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How to select a new Sherlock Holmes in Sourcing?

Believe it or not but Sherlock Holmes is around us. This article should answer the question how to find that very Sourcer who’s going to do his/her job best.

Since recruiters and sourcers do different tasks, their nature is different too. Sourcers aren’t recruiters, they can not even be considered as beginners. I’m strongly convinced, that anyone can be trained to be a sourcer in the shortest time. That’s, actually, what most companies believe in, when they’re hiring new people. However, when you are interviewing people, it’s quite important to pay attention to the candidate`s natural capabilities (talent), rather than their experience and/or knowledge.

I was lucky to visit the Sourcing Summing in the Netherlands and listen to Balazs Paroczay (Randstad Sourceright) speech on Sourcer’s DNA. Balazs and his team, having done a lot of research during the selection process (from more than 400 sourcers), have scientifically deduced the DNA of the exceptional sourcer.

These are the natural qualities of successful sourcers:

  •      High learning capabilities;
  •      Very strong data-analysis skill set;
  •      High energy level;
  •      Decisiveness 
(act better think);
  •      Middle-value objective judgement (balance between the candidates’ story and the Hiring Manager’s strict requirements).

Main drivers for an outstanding sourcer are:

  • Creativity (approaching problems in a new and colorful way);
  • Enterprising;
  • People services.

Based on the clear criteria, finding a good sourcer will save your time and effort. I’ve got no slightest doubt that experiment and research of Balazs’s team should be relied on. Having interviewed over 400 sourcers, he’s got some good reasons for trust. And his discovery is brilliant and simple, isn’t it?

So, you’ve decided on the key criteria and skills of the sourcer, but how are you going to check them in practice? Is there a tool (silver bullet), that would tell you which candidate is going to be successful in his job, straightaway?

We, at, have come up with a very simple, yet, effective way of testing our candidate`s skills, without focusing on their working experience in the sourcing (most of our candidates have very little idea of what the term “sourcing” actually means): we decided to give them a test with 4 tasks, that our team faces on a daily basis.

Task 1. Search.

Once, our client, a nutrition start-up from Berlin, asked us to find nutritionists to fill their recipe database with Ukrainian national dishes. It was a very unexpected task, after we’d found JavaScript developers for them 🙂 However, why not to find nutritionists? Especially if you are a sourcing guru.

The task

Find 2 nutritionists (or any other experts) that fit this position best from a short Job Description with the maximum number of contacts and information about their work experience. Whatever’s not said in CV can easily be found on Google. We also expect to hear from the interviewee, what exactly in his/her opinion, makes chosen candidates the best fit for this position.


Those candidates who’d find different links to the blogs and even pictures of the chosen nutritionists are considered to be successful in this task.


Task 2. The first contact with a candidate.

The task

Write an e-mail for Ruby developers (or any other experts). The letter should tell some key information about your position, be eye-catching and result in a reply.


This is where you can see the approach of your future-to-be sourcers. The letter should go beyond the standards and have a tint of creativity. And if while reading it, you, a professional recruiter and sourcer, would use the same approach, the task is brilliantly done.

We’ve received an interesting e-mail once:

Subject: Pure Snow White needs YOUR help!

Hi [First Name],

Our Faraway Kingdom needs your help. One of the Snow White’s dwarfs is too old to do RUBY well. is a dreamlike community which helps fairies and wizards of code find their innovative software kingdoms.

So, please [First Name], if you can mine awesome Rubies and RSpec and you’re not afraid of TDD or REST API, Ruby Developer role is waiting.

Please, don’t leave my letter without a response and don’t forget to send me your CV.

Task 3. Master searching tools.

The task

  • Find 10 PHP developers with knowledge of Symfony 2 framework from Lisbon (Portugal), using various searching resources such as Linkedin, Github, Stackoverflow, personal blogs, etc.
  • Send 3 Boolean search requests on Google to find Linkedin profiles of Java developers from Amsterdam (The Netherlands).

To deal successfully with this task, first of all, an interviewee needs to read what Github, Boolean search is.


When the task is completed, you can take a closer look at the chosen profiles. Are people PHP developers and are they really skilled in given framework? To consider the Boolean Search task successfully done, it’s important to see how the interviewee studied the results of the Boolean Search and which requests he/she used. Simple AND / OR combinations are OK but not good enough. If the future-to-be sourcer had used something more specific, like , for example, “” or “-inurl:dir” that would be a first class.

Task 4. CV Analysis

The task

The interviewee has to analyze his or her own CV and find its` weak and strong points. Having read the best approaches to writing CVs (this one or any others), he or she should re-write it and add some interesting facts about sourcing.


Now you will get the improved CV. It’s always easier to judge other people, rather than evaluating your own personality and professional qualities objectively, so the task is quite challenging. However, in any case, both of you will benefit from it. Firstly, you will  have already seen, whether this person improves greatly an own CV, secondly, your candidate will get an improved copy of his / her CV to send to a different company (in case he or she doesn’t fit).

Pay attention to

  1. Whether the task has been done quickly. Most of your candidates will hear the words “Boolean Search” and “Github” for the first time, so they may need some time to understand their meaning. Don’t give any deadlines. It’s important to see whether your future-to-be sourcer is capable and motivated enough to quickly learn and look for new information.
  2. Test work composition. Pay attention to details. Mostly, the way information is presented and work visualization will speak for themselves.  
  3. Interesting and genuine approach. Some of the most interesting solutions we eagerly carry into effect. And their authors are invited to join our team. When the test is completed, but you still hesitate whether to hire a candidate, maybe it’s worth asking him more questions and dig deeper into details.

Good luck with your searching of a new Sherlock Holmes in the sourcing!

Andrew Stetsenko Tech Talents Relocation

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