5 Simple Strategies To Stop Sucking At Sourcing

Sourcing is one of those skill sets that you continue to use even after you leave recruiting–and just as relevant if your new job, like mine, involves generating marketing-qualified leads. I’ve used dozens of Chrome extensions, CRM and ATS plug-ins, and I’ve experimented with pretty much every social network or search engine over the past decade or so. At the end of the day, all I really know is that things might have drastically changed online, but the same basic best practices for finding just the right candidate just in time (or anytime) remain the same as when I first started out in recruiting.

You don’t need to Ask Jeeves to know how important developing, executing or optimizing these 5 candidate sourcing commandments are for your recruiting success–consider them your greatest asset for finding the “greatest asset” at every company.

Just please never actually say that cliché in any conversation with a candidate or in any recruiting collateral, online or off–the “greatest asset” metaphor is more hackneyed and inane than a poorly researched, highly speculative Top 10 post about talent attraction best practices.

Please enjoy.

1. Look For The Long Term. 

No matter what position you happen to be sourcing for, if you only look at each candidates’ resume or social profile in the context of an active search, then you’re forced to, more or less, reinvent the wheel with each req.

If you only look for specific matches for narrowly defined position descriptions, then there’s no point in building a pipeline, period–when you live for today, post and pray is always okay.

It’s no secret that recruiters rely on LinkedIn because it makes sourcing pretty much idiot-proof by providing a single, ostensibly reliable source for candidate information and communication. Although 92% of employers report to recruiting on LinkedIn, that same convenience comes at the cost of diminishing returns and recruiting ROI.

Recruiters need to realize that LinkedIn is just a candidate database, the same as any job board, talent community, CRM or applicant tracking system–and every database a recruiter has access to can be, more or less, leveraged like LinkedIn.

Every interaction you have with a candidate, irrespective of where you sourced them, is the door to an entire network of second and third degree connections–which is why even if a candidate isn’t right for right now, they not only might be for another role someday soon, but know somebody who’s a better fit for your open opportunities.

2. Be Selective With Your Submissions.

Recruiters tend to think that taking the time to direct source, screen and soft sell a qualified, interested candidate who isn’t knocked out because of comp should automatically be submitted for consideration. Once we establish that a candidate meets a certain baseline, the standard process is to send their resume or social profile to the hiring manager for consideration.

But even if you can quickly figure out the perfect fit, here’s a crazy thought: Don’t ever send in the first 2-3 qualified candidates you source or screen when starting a new search. Seriously. Hold your hiring horses, already.

The reason why you shouldn’t just pull the trigger on submitting a matching candidate too quickly is that finding qualified candidates quickly isn’t the goal. It’s our jobs to source and recruit the best candidates, even if that takes longer than simply submitting the first few fits you find.

Statistically speaking, there’s no chance in hell the first two or three people you find also happen to be the best possible candidates available; the math here should be fairly obvious, big data be damned.

With 5 finalists on the average slate, you should look at sourcing and screening at least two or three times that magic number before stack ranking and submitting the top candidates to your hiring manager.

Ten or 15 qualified candidates might sound like a lot for many reqs reliant on direct sourcing, but the thing is, you’re not looking for just talent, but top talent, too, which is why recruiters should submit no more than half of all your qualified candidates (hence the minimum 10 choices for every slate of finalists). Top talent doesn’t live in the bottom 50%, and that’s the bottom line.

3. Never Settle On A Single Source Or Search. 

No matter how good you are at building Boolean Strings or how many Twitter followers or Facebook fans you might have, no matter if you’re recruiting for the same role you’ve already filled a hundred times or starting out on your first ever search, it’s impossible that you’ll be able to completely exhaust the possibility of uncovering more qualified candidates in any searchable database, search engine or social network. Seriously.

Even if you had found every single needle in the haystack, how could you know that a better potential hire might not be setting up his LinkedIn profile or reading your company’s Glassdoor reviews at this exact moment? Unlikely, sure, but not impossible. This is why it’s imperative to understand that sourcing never stops, and our jobs aren’t over when we get close to an offer or onboard a candidate.

If you think you’ve exhausted all the talent pools, social networks and search strings out there that could potentially lead to new hires, well then, think again.

4. Give the Benefit of the Doubt.

The candidates you’re sourcing and engaging likely aren’t professional writers, or content marketing or branding experts, which is why you should always give a poorly written resume or social profile the benefit of the doubt. Your goal is to make them stick to their day jobs anyhow, so their copywriting skills are likely largely irrelevant when it comes to anything related to your recruiting initiatives.

Whether you’re recruiting registered nurses or certified public accountants, network administrators or project managers, a senior leader or a recent grad, the one thing that no recruiter ever looks for, ironically, is a professional resume writer or personal branding consultant.

Sure, there are a lot of them out there, but you’re recruiting for highly skilled, hard-to-fill, mission-critical roles, so who cares whether their objective statement is succinct enough or not? Why would you ever knock out a potential rock star for something as subjective as having too many pages on their resume? Seriously.

Just like you should never judge a book by its cover, you should never judge a candidate based on their resume, search results or social profiles alone. Give them the benefit of the doubt and if everything else looks like it matches up, then give them a call, too.

5. Look Before You Leap.

 In recruiting, we too often mistake inaction for inactivity, but when it comes to sourcing, there’s an appreciable difference. That’s why instead of just jumping into a search headfirst with nothing more than a spec and some search strings, taking a step back and actually creating a scalable, sustainable sourcing strategy is almost always a good idea (and almost always ends up saving time and effort in the end).

Hard to fathom, but you don’t have to do anything but be thoughtful to be doing your job–and if you’re building a pipeline without having a plan, then you’re really just doing the direct sourcing equivalent of posting and praying… submitting $h!t to see what sticks is the oldest game in the recruiting book.

But even though you can polish a turd, you can’t make it shine–and you can’t shine in sourcing without some sort of formal strategy informing your efforts. The more time you spend on the front end of the search and the more detailed your sourcing plan, the more relevant your search results are going to be and the more productive you’ll be when sourcing and screening a potential slate of submissions.

With a plan, you’ll find more candidates more quickly while costing less money and taking less time to fill open jobs. Which is kind of the point of recruiting, really.

FOT Background Check

Matt Charney is the Executive Editor for Recruiting Daily, whose flagship property, RecruitingBlogs, is the world's largest social network and content sharing platform for recruiting and HR professionals. Matt oversees editorial strategy and content marketing for RecruitingDaily's portfolio of online properties. Prior to joining RecruitingBlogs, Matt served in marketing leadership roles at leading HR technology companies like Talemetry, CornerstoneOnDemand & Monster. Matt began his career as a corporate recruiter for such companies as Walt Disney and Warner Bros. Matt has been named as one of the top 25 influencers in recruiting by publications like the Huffington Post, Glassdoor, CareerBuilder and LinkedIn, and has been recognized as one of the 2015 HR Game Changers by HR Magazine adn SHRM, the 2015 HRO Superstar for Analyst Excellence and the 2014 Top Recruiting Blogger by Social Talent. His blog mattcharney.com was also named one of the top 15 business blogs to follow by Wordpress in 2014. Matt serves as a member of the advisory boards for the Candidate Experience Awards, Rolepoint, RecruitiFi, Take the Interview, HiringSolved, Universum and Textio. Follow him @MattCharney or connect with him on LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/mattcharney).

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