A Note to Hiring Managers – Good Recruitment Housekeeping for the Business

Ralph's Dastardly Dream Team

I was in the Pub the other day with an ex-colleague and, as we were talking, the inevitable topic of work came up. They said everything was going well, but that they were struggling to recruit for their team.

“Why?” I asked.

“Well, the recruitment team are not providing me with any candidates”.

With a knowing nod I said, “So, I guess your top 3 fell through in that case, too bad”.

They looked at me with a pause. I could see they were thinking What do you mean, isn’t that recruitment’s job?

Here is a thought:

We meet people every day, we read articles/blogs about our industry and go to events. If you meet someone who you think would be an interesting prospect to work with, then would it not make sense to begin dialogue with them and cultivate a professional relationship?

For example, I usually have three people on a list that I would like to hire at any given moment. These are individuals that I share articles with, I have a very good idea of where in their life cycle they are, and I am very familiar with what experience they have. How did we meet? Well, one was through Twitter, the other at a conference and the last one interviewed with us but they got away.

If I could convince any one of these three contacts to enter into the recruitment process, I could hire them in good conscience knowing that they would excel in our team and exceed our expectations. I wonder how many positions would get filled with greater efficiency, and less aggravation from a line manager point of view, if this way of thinking was part of day to day activities. I mean, let’s be honest, who knows your industry better than you do? Who can sell your team better than you?

Perhaps this simple activity is too hard to adopt in a busy schedule, or the “it’s not my problem, it’s recruitment’s problem” is too easy to adopt. Either way, I would be disappointed if my 3 contacts turned me down, but at least I would have 3 profiles that I can use as an example to consult with my recruitment team.

And if one of them did get hired, I would most likely be very satisfied with the new addition to the team.

Do you take sourcing more seriously than your competitors?

half deflated by mr.enigma

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”?

Image credit.

The Sourcing Jigsaw

Studying the puzzle by Liza

I was having a conversation recently with a colleague and one of the things that really stuck out in my mind is that they said that I probably know more about the organisation than they do. Of course, being bashful, I brushed the comment off and just grinned. However, upon reflection there might be some truth in that statement.

I began to think about it and began to make the connections between recruiters and their stakeholder groups. If you think about it, usually recruiters have a set group of Business Units (BUs) that they service. As a result, they become very focused on specific skill sets. So how are sourcers different? Well, as a sourcer your portfolio of work is totally variable, you can expect to jump regularly from project to project all differing in BU’s, regions and specialisms.

Where does the skill factor come into play? Speaking to different BUs, you need to quickly get to grips with how they operate within the business/ greater market, how do they fit, whom are they dependant on and what intricacies are unique to your business unit that might not necessarily be reflective of the greater market? Once you know the answers to these questions, you can intelligently have conversations with the Line Manager/Recruiters about where to look and how to find these candidates. Never assume that recruiters and line managers are bad at candidate generation, but assume they are time “poor” and explore with them the avenues that they have not been able to cover. This involvement is crucial as they know their markets and can offer insight through their experience that otherwise means you might chase dead ends.

The skilled sourcer; aside from the actual candidate finding skills, needs a thorough understanding of levels and organisation structures and how they relate to their own business. This jigsaw can be very difficult to put together, especially if you do not know how everything within your own company fits. How could you possibly try to decipher another firm’s structure without a solid base of intelligence/knowledge?

This clarity will reap great benefits, especially once you are sourcing and identifying candidates. You can then visualise where they sit in other organisations and make educated assumptions. If you can’t answer basic questions about where people sit in a company, it usually means that they are not relevant. I have an example of this; I was doing a search for a specific type of actuary, however in all my searches a specific term kept coming up. I wrote an email to the Line manager and asked him what and where this term would normally be found. He explained to me that although I was on the right track, this term typically was related to a specific type of insurance that was not of particular interest for us. It was in fact a crossroads situation where actuaries chose to specialise more in one skill than the other. The point I am trying to make, is that I learned and identified an irrelevant skillset that would have skewed my results and ultimately wasted time.

On the flip side, this intelligence is not particularly useful to our recruiter as it is not part of the BU they are covering. It will go into my memory banks though, in case we ever need one of those special actuaries to fill in another piece of the bigger picture puzzle.

What is sourcing? #DiscSource

I put this question to some of the speakers of Discover Sourcing a few weeks ago.

In this video Oscar Mager, Shane McCusker and Ralph Meyer give me their thoughts on the subject;

I think of sourcing as the first phase of the recruitment process. It could refer to any activity that gets a candidate into process. A sourcer might be a brilliant researcher that knows how to interrogate information sources like databases, search engines and social networks. They might have an affinity for advertising and marketing, writing fantastic job ad copy and focusing on employer brand. A sourcer could also be a powerful networker – both online and in-person – focusing on relationships and connections within their industry. Some might even be a blend of all those things.

Everyone seems to have a different take on what souring is and what makes a great sourcer, here’s a few thoughts from other Discover Sourcing experts:

“Sourcing is… opening one door to find a hundred more behind it. It’s also about constantly updating our door opening skills and being interested and curious in what is behind every one of them. It’s not just about clever Boolean strings, hacks and technology it’s about people and the art of matching the right jobs to the right people at the right time.”
Martin Lee, socialmediasearch.co.uk

“To me sourcing is about bringing new candidates into process whether in-house or in an agency. Sourcing as opposed to research goes beyond identification, this is about finding someone new who is unknown to you before, engaging with them directly (ideally speaking with that person) and building enough rapport to have that potential new candidate trust you to consider them for roles in the future with clients or your organisation and be happy to maintain a relationship.”
Andy Mountney, Aspen In-house

“Sourcing is like mining for precious stones. Sometimes you can pick them up off the ground and other times you need to move 500 tonnes of earth to find a single one. Sourcing is very similar to this in the sense that intelligent searching and using the right tools determine how easy or difficult a search is going to be. Once you fully understand what you are looking for it becomes a lot easier to know where to look.”
Ralph Meyer, Ernst & Young

What does sourcing mean to you and what skills make you a great sourcer? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.

I look forward to continuing this discussion at Discover Sourcing in September.

Click here to tweet about Discover Sourcing.