Sourcing Through Adversity

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Feb 9, 2012

Life isn’t always rainbows and roses. And neither is sourcing, as attendees and livestream viewers learned today from Yahoo!’s Senior Manager, Talent Attraction, Aida La Chaux.

In case you’ve lived under a rock for the last couple of years, you know that Yahoo!’s been going through some tumultuous times. Between management changes and whisperings a couple years ago of buyouts, in addition to other search engines coming on strong into the search space, Yahoo! has had its share of challenges with both attracting and retaining talent.

The biggest lessons learned from La Chaux’s presentation is this: no company is immune from tough times — and it’s good management, a unique and personal approach to sourcing, and positive attitudes that will power your sourcing efforts through these inevitable road blocks.


La Chaux says her biggest strength is leading teams. She is always an advocate for her team — sourcers need someone who’s “got their back.” She says she comes to work for her team every day and she promotes the visibility of her team. She epitomizes the idea of servant leadership. La Chaux also says you can’t wait too long to hire the right talent. Case in point — one of her best hires came to Yahoo! after three years and two different companies.

What the media doesn’t talk about is all the great work that is going on inside of the company. La Chaux talked about how she worked with Yahoo!’s PR and marketing departments to send fort a message to counter a lot of the messages in the media that Yahoo! was floundering. She says that what’s more important is what’s going on inside the company rather than what the media says. And by partnering with marketing and PR, they were able to get the correct message out to potential candidates and show them that Yahoo! is indeed a good place to be, no matter how media sources portrayed the company.

Lastly, and most importantly, La Chaux appreciates her team. She praises their efforts to the rest of the company and demonstrates the value they bring to the organization. She also rewards them — she shared that just earlier this week, she took her team to the movies. While sourcers are typically behind-the-scenes folks, she realizes that they need to be uplifted and showcased as highly valuable to the rest of the organization.

Unique Approach to Sourcing

“Pick up the phone and talk to every candidate.” Not ground-breaking sourcing, but a technique that is often avoided by sourcers — and recruiters — today when it’s much easier to shoot off an email. La Chaux told her team that every candidate needed a phone call to feel good about opportunities with Yahoo!. La Chaux says, “You have to bring the [Yahoo!] experience to the candidates.” So they bring candidates on campus to experience what working there would be like.

Sourcing “sprints” are also a part of LaChaux’s management style and unique approach to sourcing. Knowing what jobs would need to be hired for, she has her team develop pipelines 3-6 months in advance. The sprints gives the team a change to do something fun and engaging. Each sourcer on her team has a different approach and by coming together for these challenges they educate one another in the process. With the results of these “sprints,” her team has been able to identify, approach, and hire candidates within 21 days.

Positive Attitude

Nothing can beat a positive attitude. Positivity is contagious, and by ecouraging her team and keeping them motivated, interested in their work, and educated on competitors, market intelligence, and sourcing resources, sourcing efforts continue to bring in excellent candidates. In fact, La Chaux showed in her presentation that sourcing recently accounted for 28% of Yahoo!’s hires. Any company, whether at the top of its game or facing adversity in the marketplace, would be encouraged to have numbers like that to report.

Leaders and practitioners alike can learn a lesson from what La Chaux has done with her team at Yahoo!. Not only has she attracted and retained excellent sourcing talent, but she has helped them to do the same for the company as a whole through servant leadership, even during some of its most difficult times. La Chaux says, “Sourcers are the bomb.” And we couldn’t agree more.

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