, what if recruiting, heck, HR overall, asks for the same help? Do you hear the crickets? Good luck getting IT resources to help HR unless (maybe) it’s to fix the ATS or HRIS monster, and only then, you had to go through approval hoops for who knows how long to get authorization to work with some outside vendor because you lack the resources in-house to address it.

So what does that mean for recruiting that’s generally considered a cost center and consistently underfunded? If you want a tech solution, you have to own it. And who are the most technical people in HR? Sourcers!

Have you ever coded a solution to sourcing or recruiting-related problem where you had to do something beyond what your tools give you out of the box? Not many out there. And of those who have, I bet none knew how to code that kind of solution a few years ago.

But for those of you who haven’t put your toes in this water yet, where this kind of sourcer-as-programmer thing is new, and outside your skill set today, you have hope. Because none of these super-smart sourcer-coders had that ability more than a few years ago, either. This is a new skillset in our field. That’s why it’s exciting. In a relatively short time, you can be there, too. And you will add incalculable value to your recruiting operations because you can’t afford all the right software, and you’re going to come upon situations where your off-the-shelf tool can’t quite do what you need, anyway. Plus, you know the needs far better than any outside software company ever will, being closer to the grass roots operations than even your own HR management to know what problems need solving. But now you’ll be able to custom code the solution.

So enough intro on why this is valuable, let’s get to it! In this new five-session SourceCon track, we’re going to demystify and remove the initial barriers that have probably prevented you, usually the most technical person in the room, other than the developers, from making that career-altering leap into the coding side of sourcing. With the fundamentals you’ll pick up in the Programmers Track, you’ll be on your way to knowing where the right free resources are, what else you need to learn, where to learn it, which of your peers to talk to, etc., to fill the gaps. You may not end up coding every day, but often enough to make a noticeable difference for yourself and your team.

With some help from Shannon Pritchett at SourceCon, I’ve put together an all-star set of sourcers who actually know how to code. We’ll start with how to get your free, full-featured coding environment on your regular computer (Apple or Windows) and cover real, sourcing-relevant examples in a range of languages, including VBA (don’t let anyone tell you Excel macros aren’t still incredibly useful and flexible), Python (quickly has risen to become a top choice), Bash, Ruby, Chrome extensions in Javascript (another flexible favorite), and more.

You’ll learn from past SourceCon Grandmaster, Kameron Swinton (he and I are teaming up for session to get you started), then we’ll take it up a notch with Donato Diorio (many of you veterans will remember him as the founder of Broadlook Technologies and their pioneering sourcing software, but he’s moved on to other interesting stuff) and Shannon Myers (yes, women sourcers code, too), and then hold onto your seats as we shift into hyperdrive with the sessions by next-generation sourcing tech superstars (remember you heard it from me first!) Tom Ordonez and Morgan Allen. I’ve even lined up some other megawatt sourcing coders who couldn’t present in this track to make some of their examples free on Github (and if you or someone you know has something along those lines to share, from a simple script to a full-on application, let me know)! In the meantime, feel free to join the Sourcers Who Code group on Facebook, founded by SourceCon spring 2017 hackathon winner, Susanna Conway.

When I came up with the idea for SourceCon Labs in 2009 to provide a hands-on component to the conference that was missing at the time, it quickly became SourceCon’s most popular track. Numbers aren’t my goal this time, but filling another missing niche in the education and respect of the sourcing profession is. I look forward to your attending in September and tell me candidly if lightning has struck twice or not.

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