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Sourcing and Research

How to Run an Efficient Sourcing Desk

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It can be said for any occupation that efficiency is everything, but I think it is especially relevant when you are retained to develop leads for a client. I cannot tell you how much time I have wasted over the years due to miscommunication between what a client wants verses what they say they want verses my giving them what they asked for originally. Eventually, I learned a simple but powerful truth that helped me to protect my sanity and maintain a solid client relationship. What’s that?

Simple. I added a Sourcing Service Level Agreement to my work process.

Let me get a little deeper into what I mean.


A Sourcing Service Level Agreement (SSLA) is an agreed upon set of deadlines between the Sourcer and the Recruiter(s) being supported. It is intended to serve as a means to set end-user expectations and establishing a process that can be benchmarked and used for evaluating performance. To be effective, the SSLA must have penalty clauses associated with the failure to deliver on said agreement.


Whereas the process by which Sourcers service their various clients may differ between organizations, here is a suggested method of implementation.

  1. Recruiter makes a formal request for Recruitment Research from Sourcer.
  2. Sourcer replies by sending a SSLA to the Recruiter requesting additional information.
  3. Recruiter completes the SSLA and sends to Sourcer, along with a Job Requisition (when possible) and tentative times/dates for an initial meeting to discuss the SSLA.
  4. Recruiter and Researcher meet to discuss the SSLA. It is at the conclusion of this meeting that the engagement begins and work commences.
  5. At the agreed upon date (as set in the SSLA), Sourcer and Recruiter meet to discuss and disposition each candidate submitted.


The ultimate metric of any Sourcing function is to ascertain how many of the leads referred resulted in actual hires made. However, as there are so many variables beyond the Sourcer’s control, it is recommended that additional landmarks be considered.

  • How many of the leads that the Sourcer supplied were accepted* by the Recruiter?
  • How many of the leads that the Sourcer supplied were interviewed?
  • How many of the leads that the Sourcer supplied were deferred to other opportunities within the company?
  • How many of the leads that the Sourcer supplied were refused because they did not match the Recruiter’s request?
  • How many of the leads that the Sourcer supplied were hired into the company?

*Accepted leads are to be interpreted as “the prospect that the Sourcer supplied to the Recruiter met the minimum requirements as detailed in the SSLA.”


This Sourcing Service Level Agreement (heretofore referred to as SSLA) serves as a formal agreement between the Sourcing Organization and the Customer requesting Recruitment Research. The scope of the tasks that the Sourcing Organization can be expected to perform include, but are not limited to, the following work:

  • RESUME MINING: The Sourcing Organization scours the internet to find the resumes of active job seekers who have their resumes posted online, and not necessarily submitted to job boards (ie:
  • RESUME BLITZ: The Sourcing Organization works in concert with various Recruiting teams to build a pipeline of prospects in a particular geographic area in advance of a pending job fair.
  • COMPETITIVE RESPONSE: The Sourcing Organization seeks out active and passive job seekers of a certain company that has recently announced layoffs.
  • PASSIVE LEAD GENERATION: The Sourcing Organization researches luminaries and their colleagues and pursues them for future opportunities.
  • UPDATE CONTACT INFORMATION: The Sourcing Organization finds current contact information when a candidate’s records are out of date.
  • SOCIAL MEDIA RECRUITING: The Sourcing Organization works with the marketing department to develop and deliver a recruiting message across various social networks, blogs and online forums. After which, The Sourcing Organization will develop a warm lead list based on respondents to this campaign.

All requests must be submitted first to ___________ of the Sourcing Organization. No request should be considered valid until it has been approved by ____________ of the Sourcing Organization.

________________ of the Sourcing Organization is ultimately responsible for accepting and prioritizing the project requests. This is done to better serve you and to insure a reasonable timeline to complete the requested task. As such, some projects may be refused due to workload.

The Sourcing Organization is responsible for inputting the leads submitted into the Applicant Tracking System. Customer is responsible for feedback on each rejected lead supplied by The Sourcing Organization at the point of receipt.


Job Title:___________________

Requisition Number (if applicable) __________________

How long has the job been open? _________________

Is relocation an option? [  ] Yes [  ] No

What have you done to fill this position so far?  _______________

What are some of the challenges that you have encountered while trying to fill this role?  _______________

What are the skills that the candidate must have in order to be considered for this opportunity? _______________

What are the skills that would be nice for a candidate to have, but are not mandatory? _______________

Are there any competitors we need to avoid as per legal agreements? (i.e.: DO NOT CALL LISTS)?  _______________


Please list as many keywords that you can that are relevant to your request. For example, alternative Job Titles, Technical Acronyms, Competitors, Conferences, Products and the names of Experts and Luminaries associated with the industry.

  • _______________
  • _______________
  • _______________


When submitting the SSLA, please forward with it any documents that will support your request. Ideally, one or more of the following:

  • A Job Description
  • Example resumes to emulate (Candidates that were previously interviewed and/or hired into the role)


  • On (date) at (time) we will meet to discuss the SSLA.
  • By the end of the business day on (date) The Sourcing Organization would have submitted X leads.
  • On (date) at (time) we will meet to discuss the progress of this project and disposition every lead that has been accepted to date.
  • On (date) at (time) will mark the final meeting concerning this project. At this time, a continuance may also be discussed and agreed upon.


Consider the above a template that you may want to adapt to your specific needs. I would be curious to know what you think of this. Let me know by leaving a comment below? Thanks!

Jim Stroud

P.S. If your recruiting organization is in the need for social recruiting training, please do reach out to me via my employer – Bernard Hodes Group. Okay? And if you want more insight into the things I train on, click here.

Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in lead generation strategies, social media recruiting, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens and a host of startup companies. Presently, Jim Stroud is the Director of Sourcing and Social Strategy for Bernard Hodes Group. (The best job ever!)

Prior to Hodes, Jim Stroud has created and sold three online properties, managed an award-winning blog, published a weekly newsletter for jobseekers, a recruiter training magazine and co-hosted a popular technology podcast. Jim Stroud has also produced multiple web series devoted to such topics as: job search, recruiting, technology and language learning. Jim Stroud has been quoted by such publications as Globe and Mail, US News and World Report, Wall Street Journal and The Atlanta Journal and Constitution., Entrepreneur, Black Enterprise and The HR Examiner have all cited Jim Stroud for his digital influence. Jim Stroud also served as the EmCee of SourceCon, the premier global conference on sourcing for three consecutive years.

When not online, Jim Stroud suffers from withdrawal symptoms that can only be soothed by chocolate chip cookies and family time.


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