Talent Acquisition

Sourcing Evolution: From Recruiter to Sourcing Talent Manager

I was recently on a great webinar by Jobvite entitled: “The Art & Science of Sourcing: A Virtual Round Table“.

One of the discussion points was focused on the role of the recruiter versus a dedicated sourcing consultant and/or researcher. With a number of different perspective there were some great take away lessons. The sourcing gurus and contributors on the webinar were: André Boulais (Lead Sourcing Strategist – Global Recruiting at Exact Target); John Keuhn (Critical Talent Associate at Devon Energy); Brad Cook (VP Global Talent Acquisition at Informatica); Will Giese (Team Development/Staffing at Flipboard); and (one of my favs!) – Larry Hernandez (Sourcing Guru at Zappos Family of Companies).

The one thing that everyone agreed on, was that whether you have an internal or onsite recruitment function, the landscape and expectation of the recruiter is dramatically changing. A recruiter’s ability to source the right candidates from different channels, with more advanced knowledge of creative sourcing techniques is in greater demand.

It’s been changing for the past few years, yet it is still a challenge for many HR and Recruitment managers to change old recruiting behaviours and get their people on board.  As HR and Recruitment managers look to take the recruitment capability in their businesses to a new level, many are finding that the slower a recruiter’s ability to evolve and move with the needs of the business, the slower the organisation will take to adopt innovative and up to date attraction, sourcing and talent management solutions.

As I continue to have these conversations with many managers, the question is….do you lay down the gauntlet of expectations and behaviors and hope that they get on board, or do you continue to try and change old habits?  The other question is, are great sourcing consultants made or are they born?

I find that good sourcing consultants are curious…they want to understand what else can be done, how to do it better. That is more an attribute than a skill. Gone are the days when a recruiter would receive a job from the hiring manager, put an ad up on a job board and then wait for the response to come in.

Well those days aren’t actually gone but that’s the difference between having an active sourcing strategy or a passive one! It’s time for recruiters to become masters of their business line or critical skill focus and start to build sourcing strategies that will guide their business managers and candidates to a successful meeting point.

1) Understand the Business Needs and Objectives of Your Hiring Community:

One of the discussions on the webinar was the fact that recruiters are no longer just there to find talent but they are there to attract talent. Their role is one of selling. Selling the opportunity, the company and the all the benefits that go with that. So as recruiters need to up the anti when it comes to selling, doesn’t it follow that they really need to be engaged in the direction the business is heading? This would, therefore, allow them to build targeted talent pools, communities and networks not only for now, but for the future.

The key question that recruiters need to be asked is: Where does the business that I’m recruiting for need to be in a year, two years, 5 years? It’s not only up to the recruiter but it is also up to the business to recognize that it’s a partnership. Their recruiter and talent partner is unable to build proactive and focused strategies if they are not invited and included at the table when those discussions are happening.

Some of the greatest and most successful partnerships that I’ve experienced, is when you’re able to provide your recruitment expertise, within a conversation based on business objectives and commercial outcomes. Why? Because empowering your recruiter to be a partner and not just a process manager allows them to come up with innovative and compelling sourcing strategies for your target community.

2) Build a Sourcing and Recruitment Strategy Through Review and Consultation:

If the business needs to hire 1000 people this year then the question is, when and where? When do they need to be hired by in order to affect the bottom line and create efficiencies in the business and where will we find them?

Have a strong and focused sourcing plan when it’s based on growth can start the proactive cogs turning. If you need to hire 200 people in Q1:

  • How will you do that?
  • Where will they come from?
  • How will you track your success?
  • If it doesn’t happen then what is the knock on effect?
  • If you need to then hire 400 people in Q2 and 300 in Q3 and then 100 in Q4 due to seasonality then what factors are going to affect your ability to successfully meet those targets?
  • Will it be through social recruiting and building an audience and community, will it be through major referral drives across the business or will some of it need to be through search, internal, agency, talent pools?

As the old saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” and many recruiters fail to ask the questions need to drive more critical thinking.  The other issue are businesses who are unable to workforce plan in order to allow their recruiters to become proactive talent managers.

3) Deliver Engaged Talent Pools and Communities:

Getting better at the way that we engage with candidates is a must. It’s now a candidate driven market and organisations who are not interested in two way communication will become less desirable to candidates who are receiving personal communications from businesses that want to listen as well as talk.

The talent pool has been around for as long as I can remember, but the more I speak to businesses the more the I find that it’s not something that is done very well a lot of the time. It starts well but then recruiters change or focus changes and the talent pool lapses and becomes inactive or forgotten. The other issue is that if you have a number of recruiters working on a single talent pool then they each have different ideas of what the criteria for entry should be.

Agreeing as a team what the focus is and why is the first step to successful talent pooling. If the team understand the commercial viability of the talent pool – the WHY we are building this and what the benefits will be, as well as what the criteria for entry to the talent pool should look like, then hopefully everyone feels that it’s going to be a great source of quick reference. Putting candidates who came 2nd at interview or even those who were shortlisted generally are some of the basics.

Another focus that many recruiters miss when it comes to talent pools is that if you engage them in the right way, then your talent pool may become a talent community, recommending other great candidates to you because they love the information that you send, they keep up with the jobs and share that information with colleagues and friends. I heard a number of friends tell me that they are part of a talent pool for X organisation and even though they aren’t looking right now, they do like getting the updates about what’s going on with that business. Be interesting and it’s amazing how much that information will be talked about!

4) Know Your Sourcing Channels:

When I was a recruiter, one of the things I loved to own in my role was the source mix. It meant that from day one, when recruiting for a particular business division, that I could show what percentage of each source my hires were coming from. It helped me make decisions when building the recruitment strategy for that business group as to what our activities were going to be, what events were were going to run and which channels my best candidates were coming from.

We needed to reduce recruitment costs, so how were we going to increase direct, referrals and internals? What campaigns were we going to run? It made me think outside the box for new and fun ways to engage both our external and internal talent. It also provided the opportunity for me to do a Employee Value Proposition (EVP) project for my group so that I had some great message to go out to market with and attract candidates ourselves with a compelling and real message. By knowing where candidates are coming from, it gives the recruiter more of an ownership point. This allows the conversation to be more than just process driven and can deliver a more fulfilling and interesting outcome when it comes to sourcing strategies.

None of this is new information, it’s about driving change on an ongoing basis to create more engaged, influential, innovative and successful recruitment teams; and the great thing is that everyone benefits in the end!

What’s your great recruitment challenge when it comes to either securing or upskilling proactive and engaged recruiters and sourcers who deliver more? Let us know in the comments below.

By Suzanne Chadwick

Suzanne is the Digital & Sourcing Innovation Manager for HudsonRPO, AsiaPac ~ Working with organisations to develop targeted sourcing, social recruiting & engagement strategies to meet business needs.