Breaking Down the Sourcing Function, Part 4: What Does a Sourcer Do All Day?

There are a lot of people out there in the recruiting community who have no clue what a day consists of for a sourcer. I’ve had people ask me if I just stare at my screen all day or surf websites or just sit there and basically do nothing – true story! While I do ‘stare at my screen’ a lot (been known to go cross-eyed on occasion!) when I sourced full time, what I did all day is not simply surfing websites. It’s more complicated than that, and in part 3 of this series of Breaking Down the Sourcing Function, I would like to walk you through a typical day (if that in fact even exists!) of a sourcer.

Read this quote from one of the greatest work movies of all time, Office Space, and tell me if this isn’t what some recruiters think you do all day!

Bob: You see, what we’re actually trying to do here is, we’re trying to get a feel for how people spend their day at work… so, if you would, would you walk us through a typical day, for you?

Peter: Well, I generally come in at least fifteen minutes late; I use the side door – that way Lumbergh can’t see me…and after that I just sort of space out for about an hour. I just stare at my desk; but it looks like I’m working. I do that for probably another hour after lunch, too. I’d say in a given week I probably only do about fifteen minutes of real, actual, work.

Before we get into the daily routine, let’s tackle the issue of ‘emergencies,’ which will inevitably come up from time to time. If you read Effectively Managing Your Research Projects, you’ll get a rough idea of how to organize yourself each day. Now, as any sourcer knows, you can plan the activities you want to do as much as possible, but there is always going to be something new that crosses your desk every day that will need your immediate attention. So, I think it’s a good idea to plan as much of your day as possible; but you must be willing to be flexible and take on new tasks as they come to you. Here are a couple of suggestions on how to determine what takes priority for new projects based on what I do personally:

Article Continues Below
  1. Who has given you the new assignment, and what is their track record? If the person giving you a new/urgent assignment is someone who does so on a regular basis, you may want to question the actual urgency of what they need. If it’s from someone who normally follows your procedure for submitting search requests (if you don’t have one, stay tuned!), then it’s probably something that does require your immediate attention. Also, if it is a request coming from the person who makes out your paycheck, you should probably do it first.
  2. Is the client expecting results within a given timeframe? If the client company has been promised certain results by a certain time, then it might be a good idea to bump the new assignment to the top of your list. Now, if the timeframe is a bit unrealistic, it might be a good thing to speak to the recruiter about setting realistic expectations with their clients. But if your client — who will be the one either cutting the placement fee check or making the hiring decision should you find them a good candidate — is expecting results, best to get them some.
  3. What is the amount of time you’ll need to complete the project? If someone hands you an urgent project that is going to take fifteen minutes or less to complete, then you can probably do it right then and there. If it’s a search assignment or another project that will take more than 30 minutes, then it should get FIFO’ed (First In, First Out). There is no reason to put a bunch of 5-minute assignments in sequential order; you might as well just do them and get them out of the way.

OK – now that we’ve dealt with the ‘emergency projects’ which will more than likely be a daily occurrence, let’s move on to what is actually on the plan of attack to begin with. Here’s what a normal day would look like for me:

  1. I read through my RSS feeds. This gets me up to speed on today’s goings-on. I have an RSS feed specifically for recruiting/sourcing topics. I also have several other RSS categories for business, social media, industry-specific information, and new technologies. This way I can not only stay on top of industry news and forward my coworkers good articles, but I can also find good passive candidates who might be quoted in a press release that comes through my feed.
  2. I check my emails. I check to see if any new search requests that have come in since the previous day or if there are any responses to questions I may have asked of one of my associates. At this point, a lot of people like to close down their email and not touch it again until lunchtime, or the end of the day. I recommend checking email periodically all day long due to the nature of what we do. It’s personal preference here. If you think returning email messages easily distracts you, then shut it down. But for most sourcers, email is a main method of communication so it might be to your benefit to keep it open.
  3. I look at my weekly project log. What did I decide last week that I needed to complete this week? How far have I gotten, and have the most important tasks at least been started?
  4. I look at my Search Request Forms in my inbox.  Use FIFO to complete assignments. On a good day when there are very few interruptions, you could complete 2-3 search assignments. A lot of this is dependent on the difficulty of the assignment and/or the other activities you may have to complete over the course of the day.
  5. I check my search agents and saved searches. Search agents are so important! Read this article by Cassie Denny to get some further recommendations on saved searches. In addition to saved searches within your ATS or CRM, you should also create saved searches in LinkedIn. If the results have fallen off, take some time here to tweak the search.
  6. I check in on Twitter/Facebook/other Social Media. If you are in charge of monitoring your company’s social presence, you should block of time each day to check who has been interacting. Send replies as necessary, post interesting articles, and update employee spotlights when needed.
  7. I work on organizing my database. Spend a little time each day on database organization since in large quantities it is a pretty daunting task. Breaking it down into bite-sized pieces makes it a more manageable daily task.
  8. At least once a week I try to learn something new in the realm of sourcing. This could either be through a webinar or perhaps a conversation with a more experienced sourcing mentor. Remember: if you’re not green and growing then you’re red and rotting.
  9. Other random tasks that come up from time to time: email marketing campaigns, introduction to new employees, non-recruiting related sourcing projects for your manager, corporate organization brain-storming sessions, reviewing and recommending new technology products, etc. These may not be typical daily tasks but they are worth mentioning as they do come up frequently.

So, for those of you who thought your sourcer just sits and stares blankly at their computer screen all day, think again! There are A LOT of things that sourcers do on a daily basis, not the least of which is conducting search assignments. This is just one of many tasks for which a sourcer is responsible. So the next time you think you catch your sourcer “spacing out” at their desk, they are probably just trying to re-focus their eyes after having gone cross-eyed from looking at too much information.

In the next, and final, article of the Breaking Down the Sourcing Function series, we’ll cover some common myths about sourcing – and de-bunk them. Stay tuned!

Amybeth Quinn began her career in sourcing working within the agency world as an Internet Researcher. Since 2002, she has worked in both agency and corporate sourcing and recruiting roles as both individual contributor and manager, and also served previously as the editor of The Fordyce Letter and SourceCon.com with ERE Media. She currently works as Sr. Manager, Technical Talent Sourcing for Walmart eCommerce. You can connect with her on Twitter at @researchgoddess.

Topics