So, What is a Sourcer?

There is a dinner party that I go to on the first Saturday of the month that friends of mine throw. They invite numerous people and usually do a potluck, and we always get a great group of diverse people. The usual small talk always ensued with new people fluttering around the food and the particular drinks to fuel the need to talk to someone face to face instead of on a social media site. The practice of dinner parties seem to have died off since I was a kid, so the return of getting to eat meals and make new friends, and contacts, is a great experience.

Small talk has always bothered me. I like to get to the heart of the issue or have an esoteric conversation on the merits of Chaucer’s writings or what did Shakespeare really meant with his plays. I normally do not get this, though. What I always get, usually, by the third line of the conversation is, “so what do you do for a living?” This, in the adult word, is the same generic question that kids get at parties or gatherings, “what are you studying in school?” It’s meant to be an icebreaker I guess, but no one really cares about what you do or are studying. They just don’t know how to ask good leading questions. But hey, they are not recruiters, right?

My standard answer is that I am a recruiter/sourcer and have been in the business for some years. EVERYONE knows what a recruiter is but then the follow-up question normally is, “what’s a sourcer, exactly?”

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The Answer?

Well, as Sherlock Holmes would say, there is the rub. Before I give you my answer I want you to take a moment and think about what your answer would be and then I will let you know my thoughts…

Go on, take a minute, ok got it yet? Good.

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Now it’s my turn to tell you, after 18 years in this business, I think we are researchers, in a way, we are the modern day Sherlock Holmes. We deduce things differently than other folks do and that is just a special way of thinking.

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I was at a conference a few weeks ago where Steve Levy did a live sourcing session and showed, with natural language, searches on Google. The results were stunning as search engines are beginning to simplify searches in order to obtain information. What a sourcer does is, or at least how I see it, research, digging deeper into the farthest reaches of the internet to find that diamond hiding in a coal vein by using Boolean strings that accurately find the right information with little white noise stopping clogging the results. They find the unfindable in order to help the client facing recruiter make that deal soar and get a placement done. The detectives use more than just Google now, they use sites like Bing, DuckDuckGo, Dogpile and my new favorite Wolfram Alpha for different algorithms. We are time takers and givers of computational information and disseminating that information to give the best results to our clients.

The sourcer is the bringer of knowledge and the oracle of information to any department and are the go to person for both recruiters and social media mavens alike. Yes, we are a special breed of thinkers and searchers of knowledge that has a unquenchable thirst to find the unfindable and share the knowledge we disseminate to the world.

We are the learners of the world, always willing and wanting to try the newest tool or extension, then share our findings with each other. We are grandmasters, Boolean ninjas, and newbies just beginning. Twice a year we gather somewhere in the US to teach and learn from one another at Sourcecon and it is always magical. I do hope to see you there and if you have never met me and you want to chat, please say hello, I love conversations and meeting new people with a different story to tell. Come and share your stories with me in Anaheim. #truestory

Derek Zeller draws from over 20 years in the recruiting industry. The last 16 years he has been involved with federal government recruiting specializing in the cleared IT space under OFCCP compliance. Currently, he is the Director of Recruiting Solutions for Engage Talent. He has experience with both third-party agency and in-house recruiting for multiple disciplines. Using out-of-the-box tactics and strategies to identify and engage talent, he has had significant experience in building referral and social media programs, the implementation of Applicant Tracking Systems, technology evaluation, and the development of sourcing, employment branding, and military and college recruiting strategies. Derek currently lives in the Portland area. Now, he is the Director of Recruiting Solutions and Channels with Engage.

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