When the numbers aren’t adding up – Pairing Data with Storytelling to fill the gaps

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Jan 29, 2024

Whether it’s the labor market, your industry, or an oversaturated sourcing medium, sometimes even the most perfectly crafted and personalized message still won’t reach your “purple squirrel,” creating a low response rate that doesn’t truly represent the work you put in.

Data is a resource used in sourcing that helps keep track of overall sourcing efforts and tracks how well your “work” is working for you. Data can refer to something as simple as a reply rate and as complex as a conversion tracker that tracks conversion rates from outreach messages, screening calls, applications, interviews, offers, and hires. By effectively managing and utilizing data in discussions with hiring teams, you establish yourself as a knowledgeable sourcing expert. Data can show the effectiveness of sourcing efforts, but, sometimes, the information gathered shows that the efforts being made are not working.

There are many reasons a sourcing strategy may not be working from the message contents, the timing of the message, the industry you are sourcing for, the labor market temperature, or even that the platform you are using is oversaturated resulting in unanswered messaging. This is where storytelling comes into play. Subject matter experts (SMEs) understand more than just sourcing processes—SMEs understand the labor market and how it is impacting the roles that they are sourcing for. Pairing information of the labor market with data from your sourcing efforts can help tell the story behind your sourcing efforts as well as highlight areas for improvement or change.

Understand the role to learn the story of how it all began

As a Talent Sourcer, I am always asking questions to learn more about the roles I am sourcing for in hopes that I will more easily recognize ideal prospects. Finding out why the role is open is one of the first questions that I will ask because it is often a question a prospect will ask me. Is the team growing and this is a new addition to that growing team? Is this an established team that is looking to backfill an employee who has been with the company for many years? Or does this role tend to have a fast turnover? The answer to each of these questions will help shape my understanding of the role and what kind of prospect we are looking for.

Sourcing doesn’t stop at finding the perfect prospect; we need to craft great messaging to entice these prospects to talk with us. Telling a story in your messaging is a great way to help prospects feel connected with and engaged in our content. When paired with a strong call to action, prospects who felt compelled by the story will be more likely to respond, even if that response is a no! A “not right now” or “no thank you” is better for your reporting than no response at all, but both help you tell a story when paired with data. If you are sending out generic messaging, chances are your response rates are going to be lower. Bringing the information that you gained from your call with the hiring teams and transforming it into a pitch within your messaging can help the message feel more personalized. Is the backstory of this role that it is a growing team looking to add a new role? Mention that! Is the role a backfill for an established team? Share some information about the team’s established culture and what makes that team stand out to keep current employees in their roles long term.

Understand the labor market to tell the story of what potential candidates are experiencing

Labor market information is immensely helpful in telling a story in our messaging to better connect and learn about developing real relationships with sourced prospects. Since 2020, the labor market has been volatile and difficult to predict. In a candidate-driven market, it was difficult to get responses to messaging because they were receiving so many messages; yours had to stand out to get a response. I began conducting weekly research specifically on the labor market and on industry-specific issues in terms of recruitment, and shared this information in a weekly email to our entire Talent Acquisition team in hopes that the information gleaned from these emails would equip our team with the resources needed to engage difficult-to-reach prospects. Using information that is relevant to prospects’ lived experiences is important in establishing rapport and engagement in our messaging. In framing your messaging with the prospect being the main character, you will have to first understand the factors that are affecting them externally in their job change decisions. From there, understanding how the industry is affected by the labor market allows you to approach with knowledge that sets you apart from the average outreach message. All of these pieces of research can be found by subscribing to email newsletters from recruiting sites (such as SourceCon), industry-specific sites where articles are published both by professional journalists and by professionals in the industry, reading up on articles summarizing The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, and following professionals on LinkedIn and engaging with their content.

Understand how to pull all the pieces together to tell the story of your sourcing efforts to the hiring team

In my current role, I pull articles, webinars, white papers, etc. into a weekly email that I share with the recruiters and other Sourcers. In doing this, I learned quickly that tracking the labor market locally, nationally, and internationally would not only help me better understand what prospects were looking for (or not looking for) in a new role but also would benefit our hiring managers and hiring teams. By equipping recruiting teams with labor market information, Sourcers can share their data and summarize their sourcing/recruiting efforts with a story that is told through the lens of the current labor market to hiring teams. These stories can answer many questions including how the labor market is affecting sourcing, why prospects are or are not responding to our messaging, especially if the industry is tight right now, or why candidates may not be accepting our offers.

Eventually, stories can be used to show hiring teams what we might expect with this requisition. Within this story—including the data from previous requisitions such as time to fill, the average number of applicants, offer acceptance rate, and sourcing-related data such as messaging reply rate, where prospects were found, and industry insights that were gleaned from prior screening calls—all of the information tells the story of what the hiring team can expect and prepares the Sourcer on where areas of improvement might exist.

Storytelling is a powerful tool that can be used to educate ourselves, engage with potential candidates through more personalized messaging, and share sourcing data with hiring teams. When data is combined with labor market information, previous hiring experiences, and the expectations of the hiring teams, a Sourcer can become a subject matter expert and provide valuable advice to the team on the full scope of sourcing activities, including successes and challenges.

About The Writer

Danielle is a talent-sourcing professional who thrives in the dynamic world of public accounting at FORVIS. Despite starting her professional career in social work, she realized that her passion for helping others and building genuine relationships was better suited for unearthing top talent and connecting them with their dream job. Whether she’s tackling a complicated executive search or sourcing a skill-specific entry-level role, Danielle loves to dive in and discover new ways to find the ever-elusive “purple squirrel”.

When she’s not scouting the talent pool for hidden gems, you’ll find her nurturing her love for gardening and adding to her ever-growing collection of indoor plants. Danielle loves to spend her weekends lounging at home or visiting local garden centers with her husband and Goldendoodle, Daisy.

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