Career Check: What Are the Key Skills of an Incredible Sourcer? (And What You Could be Missing)

A modern Sourcer should have the skills that help them to do their work well. I hope everyone will at least agree with that!

But before I proceed to a detailed discussion of which professional skills facilitate Sourcing work, let’s look at the current picture – what is “out there” now?

Reviewing publicly available data reveals a mismatch between the above, and the real world of working Sourcers.

There are currently a little over 6,000 people on LinkedIn whose current title includes the word “Sourcer”, and a little over 21,000 people with the keyword “Sourcer”.

A screenshot of LinkedIn showing the skills sourcers indicate on their profiles.
What skills rank highest for sourcers on LinkedIn.

60% of them do not have either the word “search” or “searching” anywhere on the profile.

The top skill for them is, unsurprisingly, “recruiting”. However, here are some stats on the other skills for a Sourcer – I have searched for the skills from the “vocabulary” that match the role.

So, of the people who have a word “Sourcer” on the profile, we have these highly unexpected numbers on their skills:

  • 23% – Customer Service
  • 12% – Cold Calling
  • 8% – Search
  • 4.6% – Boolean Searching
  • 1% – LinkedIn
  • .4% – LinkedIn Recruiter
  • .01% – Google Search

Looking at just under 1,500 resumes on Indeed with the current job title ‘sourcer’ shows about 1,000 that don’t have a word “search”. That means 68% professionals looking for a job, with the title Sourcer, didn’t consider the skill “search” even important enough to put on a resume.

funnel-steps2x-03The majority of Indeed jobs with the title Sourcer are junior or mid-level; there are very few senior openings. In these job posts, junior job titles for Sourcers include “Recruiting coordinator/Sourcer”, “Copywriter/Sourcer”, “Admin/Sourcer” etc. The skills listed as requirements for those jobs are relevant to administrative assistants but are not quite relevant for a beginner Sourcer.



Having reviewed what job requirements tell us are the most important skills for a Sourcer, let us now review what Sourcers are expected to do. The distinct responsibilities are to:

  1. Understand what each job role is about
  2. Search for qualified professionals
  3. Get in touch with the prospects for prescreening and warming up to interviews (in most but not all practical cases).
  4. Send the information over to Recruiters

Though a growing number of employers have been creating separate “Sourcer” positions as well, many Recruiters also work as Sourcers for part of their day. In that case, when it comes time to “send the information over”, they just switch hats and proceed in the Recruiter role.

Looking at a Sourcer’s tasks, here’s what stands out for me. Mastering the Search part (Step 2 above) is essential for a Sourcer’s productivity. The reasons are obvious.

The larger the qualified potential candidate pool is the better the company’s chances of making a solid hire. Sourcers also reduce the time to fill positions by having a proper candidate pipeline.

Depth matters, too: if a Sourcer can find candidates that competitors can’t, those professionals will be less “bombarded” by recruiting messages and more likely to respond. Having access to these less frequently contacted professionals contributes to an improved success in hiring. Candidate assessment and pre-screening are just as important as searching, but if there are few prospects to talk to, then the job has poorer chances of being filled.

Searching for qualified professionals needs to be deep – and fast. While LOTS of professional information can be found online, this does not mean that the information can be found quickly, or that just anyone can easily find “everything”. Quite the opposite – professional information is spread over various sites and social networks, search syntax is different in different places, and collecting and sorting information needs to be done with the help of special tools.

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Some Recruiters prefer to source by cold calling – if that works for them, great. However, calling is an intrinsically slower method because you can only talk to one person at a time. A phone as a Sourcing tool must be combined with web search tools (and skills).


The Soft Skills That Count

Beyond strong technical search skills, we should also ask an additional question – what soft skills (personal characteristics) must a Sourcer have? Consider the following:

Do you constantly challenge the status quo?

During the course of your working day you will see what works and what doesn’t. Always be fine tuning and questioning ways of working to fit best to your own Sourcing challenges.

Do you take time to learn?

Professionals such as nurses, lawyers, and accountants go through years of rigorous education and exams to attain a required standard and knowledge. Why not Sourcers? We are privileged to be able to change people’s lives for the better by our work. Always know that there is more to learn.

Are you curious? Do you think laterally?

Take time to kick the tires, and press the buttons. Every site where people give off information is a potential place to source. How can you best find that information and what lies behind the surface? What options are open to you, that you haven’t been using? You must explore – regularly – how best to use the tools available.

Do you have a mentor(s)?

Having a good idea is not a monopoly. The internet has opened up a wonderful opportunity to learn from experienced practitioners via blogs, videos, forums, and groups. Take what you like, add your own style but don’t be afraid to copy successful methods.

To be a proficient Sourcer takes enthusiasm, dedication, time and practice. Whether you are a rookie or have years of experience, do all of the above every day, and love what you do!

Irina Shamaeva is a recognized leader in Sourcing, Social Recruiting, and Internet Research and is the Partner and Chief Sourcer at Brain Gain Recruiting.

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