#SourceCon Live: Hewitt’s Global Sourcing Lessons

Sep 29, 2010

Chris Gould and Tim O’Connor have built a successful global sourcing function at Hewitt Associates. But they didn’t get where they are today by not taking chances or making some mistakes along the way. They graciously shared with us at SourceCon some of the learning lessons along the way that helped them reach the success levels they’re at today.

Three years ago, Gould shared that they were structured as a full cycle recruiting team. He said that they outsourced a lot of the sourcing tasks, they didn’t track metrics, the technology was lacking, basically they had a lot of things that needed to be changed in order to grow. His vision was to make drastic changes and bring sourcing to a centralized, internal function in order to accomplish three hiring goals – increase quality, increase quantity, and decrease cost. In order to do this, Gould started with defining the sourcing roles – what would the responsibilities be, where hand offs would occur, instilling a culture of teamwork and not individualism, measuring results, etc. Team effort would help everyone focus on getting the fundamentals right and would create the unity needed in order for the sourcing efforts to go global.

Measurement, of course, is important for justifying the use of various sourcing tools. When it came to measurement, Hewitt developed a tool to track source of hire. They track each job and where the hires came from in order to better allocate budget for resource tools. They discovered that their top four sources of hire did not come from job boards, so this helped with redistributing some budget dollars. The interesting part of this is that the hire source tracking tool was built (by a sourcer on their team) on Excel. Sometimes simple is best.

Next, they started developing the team, both domestically and internationally. O’Connor hired five sourcers in India and trained them from the ground up. This was a risk for Hewitt because the new sourcers had never sourced before. But the risk produced reward. Initially, the sourcers in India backed up the North America team; but today they own their own req loads. The team has grown from five to twenty. They are AIRS certified and are promoted throughout Hewitt as a valuable resource.

Once success was shown with the India team, talk moved to developing a similar structure with the European sourcing team. But one valuable lesson Gould shared was that what works for one location may not work for another. Developing a sourcing team in Europe, they discovered, was pursued too aggressively initially. A great example of the importance of understanding the way things work in other parts of the world was the success that was found in the UK through “bus stop sourcing” – ads placed in bus stop rest areas – as opposed to using social media to source. What worked well in the US was not getting the desired responses in other places. This was a valuable lesson they learned – and they were able to adjust from here.

Today, Hewitt has found a balance globally for sourcing using social media and is utilizing different tools to reach further into their target communities. Alumni sites, live chat with sourcers from the careers page, Twitter accounts monitored by sourcers, a Facebook page, and various other social media tools like TweetMyJobs and Jobs2Web were shown as part of the social media strategy that Hewitt uses to reach potential candidates.

The final and most important part of Hewitt’s process of building a global, internal sourcing function was getting support from their executives. Gould shared all of the information gathered from their training and trials and received the support from Hewitt’s upper levels for their efforts. Of course, there is still much to learn, try, and adjust, but the Hewitt sourcing team has learned much over the last three years from taking some risks, making some mistakes, and finding what works for them with their sourcing efforts. Their global teams and the success that they are seeing from these teams are evidence that they’ve got some things right.

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