Thoughts on Building a New Sourcing Team by @christofoomurr

In a span of just two decades, the recruiting and HR industry gave birth to the high-tech sourcer. Many firms now dedicate much of their time to nurturing and growing sourcers due to the major acquisition benefits this hi-tech-focused class of hunter provides. A lot of effort goes into finding a great sourcing team. Many organizations now employ sourcers who work stealthily behind keyboards, either tapping away at boolean strings or exploiting information vulnerabilities available on the Deep Web. There are many advantages to their technical toolset, and they have become very effective players despite their often quiet, calculating demeanor.

Pairing such a young discipline with a quickly evolving knowledge base makes building a capable sourcing team one of the biggest challenges hiring managers face. As a result of the ever-changing web space, an applicant’s age seems to have little to do with sourcing adeptness. Whereas a late-thirties HR director would get hung up emphasizing procedure and therefore miss nuances only evident to front-line sourcers, a person in his or her twenties would have challenges related to inexperience, like call reluctance arising from imagined ethical obstacles (e.g. the idea that calling people while they’re at work is “invasive”).

While their initial challenges are very different, potential sourcers share many of the same traits and require much of the same training. If you look for the right qualities in new sourcers and employ effective training techniques, you can build a world-class sourcing team.

Recruit At Least One Experienced Sourcer

Including at least one experienced sourcer is an essential part of constructing a talented sourcing team. Like many disciplines, there are many nuances involved in the sourcing environment. Nuances could include broad details such as using a common first name to uncover better boolean strings, or industry vertical details like adding “-microsoft” to a linux admin boolean string in order to ensure that you get the most religious (and therefore most talented) linux enthusiasts. The problem with hiring an all-amateur sourcing team is a lack of knowledge due to a lack of experience. By adding a veteran into the mix, you can greatly accelerate the growth and effectiveness of any budding sourcing team.

Screen for Learners

In order to effectively work within the agile, ever-changing web-search environment, companies need to screen for prospects with learning agility. Rigid mindsets and ambiguity intolerance signal a bad fit; the best employees are characterized by good instincts to handle the infinitely variable candidate situations, as well as an eagerness to learn. When this eagerness is paired with an experienced sourcer on-hand, employees can create mentor relationships that can only benefit themselves and their peers. This is how you find a sourcing team.

When new sourcers are able to bounce their own thoughts and feelings off of the battle-hardened truths of a veteran sourcer, they can quickly fine-tune their skills.

Conferences do more to improve the skills of your team than solitary training. By attending conferences, budding sourcers have more opportunities to find mentors outside the parent company and are better able to manufacture novel ideas. Interacting with other professionals educates sourcers on engaging with candidates more effectively than one training plan can, as long as the newcomers are self-motivated.

When newcomers are self-propelled learners, they will do invariably better than their counterparts. Sourcing is a multifaceted rabbit hole, and only self-motivated individuals will fare well. With perpetual study habits and the forming of industry relationships with thought leaders, a team of newbies can graduate to guru, ninja, or nerd sourcing competency levels.

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A Short Lesson for New Sourcers

When new sourcers are first hired, it’s a good idea to put them through a training exercise to both vet out the poor performers and enhance basic sourcing skills. This should be easy to achieve, as the main purpose of the exercise is to introduce the nuances that arise when applying sourcing techniques in different situations. Start with a small-time source, like a local retailer, so sourcers can assemble what they need for more prestigious candidates when the time comes.



Identify the managers and assistant managers of a local retailer.


  1. Store Name
  2. Store Address
  3. Store Phone Number
  4. Manager Name and Contact
  5. Assistant Manager’s Name and Contact
  6. Second Assistant Manager’s Name and Contact

 What to expect:

While this exercise is relatively simple, don’t be surprised to see some of your team fall flat on their faces in their first attempt. Set them off on their own in the morning and return after a few hours to check on their progress. Use this moment as an opportunity to discuss the various obstacles each person faced. By the end of the allotted time, after experiencing the pain and struggles associated with this field, your new recruits should be able to source out a manager and two or three assistant managers. The ones who failed to do so will be enriched through your discussions, and you’ll be able to pinpoint the more industrious ones of the group at a very early stage.


Modern sourcing is constantly evolving, and building a great team isn’t easy. Concepts such as encouraging a culture of constant learning, or hiring a veteran team, lead to stimulate innovation. Innovation is a vital quality for this rapidly developing field. Most veterans set aside a good amount of time dedicated to learning new things. By making room on the schedule for team members to expand their knowledge base, and using trials to sharpen newcomers, you will start to pave the path for capable sourcers and find a sourcing team.

This post originally appeared on

Christopher Murray writes about SaaS web applications in sourcing, marketing, and HR. He’s also a volunteer at Gangplank Chandler where he handles event promotions, coding mentorship, blogging, and newsletter-ing. He's a frequent contributor to HiringSolved‘s blog and manages their newsletter as well.


8 Comments on “Thoughts on Building a New Sourcing Team by @christofoomurr

  1. As someone who has sourced in between recruiting & HR jobs and had sourcers on other recruiting teams I’ve been one, I must say I strongly dislike sourcing as a separate role from recruiting, as I believe it creates more chaos for the candidates we want to attract. I firmly believe one person should be both initiating and developing the relationship, instead of tossing applicants to multiple people. It’s like going to a restaurant and not knowing who your waitperson is. I’ve found this is usually just a way to hire people at a lower rate of pay, when instead they should be hiring more recruiters so they can focus on getting out there and making connections with people, then staying with them throughout the hiring process. Sourcers ultimately add unnecessary silos within recruiting, confuses candidates and increases the chance for miscommunications in the process. Remember – recruiting is NOT sales. It’s a combination of marketing, relationship building, strategic planning and process management. We don’t need this many cooks in the kitchen.

    1. Hi Aimee,

      I guess I see things exact opposite. 🙂 I see the objective of Sourcing as the networking, making connections, going out to the market (whether cold calling, internet mining, however), crafting personalized outreach, and getting candidates on the hook. I view Recruiter’s role as managing the Hiring Manager relationship and giving the candidate white-glove service during the interview/offer process (pre-closing, closing, offer negotiation, etc.). It’s probably a line that’s drawn in different places in the process for different companies, but this is my high-level vision.

      I think with the state of how the job market is, you can’t set yourself apart from other companies unless you’re going above and beyond for great candidates (and you’ll struggle if you don’t keep your internal stakeholders happy, too). A full-cycle recruiter with a full req. load, probably doesn’t have the bandwidth to do all of the above exceptionally (even if they do have the skills to do so).

      As for confusing a candidate, if you communicate clearly what the recruiting process is going to look like, it shouldn’t be an issue. One could argue it makes the candidate feel more wanted, since multiple people are invested in getting them to join your company.

      I also think when it’s *truly* successful, the Sourcer and Recruiter are equal. Same pay grade, same leveling, etc. It’s more of a partnership through the recruiting process, than a funneler of candidates. I think we’ll see more and more companies shift this way too.

      Just my two sense 🙂

  2. Ha!

    One of my Magic Method phone sourcing “homework” exercises!

    Identify the managers and assistant managers of a local retailer.
    Store Name
    Store Address
    Store Phone Number
    Manager Name and Contact
    Assistant Manager’s Name and Contact
    Second Assistant Manager’s Name and Contact

    Why the author didn’t say so, I don’t understand but the only way you’re going to complete an exercise like this is by using the phone. But then, maybe that’s the method in his magic.

    Maureen Sharib
    Phone Sourcer
    513 646 7306

    1. Haha!

      Yeah, when I saw the exercise I thought “this is perfect”. Great idea!

      I got rid of the phone part because I’m usually talking about digital sourcing in my posts, and this exercise still fits! Also, this was originally written for — (They’re a people-aggregator). :p

  3. Thanks for sharing your perspective. We just centralized our Sourcing team and I’ve been charged with sourcing Sorucers to join. We aren’t looking entry level right now, but I think that inate “learner” thing you mentioned is huge at all levels. This post will be in the back of my mind as I continue my search!

    1. Wow. Thanks for the kind words, Liz! I’m glad this post was helpful to you. Learners are typically the ones who accept that when it comes to what works in sourcing — you “never can tell”.

      (Like a teenage wedding where the old folks wished them well… ♫)

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