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Sourcing training overview

Amybeth asked what to me was a very interesting question. She asked: “Do you have some recommendations for formulating a strategic sourcing process that will teach the basics to recruiters and researchers alike? It is very true that we have become somewhat over-reliant on technology tools and have forgotten the basics. Kind of like using spellcheck, huh? :)”

Amybeth!! First let me preface by saying that I have found that recruiters are open to learning only when they see in the training a way to address a current, real problem otherwise is just information and then the training will only work when the recruiter is highly vested in solving that problem. At that point not only will they be open to new information but will apply the new material. In addition, as adults we often learn best from experience, rather than from extensive note taking and memorization and the best way to accomplish this is through ongoing feedback around their new found experience.

Having said all that, what I have found that works for me is this. I begin to train any new sourcer or recruiter, by setting them with a sourcer for a few days, the will review the ATS, organizational skills, and a sourcing overview. After a week of observation and application they are ready to go into more serious stuff.

I go over internet search basics first. I begin by explaining how the search engines react differently to keyword then job boards and give them many examples. I show them how to look at keywords to look for a different approach than the job description may lead them to. I then go through what type of search services are available in the internet i.e. directories, search engines, and meta-search engines and how to search them. The next step is Boolean and search engine math and I wrap up with advanced tools like the at least 12 different ways to flip websites and at least 6 different ways to x-ray. I give examples of each and apply them as we cover them.

For the first day after training I assign them to source a job but ask for it to be sourced with nothing but keyword searches, later I add inurl: and intitle: a couple of days later have them start doing searches by filetype: and then flipping and then x-rays.

Once they develop proficiency on the search I focus on teaching them different technologies. i.e. how to search engineering, software development, IT, etc… I also task my sourcers to research and teach a 5-10 minute presentation at least once a month on any skillset they chose to learn about. Once they have a grasp on several technologies I introduce them to the phone and start phone sourcing skills but that may be months down the road depending on their progression. Also some people have more of a propensity for internet research while others have more of an inclination for the phone. I watched to for that to guide them in the direction they show more propensities to.

Overall my impression is that you have to present an overview of what the recruiters will learn. Then let them apply one skill at a time until they understand the depth of each tool learned. Only after they learn the tools can they learn the appropriate strategies. If you allow me to paraphrase what I said on Saturday’s entry again, you can learn the basics in an evening but mastery will take time and serious effort.

Key issue – gap between skills and demand

Today I was thinking of the challenges that we are encountering as sourcers. It seems like our job is getting more and more challenging. There is a growing need for specialized skills and a shortage of candidates. But I’m not saying anything new. The problem is that we have more innovative tools now than we ever dreamed of (Especially when I still remember the days of using index cards and rolodexes), yet still, here we are. Tools like zoominfo, infogist, eclipse and many more and we still can’t find enough engineers in certain sectors.

As sourcers we are in a bind. We can’t affect attrition nor can we address the deficiencies of skills even if we were to promote skills development in specific industries. As the market tightens we have to adapt.

Here is what I’ve tried; I’ve divided the recruiting challenges into “technical priorities”. The technical priorities were then divided into bucket segments for recruitment, and finally cascaded them into “core competencies” in different broad technical disciplines so that each sourcer can focus on developing pipelines in niche segments. These buckets included engineering, IT, Networking etc…

What I’m working on now is what I see as next step which is to accelerate the sourcing cycles, but we’ll leave that for another talk.

Elevating sourcing competencies

There are many sourcing methods, techniques, and approaches. Most recruiters and sourcers are competent in the use of many of these sourcing tools, including keyword utilization, and query searching, yet in order to improve our sourcing performance we have to look beyond the techniques.

It isn’t just a matter of forecasting the technology needs or analyzing the jobs that will need to be recruited but also the competency or the knowledgebase that the sourcer possesses. To increase sourcing competency, sourcers need to be assessed to probe the depth of their knowledgebase on the technical needs and to determine any possible existing competency gap. The ability to assess the current skill inventory addressing skill-gaps over time is the key to optimizing sourcing strategies to deliver the desired value. Skill-gaps may be strategic, tactical, personal or general.

Strategic skills deal with the “what” and “why” and involve analyzing technical disciplines and determining technical priorities. It they may also involve developing core competencies in specific technical disciplines necessary to meet sourcing objectives including sourcing techniques and issues underlying recruiting requirements, environment and applications. Tactical skills address the “how” which may include how we implement strategies. It involves mastering not the sourcing techniques but the approach. It includes knowing when to use such approaches as advertising in specific professional journals, competitor raiding or direct sourcing of heavily researched candidates. Personal skills may refer to specific sourcer skills such as objection handling, while general skills may include knowledge of benefits offered or weak company knowledge.

Actions designed to close group and individual skill-gaps are the key to increasing the productivity and success of sourcers in achieving their goals. Helping the sourcer establish a clear understanding of the technical environment, the tools available and the strategies to implement them, is vital to engaging the sourcer into the pursuit of his technical expertise. Without the awareness that results from such an understanding of the sourcer’s aptitude it is impossible to develop a plan to achieve the desired competency levels.

To be successful, a strategic sourcing program must incorporate standard procedures and metrics. It must also provide an environment that fosters continuous improvement in order to align our critical expertise resources to our business based requirements.

Sourcing transformation

Recruitment is changing, especially as it relates to sourcing. It is still amazing to me that there are still many out there who think that a sourcer is a junior recruiter or that sourcing is an entry point into recruitment. But the truth of the matter is that sourcing is a highly specialized field. I compare it to playing chess, you can learn the basics of chess in an evening, but mastering the strategies may take years.

Sourcing requires heightened research skills and abilities, anyone can type keywords into a search engine but finding your needle in a haystack (especially when the internet is estimated to have over 500 billion documents; that is a huge haystack) takes real talent. Sourcers are also uniquely positioned to find and “pre-close” prospects before they even become candidates.

But it seems that most everyone is missing the point, there is a wave of automation tools of different flavors appearing in the recruiting landscape. Sourcers and recruiters alike become experts on the use of these tools not sourcing specialist. The continued pressure to reduce costs, the pressure to compete in global markets along with the pressure to beat the competition is keeping us from the real strategies needed for our companies’ survival.

Recruiters and sourcers continue to rely on inadequate and fragmented procedures to scour their databases and contact management system to find and identify prospective candidates. Most companies don’t have disciplined and formal sourcing methods for their most critical needs, let alone specific written formal sourcing procedures or strategies to be used consistently across the company.

If we focus on developing only sourcing expertise without implementing formal strategic sourcing processes we cannot produce a transformation in our sourcing effectiveness as a whole. We can’t ignore the basic strategic sourcing principles as we develop key sourcing systems. Without the proper foundation we have nothing more that an inadequate web of spreadsheets and tasks that direct sourcers and recruiters as to diminish productivity and stretch the sourcing cycle.

Here it goes….

I have been thinking of joining the ranks of bloggers out there for a while. I have been quietly lurking behind the scenes just reading the blogs but after a final nudge from Michael Kelemen of I figured I’d take the plunge.

As I begin my ramblings, I wanted to establish the focus that I foresee this journal taking shape. I want this blog to be a sourcing journal of sorts. I want to explore the different tools and techniques not just in internet based sourcing but phone sourcing as well. My desire is not to make this a forum for self-serving pontification but a place where I can learn and share what I’ve learned and hopefully add something meaningful to a growing niche within recruitment.