Editor’s Note: Earlier this month, we crowned a new SourceCon Grand Master, Kameron Swinton. I recently caught up with Kameron to discuss his background and the SourceCon challenge.
How long have you been sourcing? How did you get started?
I’ve been sourcing since 2005. One of my first jobs out of college was in a sales role for a market intelligence company. I had been there only a short time when one of our clients asked if we could build a list of the top supercomputer locations and identify the systems administrators. This was a very uncommon project and my boss tasked me with figuring out how to make it happen. I had no instructions, no idea where to get started, but this sounded like fun! I immediately jumped into a web browser to do some research and I was off to the races. I started making calls, asking questions, and putting the pieces together. Within a few days I had nearly finished the list and our clients were ecstatic. This sleuthing project had unknowingly uncovered a passion. I had no idea at the time that I had just dabbled in sourcing or that a few months later it would become my profession. The rest is history.
Do you currently work as a sourcer or a recruiter?
I currently work as a Talent Sourcer for Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise Division, a 17,000 person organization which produces nearly a ¼ of Microsoft’s total revenues ($20B). I’m sourcing and engaging passive cloud talent, an ultra-competitive niche with a small but growing number of qualified candidates. I work from my home in San Diego and spend my time sourcing top talent for my dream company.
Have you ever competed in a SourceCon challenge before?
I have followed the SourceCon challenges for many years. I had a lot of fun competing in the 2011 Sourcecon challenge to build a Google Custom Search Engine. While I didn’t win the challenge, I continue to modify and use the CSE I built back then. Since this was my first time attending Sourcecon (in person), I really wanted to make sure I had a seat at the table for Grandmaster challenge.
What was the hardest part about the challenge you just won?
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Where to start??? Hmm…there were so many factors that combined to make this challenge difficult. First, the competition was stiff. The challengers included Jim Schnyder and Irina Shamaeva (both prior challenge winners) and some amazing sourcers in Randy Bailey and Amie Ernst…a very intimidating group to say the least. Second, the competition was held in the middle of the SourceCon After Dark party. We were surrounded by loud music and a crowd of curious onlookers. It made it very hard to hear the clues and even harder to focus. Maybe the hardest part though was knowing where to start and not giving up. Sometimes the easiest clues can be the hardest to find. I could tell my challengers were making progress and I was determined not to get discouraged.
What skills do you think came in most handy during the competition?
Being that this was my first challenge, I was prepared for anything. Coming in I imagined this would require some deep web, complex Boolean queries to unearth the solution. While this was only partly true, what really came in handy was my knowledge of various social media sites (including some relatively obscure ones). All of the clues finally led me to a Tumblr page searching for a specific profile that was reblogging their content. I could feel that I was very close but I knew my competitors couldn’t be far behind. I was familiar with Tumblr, knew how to navigate and what to look for. After a few wrong turns, I knew I’d found the right profile but was this the winning answer? Could I have solved it? I quickly shot off an email. Uh oh, I see Jim sent an email a few minutes before. Could I have made it this far only to be a few minutes too late? Just then it was clear, they were going to make an announcement. My mind raced, my blood pumping, remember to breathe…then they called my name. I had solved the challenge! J
What are your favorite sourcing tools?
I really like to experiment, whether that means testing new sourcing tools, exploring the latest social media sites or learning from others. The challenge and the opportunity to being an early adopter of the next sourcing frontier really excites me! However…after I’ve tinkered, tested and satisfied the shiny object syndrome, I come back to the two tools where I get biggest return on my investment: our CRM and LinkedIn. It may not be the sexy answer but this is where I’ve been most successful. They’re both highly scalable, searchable, and I’ve spent a considerable amount of time to learn them inside and out.