As I sit riding the train up to my fourth SourceCon in Seattle, WA I can’t help but reflect over the last three years and how talent sourcing/talent acquisition (I will use sourcing for the remainder of this article) has shaped me as a professional and as a person. When I graduated in 2015 I never saw this area of business as a long term stop, but quickly fell in love with research, learning, and engaging some of the most talent individuals in the industry. As graduation season approaches I’d like to share three main reasons why I would recommend starting your career in sourcing.
Effective Communication and Relationship Building
For a recovering introvert that gets more energy from reading for five hours straight, than socializing for one hour, sourcing has been and continues to be the best space to expand and grow my ability to build relationships. Sourcing can include several different activities within the recruiting process depending on your company’s structure. It covers everything from pure talent research to candidate engagement. There is a sourcing position for you no matter if you are an introvert, ambivert, extrovert or want to grow one of these areas. Adapting and moving between these skill sets are critical to thriving in corporate culture no matter the team or function. In an area that is focused on people, you will not find a better spot to get so much quick experience in this. As a sourcer, you will be expected to translate massive amounts of information into concise answers to complex problems. You will also be expected to ask the right questions of recruiters, hiring teams, and candidates to get the most applicable information.
One of the areas you will grow this skill in is talent pooling. Talent pools are groups of candidates that meet a particular criterion. In most organizations’ candidates are added to a talent pool if they meet a certain level of experience, are open to your company, and within a role’s salary range. As a sourcer, you will need to explain and gather this information in or around 30 minutes. This takes practice, but after the first 100 or so calls you will find you can quickly connect with strangers and learn about their career.
Learning Your Business and Your Industry
While I like to use the word passionate, I am obsessive when it comes to topics that interest me. Little did I know this would benefit my search for top talent. As a sourcer, you will be asked to relentlessly search for talent, where ever it may be, which means you know where to look. Before you begin your search, you need to know your company’s structure, individual/team/functional responsibilities, its history and perception in the market place, industry history, industry comparisons, common industry titles, etc. This is by no means is an exhaustive list.
An example project might be to research the geographical leads of one of your competitors and present data related to their position and background. Starting you will need to identify the company structure and how they define their region. Most of this information can be found in a public company’s annual report. Other sources might include newspapers or other online publications. From there you need to identify the individuals. If they aren’t on LinkedIn or don’t include context on their role, then a more comprehensive web search will need to be conducted. Next is to connect business strategy to these individuals. What has the company said about each region? How is it significant to its overall strategy? How has it been performing? These questions and the answers can tell you about the structure, effectiveness, and possible future.
Essentially, as a sourcer, you must not only know the ins and outs of recruiting, but you need to know the ins and outs of the teams you are recruiting for. I know many people that wanted to get into marketing that started in recruiting supporting marketing. By doing so they not only learned about the teams they wanted to work for without having to be on the team, but they were able to build one on one relationships with their potential future boss. They also were able to learn at how the competition functioned by interviewing them for openings in our company. In how many other positions out there will the competition tell you what they are doing?
Opportunities to Innovate on The Fly
Sourcing is ripe with innovation from technology to process. Sourcing doesn’t have to be a strict repetitive process of identifying candidates, talking to them, presenting them, and starting over. For those that like to try new things, sourcing needs you. The search for top talent never sits still, and any small improvement to one of the above steps can lead to a dramatic value adds to your team and yourself.
The obvious examples in this area are around technology. Sourcers have repurposed, social media, CRM/sales tools, conference and events apps, content marketing tools, customer service chatbots, academic databases, etc. These examples barely scratch the surface. There are many individuals on the tech side that are coding and creating programs to automate and enhance their processes. All of this means that even if you aren’t in the function that you studied for to start, you will have an opportunity to use them.
You Also May Find You Love Sourcing and Talent Acquisition
Ask any recruiter or sourcer, and you will find that most stumbled into this profession, I know I certainly did. As you learn about other positions in the business from a sourcer’s perspective, you may come to find it’s not what you expected or thought. In my case, I enjoy being around the business. I can research it, study it, and add value to it, but not have to deal with their struggles and challenges. This isn’t to say sourcing doesn’t present challenges or have its difficult days, but for me it means I get to enjoy the benefits of learning all I can say about product marketing, for example, and not the high pressure of bringing a product to market. No matter what though, you will be pushed, challenged, and you will grow no matter how long you spend in sourcing or TA.