Overcoming my inadequacies as a sourcer

Once upon a time, not that long ago, I was told by my manager during my quarterly review that I was not sourcing enough.

At the time, I was working for a start-up with a great ATS, but the small business edition of it didn’t allow me to add all the candidate sources I would have liked; so when my manager looked at the source of my candidates they couldn’t really see the difference between the candidates I had sourced and the candidates who had applied. Asking me would have very quickly cleared that up. Nevertheless, the question wasn’t asked and that created in me a deep-seated feeling of inadequacy as a sourcer.


I’m labelled as a non-tech recruiter. While I have recruited for a variety of tech roles, from helpdesks, sysadmin, front-end devs, localisation, full-stack devs to R&D engineers, the core of my recruitment experience has been sourcing for “soft-skills” type of roles: digital marketing, sales, client success in the online space.


While digital marketing people are easy enough to source for (they actually hangout online and talk about their work), sales people are not.


Now, if you’re looking for inbound sales people, finding them online will be easier as part of their job is marketing, so they will go on social media and either share or post content that is relevant to their job. They even usually attend conferences and meetups since their role requires the clients to come to them. That’s a BIG difference to outbound or new business sales people.


Chloé from 2020 can see that companies now seem to split their sales teams into lead gen/business development and sales, however, at the time when sales recruitment was my core job, I was looking for people who would be doing the full sales cycle, from lead gen to closing. The sales team were small and the marketing-generated leads were few and far between.


Also, at the time, the companies I worked for were not household names and salaries were at best not competitive and at worst way below market average. Add to that the language requirements and the absence of relocation package and you’ve got a pretty hardcore recruitment task in front of you.


Remember that only the people who agree to talk to you make it into the ATS, so when you do your reporting, what matters the most? How many profiles you’ve found? How many people you’ve contacted? How many people have replied to you? How many people have agreed to talk to you? Or the end results, what’s the source of the people you’ve hired.


Up until that fateful quarterly review, I was only looking at the number of hires versus the number of roles open in the same quarter and the number of referrals hired. I had been working really hard on attracting candidates through my job ads, the content I shared on social media, networking, blogging and embedding myself into the sales teams to get referrals. Suddenly my world was turned upside down. Outbound sourcing mattered more than inbound candidates.


So… What now?

I had been a full time sourcer for a grand total of 3 weeks in my career. If I had less than 15 roles open at any given time, it was a slow week. I worked with a recruitment coordinator in one of my jobs who was scheduling the onsite interviews, but that came quite late in my tenure there and I was still drafting all the contracts. I know I should learn Python to automate shit and that I should really learn to scrape data off the internet, but I never really had the time to dedicate to that learning. It’s weeks of learning that we’re talking about, not a couple of weekends. And once again, my sales roles don’t lend themselves very well to data scraping: lack of online presence (unless we’re talking managers and directors), inconsistent job titles (if I tell them I’m an account manager, that scares the prospects less) and lack of hard skills (if you’re using your social profile to sell, chances are you’re not going to detail your targets and the split between new business and repeat business).



What did I learn?

  1. Reporting to someone who hasn’t recruited in years sucks. You will have to educate that person as much as the hiring managers on what the realities of recruitment are in [insert year].
  2. I’m doing absolutely fine sourcing candidates online. While I’m not a sourcer per se, I’m still in the pick of bunch when it comes to sourcing recruiters.
  3. Sourcers are gregarious and they’re happy to share their knowledge with the less knowledgeable among us (but they won’t spoon feed you).
  4. I’m not a sourcer, I’m a recruiter. While it would be cool to know how to scrape data and to automate everything, this is simply not the core part of my job. If the business wants a sourcer, they should hire one.