Melbourne Hosts Second Sourcing Event in Australia for 2011

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Aug 30, 2011
This article is part of a series called ERE Media Conferences.

It’s been just over a week since ATC SourcEvent 2011 in Melbourne, Australia.  I originally intended to post up something a lot sooner, but there was just so much information to digest (not to mention the amount of work I had on my desk that I needed to catch up on) that I decided to take some time out for it to all settle in. The story continues…

Australia’s second sourcing event was hosted by the Australasian Talent Conference. Since 2007, they have been a key driver in providing Australasia with the latest buzz and best practices in recruitment. As you’d expect, their attendees normally consist of recruiters (in-house, agency, and executive search) and this year’s inaugural sourcing event did not disappoint. This offered an excellent opportunity for the greater recruitment community to learn more about sourcing and the benefits it can bring to the business.

We kicked off with a warm welcome by the ever-energetic Bill Boorman. During his opening address, he impressed me by recounting his early career where he was tasked to dumpster dive to source for candidates and clients from his agency’s competitors. He followed this with some good insight into the current climate of sourcing and offered some advice of his own: To be a good sourcer, you “must be open to fail.” His point was simple. To push new boundaries, you must fail. The success of progress can be measured through failure, ideally failure occurs often, early, and cheaply.

The unconference sessions were a first for me:

  • Breakout Session 5 (Glen Cathey): Developing Killer Sourcing Tactics that can be Leveraged
  • Unconference Session 1-3 (Martin Warren): Prospect to Hire
  • Unconference Session 2-3 (Tanyth Lloyd Brown): Can You Get Hiring Managers to Engage with Passive Talent?

At times, I felt like I was at university (college) again working my way through the maze of people each heading to the next “tutorial,” bumping into friends along the way and asking them which session they were attending, making new friends, and the general open floor approach. (If you want to know about what went on in the sessions I attended ask away in the comments section.)

In this article, I’ll cover my two highlights: Glen Cathey’s keynote and the epiphany I had during Jim Stroud’s presentation.

Glen Cathey – 5 Levels of Talent Mining

Having attended his three-hour workshop the day before, I was a little worried that his session would just be a watered down version of his workshop. I was pleasantly surprised that this was not the case and he provided a short and succinct search strategy for those harder to find candidates.

I think it is important to note that a lot of what Glen advocates is centered on maximising leverage from your applicant tracking system or similar database like Seek or Monster to find the best candidate. His tiered approach to sourcing is as follows:

  1. Applicant tracking system
  2. Job board
  3. LinkedIn
  4. Internet search

Why you ask? Simple, structured, searchable. Start with the database that is most structured and searchable then slowly move towards the unstructured dirty data you find in an Internet search. I wrote down to remember that Glen comes from ‘agency-land’ where speed to fill is equally as important as having a quality candidate.

His session did touch on the issue of speed to fill vs. thoroughness in search. There is certainly more to explore on this topic but in my personal opinion the topic is more pertinent to a recruiter than a sourcer.

Glen differentiated five levels of mining for talent from your database. They are as follows:

LEVEL 1 – Keyword/Title search

Relying on a ‘lexical match’ as Glen put it i.e. searching for keywords found verbatim on the position description, also known as “Boolean bingo.” The problem with this level of search is that everyone that is literate with access to a database can achieve the same results as you so there is virtually no competitive advantage. On a side note, I think that this is probably the key reason why many companies hold their sourcing function in such low regard. What’s so special about them when they can be outsourced for $10 per hour?

LEVEL 2 – Conceptual search

Using synonyms and related terms, concepts, and titles in your search. Although this level starts to open up the spread of recruiters by requiring some basic knowledge of the role and industry, many of the related terms can be easily found by scanning through similar ads or a handful of on target candidates. Glen also highlights the fact that ‘related’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘relevant.’

LEVEL 3 – Implicit search

What isn’t explicitly mentioned in the position description. For example, if you were searching for a Project Manager it is likely they would be familiar with either ‘waterfall’ or ‘agile’ (two common project management methodologies), so in your search you might want to include these terms while including and excluding the term “project manager.”

LEVEL 4 – Natural language search

Leverage user-defined semantic searches at the sentence level i.e. search for verbs that are likely to be used to describe the job you’re recruiting for. For a technical position, terms like: configure, configures, configuring, configured, design, designs, designing, designed, build, builds, built, building, builded, deploy, deploys, deploying, deployment, deployed, etc.

LEVEL 5 – Indirect search

Searching the wrong person to find the right person. This involves specifically targeting under- and over-qualified professionals or other people who work with your ideal candidate and asking them for referrals. This in my opinion would be the last ditch effort, because this exercise is very time consuming and the probability of success is inconsistent at best.

Jim Stroud – Leveraging Non-Traditional Recruitment Avenues

With a session title of “How To Recruit With YouTube,” I must admit I was somewhat sceptical about how many candidates you can find on YouTube. Not surprising was that I was completely off the mark on what Jim had to say and I was humbled by the fact that he challenged my conception of reactive recruitment.

Before we begin, let me put some context to my position on the debate of proactive vs. reactive recruitment.

//BEGIN rant

As a researcher, proactive sourcing has always been the driving force behind my whole approach to talent acquisition and dare I say, ‘recruiting.’ I was always taught that reactive recruitment was the bane of the recruitment industry. It was the same mind-numbing, bottom of the barrel, typical post-and-pray approach which hindered the consulting piece in ‘recruitment consultant.’ The reason for this, or as I was told, is that there are many variables that work against advertising a job let alone the multitude of external variables that influence the recruitment process. To illustrate: there’s ad placement where you need to make sure you’re targeting the right market and that your ad is actually being noticed. Next, you have to balance providing enough information to pique a potential candidate’s interest whilst having a good understanding of the position you’re advertising, your company, and its culture. Not to mention the crazies you get who apply to every ad they find.

END rant//

A good portion of Jim’s approach to recruiting through YouTube has to do with marketing and employer branding. Although reactive (almost passive) in nature, it adds an element of control to the traditional post-and-pray tactic I struggled against. Here was a new variation that smacked of 21st century, Web 2.0 technology, and a logical adaptation in searching for people looking for jobs. Jim rightfully described a strategy that was modern and tapped into the candidate’s perception of the employer – and who better to describe the employer than the employer themselves through a piece of the Internet that is synonymous with modern/interactive/communicative, etc. etc. Variables still exist, but worrying about what the candidate perceives would now be less of an issue, if anything, it would now be the strong point of the recruitment process.

Having said so, I will confess that this aspect of sourcing is certainly not my forte and to be honest, I do not think it will ever be. Nonetheless over the course of the two recent Australian sourcing events (here and here) I attended, I firmly believe that it is a very important aspect to recruitment and sourcing that should not be ignored. Think about what the recruitment team at BP had to deal with in the immediate aftermath of the rig explosion and oil spill off the Gulf of Mexico. How hard do you think it was to attract deep-sea drilling engineers or oilrig operators after that?

The biggest message for me from Jim’s presentation was that there is now, more than ever, a lot more to sourcing than what’s generally being discussed and certainly more than we know about. In the coming weeks I will be looking at consolidating these various aspects and working towards building something substantial to legitimise our burgeoning industry. I brought it up during the Sourcing Summit and I’m serious about working in collaboration to building it. Watch this space!

This article is part of a series called ERE Media Conferences.
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