Why New Sourcers Should Participate in a Hackathon

ShannonK_OP_Blog_Hackathon Feb 2018

My first Hackathon.

On February 22, 2018, I competed in my first Sourcing Hackathon, alongside fellow OP Sourcer Alyssa Lloyd. Since I’ve only worked as a sourcer since September, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had a lot of fun, so I want to share my experience, and also encourage other sourcers new to the profession to try a Hackathon too.

What do you do in a Hackathon?

This Hackathon was hosted by the company AmazingHiring. This challenge was specifically targeted in difficulty toward junior sourcers. Since AmazingHiring’s staff are based in Russia, Alyssa and I booted up our computers bright and early at 8 AM Chicago time, 3 PM Moscow time, to compete with sourcers from around the globe.

We logged into a webinar, where AmazingHiring’s Yulia Kuzmane and sourcing pro Mark Lundgren welcomed us all to the competition. They presented the questions in the webinar, and we had between 2 and 5 minutes, depending on difficulty, to submit an answer to each question. Questions ranged from a fairly straightforward “Find this candidate’s  phone number,” to finding a Facebook video Mark Zuckerberg had commented on in 2009 – in under 5 minutes!

After we completed all 10 challenges, the Hackathon organizers took the time to compute the scores and determine the winner, and Mark and Yulia walked us through how they’d solve the questions they had written.

Why participate in a Hackathon?

1. Test your skills – And reassure your instincts

As a newbie who works alongside sourcing masters like Ben Solomon and Sarah Goldberg, I didn’t go into a sourcing competition expecting to win. But I enjoyed the opportunity to get a sense of where I stood compared to others in the industry. It was reassuring to realize that I could make it past the first several questions within the time limit – and see that these challenges are things I do every day in my work.

It was helpful to see more experienced sourcers taking the same approach I’d taken, and gratifying to see the occasional moment where I got a question right when someone else who had been sourcing for years over thought it.

2. Make New Connections

Over 100 sourcers from all over the globe took part in the Amazing Hiring Hackathon. At the beginning we did a check-in stating where we came from, and it was so cool to watch sourcers from the US, the Netherlands, India, various parts of Eastern Europe, the United Kingdom, Germany, and other countries all join the challenge.  

I really got a sense of sourcers as a community, rather than individuals coming from different companies. When the presenters shared the answers and participants shared their strategies to get to them, I got to see who is a master, and learn who I should be learning from and connecting with. As a result I joined the Sourcers Who Code facebook group to push myself to learn technology more in depth.

3. Learn New Things

The questions I missed gave me a chance to evaluate potential gaps in my sourcing strategy.

For example, one question involved Stack Overflow, a site I’ve looked at casually but have never really used to source. I was reminded that if I don’t know how to find a particular piece of information, a good first step can be to see if anyone else has built a tool to do that search. The Stack Overflow question was made much easier if you used a script for searching Stack Overflow users by city, developed by another user and freely available on Google. I also learned about two new tools for searching Facebook that I can now add to my repertoire.

4. It’s Fun

Competing on a time limit definitely got my blood pumping first thing in the morning. I enjoyed the variety of challenges and coming up with different strategies to puzzle out the answers. And I feel like I’ve earned bragging rights: I placed 23rd out of 128 participants, and Alyssa placed 25th, a testament to the awesome training we get at Objective Paradigm.

Even if you’ve only been sourcing for a few months, a Hackathon is a fun way to test your knowledge, try some new things, and learn from and connect with your peers in the industry. I definitely encourage sourcers and recruiters alike to give it a try!


Shannon Kelly, Research and Sourcing Specialist at Objective Paradigm – Chicago, is a Midwest native, born in central Missouri and holds a Sociology degree from Grinnell College in Iowa. Prior to joining OP in late 2017, they worked for a residential real estate brokerage where they used creative research strategies to find homeowners who were poised to sell in order to connect them with the real estate sales team. Shannon is excited to be utilizing their research skills full time, while diving deeper into the ever-changing technology landscape. Follow them on Twitter @shannon_n_k

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