What is a Sourcing Hackathon?

What is a hackathon?

Let’s start off with the basics; there are multiple different kinds of hackathons. Originally, hackathons were events for programmers to create apps or programs in a limited amount of time in order to solve a specific problem. However, hackathons today are no longer specific to software engineers, programmers, or developers. In the field of Talent Acquisition, a sourcing hackathon is an event where Sourcers and Recruiters gather to show-off their sourcing skills. A sourcing hackathon is a competition where you are tasked with a series of complicated questions, and it’s up to you to find the answer. Sometimes you’re up against a clock, other times there is no time limit, and the hackathon continues until the first competitor wins. 


What kinds of questions can you expect to see on a sourcing hackathon?

You are tasked with finding specific information from the questions given to you. There are often keywords and phrases that will lead you to the solution. Common themes include searching through old versions of a website, digging through patents, or browsing through old social media posts to find snippets of information. However, it really depends on who is running the event. The theme of the 2022 SourceCon Hackathon was centered around the Seattle Art Museum, where the in-person gathering of SourceCon took place. 


How can you prepare for a sourcing hackathon?

It’s best to familiarize yourself with tools such as Google Patents, WayBack Machine, and Twitter’s Advanced Search. Brush up on some Boolean operators that you can use in your searches. You can also grab a copy of Full Stack Recruiter: The Ultimate Edition by Jan Tegze. This book is helpful for both new and experienced Talent Acquisition professionals in the field to learn sourcing techniques. Tegze has participated in sourcing hackathons in the past and has created a unique way to test an individual’s sourcing skills on Sourcing.Games.

Learn from the experts and read how previous winners have won. Ben Solomon, the Director of Sourcing at Objective Paradigm, has written about his experience winning the 2017 and 2020 SourceCon hackathons. Other previous winners have written about their experiences here.


What happens if you get stuck?

Don’t panic if you get stuck on a question! Try rewriting your Boolean string in a different way or use other keywords provided in the question. If you’re falling behind during a single question, move onto the following questions and quickly catch up to your competitors. Don’t rule yourself out of the competition if you get stuck!


Why should you compete in a sourcing hackathon?

Sourcing hackathons are a great way to test your sourcing skills. If you haven’t found the answer by the end of the event, the hosts will typically go over the best solutions. When reviewing answers, you may find that other people have used a different research method than you did. Exploring multiple ways to solve a problem can help bring new ways of sourcing for your own open roles. 

While bragging rights is a huge plus, you can also potentially win prizes from sponsors of the event! At the end of the day, the best part if challenging yourself with unique sourcing scenarios. Show up, try your best, and don’t give up.

You can find sourcing hackathons hosted by various big names in sourcing including SourceCon, AmazingHiring, and Sourcing Summit. These events can be online, in-person, or a combination of both.

See you at the next sourcing hackathon!


Senior Sourcing Consultant, Elizabeth Ure, is a leading sourcing specialist at Objective Paradigm. In her 1.5 years of working at OP, Elizabeth has assisted many leading organizations across multiple industries, helping to augment their hiring teams with sourcing solutions.




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