If you don’t know what role sourcers play as part of the recruitment process, you aren't alone.
Sourcing is the process of gathering data for use in talent acquisition, including candidate resumes and social media profiles, candidate contact information, and competitive business intelligence. Beyond what’s easily found and publicly available, sourcers use a variety of tools and techniques to find your data in less-trodden places. To get tips on how you can be found, we spoke with Patrick Moran, Talent Sourcing Manager for BAE Systems Inc., the U.S. division of an international defense, aerospace and security company.
Why Moran? He’s the two-time champion of Entelo’s World’s Greatest Sourcing contest, where more than 700 contestants face challenges that include quizzes, fill-in-the-blank questions on search engine commands and syntax, custom search engines, progressive candidate hunts, and a deep web search for four individuals. Meaning? He's kind of a sourcing pro. Below, he let us pick his brain.
Jennifer Bewley: How does sourcing differ from recruiting?
Patrick Moran: Talent acquisition in the information age has many benefits. All sorts of candidate data is readily available. We also have a number of tools at our disposal to help us search that data and find the qualified candidates we need. The drawback is that it takes a lot of time to manage those tools and cull that data into manageable pieces.
To adjust, many companies have refined the structures of their recruiting teams to segment out functions and responsibilities. While recruiters are still expected to do all the sourcing they can as time allows, a lot of their expertise lies in managing relationships and moving things along in the applicant tracking system. So, corporate recruiters mostly handle managing relationships with hiring managers and guiding candidates from application through interview and offer. Sourcers, on the other hand, are tasked with finding and attracting talent from a variety of sources outside of the company’s applicant tracking systems, and then getting those applicants to the right places and people within the organization. Using chess as an analogy, recruiters and sourcers work together on strategy, but when it’s time to play, the sourcer goes out and finds all the pieces and gets them in the right places on the board, while the recruiter takes it from there and executes the remaining moves until the game is over.
JB: Has sourcing expanded? How can professionals more effectively work with sourcers?
PM: Sourcing has expanded by leaps and bounds over the years. Yet, it still means very different things to different organizations, so it's challenging to define neatly. Aside from running web searches to find candidates, today’s sourcers are expected to be well-versed in sales and marketing, social media best practices, data analytics, and even areas like programming and ethical hacking. Nearly everything a sourcer finds is on the internet, so the best thing a job seeker can do is make sure their online footprint is up to date. This includes making sure their resume, social media, and LinkedIn profiles are up to date and concisely tell who they are and what their strengths are. The next step is networking. Don’t be afraid to contact a sourcer directly and ask for some help and keep an open mind. The best sourcers have very large and diverse personal networks. Even if the job they contact you about isn’t the right fit, they very well might know somebody that can help you out.
JB: What sources do you use to discover candidates? Any emerging sources that have excited you and professionals should know about?
PM: As a sourcer, I try to put myself in the jobseeker's shoes, and I look for them in the places they go to online and in the real world. This includes job boards and social media sites, universities and technical schools, blogs, networking groups, job fairs, etc. So as an example, if I am looking for software developers, rather than look on a job board, I would go to code sharing sites like GitHub and Stack Overflow, or places like Quora and Reddit.
JB: What do professionals do right on their resumes, profiles, social media that make them stand out to you as a candidate?
PM: The best thing a job seeker can do to get noticed is to get out there and network. It really is such a small world. I was recently looking for candidates for a job in Utah. That same day, I was headed out to lunch to get to know a new coworker in our department. Wouldn’t you know it? He was born and raised in Utah and had a list of personal contacts that we could reach out to who actually worked at the same location we were targeting. This gave us a direct pipeline into that talent pool that would have likely taken weeks or months to develop. All this from a simple personal conversation over lunch. Little things like this pop up all the time. That’s why I am such a big believer in the power of networking.
Update your resume and social media profiles, attend a local meetup, catch up with old colleagues, and don’t be afraid to contact a Recruiter or sourcer directly. Most recruiters and sourcers are finding you via keyword searches, so make sure to include good detail and the appropriate buzzwords for your job and industry.
JB: What are the red flags you see on professionals’ resumes, profiles, social media, GitHub that would potentially make you pass over them as a candidate? Is there a most frequent, a so-called number one mistake, that you see over and over?
PM: The biggest red flag I look out for is an unstable job history. That said, there are certain industries out there that are more itinerant than others. But for everything else, if you have several jobs over a short period of time, I would encourage a jobseeker to ensure there is a clear explanation for it.
JM: Are there any differences that you've noticed in sourcing female talent, as compared to male talent?
PM: I can’t say I’ve really noticed much of a difference in how each gender represents themselves online. However, since most recruiters and sourcers are using keyword searches to find candidates, I would recommend mentioning any female-oriented networking groups, awards, or sororities in your resume and social media profiles. Some of the female-specific keywords I use are “she”, “her”, “female”, “ladies”, “women”, “girls”, “sorority”, etc. Sourcers are not only searching for female and diversity-related keywords in resumes. They are also searching through comments on blogs and articles related to diversity, diversity-related words in tweets and hashtags, conference attendees and speaker lists, diversity group membership lists, etc. Get out there are join in the conversation! You never know who’s looking and my goal is to provide the most capable, diverse pool of candidates for our open positions.
I recently attended a diversity seminar here at BAE Systems in which several studies were shared that showed that while federal investment towards attracting young women to STEM and female enrollment in engineering degrees has steadily risen for decades, during that same period the female portion of the Engineering workforce remained stagnant at around 12 percent. Nearly 40 percent of women that earn degrees in Engineering either leave the field within a few years or decide never to enter the field at all. The reasons given for leaving the field included inequitable compensation, unfriendly work culture, feelings of isolation, a lack of suitable mentors, etc. As a father of two young girls, this was very disheartening to hear. At BAE Systems, we have a robust set of Employee Resource Groups that seek to foster a more inclusive work environment, one such being the Women’s Inclusive Network. WIN focuses on the needs and interests of women in the workplace and community and accomplishes this through the facilitation of virtual learning labs, leadership training and mentoring, networking opportunities, and partnership with both internal and external organizations. WIN and all of our Employee Resource Groups help facilitate a dialogue around topics of diversity and inclusion of all individuals within the workplace. I strongly encourage anyone that has access to such groups, whether that person comes from an underrepresented part of the workforce or not, to sign up and be a part of the dialogue.
JB: Any advice you would give professionals to stand-out in the recruiting process?
PM: Be yourself for better or for worse. Don’t inflate your accomplishments or misrepresent your work experience. If you are fortunate enough to get an interview, you already meet the minimum requirements of the job. Don’t just to list the things you did, but explain why they made a difference at your last employer. Be inquisitive and gather as much information as you can online and from the person conducting the interview. Lastly, make sure that you follow up with a thank you to the person with whom you spoke. You can also use this note to address anything you may have forgotten to say in the interview. I am shocked how infrequently I get messages like this, but I can tell you, almost every rock star candidate I’ve spoken with has done this.
JB: What is your typical day?
PM: BAE Systems is a very diverse company, so I really love that I get to dabble in all sorts of industries, technical and non-technical. In the same day, I could be looking for an IT Solutions Architect, a Welder, and a Fighter Pilot, all located in different places around the world. BAE Systems designs and delivers advanced defense, aerospace, and security solutions that keep its customers at the forefront of modern technology – so the company’s hiring needs are quite diverse. I take great pride in finding highly-skilled people to support critical national security missions that protect our nation and those who serve.
My typical day includes: Meeting with hiring managers and recruiters to discuss staffing plans for new programs; attending webinars on a new sourcing tool or method (we have to stay on top of the latest tools and tricks); running searches on job boards, the open web, and social media to identify new candidates; using people finder tools and tailored searches to do some incumbent capture and competitive intelligence; contacting promising candidates via phone, email, and social media; and sharing promising candidates and market insights to recruiters and hiring managers. This is all supplemented by an unhealthy amount of coffee for many sourcers.
Jennifer Bewley is the founder of Uncuffed which provides detailed research into prospective employers. Jennifer has an unhealthy love of financial data and speaking her mind and she uses each to help candidates choose the company they work for wisely.