Sourcers: Don’t Be a Tool

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Nov 17, 2011
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

I will never forget the few moments I spent with Bryan Starbuck (founder of TalentSpring, now Talent Technology) in San Diego in 2010 when he shared one of my favorite analogies that I still quote today:

“Sourcing can never fully be automated. Think about it this way: whether you are digging with a shovel or a backhoe, there still has to be a human being involved in some capacity – either moving the shovel or controlling the backhoe.”

That being said, anyone who denies that there are significant parts of sourcing that can be automated today is living under a rock. There really isn’t any need to spend hours upon hours writing complex Boolean strings – there are tools that can do that for you. There are marketing tools that you can use to draw people to you and endear them to your company, your brand, your opportunity. There are organizational tools that you can use to categorize your prospects and remind you that you need to stay in touch with them or that they’d be a good fit for this opportunity or that one.

Are you a tool? I don’t think so. So stop being a tool, and start using them instead.

Use Tools, Don’t Be One

The role of sourcer has changed dramatically even since I started sourcing way back in 2002. Those who’ve been around even longer than that know how much it changed even before then. Back when I started, there was no LinkedIn (can you imagine!?) or Facebook; there was no Twitter and “social media” could be defined by Yahoo Groups and listservs. There were no Boolean string automation tools or Google Plus circles.

Sourcers had to BE the “tools” – we had to peel back web sites and scour the Internet for membership directories if we wanted to find the elusive “passive candidates.” Our time was spent on the search and not on the engagement.

Today, things are drastically different. We can create Facebook pages to entice our target audience to check out our awesome opportunities. We can use Boolean automation tools to cut down on the amount of time we spend searching websites for contact information. Or we can use scraping tools to do that, too. We can automate tweets and responses (to a certain degree without compromising authenticity).

Today, we are no longer the tools. So it’s important to use them, and spend the time they save us making human connections instead.

There’s No One “Magic Tool”

Belief that there is one magic tool that will automate all your sourcing activities is like thinking there is one magic cure for all the world’s illnesses. It doesn’t exist, and if it did it would more likely kill us than cure us. Different tools are designed for different uses, and you have to make sure that you’re using them appropriately and that you’re choosing the right ones to suit your needs in the first place.

For example, Shannon Van Curen recently wrote an article comparing four Facebook apps that can be used in sourcing: BranchOut, BeKnown,, and PoolDip. Each of these tools is slightly different from the other, has a slightly different target user, and a slightly different end goal in mind for those who choose to use them. There was one left out though – Jobvite’s Facebook recruiting app.

Different from its Work With Me tool, right now this new app is still in beta with select Jobvite customers and the people who will install it over the next few weeks are primarily employees of Jobvite’s customers. These companies can have employees download the app, and the app will match jobs to people they know in-network. Users instantly see new jobs they want to check out, and they can apply or share them right on Facebook. According to,

“Once a match is found, job seekers can apply completely within Facebook, using a resume as well as their profile. The status of the application can be tracked throughout the process, and users have the option of joining the talent network of a company to learn about new openings first.”

The importance of a tool like this is that it complements yet another resource – Facebook itself. (Mark Tortorici discussed the importance of mixing and matching different resources for optimal output in his recent SourceCon presentation.) A major difference between this new app and other job-seeker/employer apps on Facebook is that it does not ask people to replicate their existing networks and join yet another network — it uses profiles already developed on Facebook. Also, it starts with Jobvite’s customer’s employees and their networks, having them share their jobs instead of asking job seekers to come and sign up. This indicates that it might be more appropriate to use for passive, proactive sourcing than for attracting active job seekers.

This is not for everyone (obviously, since not everyone is a Jobvite customer!) but it’s one tool that sourcers certainly should consider.

Don’t Let Yourself Be Used as a Tool

On a final note of advice, sourcers: don’t allow yourselves to become just a tool to your recruiting counterparts. You are a strategic part of the entire recruitment process – not just a machine to pump out lead lists. By mastering the use of these and other tools, you will be able to show your peers that you, in fact, are not a tool. Rather, you are a tool driver and an important component in your company’s recruitment organization – because there always needs to be someone in the driver’s seat!

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