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Sourcing Remains the Number One Recruitment Priority of 2016

According to research from our Newton Recruiting Insights*, 55% of our respondents list sourcing top talent as their number one challenge. This makes sense, considering that sourcing is the fuel that keeps the recruitment fire burning. When done right, it empowers employers to maintain a healthy candidate pipeline and a robust talent pool. So if sourcing is a top priority, one would assume that most organizations have an effective sourcing strategy in place, right? Actually, through our extensive involvement in the recruitment industry, we have found quite the opposite to be true.

Why Are Organizations Ill-Prepared When It Comes to Sourcing?

Traditionally, sourcing was a largely reactive function in the recruiting world. A job would open, and then recruiters would go out and fill their pipelines. Furthermore, recruiters had limited access to top talent. A recruiter’s value was measured by the talent networks that they had built up and maintained in their Rolodexes.

In recent years, however, this version of recruiting has been flipped on its head. Talent networks that were once close-looped and proprietary are now wide open thanks to sites like LinkedIn. Through the introduction of new technology, with the click of a button, companies have limitless access to candidates and vice versa. Additionally, we are now operating in a job market where the candidates hold the power. As all of these factors have come into play, competition for finding and attracting top talent has grown exponentially.

Adopt the Mentality to “Always be Hiring”

To stay competitive, organizations must adopt the mentality to “always be hiring.” A great starting place for this is developing a comprehensive sourcing strategy aligned with the overall business strategy of the organization. At Newton, when we think about our own sourcing strategy, we like to break it into two buckets – sourcing for passive candidates and sourcing for active candidates.

Passive Candidates

We will start with the more advanced of the two sourcing activities – sourcing for passive candidates. Sourcing passive candidates, or what we like to call “recruit targets,” is for those that truly love the art of recruiting. It takes a far more proactive and strategic approach to source passive candidates, but when done properly, it can lead to the best talent.

Develop a Candidate Profile

The first step to sourcing passive candidates is having a strong understanding of what your ideal candidate profile is. When creating this profile, be sure to work with members of your team, especially those who will be working closely with the new hire. Ask them to write down a description of their ideal candidate to help paint a better picture.

Define Your Search Strategy

Once you have established your prototypical candidate, it’s time to develop a focused search strategy. First, you need to identify where your ideal candidates will be most active in showcasing their professional portfolio. LinkedIn is always a great place to start for this, but to get more focused, you may also want to look into more niche websites. For example, if you are looking for a Digital Marketing Manager, consider looking into forums related to SEO, paid search marketing, or Google AdWords. Tapping into your personal network and the networks of your coworkers is also a great way to build out your search strategy for passive candidates.

#RecruitingHack Alert! – LinkedIn X-Ray Search

One #recruitinghack that we utilize daily here at Newton to help us when sourcing passive candidates is the “LinkedIn X-Ray search.” Essentially, X-Ray search is when you search for candidate profiles on LinkedIn from Google’s browser, rather than directly through LinkedIn. Why would one want to do this? Although LinkedIn is a great tool for sourcing, you can face serious search limitations (intentionally created to get users to pay for premium accounts) with a free account. X-Ray search allows you to bypass these limitations and perform unlimited, advanced searches of LinkedIn candidate profiles.

For an example of how to perform a LinkedIn X-Ray search check out this article.

Messaging – How to get Passive Candidates to Respond

Once you have identified your “recruit targets,” you need to engage with them. However, you must take caution because this requires a very delicate and nuanced approach. We mentioned before that it is a candidate’s market, so those seeking jobs hold the majority of the power. Passive candidates aren’t even looking for jobs so they hold 100% of the power (Lou Adler asserts that for critical jobs, 95% of your candidates won’t be looking for new opportunities prior to you reaching out to them).

For this reason, you need to provide enough details about the opportunity to draw a passive candidate in, yet be vague enough to keep them from immediately saying no. When first reaching out to a passive candidate, the goal is to get them to spend 30 minutes to speak with you, so don’t go for the kill immediately. Rather than providing a job description and other hard details about the job such as compensation, offer them an overview of your company’s culture to paint the picture of what type of team they will be working with. Explain why this new role is an exciting career opportunity and give them an overview of the value that they will be providing.

Lou Adler, CEO of training and search firm The Adler Group, Offers some great additional insights on recruiting passive candidates here and here.

Active Candidates

So we now  know how to effectively source passive candidates. But what about those candidates actively looking for jobs. Often times, hiring managers overlook the importance of these “active candidates” and just assume that they will fall into their laps. However, this is not the case. You must take a marketing approach to source “active candidates” and draw them into your pipeline. Below we provide our best tips for doing so.

Job Descriptions Matter

The job description may be the most overlooked aspect when it comes to sourcing active candidates. When a new job opens, most employers are so focused on filling the position fast, that they will use a boilerplate job description. Unfortunately, this is a great way to ruin your sourcing strategy.

Remember, active job seekers will be looking through hundreds of job descriptions a week, so do you really think using a generic, cookie-cutter job description will catch their eye? Your job description is often the first impression that you will make on a candidate, so be sure to make it count! Great job descriptions are often personable and written in such a way to get candidates excited about applying.

At Newton we believe that any great job description should contain the following elements:

  1. A short blurb about your company with a hook to draw candidates in
  2. A brief description of your ideal candidate
  3. A description of exactly what the person filling that role will own or do
  4. A list of requirements and qualifications that the candidate must meet

View Your Open Positions as a Product to Sell

When sourcing for active candidates, we like to frame it like this – think of the job market like any product or service market, only far more competitive. When you have an open position, you are looking to make a transaction, reimbursement in exchange for someone’s skills and experience. Considering this, your approach for attracting top talent should be similar to the approach that you take to market and sell the goods or services at your company.

Employer Brand

On the base level, this starts with your employer brand. How do job seekers perceive your company? What is the company culture like, are their growth opportunities, good benefits, etc.? Studies show that employer brand plays a large role in the candidate job search, so be sure the proper investments are made to build up your organization’s employer brand. Keep in mind, you don’t have to be the sexiest company, just be honest in your communication and let your company’s culture shine through.

Promotion and Distribution

Once you have established a strong employer brand and you have a killer job description, you need to get your job out there in front of job seekers. This can be done through strategic promotion to the right job sites, forums, and other channels where your ideal talent can be found. Beyond this, don’t be afraid to tap into social profiles and personal contacts to spread the word. Whether it be your business’s social profiles, your own personal profiles, or you have your co-workers spread the word out to their networks, these are all great ways to draw in referrals.

When running job promotions, keep in mind that although you can share jobs for free to most sites, actually promoting jobs to maximize visibility often comes with a fee. If you end up making this spend, you want a solution in place that offers budget management, can track your return on investment, and can identify what channels pull in the best candidates. Furthermore, posting out to all of these different channels is incredibly cumbersome when done manually. You will also want a system where you can share your jobs out to all of these channels from one place.

Don’t Forget About the Candidate Experience

No matter how enticing your employer brand and job descriptions are, if the application process that you offer to candidates is cumbersome, few will follow through and actually apply to your jobs. Based on a study of over 75,000 candidates, Talent Board found that 51% of respondents rated their application experience between a 1-3 on a scale of 5. Furthermore, 55% of candidates reported the application process taking them more than 30+ minutes to complete.

In modern times, this simply will not do. Looking for a new job is intimidating due to the uncertainty involved. Add to this a complex application process and you can bet that candidates will simply look for jobs elsewhere.

Our 4 Keys to Improving the Candidate Experience are:

  1. Reduce Length and Complexity of the Application
  2. Implement Pipeline Management
  3. Increase Communication
  4. Go Mobile

You can read more about these 4 keys in our article, “Complexity in the Application Process Leads to Poor Candidate Experience, High Candidate Drop-Off Rates.”

Just Remember, “Always Be Hiring!”

With the tips above, you should have a good foundation to begin building out your sourcing strategy. The most important takeaway is to have the mindset to “always be hiring.” The recruiting landscape is more competitive than it has ever been. For this reason, to stay ahead and draw in top talent, you need a comprehensive sourcing strategy that you follow on a continuous basis.

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