Setting up a Global Agile Sourcing Team – Part 1

Introducing the Sourcing Function and Splitting Functions

In this series of articles, I will come back to the presentation I delivered at SourceCon in Amsterdam this past May. During my presentation, I focused on how we built an agile and scalable sourcing team at Philip Morris International in just nine months.

I joined PMI as a contractor just before the summer of 2018 as the first-ever internal sourcer to set up a team. This series of articles will not be focusing on the company or its transformation as the model can be set up at any company undergoing a significant surge of recruitment volume. After 13 months and having presented it at SourceCon, my duty is done. I have now finished this assignment and working on new projects (more to come soon).

The previous (classic) situation:

Like most major companies, the Talent Acquisition Specialists (called TA) were in charge of the attraction of candidates (sourcing included) and forecasting of recruitment needs with the business. Additionally, they published job ads, interviewed candidates, and prepared offers until the onboarding team would take over.

In a context of growth, the volumes dealt by each TA were going through the roof and sourcing was, of course, not the main focus. The skills required by the business were becoming more and more niche and hard to attract, hence the introduction of a sourcing team.

Step 1: Leave the recruiters in TOTAL control and clarify their role

To ensure a quick and efficient introduction of the new function, it was important that recruiters would not feel that they would “lose control” over their recruitments. The Global Talent Sourcing Team (called GTS Team) is one channel that the recruiters can use if they need the help of sourcers to fill their roles.

It all sounds simple, but you cannot introduce sourcing if you do not clearly define the role of the recruiter first.

And their role is defined like this:

1. Forecast the recruitment with the internal stakeholder

What skills need to be recruited? When? How many headcounts? Are there internal profiles that could fill the position? Is everything approved internally?

This sounds logical, but introducing sourcing is an opportunity for the recruiters to move away from an “order taker” position to a proper “business partner” position.

Once this is decided, and the need for external resources is confirmed, it is time to think of the attraction and selected recruitment channel.

2. Candidate Attraction

Based on their previous experience, market knowledge, the recruiter decides the right channel for their candidate attraction.

  • Post and Pray: posting the job shall be enough to attract the right candidates.
  • Sourcing themselves: some recruiters know their market by heart and have a network and would instead source the profile themselves.
  • Calling agencies: sometimes (rarely) going through a recruitment agency would be the right thing to do. However, in my mind, it should never be the case, but you can’t change behaviors overnight.
  • Working with the Global Sourcing team.

3. Recruitment process

Recruiters are entirely in charge of the recruitment process, organizing interviews, assessing the candidates with the business, and deciding who they would like to offer.

4. Preparing offers

According to internal guidelines, make the offer and present them to the candidates, get them to sign the contract, etc.

5. Maintain the relationship and pass the candidate over to the Onboarding team.

Once the person has signed the contract, make sure that the onboarding team takes over and that everything is in order.

Step 2: Define Sourcing and a Sourcer’s role

The sourcer assigned to the role has to be fully in charge of delivering a shortlist of qualified and interested candidates for the position.

The role of a sourcer is clear, to convert “people” into “candidates.”

Sourcers are NOT baby recruiters; it is NOT an entry position to becoming a recruiter one day; it is a real job with niche skills. A good sourcer has two brains, one around data (finding the people and one around engagement (creating interest and converting them to candidates).

A recruiter will focus on the internal world: converting candidates into employees, making sure the right person is selected. A sourcer is concentrated in the outside world: what has the market to offer? Who is out there? How do they behave? How to get these people interested?

Step 3: Where sourcing starts and finish?

I know this point is going to be controversial, but let’s settle the debate once and for all.

A sourcer’s job is to convert “people” (I hate the word talent because I don’t understand it) into “qualified candidates.”

A sourcer should find, contact, and engage with talent.

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If you only find people, you can call yourself researcher if you want or name-generator, but this is half the sourcing brain (the “data” side). If you find the best, but they don’t want to engage with you/your company or are not interested, you haven’t helped to fill a position.

A profile on the web is NOT a qualified candidate: Sourcer should not only identify people but also be conducting pre-screening calls. This means:

  • Engaging with the person: InMail, email, phone their office, send a carrier pigeon, tweet, engage.
  • Speaking with them.
  • Be able to understand if they are capable of doing the job. I’m not saying accurately assessing them, that can only be done in the recruitment process.
  • Explain everything you know about the role, why it is open, what is expected etc.
  • Get their CV (Recruiters and Hiring managers love CVs) and consent (GDPR my love) to be put forward in the recruitment process.

The sourcer delivers an (ideally balanced) shortlist of candidates ready/willing to be interviewed for the role, and the recruiter takes over for the recruitment process.

What are the sources of “people?”

Well, people are everywhere. To be efficient, my choice will always be to go for the low hanging fruit or as Tris Revill says, the “wiggly line of intent.”

People with the highest intent to join your company are the easiest to convert to candidates (and very often performing candidates in the process). They are the people who have applied or in your ATS. They also include referrals.

To the question “should a sourcer screen incoming applicants?” The answer, to me, is yes for two simple reasons. First, it takes minutes to screen incoming applicants. It helps you to balance the quality between inbound and external sources. Don’t waste time sourcing if you have perfect applicants. Second, an incoming applicant is not a “qualified candidate.” Sometimes when you speak with candidates, you quickly realize they are not the right fit.

Step 4: What kind of Sourcer do you need?

As Sven Eissens said, “Sourcing is like ping pong. Everyone thinks that they can do it and that it is easy until they meet a champion and realize it is an Olympic sport.”

Boolean is a language with five words that anyone can master the basics in 15 minutes. Mastering sourcing is a whole other thing.

You don’t need a “super sourcer” for all of your roles. Often, all you need to do is to get the information across to the right people, run a LinkedIn search, and contact a few people. In doing so, your role will be attractive enough, and you will get the right people for it. You have to compensate for the noise going around on the web. And sometimes you have to dig deeper, and the stalking begins.

“See it like Archery, shooting a 10m target is easy with a bit of practice, hitting a 50m target in the wind is a whole other sport.

Because it is virtually impossible to know how hard a search might be before you start it, 3 “levels” were created n the team.

Level 1 would have the “fairly easy” jobs to fill were only searches on LinkedIn, and the ATS would be required. If after a few sprints, they struggle, they can partner with a higher level sourcer.

Level 2 is the real sourcing specialists. They handle most of the complex volume either because from scratch we knew it was going to be hard or because they come after a level 1 and need to dig deeper. They do everything a level 1 does and much more: facebook, open web, twitter, etc.

Level 3 is “hardcore experts.” They work on the roles that seem impossible but also look at/improve the tools, train the others, make sure they are up-to-date with everything in the world of sourcing. Level 3 also look at the interaction between the sourcers and rest of the company, shape the storytelling around the roles and the company, work with the employer branding to improve attraction. Level 3 is not meant to deal with the volume, but to solve all the problems the team could have. These experts work on “special projects” and push further, take care of the “key positions” where an over-expensive headhunter was usually called in the past.

This escalation works in the context of an agile model where information is passed quickly in the team.

French-based in Switzerland, I fell into recruitment (yes a "headhunter" with suit and tie) straight from university, moved to London, then Geneva, set up recruitment teams in my agency years, set up my own agency and decided that sourcing was really my thing and that I wanted to focus on it fully. I'm the "crazy sourcer" my TA clients call when they struggle on an impossible role, I train internal sourcing teams, set up sourcing/recruitment/employer branding strategies. These days, I'm spending most of my time setting up a state-of-the-art sourcing function within PMI (Philip Morris Intl) to help them in one of the largest business transformation worldwide, transitioning to a smoke-free future. Speaker at SourceCon Europe Budapest 18, sourcing summit Europe / Germany / UK, 2nd SourceCon Grandmaster Runner-up 2017, co-organizer of #truGeneva and #truParis. I enjoy meeting other people who think likewise, always happy to share and meet, please get in touch!

www.linkedin.com/in/guillaumealexandre

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