SourceCon: We Controlled The Robots

We Controlled The Robots

So many highlights from SourceCon! It’s been a couple of weeks since our trip to Anaheim, CA, and while I am back to the sourcing grind, I also keep reliving the excitement of an inspiring trip with my teammates meeting and learning from sourcers across the globe!

We’re a community of sharers, so here goes, my SourceCon experience: We Control the Robots highlights.

The Sessions

There wasn’t a moment at SourceCon where I wasn’t sharing knowledge and learning. The sessions were all fantastic – especially the keynotes from Glen Cathey, Jeremy Roberts, and Katrina Collier.

Glen Cathey gave some of the #BooleanBlackBelt knowledge bombs that he’s famous for. We already covered some of the search strategies he introduced, but I know I’ll be thinking back to the entire session for a while still to come.

One takeaway that didn’t make it into Ben’s blog was Cathey’s conversation about “dark matter” candidates. Those are the ones who might not have a resume peppered with keywords or the specific titles that you’re looking for (or that a Machine Learning/AI algorithm might match), but who still have the skills we need.

Jeremy Roberts and Katrina Colliers’ separate sessions went fantastically well together and were particularly enlightening – how can we keep adding value in an increasingly automated world?

I don’t think that the machines are quite ready to take over, but automation will definitely change the recruiting landscape.

Jeremy, advising us on how to ensure we survive the machine age, gave us the Elmore Principles. They start with my favorite piece of advice – Know Yourself – and expand into:


Katrina pointed out that you can’t automate being human, and had us literally on our feet and hugging it out. She reminded us that everyone really only wants to talk to a human.

So – until chatbots like Wade and Wendy can pass the Turing Test, it’s time for us to show our whole human selves and “Be Peculiar.” No one wants to get recruited by a robot just yet.

The People

You know that meme “no one’s here to make friends?” SourceCon is the exact opposite of that. Everyone’s here to befriend each other and share knowledge.

Every single break was a chance to meet someone new and share the latest trick. I was torn between catching up with people I’d already met and walking up to people who quickly became new friends, and every time I walked away knowing more than I did before. Sourcing is a fairly niche community, and it’s amazing to meet researchers and recruiters who are all in the same boat as you, experiencing similar challenges. If I could talk about every person I enjoyed meeting this blog post would literally never end – but let’s start with the welcome wagon and the twitter crew!  

I was blown away by the SourceCon feeling! Last year, Kathryn Minshew reminded us that #YourVibeAttractsYourTribe. This year, Shannon Pritchett pointed out that SourceCon always feels like a family reunion. I’ve only been a sourcer for three years and attended my first SourceCon last September – six months ago! – and yet I immediately felt like I was part of the family! The Welcome Wagon was a huge part of that.


Where do I start? I’m afraid I’m going to start speaking hashtag more fluently than I can speak English.

Everyone’s gif game was on fire (sometimes literally – anyone else remember the fire drill at the first breakout?). Smashfly collected some of the best tweets if you want to catch up!

I feel like I can arm myself with #SourceCon and the slide decks and catch up on the sessions I couldn’t make it to (why, oh why, are time turners not real)? Especially Angie Verros, Tris Revill, Edsel Rivera, Katrina Collier, Marc Spiron, and Maisha Cannon. Admittedly, there were some awkward interactions where I met someone for the first time in real life without realizing that we’d been following each other for ages – but on the whole, I think we all rocked it. At any rate – it was amazing to meet so many sourcing leaders in person.



Okay, fine. I admit it. I’m a little competitive. I love hackathons and challenges of all sorts, and I have to talk at least a little bit about the SourceCon challenges.

There are two: the Grandmaster Challenge, which took place over two several week long sessions, and the hackathon. Ben, Director of Research at OP, talked a bit about the Grandmaster Challenge, but for now I’ll say: it was an honor to even compete against every single competitor.

Special shout out to Team Indeed – and Randy Bailey, the reigning 2017 SourceCon Grandmaster. He absolutely deserves his win, and I learned something new every minute I got to hang out with him. Guillaume, who tied with me, approached the challenge from a whole different angle. I can’t believe I made the top three. That said – I beat the robot! Congrats to Brilent’s AI for coming in third!   


The Hackathon was a whole different story. Susanna Conway sat down at our table before the competition started and told us she was there to win – and she did! You can read more about it at her blog post here.

(Me with Susanna Conway, who won the hackathon) #GirlPower!

There were a few levels of the competition, and Ben reminded us all why he’s the boss when he was the only member from Team OP to qualify into the SourceCon Sweet Sixteen. That said, they didn’t kick us out of the room, so I played along for the very final round (even though the only prize I could get was bragging rights).

The final round was a brand-new set of levels of by Jan Tegze. If you haven’t played them before, you should make your way there right now. The levels we played at the hackathon are live – here – and super fun. It’s ok, I’ll wait.

Ok, so I’m assuming you played through and had a good time. It’s fun, right? I might have had a slight advantage because I play these during my lunch breaks; there’s a special sort of rush when you can prove you’re right.

Here’s where the bragging rights come in: I was the first person in the room to actually solve the challenge in time. I don’t want to spoil it for you though – play it on your own and see how far you can get! The only hints I’ll give are the same ones that Jan told me – none of the pages are broken, and everything can be solved. I promise.

I took the actual winning URL out of that to protect the innocent, but go ahead and ask Jan – I made it. He added in a few extra levels, too.

I could go on and on, but I want to keep this short. Thanks so much to the whole ERE Media Team – and of course, Shannon Pritchett – for a truly wonderful conference. Now it’s time to move forward. I’ll be focusing on SourceCon Chicago and counting down the days to Austin! If you can make it to Austin, please say hi – and check out my session!

Sarah Goldberg is a Senior Sourcing and Research Specialist at Objective Paradigm. With three years of experience in sourcing, Sarah focuses on leveraging data and research to provide the best “sourcery” – candidates, processes, and tools – for her clients. Sarah focuses on finding IT talent for FinTech and start up companies in Chicago. In her free time, she is a co-organizer of Chicago Queer Tech Club. She earned a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Classical Languages and English Literature at the University of Chicago.


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