The Best of SourceCon 2011, #2 — 10 Common Mistakes of Sourcing

Editor’s note: this article derived from Jennifer Hasche’s RIS presentation was the 2nd most popular article on SourceCon in 2011. It originally ran in October.

During her presentation on sourcing strategies that produce results this Monday at the Recruiting Innovation Summit, which took place at Facebook in Palo Alto, CA, Jennifer Hasche, a Senior Sourcer at Intuit, shared her list of top 10 sourcing mistakes that are typically made within a recruitment organization. These mistakes are often the cause of missing the right candidates, taking too long on a search project, not understanding your business, and most frustratingly the misuse of available sourcing talent within an organization.

Read through the following list and make sure you aren’t making these mistakes yourself!

Mistake #10: Don’t know much about history.

No, this is not in reference to the song by Sam Cooke — it’s in reference to doing your homework before going to an intake meeting. When meeting with a hiring manager, it’s good as a sourcer to know a little something about that hiring manager’s needs upfront — what the job history is, what the business unit’s future plans are, what personality the hiring manager has, who their top competitors are, and so forth. By arriving at the intake meeting prepared with some background knowledge on the situation, you’ll be able to show your hiring manager (and your recruiting partners!) what a wonderful world this could truly be. (okay… that was a bad joke)

Mistake #9: Only sourcing via social.

A huge mistake to make when sourcing is only using one type of resource. Long before the appearance of online social networks there was this magical device called the telephone. And before that there was the concept of handshakes and in-person networking. Contrary to popular belief, social networks are not the only source of finding candidates, and in fact, they are not even the best or most reliable source. When you source, make sure you vary what tools and resources you use to ensure you are finding the right people for your jobs. To take the analogy used earlier in the day by Doug Berg, fishing from the same pond all the time will wipe out your stock and give you less variety in what you catch.

Mistake #8: Too much asking and not enough recommending.

This goes back to mistake #10 — being prepared. The Boy Scout motto is “Be Prepared.” Someone once asked Lord Baden-Powell, founder of Scouting, “Be prepared for what?” He responded,”Why, for any old thing.” Hasche mentioned that team feel educated and comfortable sharing the best strategies instead of having to ask what the hiring manager thinks the best strategy would be. This goes back to being a valued and trusted advisor.

Mistake #7: Ignoring the ATS.

It’s been said by many people in our industry that the first source one should go to for candidates is the ATS. Why? Well, the individuals within you company’s ATS have either 1) already been contacted by someone in the company, or 2) already indicated that they have some interest in working for your company. (Sidenote: if you have un-contacted people in your ATS, they should actually be housed in a CRM instead… but that’s another article.) So many sourcers by-pass the ATS for the sad reason that it is not easily searchable — if this is the case for you, then you need to either re-organize, categorize, and keyword tag the candidates within your ATS, or you need to replace it with a better system that will allow you to find your own data with ease.

Mistake #6: Finding candidates only through super complex searches.

It is a badge of honor for a sourcer to find a great candidate through some obscure site or a long, complicated Boolean search query. We brag to our peers on the wacky way in which we found that individual. But guess what — hiring managers don’t really care how we find the right people; they only care that the right people are found. In this case, think ‘Occam’s Razor’ — the simplest solution is usually the correct one.

Mistake #5: Not prioritizing and re-prioritizing.

Don’t take a Pavlov’s Dog approach to your sourcing — make sure you have a way to prioritize your searches. And make sure you re-prioritize your searches frequently, because things may change internally to where you don’t even need to be working on a search. Look at your data and have conversations with your recruiting partners and hiring managers to see how urgent the need to fill a role still is; otherwise you may be working on a job that might not even be needed any more.

Mistake #4: Having a disproportionate “say-do” ratio.

What this means is make sure you are walking the talk. If you commit to a search, and in particular a specific time frame, back it up with a strategy as well as data and metrics. Track the strategy. Show your results. Provide the data. Prove that you’ve done what you said you would. This builds trusting relationships between you, your recruiting partners, and the hiring managers.

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Mistake #3: Generalizing without data.

See #3. Data is so important that it warrants two places on this list. What kind of updates are you providing to your recruiting partners or your hiring managers? Are you giving them specific information on your search activities? While it’s not necessary to spend an exorbitant amount of time tracking metrics (read: more time tracking than sourcing) it’s important to provide specific information to your partners on the progress you’re making. Again, as above, this instills trust in your hiring managers and recruiting partners.

Mistake #2: No strategic disconnection.

Have you ever stopped to check a tweet or an email that comes through and three hours later find yourself wondering what you were supposed to be doing at the beginning of the day? It’s important to block time on your calendar for various tasks. Sometimes this means minimizing or completely closing your social media windows or closing your email and only checking it at specific times during the day. Or, if you find yourself becoming distracted a lot, taking one or two days each week where you simply ignore your social technology altogether. A planned disconnect can be rejuvenating for your search if and when you schedule appropriately for it.

Mistake #1: Not documenting old school/new school strategies.

This mistake is ranked first because with no history of what works and what doesn’t, you are essentially wandering in the wilderness without a map to guide you. Some strategies will work better than others; some older methods may become outdated and some newer methods may work with some job types and not others. Some sourcing strategies can be duplicated at later dates — but it’s hard to do that if you don’t record how you first approached a search. Documentation of your and your team’s approaches is essential to learn from mistakes and successes to keep your sourcing efforts streamlined and as efficient as possible.

Take note of what mistakes listed above you are currently making and then make some adjustments to your work. The more efficient you can make your sourcing efforts, the more your work will be appreciated — and rewarded.

Check out the rest of Jennifer Hasche’s presentation as well as her slide deck by clicking here.


This week we are counting down some of the most popular articles from SourceCon in 2011. We hope you enjoy revisiting these articles as we look ahead to 2012!

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.

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