Sourcing Leaders – Have We Been Our Own Worst Enemy?

As background, I spent the last two years leading the global sourcing team for Hewitt Associates so the finger I am pointing is directly at me. As the economy slowed it was hard not to recognize the industry’s deep, brutal cuts to sourcing teams without some feeling of responsibility. I realize that this hasn’t been a great time for corporate recruiting overall, but sourcing went first and seems to be the slowest to recover. I am afraid we have lost scores of very talented people who feel this “niche” maybe a bit to risky for them. Could some of this have been avoided if collectively we were able to tell our story more effectively and had the will to stand up for sourcing when tough decisions had to be made?

I have been thinking about this for quite some time and have shared this perspective with many of you who may be reading this — sourcing has lost its “mojo.”  Just a few years ago there was a swagger at SourceCon that was palpable. Sourcers were the difference-makers — companies would win or lose based upon the skill of their sourcing teams. Many “progressive” companies were moving in that direction, hiring hundreds of people into the relatively new area. It was the natural evolution of talent acquisition. Today on LinkedIn, there are about 25 sourcing jobs with less than ten companies; on Monster there are about 75, but most are with agencies and again just a handful of corporate roles available. We have nobody to blame but ourselves.

Sourcing needs leaders and leadership. We need to lower the bar (and costs) to bring in new, diverse talent to sourcing. We need to be able to articulate our worth in numbers and dollars, not just in ideas and stories. Overall, sourcing needs a vision and a compelling value proposition. Sourcing leaders need to unite to develop a shared training and development program and a common set of metrics. We need to be vocal in the talent acquisition communities and evangelize to the non-believers. In short, we need to be leaders.

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My proposal is this – We form a Corporate Sourcing Leaders Council that meets monthly. Initially our goals are threefold:

  1. To develop a no-cost sourcing curriculum that can be used by any corporation. We would also provide the facilitators on a monthly basis. In essence, we eliminate the barrier to new talent and the training costs to companies.
  2. We agree upon a common set of sourcing metrics and best practices to report and achieve them.
  3. We act as ambassadors — speaking at conferences, writing for sites and magazines, and meeting with other companies that have questions or concerns.

The exciting part for me is that most all of us are already doing this alone. We are fighting the battles with HR and the business, we are trying to develop metrics to understand the value of and evaluate sourcers, and we are either spending a great deal of money on training or trying to develop it ourselves. What if we could do this together? I think this is important enough that I am willing to give away what we have in return for the greater good. My hope is that there are several others of you out there who are as well.

Chris Gould is the Global Head of Talent Acquisition for Aon and Aon Hewitt. Gould has been in HR consulting since 1996 and is considered an industry expert in social media, sourcing, and recruiting. He is known for his ability to influence, execute, motivate, and implement change within complex matrix environments. He was the keynote speaker at SourceCon 2010 and is a requested speaker on topics related to social networking and sourcing. His work has resulted in press interest including The Wall Street Journal and the SHRM HR Magazine. He is also the founder of the OnlineR Community, an online community with over 7,000 members.

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