A CV Fit For A Sourcing Star!

By Andrew Mountney

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Recently there’s been a very clear demand within talent acquisition functions for a particular skill: Sourcing.  No change you may think?  That’s what we all do - all the time - so what’s so special about that?

Mainly the number of people applying directly to roles, or via the likes of Aspen, who clearly are good at sourcing - but are just not demonstrating it on their applications and CVs and are missing out on roles.

Assumption Is Your Worst Enemy

As with anything in recruitment, assumption is our worst enemy - and I’ve really spotted it as an issue for recruiting professionals looking to be considered for in-house sourcing roles. So I thought it was worth writing a blog on what hiring managers are looking for and why there’s a break down between what applicants assume, what clients are looking for and what a sourcing CV needs to contain.

Candidate assumptions

“If I am a recruiter I can source, it’s part of my job”

“I need to demonstrate all my recruiting skills to get a new in-house gig”

“Sourcing is the junior end of recruiting, I don’t want to be boxed in to it”

“Because I can do it I do not need to explain why I source, how I source, or what structure I build into sourcing - everyone knows what it is”

Some Context Based on Hard Facts

We recently ran an analysis of our CV database (several thousand recruitment professionals). 

  • 0.25% of CVs mentioned “x-ray” searching or anything related to x-ray
  • 1.6% of CVs mentioned “Boolean”
  • 19% of CVs mentioned “LinkedIn”
  • 26% of CVs mentioned “headhunt” or variants of it
  • 37% of CVs mentioned “strategy”
  • 42% of CVs mentioned “sourcing”

I draw these facts out in particular because there are some key links and contrasts:

  • Under half of people are talking about sourcing, which is a surprise for any form of recruiter reflecting their total career - I’m guessing it should be nearer 80-85%
  • If you’re talking about sourcing but not mentioning Boolean or LinkedIn or x-ray or anything more innovative, are you really selling your skillset or making assumptions?
  • 37% of recruiters are not involved in strategy, it’s mainly an operational gig, but because it feels like something we want to do it is over-emphasised compared to something like sourcing - which a huge proportion of recruiters are and should be doing

Assumptions Being Made By Hiring Organisations

In turn there are some unusual assumptions we are seeing from some hiring organisations as well.  Where talent acquisition teams are still not fully developed - and are still relatively agency reliant because the existing team is not necessarily using sourcing techniques (due to the background of the team, time available, or tools the team has) - there is an assumption that unless stated recruiters cannot source.

Hiring manager assumptions

“If you are an external recruiter trying to move in-house, you are a sales person with little focus on candidate development or care”

“If you do not mention Boolean searches you have never run one”

“You rely on candidates approaching you - rather than you approaching candidates - unless stated otherwise”

“You are not demonstrating you could handle the pace and volume of our environment, as you have not shown how many roles you work on and your typical work volumes on your CV”

“If you cannot show me you’ve hired for a particular functional role or location before then you probably have not”

“If you work in executive search you’re not going to be nimble or flexible enough to work at this pace”

“What you call sourcing we call broadcasting or advertising”

“You do not use LinkedIn unless you state you do”

“No-one has made a hire from social media, it’s a myth”

Sourcing Skills Being Checked At Interview

Alongside this, for the first time we are seeing a number of areas related to sourcing being tested or checked if candidates do get to interview.  You can now often expect to have your Boolean strings tested at interview potentially with a live example mid-interview; and if you claim and place value in your LinkedIn network, expect your connections, profile and group choices to be analysed and challenged.

So if you are applying for a sourcing role what do you need to do?  Below I’ve put together some thoughts around what we think you should and should not be presenting in your CV and how to start.  I also think in the course of doing this, a lot of people will realise a dedicated sourcing role is not for them - that’s fine, being a recruiter is great too... and better to realise before entering an interview process!

  • Tear up your existing CV and create a dedicated sourcing CV
    • Tacking a few comments on sourcing onto a CV which talks about 360 recruitment, business development, billing figures, strategic client management, agency management, job boards, and/or workforce planning is not going to cut it
  • Think about what sourcing means to you and to an employer (let’s not do the definitions thing here though, there’s enough of that doing the rounds at the moment)
  • Be innovative in your CV structure and content, sourcing for many is still a very innovative part of recruitment - show it in your CV


  • The methods that you are using and have successfully used to source candidates (all of them)
    • Headhunting, LinkedIn, Xing, going to Meet Ups, Boolean searches, X-ray, the crazy stuff no-one else does like image searches on Youtube, dare I mention Facebook?
    • Maybe even include a successful Boolean string you developed
  • Make it clear what you do in terms of sourcing, where you get involved and leave the process
    • Are you simply identifying people or are you approaching candidates and bringing them into process?
    • Do you interview candidates or pass them over?
    • Do you speak with them or just engage over email/online comms?
  • Show your breadth of experience and how you have adapted to new challenges
    • Sourcers and recruiters often get angry that they are rejected for not having sector experience and I empathise, but you can make your life a lot easier if you show how you have adapted to new sectors or functional hiring challenges
  • Run the numbers
    • Can you demonstrate your return on your time, what is your typical response rate to Inmails and how does that compare to your peers, are your candidates more readily being hired than applicants or other routes to market?
    • Be clear in demonstrating the volume of roles/assignments you work on at any time, what the functional range is of those and the geographical range
    • What targets does the business set you or do you set yourself?
    • Can you demonstrate how time to hire or a difficult hiring challenge has been overcome because of what you brought to the table?
  • CVs should never be an essay but…
    • There is an opportunity to tell a short story.  What’s the most innovative piece of sourcing you’ve done and what are you proud of?  Share that somewhere on the CV to show you’re able to think about your role and get results
  • Can you demonstrate engagement?
    • In the sourcing world the game has shifted, if big data and aggregators help sourcers and businesses identify the same mass of people, how you approach them becomes key. Is there space on your CV or in how you present your CV to demonstrate your style and engagement?
  • Avoid talking about the other parts of recruitment process if it’s clear from the role you are applying to that they are not part of it

If you’re applying to a sourcing role and your brain is spinning writing your CV for it I hope this helps. Equally I hope this helps if you’ve been rejected for a role you’re sure you should have got an interview for.  Finally I’m always happy to help so give me a call or drop me a note if I can help you shape your CV for the better - I’m happy to!

Andrew Mountney is a specialist recruiter and trainer for in-house recruiting professionals. Connect with him on @andymountney

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