Disclaimer: I’ve spent years labouring over this topic. The caveat to whatever transpires next is that I haven’t actually worked in an in-house role. From what I hear it can get a little manic.
WORKING AS A SOURCER
I've often been described as a tool... and sometimes also in the context of my sourcing ability. When I'm running a project I think of myself as either a scalpel or a sledge hammer depending on the finesse required of the project. What businesses have always understood and what I, as a sourcer, only realised later is that sourcing is just that - a tool in a business' arsenal to inject new lifeblood into an organisation. It's a tool that can be initially blunt but sharpened over time and as always its effectiveness is determined by the one who wields it.
That's not to say that you as a stakeholder of this sourcing capability doesn't have a say in how it's used. I’ve written about the difference between research and sourcing and the importance of establishing the right capability for the function you are trying to establish in your business (or maybe I’ve yet to write it...). Now let’s take a closer look at how best to engage with this capability now that it’s established.
For the rest of this article I will assume you have an internal sourcing team to support a wider recruitment function. This is applicable for in-house or recruitment agencies. Let’s get crackin’.
UNDERSTAND SOURCING (NOSCE TE IPSUM)
Let's get this straight. Business, sourcing is not just a one stop shop or magic wand that will solve all your recruitment problems. You may have heard of the wonders a sourcer can bring to your team or had your own wonderful experiences in the past but in many cases their success was dependant on the fact that their utilisation was very carefully selected, deployed and measured for an exact result. The definition of sourcing is so broad that you really need to be clear and upfront of what you're expecting. My tip is to ask what they can provide before stepping into your first project.
Sourcers, your job is to know what value you can bring to the table and how this service you’re providing adds value to the business. Outline the key responsibilities for each of the parties and when the hand over occurs for candidates during the recruitment process. You identify the candidate, do you contact them? Do you phone screen them and introduce the opportunity? Agree to it before commencement and write it down. If you’re not across this, the business certainly will not be so arm yourself with that knowledge before engaging with your stakeholders - know what you can and can’t do.
HARD-TO-FILL VS HARD-TO-FIND ROLES
I want to reiterate the fact that sourcing is not a one size fits all solution. I also want to make a clear distinction between hard-to-find roles vs. hard-to-fill roles. I believe that a search orientated sourcer (researcher) is best suited to hard-to-find roles and the sourcers of the new age (buzzword?) is centered around hard-to-fill roles…. or just roles to fill in general. In industry, the distinction between the two are muddy and I often cringe when I see the two being used interchangeably. I think there is merit in differentiating the two because the service provided by these two types of roles require different approaches and possibly different skillsets.
Business, you have a role on your platform that's been sitting there unfilled for quite some time now. You've run it through the battery of recruitment channels you normally use, you've even released it to your preferred supplier list however to no avail. HA! What's the next step? The first question I'd ask is where along the recruitment process is the role breaking down? Is it during the identification process i.e. are you struggling to find people with that skillset, the right person to fit your team or are you finding it hard to attract people in general? If it's the latter then is it based on market saturation, your brand, the package or the role itself? There's a multitude of reasons why it might not be working but either way, sourcing may not be your first point of call.
Sourcers, similar to my advice above on understanding sourcing, you need to know where and when you can make an impact. By now you already know that job titles don't necessarily equate to job responsibilities. Always try to get the bigger picture and figure out for yourself if what is being asked of you is what is needed. You'll be surprised how often people try to fit a square peg into a round hole. Ask questions, ask questions, ask questions...
KNOW YOUR BOUNDARIES - AN ETHICAL DILEMMA?
Business, especially if you’re a recruiter that’s utilising sourcers. Be conscious of what you’re for. Want the mobile number of a prospect without me contacting them directly? Or perhaps you rather I did some old skool phone research and get the company directory from the receptionist?… How do you think that’s doing to go down? Would your brand look good if others knew how that information was sourced? Make sure you know what you’re asking for and for goodness sake, keep it above board.
Sourcers, I’ve written before about my thought on the ethics of headhunting but what I’m talking about in this instance is the practice of skullduggery and navigating the shadowy path of the morally grey. Don’t get me wrong, Social Engineering completely fascinates me borne our of my obsession with security in my teenage years and on more than one occasion "I’ve called into" major financial institutions to find the names of branch mangers and the like. I get the allure of testing your skills and finding your limits. Trust me, I do. Just please spare a thought for the other person on the line too.
THE HAND OVER
I alluded to this earlier in the article. This is my biggest bug bear as a sourcing professional. I’ve just spent the past five days building a highly relevant and qualified list. I’ve handed over to the recruiter and quick like a rubber-band slap to the face, I find that the list hasn’t been touched after a few week or so days.
Business, if you’re engaging a sourcer, ensure that you set up the appropriate workflows for before, during and after the engagement. Nothing demoralises a sourcer more than seeing their hard work go to waste. Strike while the iron is hot and carry on the fantastic candidate experience the sourcer has help to set up. Ideally they’ve put you on a pedestal as an expert in your space so the candidates would be excited to find out more about the role and other market intel. I understand that things do change during the recruitment process so be sure to keep the sourcer in the loop so that they can mange the candidate’s and their own expectations.
Sourcer, if you’re reading this after you’ve started the project you’ve got an uphill battle to fight. Good luck!
All in all, if you keep these key points in mind when engaging or being engaged as a sourcer, you’ll ensure you’re getting the most of this function and for the candidate, it’ll be a seamless transition from being passive to actively engaging in exploring this opportunity.