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Jun 26, 2018
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

I have some excellent news for you. Sourcing is the place to be in talent acquisition today! Recruiting as it has traditionally been known is going away. Increasingly companies are adopting recruitment process automation, and that means that there even as demand for talent increases the need for traditional full lifecycle recruiters will decrease. Adaptation of interview and assessment technology will allow companies to automate much of the work that full life cycle recruiters do today.

Chatbots will improve not only candidate experience but the number of applicants that make it into our respective applicant tracking systems. Automated interviewing is here and in time it is going to replace the recruiter screening interview. From there automated assessments and scheduling assistants will take over the process. This change will dramatically decrease the time to fill because an automated system is available 24/7 and a candidate could, in principle, go from application to being scheduled for an in-person interview in a matter of hours.

The good news for recruiters is that only the top candidates will be able to pass the screening process in a completely automated fashion. The candidates who are rated to be a 65% match will still need to be reviewed manually. However, even in these cases, it is unlikely to require extensive communication between a candidate and a recruiter. Rather a recruiter is likely to examine a file, look at test result scores and make a judgment call. Recruiters of 2020 and beyond will rarely, if ever, actually speak to a candidate.

I can hear you thinking at me, Mike I’m a sourcer, not a recruiter what on earth does this mean for me? It means a few things. The first is that what we do is going to change. At a high level what a sourcer does today is four primary activities. Our job is to identify, engage, qualify and submit candidates into the interview process that would not have otherwise applied on their own.

By 2020 sourcers will focus primarily on two activities. Identify and engage. Once the recruitment process is automated there will not be a need for a sourcer to screen a candidate. The interview process will screen candidates, and sourcers will not submit candidates to recruiters or hiring managers they will direct candidates into the pipeline to begin the evaluation, most likely by participating in some form of video interview. Glen Cathey spoke both accurately and prophetically when he said at SourceCon in Las Vegas earlier this year, “sourcing 101 is sales 101.”

Sourcers of the future will need to be excellent salespeople as their primary job will be to identify high potential talent and invite them into an automated recruitment process. For us in sourcing, especially in IT sourcing, the amount of noise in the market is about to increase. This means that engagement will become even more challenging and critical. The sourcer of 2020 will not only have to be a persuasive and persistent salesperson but also a great marketer. Sourcing and recruitment marketing are going to fuse into a new and potent combination.

It can be easy to overlook how AI is impacting other industries, but it would be unwise to ignore the way that AI is changing marketing and how that change will affect recruiting as a whole. For example, Facebook has been in the news recently because they have had a measured impact on the politics of our time. Regardless of your political views, there is a lesson here for all of us. Targeted social media and the use of chatbots for advertising and engagement is powerful and effective. Now that AI is being applied to marketing it is only a matter of time before a talent acquisition has access to this avenue of advertising. Intelligent sourcers will see that post and pray is being replaced with target and engage.

It can be hard to see the forest for the trees sometimes, but I remember learning this lesson in economics. The 20th century was defined by mass production. The 21st century will be defined by mass customization. That statement has some implications for sourcers.

Some companies have realized this already and employ sophisticated marketing campaigns, but that is the exception rather than the rule. There are many reasons why that has been, but I’m here to tell you that once the actual application and interview process is largely automated companies will have the time and resources to focus on filling those pipelines with targeted applicants. As a sourcer, this means you need to not only learn how to sell, but you have to understand how to think like a marketer.

As a sourcer here is what I believe this means for you. Today we identify, engage, qualify and submit.  We work closely with a recruiting partner and on occasion a hiring manager. In the future sourcers will first work to identify a target market of prospective talent. From there engagement becomes a two-pronged approach.

The recruitment marketer will be responsible for building the brand and selling the EVP to the target market as part of a long-term strategy. They will provide the target market with exciting and engaging content while the sourcer will engage with specific individuals within those target markets and invite them to apply to particular roles. The current recruiter/sourcer partnership will be replaced, in time, by the recruitment marketer/sourcer relationship.

The bottom line for us sourcers is this. Our jobs are changing, but of all of the professionals in and around talent acquisition, ours is the one that is most likely to see significant job growth. My advice to you would be to polish up on your Boolean and pick up a few books on sales and digital marketing. If you are a recruiter today, my advice would be to train your sourcing skills or begin thinking of another line of work because after process automation becomes standard 50% plus of the full life cycle jobs are going to go away and “recruitment” will become in large part another administrative function of HR.

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