Keeping Your Sourcers and Sourcing Vendors Accountable

Many of you have hired dedicated in-house people to search the Internet for resumes as well as names and numbers of candidates that match your requisitions. Some of you may have hired “sourcing teams,” while others have an individual “sourcer” who supports three or more recruiters. In either case, you know that Internet sourcing and name generation/networking are certainly among the most cost-effective ways to recruit candidates. But how do you know if you are getting the most from your sourcer? And what should your expectations be when it comes to this newly created position? If your sourcer is not coming up with results, do you question whether they’ve covered all of the available sites? With no structure or metrics for the sourcing position, how can you keep your sourcer accountable, and likewise reward them for their work? Below are some tips on how to assess the work your sourcers are doing and make sure they are accountable:

  1. You need to be the expert on sourcing. A good manager knows how to do the sourcer’s job better than the sourcers do. How can you train, mentor, and gauge results if you can’t get on the Internet and source yourself? It’s not enough to simply hire an entry-level individual, send them to an Internet training course, and expect that they are going to understand recruitment and sourcing. Sourcers will inevitably need guidance, and that guidance has to come from you.
  2. Use research forms to track the research and search strings used. In order to make improvements on their searches, you need to know where your sourcers went, how they searched, and what they found. Tracking this activity is also a great way to prevent reinventing the search wheel. By documenting great resource sites for certain positions, for example, you allow the search to become that much more efficient the next time around. I personally use the forms to make sure my sourcers are turning over every stone, as well as to mentor on additional ideas or avenues I would try. Many times I can recommend a search string they neglected to use or a potential technique they could have missed. Sourcers are only going to get better with regular mentoring and quality checks. Remember, it’s not just about sourcing but also understanding the world of recruitment!
  3. Use the research form to measure results. We use two columns to measure each search string within a source. One column is the total number of results while the other column is the number of qualified results within that total number. This is important because it documents which search strings and sources gave you the most qualified candidates. By measuring “quality” vs. “quantity,” you are better able to adjust your budget and measure the effectiveness of a search site. I also use the columns to gauge the sourcer’s thought process. If I find they are searching through 250 results to find three qualified candidates, then I can teach them how to adjust their search string to get exactly what they are looking for. Time is money, and searching through results upward of 100 for one search string is not very fruitful.
  4. Establish clear realistic expectations. You cannot create clear and realistic expectations for your Sourcer unless you understand their job completely (point #1). Too little time spent sourcing a job leads me to believe they did not investigate enough, while too much time on a job makes me think they were dawdling a bit or need training. The research form is key in assisting you with setting proper expectations. I understand that not all searches are the same, but I also am experienced enough to know what to expect from each type of search ? a good manager knows this. Keyword searches like tough-to-find software knowledge are quick to source: it’s either on the resume or not. Conceptual searches where candidates are expected to come from a certain industry or have quite a few years of experience take a bit more time.

Here are the expectations I have for my sourcing team in order to give you a guideline of what to expect. A sourcer should be able to source 20-30 searches a month. This means they are searching everywhere. A sourcer should be able to fill at least 85% of the searches given to them (meaning you should be getting candidates to interview). A sourcer focuses only on qualified candidates (you get plenty of unqualified folks to weed through from your job postings). For each search, a sourcer should target and contact 20-40 candidates in order to result in 3-8 interested candidates. It is a numbers game, because not all candidates will want to relocate to your specific city or be within your salary range. If you have a sourcer working on more than 30 requisitions a month, then it’s probably time to outsource the overflow to an Internet sourcing company. But not all Internet sourcing vendors are the same! It is just as important to keep your vendors accountable as it is your in-house sourcers, probably more so. When evaluating an outside sourcing vendor, it is critical to ask these questions of the specific “sourcing specialist” you will work with. If you’re not working with a specific “sourcing specialist,” but simply tossing them your job description, then do not work with them! (Half the battle is taking a good requisition and understanding the client’s needs.) Here are some of the questions you should ask an outside sourcing specialist:

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  1. What is your recruiting background? If your vendor is hiring “entry level” candidates to source for you, then that’s the kind of results you’ll end up getting. With only one year of recruiting experience, how are they to understand your complex needs?
  2. What is your guarantee? This comes down to expectations. If the sourcing specialist is not able to make a guaranteed expectation of what you will be receiving, then don’t work with them.
  3. How far back are you sourcing? Anyone can go back 90 days on a resume database and come up with results, but do you really think that a good candidate would be available after 90 days? What about 30 days? The correct answer to this question should be 15 to 30 days maximum.
  4. Where are you sourcing? If they are only searching their own database, then obviously results will be limited. Most vendors will not tell you exactly where they are sourcing, but they should give you an idea of the various locations and search techniques they are using.
  5. Do I have to pay upfront? You should not have to pay for services until after they have been delivered. You may have to sign an agreement that states that you have intentions to pay if the guarantee is met, but it should not be expected that you should pay upfront.

Hopefully, these tips will help you to better structure your sourcing position or sourcing vendor relationship. Sourcing is an art, and not all people are cut out to perform it. By setting clear expectations upfront, you are relieving what could be a huge headache in the future. Good luck! <*SPONSORMESSAGE*>

Audra Slinkey is a leading Internet Recruiting Consultant who has designed the Recruiters-Aid PERS (Proprietary E-Recruitment System) to ensure Internet recruiting success. Recruiters-Aid provides Internet candidate sourcing and screening services, and guarantees results—or the clients do not pay. Recruiters-Aid manages one of the largest FREE recruiting resource sites online. Recruiters-Aid services were created specifically for recruiters who don't have time to source the Internet themselves.

ContactAudra at aslinkey@recruiters-aid.com

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3 Comments on “Keeping Your Sourcers and Sourcing Vendors Accountable

  1. Thanks so much for another great article Audra! I have recently moved into a supervisory roll of our off site cybrarians (sourcers)as I have been considered the company sourcing guru.
    It’s great to see an article that reinforces the importance of hiring a good sourcer and not treating the position as an entry level position, but rather creating a partnership in recruiting strategy.

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  2. “How do you know that you’re getting the most from your sourcer?” A very good question! A question, undoubtedly asked by every company, corporation, agency, consulting firm, and ?Mom & Pop? shop that has ever considered establishing a sourcing function.
    Measuring sourcing’s effectiveness can quite often be subjective. For every metric that is instituted, a reason for it being the wrong metric can be established. The metric for recruiters is easy. There is a direct result of their effort, hires. Hires or placements is and should be the main metric for recruiters. Unfortunately, the actions of sourcers do not always have a direct measurable metric that isn?t subjective.

    The problem stems from the fact that in most companies the sourcers do not have direct access to the hiring authorities. They receive their information from the recruiters. So, the question arises ?How do I hold a sourcer responsible for hires, if he does not meet with the hiring authority??
    It might stand to reason that as the sourcer must satisfy the recruiter, the recruiter is the client of the sourcer. Many sourcers will argue that the metric for assessment should be: ?The number of candidates the sourcer supplies to the recruiter that are passed on to the client.? The problem with this scenario is that it puts the sourcer and the recruiter in an adversarial position if the hire does not occur. The recruiter will say the placement did not occur because the sourcer brought the wrong candidate to the table. The sourcer will offer or did the recruiter not have the right specifications. I guarantee that there will be two differing opinions if each participant is asked. The argument that the sourcer will bring to the table is ?I gave the recruiter what he asked for and therefore I have done my job? ?It is the recruiter?s responsibility to sell the candidate to the client.? ?The recruiter obviously felt I gave him a qualified candidate.? ?If he?s sold, then I?ve done my job.?

    While this may sound reasonable, it will profit your company nothing if placements aren?t made and the recruiter and sourcer both blame each other. The true metric for sourcing is Placements. Placements power the company. Without placements the company will soon be defunct. The sourcer that has the: ?It?s not my job” attitude does little to benefit the company. If the recruiter is the problem in the eyes of the sourcer then the sourcer should take steps to rectify the situation, not abdicate from it. If placements are used as the metric then the recruiters and sourcers both have the same goal and can team to accomplish that goal. Teaming will facilitate placements, and placements will ensure the success of both the recruiter and the sourcer. Their success will ensure that the company succeeds. Placements are the metrics that matter above all else.

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  3. I earlier in my career played the “sourcer” role and unfortunately disovered that even when you supply a minimum number of qualified candidates to recruiters and the search specs are complete, if the recruiters in question are poor closers, then the candidates won’t be placed. So if the situation is going to work, hopefully the sourcer will identify up front how competent a closer the recruiter is. measured NOT by billing but by closing ratio. Obviously a high closing ratio will give the sourcer confidence that his candidates will be placed.

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