Sourcing Is So Simple!

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Dec 12, 2012

Editor’s note: This is adapted from something I wrote this summer on my personal blog. I thought it was appropriate based on a conversation I had at a networking meeting about how sourcing is easy. 

“I could do your job.”

Have you ever had someone say that to you before? I don’t get that a ton anymore (though many people do think they could write every day). When I was a recruiter, I got it all of the time.

“Oh, I’ve hired people before.”


“Seemed pretty easy to me.”


“Just drop the job description in Monster and sit back and play solitaire until the resumes come in.”

That’s all there is to it.

Now, I know I’ve been guilty of thinking this before about other people. Perhaps when I’ve been frustrated at a customer service person on the other end of the line, I shake my head and wonder, “How many people are unemployed and you still have a dumb, simple job that anyone can do?”

If you’ve ever tried a home improvement project, you probably had that feeling right before you screwed something up. “This is so easy,” you think to yourself. Then you’re back at The Home Depot buying another door knob because you somehow broke the other one. That’s not necessarily based on a true story.

I also think back to this quote from one of my favorite movies Office Space:

“You know what I can’t figure out? How is it that all these stupid, neanderthal mafia guys can be so good at crime, and smart guys like us can suck so badly at it?” — Michael

In our quest for answers, the simplest answer isn’t always the right one. But they are often the most attractive. For example, many jobs that seem easy on the surface have a lot of specialized skills involved. When someone isn’t doing a great job helping me out, it is easier to think that the person is just incompetent. What may more often be the case is a bad training programs, bad systems, bad managers or a bad company. In fact, that is usually much more frequently the case.

As sourcers, you’ve probably heard it more than I have. I know a lot of people still remember being called junior recruiters and there’s no need to revisit that. But I can tell you that when I talk to sourcers–whether it is an individual or a leader of a sourcing function–there is a whole level of strategy and competency that takes years to master. Years!

When I watched this video yesterday on Google Hangout’s with SourceCon Dallas presenters Tasha Bergson-Michelson and Glen Cathey (along with Nick Whiteman), I was reminded again that just because something is simple in broad context, doesn’t mean it makes it easy to understand and execute.

Simplicity is great and wanting to break down what sourcers do into manageable, understandable parts can make sense, but it can also lead to some really flawed assumptions. Those assumptions can get in the way of understanding the true nature of the work at hand.

That “easy” job is actually difficult. You and I can’t do as many things as we think we can do. You can be smart but still be a bad crook. I can be smart and still churn out bad chocolate chip cookies. Simple jobs hide deeper competencies, understanding and issues.

It’s simple: not everything is simple.

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