Mastering Your Workflow: Sourcing Edition Part II

An overview of how you may improve your day to day and become a more effective talent acquisition professional.

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Jun 20, 2023
This article is part of a series called Mastering Your Workflow.

Part II: Sourcing continued, Outreach, Phone Screens

In Part I, we started the journey of getting “ridiculously good at the basics”! For the continuation of Mastering Your Workflow, we’ll continue the basics and high touch-points. If you haven’t already, we recommend that you begin with Part I of this series, where we covered the not-so-secret to becoming a master at your craft, why your approach matters, Guiding Principles, Preparing, and Sourcing.

External Sourcing

As for every high touch point within your workflow, compartmentalize, block off, and dedicate time to source! Let Time Blocking be your friend. Based on your inbound health, leveling of the role, priorities, etc., you should have a strong idea as to how many profiles you’ll need to shortlist for outreach, e.g., if you have one headcount and the inbound applications are not quite there, you can kick off with identifying a dozen (or more) externally targeted candidates.

How many candidates you need to identify really depends on your positive response rate, make sure you stay on top of yours and aim to close the gap! Here’s a good article on response rates and The Autonomy of a Great Cold Recruiting Email. When conducting your research, let Google be your best friend, research should always be ongoing, and when you need to pull data quickly, Instant Data Scraper is a must-have, it’s an extension that lets you easily pull data from the surface web right into spreadsheets.

Before beginning any search, you should always open the profiles of all of your current team members, and consider what they all have in common, and just as importantly – what they don’t have in common (take notes, as this can be incredibly helpful when crafting a perfect Boolean).

Always consider the easiest way to find the right match. LinkedIn is undoubtedly the largest network for professionals and may be one of your go-to resources, but what you’re actually working on should determine the approach you take in your search.

  • E.g. If I’m working on Vice President and up openings, most people are shocked to find out that I’m mostly doing X-Ray searches on Google. Even basic Google searches depending on the level of talent I’m looking for, after all those tend to be highly visible people.
  • Or maybe you’re working on a software engineering role where there’s a new language or framework in the mix, you know, the one that came out last year, but the hiring manager might ask for talent with 4 years of experience? Then Github might be your new best friend.
  • Perhaps you’re looking for a Product Designer. This might be a challenging search however, consider using Dribbble & Google as resources in your talent hunt! (Tip: Save yourself some time and look for the easiest path!)
  • Utilizing an extension like Highlight This can be super helpful, think “ctrl+f”, only automated, you input your list of keywords, and this neat extension will highlight all of them automatically and wherever you go, bringing all of those defined words from your search to your attention that much faster
  • If you’re early on in your career or just stepping foot into a new arena (particularly tech) then Glossary Tech might be a frequently used tool in your toolkit. It will highlight keywords and different terms for you (based on filters) on the talent’s profile/resume and give you a quick summary of what those terms mean as you hover over them

When setting up your search, leverage different search parameters and filters in a way that serves, compliments, and empowers not only your Boolean, but the entirety of your search, as the secret to highly targeted sourcing – hangs in the delicate balance of your search, and your output will only be as good as your input!

On the note of striking the right balance; When setting up your search, focus on finding what I call the “Sweet Spot”. If you are setting up your search in two minutes, you might just be a master at your craft, or you might not be fully dialed into your search. And if you’re sourcing in LinkedIn, leverage those first few pages of candidates to identify what your search needs, what it is missing, and what parameters need to be removed, altered, or added, in order to recalibrate your search.

  • As you are dialing into your sweet spot, don’t forget to notate on the different iterations you have gone through, this way you have a tab on where you are, by knowing where you’ve been, you know – like that bit from Moana? It’s called ‘Wayfinding’!
  • Ask yourself – Is my search highly targeted, OR is it too broad with a high yield?
  • Are you finding yourself on the fence with too many profiles in your search?
  • Are you opening up and looking at one profile at a time, over-analyzing, or getting stuck in what feels like quicksand?
  • Are you leveraging that first page to calibrate and really dial into your search?
  • Are you comfortable rapidly sourcing both quality and quantity?
  • Have you cross-referenced current incumbents?

If we cast the net too wide, we will waste a lot of time, but if we cast it too small, you might miss out on folks like John or Jane on the team, whose profiles may not have every single keyword or potluck term, might not be fully “decorated,” but does indicate and show a strong signal in the desired area of expertise. Find your “sweet spot”, watch for patterns, consider the entirety of an individual’s experience and screen for the details!

Creative Outreach

Seriously, would you read and respond to your own outreach message? Call me old school, but I still like to shortlist the absolute right people and reach out to them one by one. I realize this is not always realistic, particularly in high-volume environments, but it’s one thing to have a template, but to spray and pray with a poor one is likely what’s killing your response rate.

  • Make sure your outreach is personal, easy to read, organized and to the point, enticing, fun, informative, and non-assumptive
  • Just like how you don’t want to look at resumes that are never-ending, no one wants to open an email that is too lengthy. Most people are reading this on their phone so make it “mobile friendly”.
  • While I do love LinkedIn and leverage Inmails just about every day, never rely on any one system to do your work. What would you do if that system was to crash or fail you tomorrow?

If you are working on a heavily nuanced role with a very short list of folks the team is considering, and are not reaching your desired response rate, try writing them a personal email, and see if your hiring manager is willing to help engage folks, see if you have a mutual connection with the person that can introduce you, whatever it is you do to engage them, be creative and lose the tunnel vision!

  • Gem is a nice all-in-one system for finding, sending, and keeping track of your email outreach
  • If you’re solely looking for an email finder, ContactOut offers the first 40 emails for free

Phone Screens

Be ready, be prepared, and be on time

  • If you know you have several phone screens in the afternoon, block off some time to line up everything you need, so that you can seamlessly jump between calls, efficiently and on time
  • Have your notes ready, by now you should have a clear understanding of the role, its responsibilities, day-to-day, must-haves, nice to haves, the team and how they support the greater organization, their wins, qualifying questions, etc.

Be excited, be curious

  • This may be your millionth interview, but never forget that you are interviewing a potential new team member! Sourcers and Recruiters are among the first to leave an impression on a candidate, what will yours be?

Take. Your. Time.

  • You are speaking with a person. Be natural, break all the ice you need, take the time out to set the stage, give them your glorious pitch, gather the information you need, and above all else – don’t forget to have fun, first round calls should be an engaging two-way conversation, if needed, add a buffer between your calls

Next steps

  • Provide clarity around the process, inspire transparency, go over what the process entails, manage expectations, tackle any questions or concerns raised, and be sure to cover any relevant housekeeping items, e.g., pay, accommodations needed, potential sponsorship needs, non-competes, overall timeline, etc.

Conversation ≠ Interrogation

  • Challenge the status quo! “Be the change you wish to see” – Attributed to Mahatma Gandhi
  • Whether you are speaking with an applicant or someone you have engaged from proactive outreach, you should treat everyone with the same respect, think of The Golden Rule, treat people how you would like to be treated
  • Treat every candidate, as a passive candidate; after all, they could just as easily “go in a different direction” as often as your hiring teams may do
  • Try doing the opposite of the status quo. Instead of diving into a preliminary screen and spending 25 minutes interrogating people, and then allowing them five minutes to ask questions – instead take the time to break some ice, get to know one another, set the stage, give them an overview of the role, the team, company culture, etc., and then and only then, if everything makes sense and they feel this is could be a great fit for them, then dive into their background and ensure they are!
  • You may find your conversations far more fruitful and your candidates far more committed to working with you in the long term, and the difference is day and night as not every hire comes in 45 days’ time to fill!

We’ve now reached the end of the two-part series of Mastering Your Workflow: Sourcing Edition. To master your craft, focus on the how, and put time and care into what you do. Consider what you can change, stop or begin doing to make your work a little easier, and your impact all the more profound. Everyone’s workflow may look different, so you have to assess and apply what works best for you. If you have enjoyed this article or have feedback, feel free to connect with me on with the note “#SourceCon”!

This article is part of a series called Mastering Your Workflow.
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