The Unique Mind of a Sourcer


A couple of weeks back I saw an article on SC about Rob McIntosh’s Brain Is For Sale. Being an inventor of various sourcing contests like Rob’s dog and a true sourcer that he is, this article made me think about a brain of a sourcer. I have a firm opinion that sourcers are a unique breed of recruiting professionals. Not that they belong on a different planet, but that their mindset, focus, and passion put them in a league of their own.

Think about the different characteristics of a mind of a sourcer. Now these may be recruiters who love sourcing and have the right attitude toward sourcing. However, I honestly think that a true sourcer possesses a set of qualities unique from their recruiting counterparts.

Never Gives Up

A true sourcer would never take “No” for an answer — they would dig deep into the end of the earth. They will always try to look for alternative candidate generation channels, new tricks / technologies, exhaust and scan all possible companies and people, and so forth. It is very rare that a sourcer will say, “I can’t” unless he is extremely sure about the results. In my early sourcing training days I had been taught not to say, “I have exhausted my sources” unless you are dead sure. You would never know where your candidate might come from, and it takes courage, effort, and tons of patience to find those golden nuggets.

Possesses a “Research” Mind

I think sourcers have a “Research” mind as oppose to the more common “Process” mind of a traditional recruiter. We see so many recruiters so busy in daily process of interview, calls, sales, etc. that they have little time to wear their “research hat.” A sourcer’s job is to know the technology and market space and do a feasibility study before getting into the actual search. This “Research” mind also stresses the importance of finding candidates by exploring new resources, avenues, and candidate generation channels. Someone with Internet and/or market research skills always has a higher probability of becoming a good sourcer.

Hungry to Learn / Find

Ability and hunger to learn and find new things in their own area of expertise (technology / domain / recruitment) sets a sourcer apart. I think this hunger keeps them motivated to hunt for those “needle-in-a-haystack” candidates. The Internet provides a vast platform from which to learn about new technologies and tools coming every day and how to use them to find new candidates. This hunger keeps sourcers on their toes everyday….

Hunter Mentality

I think good “Headhunters” are the best example of Sourcers even if they are full life cycle recruiters. It is a classical hunting vs. farming criteria for recruiters. Good sourcers are always in “hunting” mode as they try to find those hidden and hard-to-find candidates. A good hunter-sourcer will even look within a CV to get new leads and candidates. That’s a unique mind to me!

Tech-savvy but not (necessarily) a Geek

Today technology has open doors of information to everyone. Knowing how to navigate through this technology is a great advantage to find “human capital data” (phrase coined by Glen Cathey) on the Internet. Thanks to this, we also have enormous numbers of new tools and web resources with which to capture and present this data. Hence, technology resources are like eyes for a good sourcer to find candidate information. However, this does not mean that good sourcer will depend completely on technologies. They use technology diligently to their advantage but with a manual touch. Good sourcers do not depend on technology to give them everything, but rather use technology to deliver what they want. They use technology to its maximum extent but do not become a slave to it.

Uses Unconventional Methods

The greatest beauty of sourcing is that though you may have a defined way of sourcing, you will always be forced to “discover.” Yes, it is a science but with a twist of lemon. J As a sourcer you always need to innovate and find new ways of finding your leads. Ask any good sourcer about how they found interesting candidates — they will have stories to tell. People still laugh when I tell them that I once found a candidate on an Indian Matrimony site. It is this zeal and fun that cause us to love what we do.

.  .  .  .  .

I think a unique mindset is the most important quality that defines the sourcing community. You can definitely teach and train on various tools, technologies, Boolean, job portals, and so forth but one thing you cannot teach is mindset. I have seen many recruiters and sourcers complain that they don’t have enough resources, social media does not work, candidates don’t respond, etc. and simply give up the search. It is this unique mindset of a sourcer that tells says to keep searching persistently and rigorously and to try other ways, innovate, and get the results by hook or crook. To me, these are unique sourcer quality that cannot be bought in any market. These qualities add up to more than just a living – they spell out a passion.

Do you agree to the above qualities? What other qualities you think a good sourcer possesses? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

  • Maureen Sharib


  • Manav

    Persistent and ever innovating ideas keeps the recruiter going on.A pat on the back for all the recruiters cos we directly change their life.Thanks Sarang for writing such appreciating words.

  • Justin Sivey

    Check, Check, Check, Check, Check, Check…Yep.

  • Vighnesh15b

    Great article

  • Regina Farr

    Tremendous job; mind of a sourcer

  • Sreeragnr

    good one

  • torin

    well stated.  I especially find the uses unconventional methods interesting.  I love when they ask “how’d you find me?”

  • Gaurangpatadia

    Hi Sarang,
    I truly admire your knowledge in the sourcing world. I have been following you and reading you article regularly.
    I strongly agree with what you have said 5 most important qualities of sourcing.

    Thanks for sharing.


  • Satish

    Great! sarang

  • Ganukw1989

    awesome!! Article

  • Kandula Santosh Kumar

    I really like the words what
    you said about sourcer’s. A True Sourcer never says NO until his/her search
    dead for surely. Awesome Article… TRUE MIND THININKING OF A SOURCER

  • Shantanuvirendra

    Dear Sarang,

    I am amazed by your knowledge and more than that your ability to put that knowledge in words which are easily decipherable. Your articles are always worth reading. Keep it coming, plz!

  • Harold Mikels

    Very good article.  On the point about research, a strong sourcer will also know the job requirement needs to be studied, especially for the harder to fill skills.  Understanding if the skill has been rebranded, how long has it been around, and if it may be a component of another skill/tool.  The better the Sourcer undestands what is being searched for, the more successful they will be in finding the candidate with the needed skillset.

  • Rizwan Ahmad

     A perfect thought “Never Give Up Attitude” of a sourcer definitely leads him to dig more and more to get the passive resource at any cost…… Thanks Sarang for such a wonderful article….

  • Jennifer Landsberg

    Great article.  Well written and very true.

  • Sarah Mullens

    Great article, Sarang! I really like how you mentioned the word “passion,” because sourcers definitely have this in spades! I’ve been sourcing for close to 13 years and I would definitely describe myself as having a passion for sourcing. There’s never a dull day in a sourcer’s world!

  • Mahendra Vemuru

    Very good Article to Boost every sourcer