How to Source Lesson 2: Be a Conversationalist!

Kelly Dingee Kelly Dingee, Sourcing

Did you come into sourcing thinking you’d just be on the computer all day? No way! Not gonna happen. I get a lot of people who think sourcing is for them because they’re not into selling, closing, or for all intents and purposes, conversation. But you need to talk to your people. And by people I mean your recruiting team, hiring managers, clients, candidates, and potential candidates. I’ve been in sourcing jobs with complete access to all of the players, as well as jobs with limited  access. One company I worked for only wanted me to talk to the recruiters, but the hiring managers played a critical part of the intake process.

Structure will be key to your success as a sourcing conversationalist.  You can make up questions as you go, but if you have a form you’ll be consistent every time, and, if you’re like me (meeting with multiple recruiters and hiring managers), consistency in questions lends itself well to maintaining your sanity.

Consider as you draft your conversation tool what you need to know from every single initial meeting to kick off a search.  Then, consider the appropriate order for those questions.  If you’ve decided to shadow someone like I mentioned in Lesson 1, you already have a feel for what you would do. I tend to focus on what the client does, who we are hiring, the job objectives, skill-sets and so on.  Things like job title and salary come in at that end. Why? I don’t want to get hooked on finding a person by job title. Exploring the must have skill-sets first and adding ideal titles into the conversation at the end tends to allow me to start drafting search strings immediately.  Title focus can get me bogged down… especially if it’s something nebulous like Program Manager.

Once you have your form in hand, decide two things: 1) How you’re going to complete it and 2) where you’ll store it for reference. Are you going to complete it? The recruiter? The hiring manager? I’ve found it helpful to have the recruiter complete the form and then we have a meeting to discuss it.  This method has worked well for our recruiting and research team because everyone has the ability to come prepared (read up before you speak!) and the conversations are not only informed but efficient.  Most intake sessions will last 15-30 minutes depending on the difficulty of the search. It’s your job in these sessions to flow through the questions on the form and employ the 80/20 rule, letting your recruiting and/or hiring manager talk 80% of the time and using the other 20% to clarify and set expectations.

What about storage? Cloud-based is easiest for me. I hate passing attachments via email, and there are no excuses for not reading up pre-meeting if it’s in the cloud.  And, if ever in a bind with a mental fritz on the search, it’s easy to retrieve the form and re-open the conversation to figure out what’s working and what’s not, as well as what skills could also be considered.

Once you’ve got structure, the rest of the conversation process can be easy because you always have your structure to return to. Check your ego at the door, use the form as a guide, and follow-up with additional questions as they occur. Get clarification if you’re not familiar with skills. Push people to bring more viable information to you to speed the search process. Make the team accountable with deadlines if there are items that can’t be answered during the call. For example, I was doing a search for a client that had a list of programs they wanted us to search for candidates, but the list of programs wasn’t provided with the intake form. The recruiter eventually got it, but  we spent our search time on other tactics until that list was in hand.

And it goes without saying, build rapport with your team. I work in a 100% virtual firm, and building a rapport with each recruiter has not always been easy. But take the time to get to know your team, and it will definitely make your conversations more fluid and easy to have.  Have you stumbled on conversations? Hit me in the comments with your examples…