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Sourcing: Tracking Down Hidden Talent

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By Paula Dorn, Director of Sourcing
With Tom Brennan, Senior Writer

Part 1:  Use the Source, Luke

The best talent is not sitting by the phone, waiting for a recruiter to call and ask them to the prom. On the contrary, in the past few years it has become harder and harder to find top talent, in spite of the fact that more and more people have an online presence. One reason is the competitive nature of the job market. Even during the recent recession and recovery, those companies that were hiring were challenged to find the best people.

Gone are the days when you can simply post an ad on a job board and then sort through the résumés of a dozen qualified and interested candidates. Successful recruitment requires a proactive and strategic approach to tracking the top candidates down. In Part One of this blog I’ll clarify what I mean by “sourcing,” explain the advantages and touch on why we created a full Sourcing Team at Decision Toolbox (DT). In Part II I’ll share some details about strategy and techniques.

Take a Walk on the Creative Side

Different people use the term “sourcing” differently. For some it is synonymous with “searching.” I saw an ad posted on that said, “We are sourcing for an Account Manager . . . ” At DT sourcing means much more than “looking for.” We don’t simply “post and pray” that the talent will come to us. I see sourcing as the creative side of recruiting, the approach to use when you need to do much more than find a résumé in a database or a profile on LinkedIn.

At DT sourcing is about finding and engaging passive candidates. This could be as simple as finding a résumé on Dice, but I really want to write about deep-dive sourcing — about tracking down clues to find the candidate who does NOT have a résumé or profile online. At DT we believe sourcing will continue to play a pivotal role in recruitment, and that’s why we established a Sourcing Team. The team is trained in advance search techniques as well as social media sourcing, and many have certifications, such as AIRS.

Tapping into Underground Pools

The biggest reason to practice proactive sourcing is to expand the pool of potential candidates and increase the likelihood of finding that perfect fit. This is essential in a competitive talent market: when demand exceeds supply, the majority of potential candidates fall into the passive category. You’ve probably seen this situation with healthcare and technical positions (tried searching for a CCNA lately?), but it is showing up in other professions as well.

Another search that cries out for sourcing is one that involves a “niche” position. For example, DT recently recruited for a research scientist charged with ensuring the company’s R&D program has a continuous supply of insects for testing crop protection solutions. How many people in the US have any kind of experience in an insect-rearing facility? Of that small number, how many are PhDs?

In an Office Far, Far Away . . . 

Sourcing can also help when a position is in a remote location. For example, Edwards, Colorado and Nebo, North Carolina are, in fact, beautiful communities, but each is at least 90 miles away from a major metro area. Get ready for your first tip: Edwards and Nebo are both known for outdoor activities. Instead of just searching for, say, cost accountants, search for cost accountants who also enjoy camping or hunting. A member of the Society of Cost Management may also be active on or

Well, if I have convinced you of the importance of sourcing, you now may be wondering about how to do it. Part One is just the appetizer — clear your palette for Part Two, in which I’ll serve up some great ideas.

To learn more about Decision Toolbox, contact us – we’d love to hear from you!

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2 Responses to “Sourcing: Tracking Down Hidden Talent”

  1. March 18, 2014 at 8:37 am, Sourcing Tips: Ways to Level Up Your Recruiting Game | DecisionToolbox said:

    […] Part One of this blog series I made an argument for being proactive by making deep-dive sourcing part of […]


  2. March 26, 2014 at 8:45 am, Spelunking for the Stars: Game-Changing Sourcing Strategies | DecisionToolbox said:

    […] deep-dive sourcing strategies are fast becoming a necessary part of recruiting, as I discussed in Part One of this series. In Part Two I shared some sourcing strategies for the first two […]


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