Sourcing In The 21st Century

This blog originally appeared on UK Sourcers site:


“Sourcing is the proactive searching for qualified job candidates for current or planned open positions; it is not the reactive function of reviewing resumes and applications sent to the company in response to a job posting or pre-screening candidates. The goal of sourcing is to collect relevant data about qualified candidates, such as names, titles and job responsibilities.” (From the US based organization SHRM, the Society of Human Resource Management) To better understand where we are; let us take a gander back at where we began. I can recall reading of recruiting in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Individuals (let’s call them Candidates) would document their skills, experience and education on a piece of paper, usually with a typewriter. These resulting documents were called Resumes or CV’s. These CV’s were handed out, snail mailed and dropped off in the hopes that someone (let’s call them Employers) who needed their combination of skills, experience and education would find them. The fax machine expedited the process, allowing for further distribution, slightly increasing the chances of a match of Candidate and Employer, resulting in a Job.


People called Recruiters, figured out in the 1970’s, that if they could convince Candidates to create these CV’s they could actively market said Candidates to prospective Employers. For a fee of course. Some of the, shall we say, nerdier Recruiters leveraged whatever technology that was available to expedite the finding of the Candidates and the distribution of the CV’s. Fax machines got better, lists were found, cold calling became prevalent. Phone systems were developed with automated directories, Recruiters “hacked” them.


Services were developed, like CD-ROM’s with lists of gathered potential Candidates. I started in recruiting about then. Email was starting to take hold. Once a month the new CD-ROM was delivered and we all clambered for it. Of course the data was six months old
when we got it, but it was DATA. We’d add it to our lists and our organized file cabinets of organized CV’s. It was wonderful. It was cutting edge. And recruiting stabilized a bit. But some of the nerdier of the nerdy Recruiters, got really good at finding Candidates using the available technology. We’ll call them Sourcers.

So, you have the Data that leads to Candidates and the delivery mechanisms, whether it be fax, or email, or snail mail or hand delivered; and that’s about how it has stayed. Continued stabilization.

Throughout the 1990’s and the 2000’s, new sources of Data evolved and new delivery mechanisms evolved, but the basics of the whole thing didn’t really change.

Well, here we are 2013. I was quite hoping we’d have flying cars by now, or at least rocket packs. But less those wonders, we have connectivity. For the first time in human history, we have access to real-time Data. Gobs and gobs of it! Everyone on this planet can be found and categorized according to some basic qualification.4

Now the rub… how to leverage all of that. The job boards are still here. They are a continuation and automation of the delivery mechanisms of ye olden times, but Social Media allows us to message individuals and contact them in new ways. So that’s better right? Sure, it’s a step forward, but isn’t it just another delivery mechanism?

I was speaking to a technical architect the other day whose skills are in high demand. She’s been recruited extensively throughout her career. She joined LinkedIn to network with other technical architects and she joined Facebook to stay in touch with friends and reunite with long lost ones. But she explained that something has been happening the last year or so, something she didn’t expect. Showing me her LinkedIn inbox, there were 236 messages from recruiters. She logs into it monthly now and deletes them. Via Facebook, she gets friend requests from… recruiters, and messages suggesting that there are opportunities to network… with recruiters. It’s driven her away from social media to say the least. Social Media, with all its promise, has become another delivery mechanism.

I’ve been working on Talent Intelligence, an offering from Avancos that uses the abundance of data now available to us to identify a candidate pool. Slicing and dicing this data allows for companies to make strategic decisions on where to recruit and how best to approach candidates. Analyzing this data and its flow allows for the creation of unique, purpose driven Talent Pools. Our clients use this Intelligence to determine business growth, market expansion… the options are nearly endless.

How can we do such a thing? Come visit us at the Discover Sourcing event and find out how…

Images from Sam Howzit, Seattle Municipal Archives, Bohman and chumsdock on Flickr



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