Why Federated Search Matters for Recruiting and Talent Management

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Jun 19, 2013

If you’re like most sourcers or recruiters, you’ve probably got about another twenty tabs already open on your browser in addition to this one. Fifteen of those, at least, will be hooked up to candidate databases like job boards, an ATS, or LinkedIn. Keeping all these windows open only makes sense (even if it makes browsing a bit slower).

After all, remembering all those passwords and usernames, much less using them to log in every time, is both a huge pain and a huge time suck. Tabs make it at least a little big easier to look at candidates side by side from different sources, even if their results (not to mention candidate relevance and ranking) display completely differently.

Of course, on the off chance your Boolean string is well built with the right keywords and you actually find the kind of candidate you’re looking for, you’ve got to move their resume into your system – which probably already has the candidate’s profile in there, anyway.

In fact, in most organizations, what we call “direct sourcing” is really just the sweat equity required for this tedious and time intensive process.  But too often, the focus on sourcing, both in theory and practice, is placed on where the candidate is found, not how the candidate is developed.

A major problem with this approach is that by putting the onus on individual recruiters to manually import resumes and profiles from divergent databases into an ATS is that in creating the candidate record, they also get to select source of hire. Too often, that leads to a resume found on a paid database like Monster being pasted or parsed into an ATS erroneously attributed to direct sourcing efforts.  This not only skews source of hire data, but also undermines an employer’s ability to accurately analyze the ROI on investments for paid sourcing tools.

Another major problem with placing emphasis on name generation over candidate development is that recruiters, when opening a req, almost always overlook the most common sources of hire – namely, internal transfers/promotions and employee referrals – which live inside an ATS – for external databases, if only for the recentness and relevance of results.

Of course, once those candidates are entered into the system, there’s a good chance that they’re already there – and a better chance that the recruiter isn’t going to bother to check. Because, really – who takes the time to search their own system? You might as well Ask Jeeves.  Although even he can’t justify the added costs of viewing the same candidate’s record multiple times from a paid database without bothering to importing it into your ATS and then likely paying a premium to a third party recruiter for presenting the exact same candidate when the search stalls.

That’s where federated search – defined as a unified, global search across all sources from a single destination (think: Indeed.comKayakLexisNexis) – fits in.

Federated search lets recruiters shop for the perfect fit across all potential sources of hire, both internal and external, standardizing and seamlessly stacking results. Rather than have to log into dozens of different databases with drastically divergent displays, federated search returns relevant results from a single sign on.  That means only having to have the tabs open on your browser that really matter – like Facebook.

Because the results are automatically indexed with every search and converted so user experience is now single, standard style, there’s no need for manual resume uploading or cutting and pasting text from job board resumes.  As an added bonus, this automated process also eliminates record duplication, dynamically updating the candidate’s existing profile with new or updated information while retaining any associated records already in your ATS.

By having the ability to see all candidates’ most up-to-date information cached and cross-indexed across all sources, federated search finally means that recruiters can compare internal talent and employee referrals against external sources, streamlining what statistics tell us will likely be the ultimate result of the recruiting process for pretty much every requisition.

It’s just that most technology adds an unnecessary complexity to the process we know as sourcing – which we erroneously define as coming up with new leads instead of nurturing existing ones. The limitations of searching for applicants or candidates in a traditional ATS environment is so pervasive that job seekers commonly refer to applicant tracking systems as “black holes” for resumes. And until now, they’ve been right.

Fortunately, federated search not only fills in the black hole, but shines a light on the right talent for your organization – whether for a requisition you’ve got to fill tomorrow or for long-term succession planning.  It also transforms sourcing from a mostly tactical exercise in mining disparate databases into a more holistic, strategic function.

With the most time and effort intensive elements of the sourcing process effectively eliminated, sourcers and recruiters can focus on building future pipelines and finding the best fit on the job, rather than just the best profile on paper, building a long-term relationship with top talent instead of engaging them just for a one-time slate.

Implemented effectively, this shift in model and mentality diminishes the need for long term investments in external database access, recruitment advertising and third party spend while increasing internal mobility, employee referrals and improving the candidate experience.

And, after all, isn’t that really what we’ve all been searching for?

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