Are You Unconsciously Competent as a Sourcer?


How do you tell your ____________ what you do for a living? Whether it’s recruiting or sourcing, or (gasp) headunting, it’s always an interesting conversation. To see ourselves through the eyes of others, so they can truly understand.

Do you have a sourcing process map? Seriously, do you know your process well enough to create a visual representation of it? It’s critical for those of us who educate and train our teammates. It’s even critical for those who are ahead of the so-called curve in sourcing. Because we only truly reach conscious competence when we can clearly and simply explain what we do to others. 


It could be as simple as these five sourcing steps below:

1. Create Candidate Persona from Intake Session

  • Background
  • Competitors
  • Daily Job Motivators
  • Career Motivators
  • Online Footprints
  • Sources of Trusted Data

2. Search Applicant Tracking System (ATS)
3. Search Candidate Relationship Management System (CRM)
4. Reach out to Internal Referral Influencers
5. Social Network and Discussions

Article Continues Below
  • Linkedin
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • GitHub
  • Stack Overflow
  • Meetup
  • User Groups

People don’t scale. Intelligence doesn’t inherently scale. Experience doesn’t naturally scale. But the process to gather that intelligence can be taught to your team. How you’re doing that, is almost as important as just doing it.

Are you fishing, or teaching people how to fish? More importantly, are you teaching others how to THINK like a fish? Not just in a way that makes sense to experienced sourcers, but so they can understand on their terms. I don’t think I’ll ever consider my education complete, and I’m always learning.

How do you truly become a master? By remaining a student.

image credit: PGBailey on Flickr

Bryan Chaney is director, employer brand, Indeed. He has worked in recruitment, technology, and marketing, providing him insights into the marketing of hiring, the importance of technology and the buying process that candidates make when applying for jobs. He’s an international speaker and trainer on the topic of recruitment and talent branding and loves to travel. Find him at @BryanChaney



5 Comments on “Are You Unconsciously Competent as a Sourcer?

  1. Bryan, those quadrants are a nice way to depict this, and I like how you
    included the “educate and train” colleagues comment, because I find
    that to be one of the best ways to insure you stay current. Ironically
    enough, once you get to quadrant 4 on enough methods, you don’t always
    remember to use them regularly enough to stay current on them. By
    having to train others on them, however, you force yourself to remember
    what was good about them and, in the course of showing the methods in
    context on an actual search during a training, the questions and
    comments often lead to tweaks to improve (or sometimes you find out the
    site or method that the technique depends on doesn’t work anymore or in a
    way that requires developing a workaround). So the process of
    re-mastery is a key part of the continuous learning with which you aptly
    conclude your post. BTW, good fundamentals covered in your “five
    sourcing steps.” They overlap some of the 12-step sourcing structure
    that Shally and I developed about 6 years ago as part of the sourcing
    fundamentals class we taught back when we were in the same sourcing
    training firm. I’m sure he’s tweaked it since, but ping me if you want
    the original version of that specific slide with the 12 steps and associated sourcing channels listed.

    1. I agree @Glenn Gutmacher:disqus. The tough thing about the learning process is not to tell yourself that you know all there is to know. I used to teach G+ sourcing and would direct people to Imagine my surprise when the site went down several months ago! Continuous practice, continuous learning. I would love a copy of the slide if you can send it to

  2. Great topics and depiction. I really like the analogy of fishing vs teaching other people how to fish. That’s something I’ve used a few times in the past to describe certain roles in explaining what I do. I think we always need to be aware that there are times we fish, and times we teach other people how to fish, and times we learn how to fish. A good rule of thumb I have working with my teammates and peers — once someone learns a new skill/trick/tool, they HAVE to teach someone else that same skill.
    We are always learning, and as pointed out already, sometimes we forget to take what we learn and apply and use it, because we are already moving on to the next new thing to learn. I hate to say slow down the learning of new things, but I try to pace myself and really work hard to apply that new tool/skill I learned so that it I can move into that bottom left quadrant and truly become unconciously competent with it.

    1. I actually find that alternating between conscious and unconscious competence is one of the best ways to stay sharp and self aware. If you can’t teach it, you don’t know it.

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