Source Smarter: How to Build a Research and Sourcing Plan

Tools, technology, and the Internet have revolutionized the way sourcers conduct research and identify talent.  I started sourcing at an in-between time where we had some tools and technology, but still worked through physical directories, faxed resumes and conducted telephone sourcing.

Beginning my career in a contingency recruitment environment where “you eat what you kill,” we spent a large portion of our day on the phone or role playing how we would handle road blocks on the phone.  Talking to people is how we got our job orders and how we found our candidates.  Email was one method of contact, but never the first – always the phone.  If you are new to sourcing and recruiting, this is one area that I cannot stress enough that you should work on, be trained on and practice, practice, practice. You only get better at phone dialogue with practice.

All that being said, foundationally, sourcing starts with planning and research by answering the following question: Where does the talent you seek work, live and play? It’s not enough to do a title search on LinkedIn or a Boolean search on job boards.  To source effectively, you must gain an understanding of the talent pool market as well as the demographic market.

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  • Competitive Marketplace
    • Who are the direct competitors in the market? What is going on with them?  Have there been any recent layoffs, acquisitions or changes in leadership that could be impacting current employee’s decisions to make a move? You can use Google News searches, Reuters or a variety of other tools to set up daily feeds that will provide you with this intel.
    • Who are the functional competitors in the market (e.g. companies who may not compete directly in your client’s industry, but who hire talent similar to what you are seeking)?
    • Are there local associations, societies, meetups or conferences where you can advertise and network?
    • Depending on the level of the position, don’t underestimate the value of partnering with local colleges and universities to identify talent. This could include any of the following activities:
      • Posting positions to the career portal and/or alumni groups
      • Reaching out to administration for resume books related to degrees
      • Contacting and networking with professors
    • Tools like CEB TalentNeuron or CareerBuilder Talent Analytics can provide you with a nice picture of what the candidate population looks like in a specific market, as well as offering hot spots where you may want to post your job where the supply is greater than the demand.
  • Recruitment Channels
    • Always start with ATS/CRM. Search for candidates who fit the profile from previous searches.
    • Job boards are the low-hanging fruit of recruiting. Once you have dialed in a good search string, save those searches to pull new results daily for you to contact now and save for future use on similar position.  There’s no sense in recreating the wheel every time you get a search. Be sure to create a couple of good search strings and include competitor names.
    • Social Media
      • Join groups that your target candidates are part of and engage in conversation
      • Tap into your professional network for referrals
      • Engage in conversations in the industry where you work, tagging potential contacts who frequently post about topics that are relevant to the candidates you seek
    • Referrals – If not you, then whom? This question was drilled into my head during my first year at the contingency recruitment firm. Always ask for referrals from every person you speak with.
    • Additional channels include:
      • Talent Community
      • Passive candidate contact list
      • Licensure Lists
    • Recruitment Marketing
      • Always ask the hiring manager or recruiter you’re working with, “What are the greatest selling points about the job, the company, the geographic market?” You won’t recruit effectively if you aren’t able to answer the “what’s in it for the candidate” question. You can use this information to create your marketing sizzle based on those features.
      • Know your client’s EVP; candidates will do the research on companies that interest them. You should know and be able to speak to your client’s brand.
      • Personalize your messaging; be unique and creative in how you reach out to potential candidates. (For example, a candidate had on their profile that the best way to reach them was text, email or carrier pigeon. My email to that person went something like, “The carrier pigeon is on its way, but in case it gets lost, I thought I would email as well!”)
      • Build candidate personas to have a roadmap to a better understanding of your target candidate, and then tailor your marketing messaging to that persona.

As you build out the research and sourcing plan for your client, tailor a specific approach or prescription on what sourcing actions will be your Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 for each skillset – then track your results and metrics for each. This way, you will always have a strong jumping-off point of quick-hit activities to engage in as you continue to work in the same geographies and source for the same skillsets.  Each market is unique, each skillset and recruit are unique; your sourcing plan should be, too. Be creative and always keep an open mind on new ways to research and source candidates.

Angela is Manager of Global Sourcing with ManpowerGroup Solutions. With 13 years of Recruiting and Sourcing experience, she is considered a Subject Matter Expert in strategic sourcing. She has worked in the RPO space for the last 10 years and is well versed in Recruitment tools and technology. Angela takes great pride in training and development of her colleagues on sourcing best practices and technology.  She attributes her career growth to having an innate curiosity and drive to constantly learn about new industries, jobs, tools and technologies, and a passion for working with people. 

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