Should We Rely on Sourcing Tools?

The game of cat and mouse continues with LinkedIn. If you haven’t noticed, some of our most beloved sourcing tools have temporarily stopped working on LinkedIn. This isn’t surprising news as SourceCon first reported in April that LinkedIn updated its terms of service to its Privacy Policy and User Agreement via their blog. Most damaging to our favorite sourcing tools was the update to its User Agreement:

  •  LinkedIn added clarity about the activities allowed on LinkedIn. For example, we prohibit both the act of scraping others’ content from our services and the development and support of tools to scrape LinkedIn services.

The sourcing community has seen many popular extensions come and go throughout the year. Most noticeably was and Nymeria. There will be more. In fact, sourcing tools come and go all the time. It’s a little exhausting to keep up with. This is why we have Dean Da Costa.

With each update to LinkedIn’s User Agreement and the subsequent expiration of a sourcing tool, our community is reminded that we can’t rely solely on sourcing tools. No one is preaching from the pulpit, and sourcing tools aren’t making us lazy or inefficient. Grady Booch once said, “A fool with a tool is still a fool.”

Let’s be honest; we have been suffering from an overreliance of sourcing tools for the past few years. Blaming us is hard. There is a tool for just about everything! But, will you be ready when they all disappear? I would estimate that the vast majority of us would say no. What if LinkedIn disappeared? What if Google disappeared? Can we survive? Why, yes. Yes, we can.

As an advocate for sourcing tools, I am always on the lookout for a shortcut. However, I come from a generation that starting sourcing without LinkedIn and sourcing tools. In fact, my last employer had blocked the use of Chrome Extensions altogether. This didn’t make us weak or unproductive. We were still able to effectively source candidates without 12 Chrome Extensions, four web scrapers, multiple LinkedIn Recruiter licenses and a partridge in a pear tree. It can be done, and it needs to be done.

Recruiters and sourcers need to have a solid foundation of knowledge before they are given a shortcut. We all learned how to add and subtract before we were given a calculator. Today, though inconvenient I admit, I can still do math without a calculator or cell phone. I hope you can too. Sourcing is no different.

Article Continues Below

I’m a coach at heart, and I love to teach. I’m thankful to be apart of a community that has a thirst for knowledge and works together to share information. With each departure of a sourcing tool, we have an opportunity to advance our skillset. After all, I always tell the kids that I coach in swimming, “It’s easy to swim fast when we feel great. However, we will become faster when we learn how to swim when we aren’t feeling great.” If you agree, then I encourage you to teach or seek help. We are only as strong as our weakest link.

As for our favorite sourcing tools, the ball is in your court. The community is behind you. We know you will triumph and when you do, our skills will be stronger, and we will all be better from it.


Shannon Pritchett is the editor of SourceCon. As a lifelong student in the recruitment industry, Shannon is passionate about improving it. Shannon has a diverse background in training, sourcing, international recruitment, full desk recruiting, coaching, and journalism. Shannon got her start in the recruitment industry at Vanderbilt University and later worked as a Senior Recruiter for Internal Data Resources and Community Health Systems, Social Media Recruitment Ambassador for T-Mobile USA, Director of Recruiting for Moxy, Trainer with AIRS, and last as a Manager of Global Sourcing and Training for ManpowerGroup Solutions RPO.


6 Comments on “Should We Rely on Sourcing Tools?

  1. “Today, though inconvenient I admit, I can still do math without a calculator or cell phone. I hope you can too. Sourcing is no different” – 100% agree!

    I am from pre-internet/email era of recruiting – yes, tools ease our lives but one should also be comfortable to source from outside of the ‘toolbox’ 🙂

  2. Despite being a “tool guy” I have always said you need to learn the basics because tools come and go. There is virtually nothing a tool can do you cant do without the tool. The tools just can do it quicker. I just did a webinar were I found emails for a bunch of people without tools, and yes I then showed them how to do it with tools. The tools were quicker, but again tools come and go

  3. I think it’s a matter of perspective. I have a boutique (i.e., small) staffing agency. There are two of us and some part timers. We don’t have time to write boolean strings and source. Heck, I don’t even have the time to use all the tools. If you are in a larger organization, or on a team that is specifically focused on sourcing, then a foundation is probably good.

  4. I wonder if this will ever truly turn into “learned helplessness”. I think it also depends on the person. Like you pointed out, a fool with a tool is just a fool. I think we can keep the “human” in human resources and still use tools! This is an interesting topic. Thanks for sparking the discussion 🙂

  5. Agree with minor modification… “A fool with a tool is a still a fool…. if they don’t learn how to use the tool”

    As 10K+ sourcers know, eGrabber has been developing tools for 20+ years.

    Leaders that leverage tools best are those – who convert a complex or time consuming process into a simple one using a tool, that anyone can be trained to use. Then they hire lots of juniors to do senior level work for them.

    “A smart researcher using a right automation tool, has a chance to beat a much smarter researcher who doesn’t use tools”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *