American Sourcers Rate Low for Search Skills

Average response rate for Li Talent global surveyDespite inventing the job of sourcer, professionals in the U.S. are less technically skilled at it than their counterparts in the rest of the world.

They are more reliant on paid LinkedIn accounts and InMail introductions than are sourcers elsewhere, yet they are ahead in using Google+, Twitter, and especially Facebook, which is used by an average of 46 percent of American sourcers versus a global average of 37 percent.

And, regardless of region, sourcers who pick up the phone to reach candidates have a far better response rate than other contact methods.

At first glance, these findings from the Global Sourcing Survey produced by Alexander Mann and Social Talent would seem to suggest American sourcers are second rate. The wording of the report’s summary of sourcing in the Americas in part does conclude, “It would appear that all American sourcers have become too reliant on InMails and too few are properly leveraging other social channels.”

However, compared to sourcers in the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) and those in Asia Pacific, fewer sourcers in the Americas are to be found in the middle of the pack. Most are clustered at the extremes in many of the skills and tools areas the survey examined. The report says there’s a “bipolar nature” to sourcers here. For instance, sourcers in the Americas have both a high candidate response rate (nearly tied with the EMEA) and the lowest (tied with Asia Pacific). Likewise, one in five sourcers here have fewer than 500 LinkedIn connections, making them far less connected than their EMEA counterparts. On the other hand, they are well ahead of them when it comes to having more than 2,000 connections.

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However, the report says the search skills and technical search proficiency of sourcers here falls far behind those in Asia Pacific. Sourcers there scored 9 percent higher than the global average on a multiple choice test of their search prowess with tools such as LinkedIn and Google. EMEA sourcers were a mere one point behind. The Americas sourcers came in 6 percent below the global average.

(There is some unclarity in the report on just what the percentages are, but either way, sourcers in the Americas were well below average.)

Other parts of the report provide a look at how sourcers worldwide use social media, and the kind of response rates they get. The report notes that when using LinkedIn (the most popular sourcing site), “Most sourcers either send an InMail or add a passive candidate as a connection in order to first engage with them. 21 percent find an email address, while only 6 percent pick up the phone to try and reach them.” Yet the most successful method of contacting a candidate is by phone. Half the sourcers who reach out by phone have a response rate of better than 40 percent. By comparison, only 22 percent of InMails get a similar response rate.

John Zappe is the editor of and a contributing editor of John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.


13 Comments on “American Sourcers Rate Low for Search Skills

  1. Jump To Conclusions much John?

    The assumption that Inmail response rate is directly tied to laziness on the part of the recruiter makes almost no sense. The correlation of Inmail response is tied a by product of a mature and maybe saturated recruiting market in the Americas.

    Good candidates here have been receiving Inmails for years now and some just ignore LinkedIn. In APAC and EMEA it is still a novelty so the response rates are greater.

    The report validates my point as it states American sourcers use more diverse tools. These “lazy Americans” are adapting to LinkedIn’s poor response rates, by using Facebook, G+, and Boolean search to hunt them down elsewhere. How does that make them “less technically skilled?”

    I am not basing our international counterparts. They have unique challenges. We should working to learn from one another as the hunt for talent crosses oceans.

    If LinkedIn went to go out of business tomorrow, they would be replaced by another web research tool. Not a phone book.

    1. Hey Aaron, further to my reply on the thread in Facebook; the response rates in Asia were the lowest in the world. They scored hire on technical search questions (how to use boolean search, how to find email addresses, how to sort your search etc) but their response rates were really poor. On this Americans did much better but regardless of where in the world you live, sourcers who send Connection Requests had the lowest average response rates and those who picked up the phone had the highest. There’s definitely a lesson in that!

      1. You cannot be calling Senior Managers and Directors at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, KPMG, Deloitte and other Top Accounting and Management consulting firms who are earning $150k+ salaries without scheduling a call and asking them if they are interested in a Job Opportunity. If they had a Gun they would call you home and shoot you.

      2. Thanks for the insight @Johnny. Great data and great of Alexander Mann and SocialTalent for sharing. The data nerd in me wants to see how this trends over time. Will the phone win out as the best first option of communication or is it just harder to track so anecdotal stories are reported?

        Time will tell.

    2. Hey Aaron. I’m not sure how the author intended it but I see laziness as a virtue. Laziness inspires us to constantly find the easier way. Tired of wasting time with LI wasteland? Laziness drives us to pursue the alternatives you mention.

      1. Laziness is determined by results. If you take process X and significantly change it to get the same or better results for less time and energy invested, that’s not laziness, that’s intelligence and productivity. Unfortunately in many professions there is a dominance of self proclaimed Old Skool! types who think any change or innovation, or tendency away from old methods constitutes ‘laziness’ on the part of the people doing it, and the impending death of their entire profession.

  2. Thank you Aaron for an excellent response to this post.
    I think that the article does give us something to think about…but, in
    this day and age…I find that candidates are more receptive to receiving an
    in-mail first and do respond when there is a carefully crafted introduction.
    Plus, we are in a career that rewards efficient and professional work.
    Yes, do I lean on LinkedIn for searches…of course, because it does
    increase my sphere of influence! Did the author take into account that
    maybe people are not interested in making a career move when they do receive an

    As a professional…I also receive in-mails…I ignore the
    “Spam” emails/invites, BUT do give special attention to the messages
    that are compelling and come from a respected professional.

    Can I pick up a phone and attempt to connect with a

    Can I spend hours performing research related to finding

    Can I create call lists of potential candidates…check!

    A true recruiting professional works to refine their craft
    and uses all the tools that are at their disposal.

  3. One cannot be calling and leaving voice messages in 90% or more of
    the calls. We are not Real Estate agents or Insurance Agents who have
    that much patience leaving voice messages.

    Our clients want fast response. In-mails and SMS is the way to get immediate attention of Passive candidates.


      1. I could be a few years older than you. December 1955. You are founder of Teamworks Software. Why would you be making calls in the evening and how many. I send 80 to 100 Targeted emails to passive candidates on Linkedin to fill 10 Job requirements open at any point in time ($150k to $250k jobs at New york, Chicago, Charlotte, San Francisco, Dallas and DC Metro ) . I am sure you are not making 40 calls in the evening daily to fill 4 open positions at Teamworks Software.

        1. Hi Suresh…Yup you’ve got me by two years. You do a completely different kind of recruiting, so it makes sense that your processes are different.

          Why bother doing recruitment myself? It’s the most rewarding and productive thing I do. It puts me in regular contact with the leading software and sales people in our industry (staffing). I enjoy talking with people, hearing their passions and views on innovation and the marketplace.

  4. “Half the sourcers who reach out by phone have a response rate of better than 40 percent.”

    I’m trying to figure out what this means. It seems to read as if this is mean, but what’s the distribution above and below?

    I’m also wondering how much of these trends are due to development of the markets in question and age/generational issues. In my own experience most younger candidates seem as or more responsive via email or other channels than phone, whereas older candidates seem to want the phone call, but also in my experience seem to be almost universally pissed off and annoyed at the beginning of every call.

    I’m also wondering what they meant in the report by ‘the Americas.’ What is the geographic breakdown, does it include central and south america, or just the US? What’s more, I’ve also noticed a greater tendency of Asian candidates to actually include their contact information on their LI profile and resumes, whereas US candidates very often hide that on LI, and often on their resumes now taking Confidential status on the job boards. It’s easier to call people when it’s easier to get their number, I wonder how much cultural considerations that affect the actual availability of contact information affect this issue; if I have someone’s number, I call them too. The resumes I get from European and Asian candidates often have their address, phone number, email, secondary email, their marital status, work authorization status, religion, etc. They read more like personal ads than resumes sometimes. There are major differences between the cultures in question here, not to mention a small sample and way too much vagueness in the survey for it to really amount to much or even be informative.

    But then of course, that’s why it would be helpful to have actual usable data in this field rather than these informal surveys.

  5. “professionals in the U.S. are less technically skilled at it than their counterparts in the rest of the world.”

    So was this written by an immigration lawyer specializing in getting H1B visas?

    Who else would write this bigoted claptrap?

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