When you dissect what separates the really good sourcers from those that sometimes meet expectations you can look at how well they put together search strings, how well they understand the business and roles they work on and within, and where they go to practice their magic.
All of those will give a good picture of how competently someone can do things that they have been trained on. But if you want to get to the root of what really makes a sourcer good you have to look at things that can’t be taught.
1) Curiosity. Being constantly curious is one trait that everyone can agree is a recipe for success in trying to find the sometimes unfindable. Many of the best of the best sourcers are constantly tinkering. They are the ones who grew up taking their toys apart to see how they work and are now asking questions like:
- Wonder what will happen if you change out X for Y?
- A works on XYZ site, wonder if I change it to B if it will work on ABC and give better results?
- How / Why does that work / not work?
- How can this be done better / more efficiently?
2) Competitiveness. Many of the best sourcers (and recruiters) out there are insanely competitive. The best comparison to them outside of the recruiting world would be someone like a Kobe Bryant. You know, the guy whose drive to beat the competition had him voluntarily showing up to practice at 5am and leaving it at 7pm in high school.
These are the sourcers who are constantly the first to find the best candidates (anyone can do it once, right?) because they refuse to let anyone else beat them to the punch. They work hard at being the best they can be and soon as they hear or see a new tool or technique they will be better at it than the person who showed it to them within a week (if they didn’t discover it them self).
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3) Being interesting / funny. No matter how good a sourcer is at slinging together search strings there is going to come a point that they will have to interact with candidates, hiring managers, and recruiters and being able to have an interesting or fun conversation can mean the difference between making a great connection and being another face in the crowd.
When you look at today’s candidates who are getting bombarded with calls, texts, InMails, emails, Facebook messages, Twitter mentions, and who knows what else starting off a conversation with a laugh and end it with an interesting story can and will make the noise in the background fade away.
We can all agree there will be exceptions to any rule and there are surely some great sourcers who couldn’t make anyone laugh, don’t have a competitive bone in their body, and only know curiosity as a Mars exploration vehicle. There are also basketball players who are 5’9 and under that have played in the NBA (24 of them actually in its 69 year history, according to Wikepedia) but when you total percentage in its history the number is very low.