The Power of a Proactive Strategy in Sourcing – A #SourceCon Royale Preview

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Feb 20, 2018
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

Do you remember the movie “The Matrix” where Morpheus was seeking “The One” and found the amazing hero Neo who made a difference in the war against the machines? It is a wonderful movie. I could watch it over and over again. Finding “The One” in our staffing endeavors does not need to be overwhelming, or for that matter reactive.

Take the root of reactive and put together an acronym and you could easily spell something out like this with the word REACT with a staffing subject matter in mind:

Requisition Overload


Advanced Firefighting

Cranial Overload

True Frustration

Imagine a world where your company never thinks strategically, where requisitions need to be filled yesterday, where your hiring managers are knocking on your door, or waiting in a line to get your attention. Imagine a world where you run from staffing project to staffing project and don’t have time to think. Imagine busy staffing desks with a jaw-dropping 4.1% unemployment rate nationwide, where candidates have multiple offers in hand, and more companies looking for the same labor pool than ever before.

We can quote Morpheus to Neo referring to the movie “The Matrix” again: “You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain. But you feel it….There’s something wrong….”

What if there were a better way? What if there was some approach to make this struggle less reactive and more proactive? What if? I explored this topic in my blog post a few months back.

We can find “The One” to fill every position, with a little bit of creativity, patience, and a few poignant focus points.

In my SourceCon presentation, I will explore this very topic.

But first, let us define the word proactive shall we?

“Adjective. Serving to prepare for, intervene in, or control an expected occurrence or situation, especially a difficult one; anticipatory.”


Why not come and go down the rabbit hole by taking the red pill for a proactive approach? It really will make your life better as a sourcer/recruiter.

Here is a bit of a preview and just a few tips to get ahead:

  1. A proactive approach starts with effective forecasting, and a review of trends: What were your top sources of hire? What were your top jobs getting filled? What kinds of people are most successful in your organization? Where is the labor demand in your market?
  2. A proactive approach is what separates GREAT company brands from average ones: These are companies that get ahead of the hiring forecast, that plan two, three or four steps ahead, that keep driving and realize a big picture approach to talent attraction. They are out in the community, among candidates, they are selling, they are strategically building networks. These companies have recruiters, and sourcers who get on the phone and aren’t afraid to sell and overcome objections with candidate pools BEFORE the needs and requisitions are even posted.
  3. A proactive approach is one that values employee referrals and finds a way to keep them engaged: Once a referral is made, a whole effort is made to evaluate all angles where that candidate could fit. Events, webinars, check-in calls, and a what’s in it for me messaging approach using personas helps drive the engagement before the needs arise.
  4. A proactive approach realizes that sourcing is a strategic, big picture function and keeps a continual pipeline at ready: Sourcers within this type of organization become hunters and focus their effort to building rapport in addition to finding. They are pre-closers at every stage, they set proper expectations, a “hook and hold” approach where they approach the hiring manager relationship and the candidate relationship as partnerships. It’s an approach that looks beyond the current temporary opening and thinks real-time, big picture to where the candidate could be “The One” someplace else in the organization.
  5. A proactive approach realizes that professional associations are a vital component for proactive strategic sourcing: Companies using a proactive approach are sponsors of the professional associations their industry niche is in, they espouse diversity hiring best practices, alumni groups, and are active contributors to their professional association communities. They may even sponsor events, and provide speakers there-to. Of course, finding and engaging professional associations is just one aspect. You must also be active in those communities for the long haul.

A couple of final quick tips regarding professional associations and one example:

You can find multiple professional association listings out on the open web, but Wikipedia does a pretty good job as a starting point:

If I were looking for a storage engineer with virtualization experience, I would run a search on the professional association that seemed to be at the forefront. While running a search for this very thing, I found this niche professional association: The Storage Networking Industry Association. Here’s their website:

Further, once you visit the page and do some further digging you notice this helpful tool:

It has excellent definitions about multiple storage networking industry topics and further, it defines them for you.

Under each sub-category headed by a letter, you can find all the keywords that would relate to this search.

Upon further review, you also notice certain certifications that the professional association uses to bestow a credential that shows mastery of certain key skills. I found these terms:


Using the professional association’s dictionary, I also found further keywords. Next, I created my Google string:

(intitle:resume OR inurl:resume) (“systems engineer” OR “storage engineer” OR engineer) Linux (RAID OR NAS OR SAN OR ISCSI OR Fibre) (redhat OR “Red hat” OR Linux OR unix) (virtualization OR VMWare OR VLAN OR virtual) (storage OR SNIA OR SNCP OR SCSI OR SCSE OR SCSN OR SCSA OR SCSP) -intitle:jobs -intitle:careers -intitle:job -inurl:jobs -inurl:job -inurl:careers -inurl:samples -intitle:samples


Part of being proactive is precisely this kind of exercise. By some creativity, and review of professional association website, you will uncover keywords, key attributes, certifications, etc. Now imagine if your company was a leader recognized by that professional association that not only sponsored events, workshops, certification preparation, and so much more. This creates the power behind a proactive sourcing approach and a relationship building approach.

Reading blogs, testing strings, reaching out and adding value to talent communities, and bench pools of candidates – that’s proactive. That’s why my session will be one you won’t want to miss. I hope I’ll see you there. The speaker line-up at this SourceCon is going to be phenomenal and fantastic. I am looking forward to paying forward what SourceCon has given to me.

I look forward to being part of the Welcome Wagon and seeing you in Vegas along with my co-speakers from the Purple Squirrel Track team, and the rest of the SourceCon Tribe.

I hope to see you there! Make sure you come and say hello.

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