5 Tips For Sourcing Success Using Online & Offline Social Media & Networking

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Jul 5, 2016
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

This month I would like to follow-on from my previous posts on email sourcing and phone sourcing to discuss approaches and tactics sourcers can use to have online and offline success using social media.
I feel there is already enough advice in the blogosphere on where to find talent online or how to source on all the social media sites such as Linkedin Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. I do not wish to follow this well-travelled path as it would be repetitious to the SourceCon audience. Instead, I hope to provide more practical advice to sourcers on how to source for talent rather than where to source for talent.

A maxim of war and sports is that it’s not the battle or game plan that counts, it’s the execution of the plan that counts. The same holds true in the war for talent. It is meaningless to develop a social media sourcing plan that only results in a list of target candidates on paper without the real-life implementation of your plan resulting in top well-matched candidates in your pipeline.

Therefore, without further ado, I will proceed with providing five specific tips and suggested changes you can take to improve your sourcing results using social media.


1) Social Media & Chrome Extensions, They Are Sourcing Tools, Not Sourcing Solutions

Above all else, I hope sourcers can take away from this article the understanding that social media, chrome extensions, Google, etc. are merely tools to help you source, they are not and will never be the solution to your sourcing goals. Social media and other digital tools can make sourcing more efficient and more effective. However, social media cannot help you with the proper content to approach a prospective candidate on email. Social media and tools cannot provide you with the verbal skills and confidence to pick up a phone and excite a candidate on interviewing for your job opening. Social media and online tools cannot provide you with the offline trust and rapport relationship building skills to gather market intelligence and information that help you source the right candidates for your job openings. Therefore,

Instead of: focusing the vast majority of your sourcing time simply finding and connecting with prospective candidates on social media

You may try to: give equal time to developing and adjusting your verbal and written communications to candidates and also learning more about the marketplace for the talent pool you are targeting. A little effort towards improving your communication skills and marketplace knowledge at the start of every search will help you as a sourcer maximize your effectiveness when and if you do connect via email or phone with a prospective candidate.


2) Keep The Human In Human Capital. Most Information Sourcers Want Is Not Online. The Best Info For Sourcers Is Gathered Offline

Social media and the growth of online information has revolutionized recruiting. The amount of data and ability to find and connect with people is growing at a remarkable rate. However, it is important for sourcers to remember that just because something is not online does not mean it does not exist. In fact, most information you will want will not be found online. The most accurate information tends not to be found online. Ultimately, the best information will be found through real life human to human interactions, conversations, and relationships. Therefore,

Instead of: basing your target list of candidates exclusively on what you find online before speaking with a single person about your job opening

You may: over time start cultivating relationships with trusted “go to” experts who can provide advice, market intelligence, and referrals and over all helping you avoid reinventing the wheel before you begin your sourcing efforts. Additionally, it is always a good idea for all sourcers to keep detailed records and entries in their database so that over time they have a readymade list of prospective candidates every time your company has the same or a similar job opening in the future. Keeping detailed entries and notes in databases and/or find those made by colleagues has brought me much sourcing success using far less effort and time than had I focused mostly on sourcing candidates from social media.


3) Online & Offline Follow-Up Is The Most Important Aspect Of Social Media Sourcing Success

Sourcing activity is no different from any sporting activity such as hitting a baseball, swinging a golf club, or shooting a basketball. It is follow through to completion that ultimately will determine your success. Just as multiple swings or shots are required throughout a sporting contest in order to win the match, a good recruiting sourcer swings and follow’s through to completion using multiple online and offline channels. Therefore,

Instead of: trying to contact a prospective candidate on Linkedin THEN Facebook THEN Twitter THEN Googling, etc. for their email or phone number THEN networking with mutual acquaintances

You may try: all of the above from the start at the same time and/or in a short time period. In the time it takes you to do multiple advanced boolean searches for a prospective candidate’s phone number, you could have contacted multiple top candidates by googling for their employer’s main phone number and asking to be connected to him/her. Remember, your initial goal as sourcer trying to narrow the funnel is not to “sell” every prospective candidate on your job opening, but rather to get an informed response from every prospective candidate. There is no worse feeling in recruiting, whether in-house or agency, than missing out on a placement of a candidate with whom you did not follow-up to completion. By completion, I mean until you connected with the prospective candidate, pitched the job, and received an informed yes/no response in regards to interest in the job.


4) Social Media Can Become A Time Killing Social Maze. Tread Carefully & Be Efficient

Boolean searching on Google and social media is a very important skill for sourcing success. However, many sourcers and talent acquisition leaders believe it is the only important aspect of sourcing success. Social media and online tools can easily become a vicious black hole sucking up your time and energy and pulling you away from your focus on successfully sourcing a solid pipeline of top talent for your hiring managers. In the war for talent, it is important for sourcers as individuals, who have limited time and resources to expend, to play guerrilla warfare on social media – get in, get what you need, and then get out as soon as you can. Repeat as needed as you look to develop a full list and pipeline of candidates for your job opening. Therefore,

Instead of: waiting until a full, detailed list of candidates and their contact info, etc. is developed before contacting is single candidate

You may try: to contact candidates one by one as you add them to your list of target candidates. Remember, contacting someone about a job is not synonymous with recruiting or sourcing someone for a job. Don’t overthink it. Get out of the social media maze once you find someone worth contacting & contact them right away in the most comprehensive way practicable – email, phone, etc. whatever is easily and readily available to you.


5) Sourcers Don’t Start by Sniping For Talent On Social Media; They First Surround Talent’s Network on Social Media

In a previous posting of mine on SourceCon, I advised sourcers “you first market for job openings before you recruit for job openings.” This same general sourcing principle applies on a micro level when trying to source specific candidates. To that end, the first thing you as a sourcer should be doing on social media is simply finding people worth contacting about the job opening and not over thinking whether or not they are a perfect match for the job opening; that will come later as you find and contact more and more people and receive feedback and responses to your outreach. Speaking only for myself, I have found social media sourcing success by defining someone as “worth contacting” if a quick glance at their social media profile indicates he is either a) a good prospective match for the job opening or b) appears to be in likely position to know someone who could be a good match for the job opening.

For example, let’s say I do a LinkedIn search and do indeed find a nominally “perfect match” candidate. Instead of focusing my efforts just on that candidate & finding those like him, I try to hedge the chance I will have difficulty connecting with the candidate via phone, email, direct messaging, etc. by also connecting with his/her peers, former co-workers, etc. with similar profiles. On social media, do not think of finding specific candidates for your job opening; think in terms of finding pools of good people to connect with and contact for your job opening. Therefore,

Instead of: starting your sourcing efforts on social media by thoroughly reviewing every candidate’s profile and thinking in terms of “match vs. not a match” for the job.”

You may try: to start your social media sourcing efforts by thinking in terms of “worth contacting vs. not worth contacting” about the job. The net effect of this approach is to have a very large funnel from which to start on every search. You will then be able to narrow the funnel as you connect with each person one by one.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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