The Art of Resume Sourcing

In my last article, I talked about the art of posting a job. In this article, I would like to focus on the art of searching for resumes on the Internet. Spending time sourcing for candidates on the Internet is just as important as posting a great job. And sourcing is probably more valuable than posting, because it is proactive and gives the recruiter control over who applies. Sourcing is a skill that is not easy to master. Why? Because no search is usually ever the same. You could have several Recruiters search the same database yielding completely different results. Why? Because there is no set formula for successful sourcing. Understanding that no search is the same, I have listed a few tried and true sourcing tricks that will help you in your searching. I’m sure you may have a couple tricks of your own up your sleeve (and I would love to hear them) but here is a few that I have found work well:

  • Understand EXACTLY What You Are Searching For. This usually goes without saying but is usually the first thing to trip up your sourcing efforts. At my company, the recruiter’s motto is “my search is only as good as the order taken.” Taking a good order or requisition from your hiring managers is imperative. Do some homework and research ahead of time to make sure you are asking all the right questions.
  • Translate the Job Description to a Resume. Keywords are crucial when sourcing, so understanding what kind of keywords will be on the resumes you need are vital. Too many times the job description uses minute detail keywords that your candidates would not bother with on their resume. Don’t let one keyword throw off your entire search. Consider the words a candidate would use on their resume and use those for your search.


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  • Start Small. Don’t waste time sifting through tons of resumes. Use a narrow search string to identify no more than 50 resumes. If you have to click through more than 8 resumes to identify 1 fit then your search string should be altered. An ideal string is one in which every other resume click through identifies a match. By focusing on a strong search string you are eliminating wasted time clicking through unqualified resumes. Broaden your search as you go to make sure you have identified every possible candidate match.
  • Double Check Your Search String. Sometimes these strings get very long, and it’s easy to make a grammatical mistake! If you are surprised at the lack of results in your search it could very well be because there is a mistake in your search string.
  • Consider the Search “A Work In Progress.” Mold and shape your search by pulling out good keywords identified from those resumes that were a match. These words may not even be skill sets. For instance, in one case my search string for a Technical Project Manager used words like “led,” “team,” and “lead,” because I had identified a pattern in the resumes that were qualified. Keep a sharp eye and look for similarities in the words used in resumes to change your search string as you go.
  • Don’t Stop Short. Too many times we try a couple search strings, contact a few candidates and stop there. Make sure you use all available search strings to pull and contact as many candidates as you can. It’s a numbers game so take advantage of the existing search and time.
  • Be Patient. Sourcing takes a lot of time and attention to detail. Don’t start a search at the end of the day; you’ll forget where you left off. Don’t answer your phone or accept visitors during your sourcing time; you’ll lose your focus. Don’t expect instant results right away. It takes time and experience to be strong at sourcing and it does not come instantaneously.

Hopefully you have found these tips and tricks helpful. Remember, sourcing successfully is an art that takes research, time and attention to detail. Good luck!

Audra Slinkey is a leading Internet Recruiting Consultant who has designed the Recruiters-Aid PERS (Proprietary E-Recruitment System) to ensure Internet recruiting success. Recruiters-Aid provides Internet candidate sourcing and screening services, and guarantees results—or the clients do not pay. Recruiters-Aid manages one of the largest FREE recruiting resource sites online. Recruiters-Aid services were created specifically for recruiters who don't have time to source the Internet themselves.

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