I recently went to a conference full of HR and Recruitment Leaders. I felt like I was totally in my element, talking to peers and influencers of our markets and shaking hands with industry heroes etc. During our discussions we inevitably we came to the topic of direct sourcing and began talking about it.
All I can say is I was very surprised, in fact, I was absolutely dumbfounded when I discovered how little recruitment leaders knew about basic Direct Sourcing; never mind the more complex issues that are associated with it.
I had several discussions with different people who explained to me the role of a researcher was to learn the “how to of recruitment” and then to progress to a recruiter level position and begin stakeholder management. Essentially that was their career track. Or, “yes we do direct sourcing through social media” Q: “Like what?” A: “Oh you know, we are on the Professional networks”.
I was fuming and disappointed all at once, I almost felt like a half deflated balloon. But then I began to think about this a little differently. If direct sourcing is not done well, is that a big problem for you and me?
Well, no, in fact it is totally the opposite. It’s a great thing. Let me explain:
I used to work with a team of sourcers and occasionally we would come across a search that was done to death, you know the one, you have placed three or four candidates and the business needs two more. All of our media was over used and the market had not refreshed yet. I was asked to step in (with fresh eyes) and my colleagues explained to me what they had done so far. A few days later I came up with a list of another forty potential candidates. There were looks of awe and disdain all rolled into one. First reaction was: “how did you find these people?”
Now let me make this clear, I am probably a “medium” when it comes to skill level at technical sourcing. But I know that using different information sources and cross referencing with professional networks like LinkedIn, will usually yield you some results that are not keyword searchable on that platform. A lot of professional profiles are just a name, job title and company (if that). Those profiles are unlikely to come up in most keyword searches. I explained this to my colleagues; I think someone called me a “nerd” and took the list to go transact it.
Here is the theory:
If I know my competitor organisations are not taking candidate sourcing absolutely seriously and are adopting half measures approaching this issue; this is great! It means that they are not going to find the people that we are both looking for. This means I get first pick of a pool of passive candidates that no-one really speaks to, and I am going to find candidates that don’t already have 5 offers at any one time.
So when that question comes out in conversation, “so Ralph, what do you do for a living?” I am torn between a few ways of answering it. Should I say that I am a humble researcher (tongue in cheek), or “I’m your biggest competitor that you did not know of”?