Sourcers Gather in Sydney, Australia for Australasian Sourcing Summit

Last week, Phil Tusing of Destination Talent and Andrea Mitchell, founder of the Australasian Researchers Network, hosted the inaugural Australasian Sourcing Summit (#sosu11) in Sydney, Australia. The two-day event featured a number of sourcing thought leaders from Australia and New Zealand and attracted researchers alike from across Australia as well as our colleagues from across the Tasman. For most of the event I was busy networking, writing notes, tweeting, and trying my hand at live-blogging! It suffices to say that the buzz around the event was electrifying and there was much love in the room…unlike the adoption rate of Google Wave

Over the course of two days, a broad range of topics from some notable speakers were covered on issues stemming from: hands on sourcing strategies, sourcing metrics and accountability (a HOT topic), leveraging the phone, talent attraction and social media, amongst others. Throughout the event, I noticed there were some very salient themes that kept cropping up:

  • Social Branding + Sourcing
  • Sourcing Metrics
  • Sourcing Strategy

Social Branding + Sourcing

(Paul Jacobs, Gavin Heaton, Kara McLeod)

This is an area that has seen some substantial growth over the past few years with the advent of social networks and the increased accessibility to real-time information. The industry-acknowledged standard practices are still finding their feet but some points to note were:

  • Setting up channels that encourage open dialogue and communication with the community and not just having another place to post up ads or worse yet, a branding exercise;
  • Embrace human nature and let people be people. Allow your staff to have a personality when representing your company. This extends to the practice of not prescribing a policy to your internal staff when engaging with the community. Instead, consider having overarching themes to guide their decisions such as: “Don’t be stupid” or “Blog smart”…

Also covered were a few ways to maximise social networks and social media to advertise for current opening.

Sourcing Metrics

(Brent Pearson, Christian Le Loux, Simon Townsend, Rowena Smith)

This was definitely the talk of the day and one area that proved to be highly contentious. The presentation opened up the old issue of justifying the costs vs. benefit of utilising a sourcing function within a business context, i.e. how it affects the bottom line. On the one hand, sourcers are taught to be innovative and open to exploring new ways to attract and source for talent, yet at the same time they need to remember to come back down to reality and critically analyse their work to see if it’s actually translating to a profitable and/or positive impact to the business. Ultimately without the raw data in place, it’s impossible to determine if a ‘search’ was successful or not.

Common practices and KPIs being monitored by businesses were:

  • To first establish a baseline of the number of candidates sourced from the current sourcing strategies;
  • For a sourcing capability, compare the number of prospect candidates vs. active candidates vs. shortlisted candidates. Use a basic sales funnel to determine what your conversion rate is.
    • A prospect candidate is defined as a potential candidate who has been identified but has not yet been qualified for the role;
    • An active candidate is a candidate who has been identified as suitable for the position and has submitted an application for the position;
    • A shortlisted candidate is one who has applied for the position, undergone interviews, and has been short-listed for the position.
  • For a multifaceted sourcing strategy – Compare the success rate of each of your sourcing channels by measuring the amount of people at each stage of the process. For example, measure the number of people who viewed the opportunity and record which sourcing campaign they used to find out about the opportunity e.g. Facebook, through SEO, Twitter, YouTube, online advertising, internal referrals, etc. Then do the same thing for the number of candidate who applied for the role, who were shortlisted, and ultimately who was hired. In this manner, you can determine which sourcing channel was the most effective for that particular role and industry.

One major criticism of using metrics is the debate on how long to keep track of each candidate after the search assignment is completed. As many sourcers know, the candidates that are identified for a particular opening may be recycled for a similar opportunity at a later stage. It is common for candidates to accept a role 9-12 months later. How do the metrics in the original campaign measure this success?

Sourcing Strategy

(Andrea Mitchell, Christian Le Loux, Gad Weinbach, Sue Ellen Nario, Rowena Smith)

Ultimately, this topic tied the whole summit together by encompassing the different aspects of sourcing into one. No matter where attendees sat in the sourcing world — whether it be at a big corporate, professional services firm, executive search or agency, freelancer, or independent sourcing firm, etc. — this theme had a big impact on their sourcing operation and function.

The highlights on an effective sourcing strategy included:

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  • Manage expectations. Be specific on what to look for, which areas need exploration, determine how to get there and what will be measured as success;
  • Determine what strategies will be used for each search and focus your time on the ones that work best;
  • Have a platform to help with strategising – notes, lists, mindmaps, etc.

Not surprising is that the approach taken needs to be tailored to the industry and types of roles being worked on. There are a hundred and one tools out there to leverage but the focus needs to be on what works best for each individual, team, and organisation.

For a closer look into the event, you can read my posts on some of the sessions: ‘Tapping into niche communities,’ ‘Engaging candidates after sourcing,’ ‘A midday update,’ and ‘Afternoon session.’

Next week we have the ATC SourcEvent in Melbourne featuring Glen Cathey and Jim Stroud amongst many others… watch this space (#ATCSource).

Ken Hew
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