Sourcing 101: Finding Target Organisations, Part 3

Over the last few weeks I have been running a Finding Target Organisations series. A good way to start identifying potential target organisations is by first looking at your client’s direct competitors. By targeting the competition, you achieve two things:

  1. You strengthen your client’s position in the market by acquiring highly relevant performing talent.
  2. You weaken the competitor’s hold in the market by targeting their best staff.

The impact of this approach varies, depending on the seniority and position of the role you’re sourcing for and whether they have succession plans in place.

There are three main sources you can find your client’s key competitors: Online Databases, Boolean Search, and People. Last time, we covered Boolean search.

Following on from parts I and II, our final article focuses on leveraging information from ‘People.’

What’s the easiest way to verify information on the Internet? Pick up the phone and ask!

The concept is simple enough but I know many sourcers who practically run away the second they hear the words “phone” or “call.” Why is this? Well, I think there’s an article that would address that question that we can explore later down the road but for now, the phone is just another tool in our sourcing toolkit.

For me, there are two groups of people you need to consider when leveraging information:

People in the Market

This group of people can be further broken down into how you gather the information:

Over the Phone

Depending on what service you are providing, if you’re required to produce actual candidates (and not just names and titles), then there’s always going to be a point when you get on the phones and actually have a proper conversation with some people. One technique I find most useful when approaching anyone over the phone (either as a direct approach or for a referral) is to begin by asking them to share their thoughts and expertise regarding the opportunity and the market in general. That way, I can ask them for referrals and for some market intel before closing that door when asking if they would consider the opportunity…

Bios and Resumes

As you start searching for potential candidates, you’ll soon find CVs, online profiles, and bios. Not many realise that this is in fact a goldmine of valuable information especially from those “benchmark candidates.”  With this information, we can see what the ideal candidate’s career progression looks like (great for identifying actual skillsets required rather than just job titles), what titles they’ve held (great for similar job titles), what technologies they’ve used (great for keyword search), what societies or member groups they were apart of (potential target sources), and most importantly for this article… what organisations they for which they used to work. In general, you’ll find that people tend to bounce between the same types of businesses in any given vertical. This is especially true for niche industries.

Your Client

This sounds like an obvious one at first glance, but people often neglect this source for fear that their credibility or reputation as an expert in the industry may be affected. Though I agree that this poses some potential issues, I like to think that it depends on the types of questions you ask…

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Following on from our Accenture example, consider the difference between asking,

“Who are your main competitors?”

and

“Apart from your main competitors like CSC, HP, IBM, would you consider people coming from a Systems Integrator (SI) like Alphawest or Vendor like Microsoft?”

The first will almost certainly compromise your reputation whilst the other offers you the opportunity to demonstrate your market knowledge while exploring other potential sources.

Of course, the question you ask depends on the type of role/skill set for which you are sourcing. So be sure to do your research beforehand, make it relevant, and use that information to find more target organisations from your client. After that, take their feedback and loop it back into your online search to get even more target organisations! Fro there, the cycle continues. Working in this fashion, you will gain further insight into the market while actively engaging with your client on the search and leveraging their market knowledge.

Have some tricks of your own for finding target organisations through people? Let’s hear it in the comments below.

Ken Hew is the Director of Quest Research, a Passive Talent sourcing firm based in Sydney, Australia. Having had a life-long love affair with computers since he was eight, an innate sense of curiosity, and a strong interest in people, he has always had a natural affinity towards research and sourcing. Still an active sourcing practitioner, he takes a systems approach to conducting search and emphasizes the need to harness both Internet research and phone-based sourcing. Ken blogs at www.sourcingninja.net.

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