While the sourcing function is intertwined with recruitment, over the years, sourcing has evolved in its own right and is now a department of its own in most organizations. Sourcing leaders have discussed the importance of the sourcing function in the organization, and much effort has been made to educate leaders about its importance.
There’s no doubt the sourcing function brings a lot of value to the organization; from talent sourcing to employer branding to lead generation to sales, the sourcing function is adaptable and flexible. However, many organizations still look at it from a thin lens, reducing it to just an administrative function when there’s so much the sourcing function could offer.
In this article, I will discuss approaches on how to position the sourcing function in the organization to be more strategic and achieve the organization’s goal. The points raised are purely based on my experience throughout my career.
Let’s dig in!
What Is Talent Sourcing?
Talent sourcing is the act of proactively researching, identifying, and engaging potential candidates to convert them into job applicants. Sourcing often happens early in the recruiting process, focusing on providing insights into the market pool, generating leads, and building a pipeline of candidates. Simply said, It is the act of turning people into candidates
Why is talent sourcing important in the organization
Talent sourcing function is vital in the organization because it helps build a larger pool of passive and diverse candidates outside of applications, reduces the time and cost of hiring, and improves the employer brand, to mention a few
According to Linkedin, 90% of people are open to learning about new job opportunities, and only 36% are active job seekers; this is where talent sourcers come in.
Who is a talent sourcer (not a recruiter)?
A talent sourcer is responsible for researching and identifying suitable potential candidates with the aim of building and maintaining a data-driven pipeline of passive candidates.
Talent sourcers are storytellers; they help tell the story of the organization and role to potential candidates by crafting engaging outreach and reaching out through different channels; they build relationships with potential candidates, which allows the organization to tap into an already available pipeline of talents
There’s often a misconception about sourcers being “junior recruiters,” but sourcing is an integral part of the recruitment process. While both roles overlap sometimes, they have different skill sets and focuses and are essential to hiring the right candidate.
10 Approaches to Shift from an Administrative Sourcing Mindset to a Strategic One
1. Understanding the state of sourcing function in your organization
You’ll ask why this point is still coming up. Sadly, many companies still take sourcing as an extension of recruitment alone. The sourcing function in most companies is seen as a step to becoming a recruiter or individuals who want to kickstart their recruitment career.
The sourcing function could offer more strategic ideas/insights into other aspects like headcount planning, employer branding, sales, etc., with the valuable data and research skills the sourcing function brings.
2. Embrace data & reports
“Is this the new buzzword in Talent Acquisition?” someone asked me recently, and my response was that It’s much more than a buzzword, “Data is the new oil,” as they say, and its importance cannot be overemphasized. Data helps the organization position itself and make informed decisions about headcounts, where to open new hubs, recent trends, etc.
Questions like what kind of data is needed, where to gather these data, and how to use these data are what we constantly have to answer as a sourcer. This might sound overwhelming in the beginning. I hated gathering and turning these data into insights/reports early in my career. Still, at the same time, I realized the best way to communicate what I have done, what I plan to do or share insights that would help stakeholders make an informed decision was to provide these data. Hence, I became intentional about using data. I must say it’s a fulfilling process.
3. Integrating talent sourcing function into the overall recruitment process
When we talk about talent sourcing, we think about converting prospective candidates into applicants, while sourcing effort focuses mainly on the top of the funnel; ultimately, the overall goal is to lower candidate drop-off and get hires in a timely, effective, and efficient way.
A couple of processes come before/later the sourcing efforts begin.
Here are some stages where the sourcing function/sourcer’s insight could be useful:
Haven worked extensively with boolean strings, sourcers have insights into synonyms of skills that could help capture a huge talent pool which, if incorporated in the job description, could help increase the direct applicant’s number.
Technical assessment is an excellent way to weed out profiles that don’t meet the requirement and help save valuable time for the recruiter; it can also be a detriment to organizations as the majority of top talent, especially seniors, will prefer having a chat first before attempting the assessment. Working with sourcers to identify the top 1% of the talent pool and putting them in process faster could help.
While passive candidates are a major way to get high-quality candidates, direct applicants also provide a good pool of quality candidates. Haven worked with passive candidates enough; candidates don’t want to spend minutes on job applications or fill out complicated job applications.
According to Glassdoor, only 20% of job applicants complete the application process from start to finish. This brings the candidate drop-off rate to 80%, which is huge. For example, I’m never going to fill out an application that requires me to input my work experience in another field after I’ve submitted my CV.
Working with sourcers to understand how to structure application questions, what information to mark as required, or what other information the candidates could provide as a substitute for specific information is essential to build a seamless application process. It will help to drive more applicants to open roles in the organization.
Keeping candidates warm
While this is one of the primary responsibilities of a recruiter in the recruitment process, sourcers with their creative outreach, are the first point of contact and the “talent salesperson” for the company, which means most of the time, the “icebreaker” moment happened with the sourcer and candidates warm up to them.
Whether it’s a candidate that went cold in the process or a candidate that’s been dormant in the ATS and you’re looking to put back in the process, sourcers could be able to get in touch with these candidates using creative outreach and multiple channels of communication and put them back in the process.
This has happened to me multiple times. Once, I reached out to a candidate who had been ghosted twice in two years by a client I worked for. After two follow-ups, he responded but was hesitant to start the recruitment process for a third time (understandably). Long story short, he went through the recruitment process and was hired! One more example of how persistence and a personal approach to a candidate can lead to a successful hire.
4. Effective communication flow
Generally, when employees are engaged and know what is going on in the company, they are invested in achieving the individual and overall company goals.
While the majority of sourcers are introverted and would instead be left alone to hide in a dark room and “stalk” candidates, companies should put in place and encourage timely and proper communication flow.
We need to move from the usual weekly/bi-weekly manager 1:1 and performance reviews to actively engaging and making available information about the state of the organization to sourcers. This helps sourcers make informed decisions on sourcing and outreach strategies.
This also goes for the sourcers; as a shy and reserved person, one thing I learned the hard way at the beginning of my career is to speak up and push for the tools/environment I need to carry out my role effectively, at first, it was something I was uncomfortable with as I didn’t want to be pushy. Still, I realized there are many moving parts (which I’m one of) in the company’s overall success, and we all share the same goal.
5. Collaboration with stakeholders
While Hiring managers are not the only stakeholders sourcers interact with, I’d like to focus on them; hiring managers’ expectations are high, they are looking for that “unicorn” and sometimes believe talents are readily available (no shades to our colleagues, lol). It’s both the responsibility of sourcers and the organization to manage their expectation by:
- Providing insight into the talent pool: Providing information on what the talent pool number looks like helps manage the hiring manager’s expectations; this is very important, especially for hard-to-fill roles where they are looking to hire within a particular geographical area, as they have insight into the numbers
- Intake calls: Having in-depth intake calls helps capture information that is not necessarily in the job description but is important to share with candidates; this information could be used as a selling point when crafting outreaches
- Profile calibration: Submitting 10-20 profiles to hiring managers to review before actively sourcing will save you a lot of time; the feedback they give on each profile will help you understand exactly what they are looking for in a candidate.
- Re-educate hiring managers on interviewing (interview to hire and not interview to like): Organizations should train hiring managers on interviewing skills and structure. They should help them understand that interviewing is a two-way thing, and as much as they want the candidate to impress them, they should also sell their team and project in a way that excites the candidate to want to join them
- Regular communication: As a sourcer, keep them in the loop of what you’re working on and your plan for the week ahead. While they are not your managers, it helps create an environment of trust and keeps everyone on the same page.
For the organization, communicating if there’s been a change in hiring priority or budget to the hiring managers is essential so that they know Sourcer’s attention has shifted from their roles.
6. Trust and autonomy
To fully leverage the expertise of sourcers, organizations should trust and empower them with autonomy in their work process, which can be crucial in adding significant value to recruitment efforts and outcomes.
While micromanagement can be necessary for specific situations, such as when a new employee is being trained or when particular procedures need to be followed, giving autonomy and ownership to sourcers is crucial for their motivation and job satisfaction. When sourcers feel they have control over their process and are trusted to make their own decisions, they are more likely to be invested in their work and add greater value to the organization. However, it is essential to note that reasonable micromanagement may still be necessary to ensure that work is being done effectively and efficiently.
7. Invest in tools and training
The post-pandemic era has shown increasing competition for talent in the job market (even with the layoffs), and employers need to stand out.
There’s a war for talents, and great talents are hard to find (especially tech talents); while having a stocked-up armory isn’t a guarantee to win a war, it levels the playing ground and gives you a shot at defending yourself, going to war without the proper armory is tantamount to loosing, thus why you need to equip your sourcers with the right tools and training.
At Matchr, we use a range of tools: Linkedin (of course), hireEZ, salesQL, ContactOut, Lemlist, Waalaxy, Phantombuster, Coda, Magical Text Extender, Extensity, to name a few. We also run a sourcing webinar series every year where we bring together sourcing leaders to share their knowledge with the community.
8. Diversity & Inclusion
“Diversity is being invited to the party, Inclusion is being invited to dance.”Verna Myers
Where do we start? The concept of diversity & Inclusion has been a hot topic revisited repeatedly; sometimes, it’s a buzzword that needs to be ticked for some companies, while some companies are intentional about it.
While DE&I means different things to different organizations, how do we talk about achieving talent DE&I goals when the talent acquisition team is not diverse? After all, they say charity begins at home. Investing and being intentional about DEI starts from the talent acquisition team, which sourcing is part of.
A diverse talent acquisition team gives the organization a home-court advantage and helps strategically position it to achieve its talent DEI goals.
At Matchr, we have a diverse team (employees from 18 countries spread across 5 continents) and are equally invested in upskilling, which helps us deliver DE&I service to our clients. A good example is the WORK 180 training the whole team recently completed.
9. A clear career path
Having a clear career path for sourcers not only provides insights into what’s expected at each level of their career, but it also makes them more invested in the company as this shows that the organization doesn’t see them as just another “wannabe recruiter” (unless they truly want to be a recruiter).
At Matchr, the career path for sourcers looks like this:
Talent Sourcer – Talent Sourcing Specialist – Senior Talent Sourcer – Lead Talent Sourcer (IC) OR Talent Sourcing Lead (PM) – Principal Talent Sourcer (IC) OR Talent Sourcing Team Lead (PM) – Sourcing Manager
Here’s a link that provides more information on what is expected of individuals at each level.
10. Technical skill map
A technical skill map is a document that contains skills required to fill a given role or perform a certain task. Working with a technical skill map document could help sourcers pre-assess candidates, which saves both parties a lot of time, hiring managers along with the sourcers help should develop a comprehensive document of skills they are looking for in a candidate by clearly defining the “must haves” and “nice to haves” or alternatives for these skills.
While there’s no one size fits on how sourcing functions/teams should be in all organizations, we must evaluate the need for it, integrate the sourcing function into the business needs and adapt to the ever-changing field of sourcing to equip sourcers, strengthen the sourcing function and position our organizations in a more strategic way.
Ultimately, the goal is not to make this article provocative but rather for both sourcers and stakeholders to re-evaluate what sourcing means in their organization and to spark conversations within the ecosystem on the points raised. I hope the approaches provided in this article will help restrategize your sourcing function.
Do you need support delivering on your hiring plans? Matchr provides embedded sourcers and recruiters on monthly rolling contracts. Contact us, and we’ll suggest the optimal solution depending on your hiring needs and budget.