Best Practices for the Creation of a Successful Sourcing Model

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Jul 13, 2011

The concept of sourcing in the recruitment ‘supply chain’ is evolving in the current technology and social media age. One thing that defines the success of the evolving concept is how you fit this piece of puzzle into your entire picture. Creating an additional layer in the recruitment process has its own pros and cons. Thus it is more important to make sure the theoretical success of the sourcing model brings “practical” success numbers into your process.

Based on what I’ve found has worked for my employer, let’s review the vital things we need to consider while adding a “Sourcing” layer into your recruitment process. These suggestions are things we’ve added to the general flow of our recruiting process and have help us to achieve success on behalf of the whole team.

Note: while these points may apply more initially to a corporate recruitment process, I am sure there will be a lot of similarities in an agency sourcing model as well.

Forming your Sourcing Team

Pick your sourcers very carefully. They should have a hunter / never-say-die attitude, be a smart technology-savvy person, and most importantly someone who loves to “source.” In my previous company we used to present a small research test and observe the candidate to see how he / she approached their searches – not just what the results of the search were. Sourcing requires a special mindset!

Sourcer / Recruiter Alignment

If you have a relatively small team, it is advisable to create exclusive alignment of recruiters to sourcers. This means specific recruiters will only work with specific sourcers and not different sourcers every time. This alignment helps in creating relationships and building rapport among recruiters and sourcers. If your sourcing / recruitment structure is bigger; then it is advisable to align sourcers to recruiters as per technology / domains. This means one sourcer will work on specific technology / domain and thus support five different recruiters. It helps in avoiding duplication of candidates, and sourcing can gain flexibility in the process.

One Team Approach / Equal Treatment

One generic convention that you have to beat right upfront is that your sourcing specialists are not junior recruiters. Sourcing and recruitment should be awarded the same respect in your recruitment process as they perfectly complement one other. Sourcing hunts new candidates and recruiting closes the deals / requirements. Without candidates, recruiters could not close deals. Without deals to close, candidates wouldn’t need to be sourced. Make sure that you cascade this message very clearly through your recruitment organization. Sourcer and recruiter are two sides of the same coin. The respect and trust are important key factors in this relationship.

Involvement with Hiring Managers

Ideally, recruiters should involve sourcers at the very beginning of the search process. It makes a huge difference if the sourcer understands the requirement, business, and market directly from hiring manager. This ensures the eradication of duplication and further time-wastage due to lack of clarity. You know what they say – it’s better to hear from horses’ mouth. J

Sourcing SLAs / KPIs

The sourcing SLAs (Service Level Agreements) or KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) should be closely aligned with recruiters’ numbers. Generally speaking, it is very difficult to standardize these numbers across the board. Numbers of candidates generated, closures, etc. are very much dependent on variables such as technology, domain, geography, and so forth. It is highly recommended that while you fix specific numbers overall, your system needs to have necessary flexibility to differentiate niche skills from ‘vanilla’ skills. Also, though number of candidates generated is an important criterion, remember that closures of open positions are the final goal.

Sourcing Channels

Apart from direct sourcing, we also have other sourcing channels like vendors, employee referrals, career portal, and others. All these sourcing channels should directly come under the sourcing team and feed to the total sourcing funnel.

Communication and Feedback Mechanism

Free flow of communication and feedback are decisive factors for having an effective sourcing / recruitment model. More often, it comes with a danger of “lost in translation,” due dividing end-to-end recruitment responsibilities into a two-way model. While communication is very vital for building trust between sourcing and recruiting, the feedback should be driven by your recruitment system and processes put in place.

Sourcers and recruiters tend to have some overlapping activities between them, but they have their own unique set of competencies. Both these functions should trust one other while making decisions and creating strategies. In situations where there is a lack of the trust, quite often you get into scenarios of “passing the buck” and playing the “blame-game.” These are toxic for creating a team environment within an effective sourcing / recruiter model.

Continuous Improvement

There should be a deliberate effort put forth to continually develop both sourcing and recruiting competencies and train teams on technical as well as soft skills. One of the important reasons an effective sourcer / recruiter model works is because each has its own set of unique competencies that allow sourcing and recruiting professionals to focus on their job. Both these functions should always look at continuous process / skill improvement for changing demands in the market.

Lastly, and arguably most importantly, in order for a successful sourcing / recruiting model to work, management should have a strong buy-in and support. In early days this model tended to have a lot of criticism, as many recruiters believed that they were being ‘replaced’ to some degree. This may trigger internal issues including lack of feedback, trust, and blame-games. A recruitment leader should make sure that these issues are ironed out in the early days, and very clear lines of communication and processes should be defined.

With the beginning of a “specialization” era in recruitment and the ever-evolving sourcing function, change is inevitable. How will your team work together? By following these best practices, my hope is that it will work successfully.

If you have best practices to share on how sourcing and recruiting teams can work together effectively, please share them in the comments.

image source: Scott Maxwell

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