At 2:00 p.m. EST today I will be giving a webinar on innovative sourcing. If you are interested in joining me for this free seminar, use this link to register. This seminar will be about using technology and techniques to find qualified candidates for your organization. But while the tools I will discuss are powerful and useful, they are only as good as you are. Great sourcing is all about systematically building relationships and developing networks. Sourcing strategies cannot be built in a few days or weeks, nor is there a magic set of tools that make the process effortless. Successful talent agencies have recruiters on staff with years of experience ó and fat rolodexes ó who make the agencies successful. Think of sourcing just as you would about acquiring anything valuable. You assess your need and define what you are looking for. You have a pretty solid idea about what you want when you go out looking. Then you determine where you could buy whatever it is you want. You many check out several stores and even check the Internet for the product, comparing prices, availability, and quality. Then you go shopping. You enter the store, check it out, talk to a salesperson and eventually make a decision either to buy the product or not. This process is almost identical to the one you should follow for sourcing great candidates. The steps involved have to be executed in sequence. You cannot skip any and expect to be successful: 1. Know who you want. The first step is to know who it is you are looking for. As deceivingly simple as this sounds, it is often the most complex and difficult step in the entire sourcing process. You will need to spend a lot of time with your hiring managers, and in the business units that you support, building a deep and thorough understanding of the competencies, skills, and attitudes that lead to success. You need to find out who the best (most productive) employees are and spend time figuring out what they have in common that makes them successful. You will need to interview hiring managers and others who are dependent on the output of the people you are profiling. You will also need to be as neutral and objective in this process as you can be. Managers often think they know who the best workers are, but they may not be right. You will have to find out how to make a business case to the manager about why a different profile might be more useful. Some organizations are using competency analysis tools or may have something like a culture fit test that is used regularly. The results from these can be very helpful in developing the profile. A useful profile will give you a list of very specific competencies, skills and attitudes that you can interview candidates for or ask them to demonstrate for you. 2. Find out where to find them. Once you have a profile and have developed some criteria to judge candidates against, it should be much easier to discover where likely candidates might be found outside of work. The technologies I discuss can help speed up this process and they help you look in places where it would be very difficult for you to go if you did not have the tools. Blogs and other informal tools, for example, can reach those people who have no interest in changing jobs ó the really passive candidates ó and market to them. There may be websites where your ideal candidates spend time or there may be a chat room where they are active. What you have to do is research where they are and when they are there (timing is critical as well) so that you can present them with your targeted message. Some of the tools can help you look at your competitors and find out who works for them or even where they get their people. Social networking tools can link you to competitors and individuals who can refer others to you. News feeds and blogs can keep you aware of impending layoffs or other changes a company is going through that might give you a supply of good people. 3. Develop an effective strategy and set of tactics for reaching out to them. This step is relatively easy compared to the others. Technology can assist you in communicating quickly and frequently with those you find. A single email to a potential candidate will rarely be enough. You will need a systematic approach that includes email, news, enticements, and perhaps even voice contact. Many candidates need time to think and process potential changes in career or employer, so frequent communication is important, as is a compelling argument as to why they should make a move. Finding people is only a tip of the iceberg in getting them to say yes to your offer. Sourcing is really about upfront legwork and intelligence gathering, and it’s ultimately about developing a network that continuously supplies you the great people you need. The only caveat is that this process takes time and cannot be successfully implemented in a flash ó no matter how big the need or how much you spend on technology. But like all good things, your long-term investment in technology and in developing a sourcing process will pay off for a long time.
Kevin Wheeler is a globally known speaker, author, futurist, and consultant in talent management, human capital acquisition and learning & development. He has founded a number of organizations including the Future of Talent Institute, Global Learning Resources, Inc. and the Australasian Talent Conference, Ltd. He hosts Future of Talent Retreats in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. He writes frequently on LinkedIn, is a columnist for ERE.net, keynotes, and speaks at conferences and events globally, and advises firms on talent strategy. He has authored two books and hundreds of articles and white papers. He has a new book on recruiting that will be out in late summer of 2016. Prior to his current work, he had a 20+year corporate career in several San Francisco area tech and financial service firms. He has also been on the faculty of San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco. He can be reached at email@example.com.