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Sep 11, 2019

This two-part series will take a look at six different steps in examining and building your sourcing strategy.

  1. Sourcing without strategy: my story
  2. What is the sourcing strategy
  3. Four steps for building a productive sourcing strategy
  4. Support tools
  5. When you don’t need a sourcing strategy
  6. Conclusion

Sourcing Without Strategy: My History

I had been working as a technical recruiter before I started to think about y sourcing strategy. One day, I received a message from y US colleague that said, “Hey Ira. I’ve heard you’re a mature sourcer. Can you help us with hiring sales-people?” Imagine my reaction.

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Test Engineers, Software Engineers, DevOps Engineers in Ukraine are common positions for me. I’m familiar with the technical vocabulary, I’ve explored all the technical sources and communities. Hiring US-based sales-people turned out to be outside of my comfort zone. New country, new “game rules,” non-technical position. Eventually, I managed to source more than 1200 sales-people, so I decided to share my story with you.

I usually put myself two main questions: “why?” and “what is the purpose?” I argue for the benefit of building a sourcing strategy. You can count it in dollars. Have you heard about the “30 seconds rule”? It’s average time recruiters need to spend screening a CV to conclude. Thus, if I’m looking for Insurance Agents in Columbus, Ohio, I would need to review about 26,300 candidate profiles and spend roughly 220 hours screening LinkedIn profiles of potential candidates, which is nearly 28 working days.

Sounds quite scary. That’s where building a wise sourcing strategy comes of use.

We need to clarify our search strings, avoid irrelevant screening profiles, save our time, shorten time-to-hire and cut the cost-of-hire as a result.

What Is a Sourcing Strategy?

The generally accepted definition of a“sourcing strategy” can’t be found at the moment. I didn’t seem to find any informative and useful articles about the topic except a speech from Vince Szymczak.

In a particular understanding, all recruiters use a sourcing strategy. We all go through the steps of building a sourcing strategy, although it might be instinctive or not adequately organized.

Glen Cathey wrote in his article “Recruiting: Art or Science?”: “My professional opinion is that recruiting (including sourcing) is 80% “science,” 20% “art.”

I view a sourcing strategy as a mix of a data-driven approach and creativity.

Four Steps for Building a Productive Sourcing Strategy

First step

First of all, we should sort the requests from our hiring manager and build a “portrait of a perfect candidate.” Some of us would review the job description, but in my opinion, that’s not enough.

How many variants of Front-end developer titles have you come across? UI Engineer, Web Developer, ReactJS Programmer, JavaScript Coder. In the same way insurance agents, for example, might call themselves in different ways: Insurance Owners, Sales Agents, Insurance Agents.

To increase and clarify the search results, we should start by studying and collecting the technical notions and their variations.

I recommend collaborating actively with your team since your colleagues can mention synonyms. They may happen to know that C# and .NET are equivalent skills or that Ruby Developers often call themselves Ruby on Rails Developers. Both variants will be useful in the search.

In the same way, you should pay attention to the job titles and skill names when you screen LinkedIn profiles and CVs. You can review the profiles of your colleagues and create the first collection of synonyms, to begin with.

Second step

We should explore our recruitment analytics. The goal is simple. We should elicit the most useful sources.

Review the annual-based recruitment analytics:

  • From what companies we hire the best candidates?
  • From which sources we hire candidates?

Why is it important? We save time. For example, if we’re looking for a Designer, we start from Dribbble or Behance, not from LinkedIn. But for salespeople, I decided to start the search from LinkedIn. The analysis had shown that candidates are active users of LinkedIn.

If you’re looking for candidates for the position you worked with before, you can discuss this case with the recruitment team. Maybe, your colleague already reviewed all the GitHub profiles, and you should not waste your time doing this once more.

Third step

We all know about LinkedIn, Facebook, GitHub, StackOverflow. But let’s see what other services, forums, and sites are popular among the potential candidates. For example, my team told me about the app where people evaluate craft beer and check in every pub. And I thought: “Wow! I haven’t sourced in that app yet! But I know that many Developers like craft beer!”. This how I found a new source “outside the box.” Get as much info from your team as possible. Where do your candidates spend their time besides the popular online services?

Analyze the specifics of the domain area. If you’re looking for a rare specialist, you should dive deep into the details of the craft. For example, insurance agents have different licenses (home, health, or a few of them) and can work in some states only. There are lots of variants of license types and abbreviations! That’s why I recommend learning specific lexis before sourcing and adding them to your sourcing strategy.

And finally, we should create a list of donor companies. We can review the profiles of our colleagues and ask them about the best companies with potential candidates in their sphere. Then we can analyze our recruitment analytics and choose companies from which the best candidates were recruited earlier.  Additionally, I review the sponsors and co-organisers of professional conferences and communities and the list of the companies in Glassdoor or (for Ukraine).

Fourth step

Finally, we analyze personal information about our potential candidates. Not only skills or company-donors are what we are interested in. We should also think “outside the box” and pay attention to the universities from which a candidate graduated or certification companies and names in case of insurance advisors.

Also, we can search for the marker words and phrases in the description of the work experience that are typical for a particular profession. For example, the phrase “I’m licensed in *number* states” is almost in every profile of insurance advisors. If I use only the keyword “insurance advisor” in my sourcing, I can miss some good candidates because of another title. But if I use the marker phrase, more relative profiles can be found.

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