The sourcing world is changing… It used to be about FINDING that needle in the haystack. Tracking down those purple squirrels. Cold-calling. Uncovering candidates wherever they hide. But that’s not the name of the game anymore.
The future of sourcing is ENGAGEMENT. Think about it. Anyone can find candidates nowadays. There’s a plethora of amazing new tools, technologies and sites out there like LinkedIn, GitHub, Stack Overflow, SmartRecruiters; plus all of the social networks and social aggregators like Entelo, TalentBin, or Dice that make it pretty easy to find candidates. Even junior, untrained or lazy Recruiters can do it (Uh oh!). And those same Recruiters are indiscriminately SPAMMING boatloads of candidates all day everyday with generic bulk messages… simply because they can.
This new landscape has made it infinitely tougher for good Sourcers to stand out from the pack, be heard above all the noise and actually get a response. That’s now the test of a good Sourcer in today’s world. Getting great prospects to respond. So how do you get top candidates to engage with you?
Here are 10 tips for engagement to make sure you stay ahead of the sourcing game in this rapidly changing space.
1. Build Relationships. Be Social.
This one tenet is the building block for most of the other tips you’ll read below. Build those relationships. Grow your network. Connect. Follow first. Share. Have conversations. Say thank you. Engage! Don’t worry about DOING social; just focus on BEING social, and you’ll be fine. People are much more likely to respond to you if you’ve built some sort of relationship with them first. And those relationships are what separate you from that junior Recruiter with a giant database and a spammy trigger-finger.
2. Be Proactive. Control the Process.
The days of post-and-pray are gone. You must be proactively sourcing to fill your positions, both current AND future. You need to be out there, taking the initiative to find great candidates rather than waiting patiently for great candidates to come to you. No employee referrals are coming your way? Go out and find people connected to your hiring team and start running names by them. Get the hiring team to reach out to candidates. (They’re much more likely to get a response from their peers than you are!) Even write the email for them if you have to. Take control and drive things forward any way you can. If you don’t control the process, it controls you. Think about that.
3. Dig a Well Before You’re Thirsty.
Always be thinking ahead. A good Sourcer is always planning for that next req that could pop up out of nowhere. If someone’s not a match now doesn’t mean that they won’t be a fit for future openings. Just because they’re not a fit doesn’t mean they don’t know lots of people who ARE. Treat ALL candidates the way that you’d like to be treated. Never burn a bridge and always plan ahead. Do everything with the long term in mind.
4. Always Be Networking. Always.
You can easily weave networking into your everyday activities. It doesn’t need to be a separate step or something you need to “make time for.” Start conversations whenever you can and stay in touch with whoever makes sense. An active networker is a proactive Sourcer. You are giving yourself an automatic head start if you’re already talking to relevant candidates by the time a req lands in your lap. Build talent pools and network with them. Always have your networking hat on, no matter where you are or what you’re doing… whether that’s on social media, email, phone or in person!
5. Work Smarter, Not Harder.
Plenty of people work hard. That just doesn’t cut it anymore. Smarter is better. Always look to streamline your processes, leverage technology, automate what you can, be careful to not duplicate efforts or reinvent the wheel over and over. Use templates. Maximize every minute of every day. Squeeze twelve hours of work into an eight-hour day. There are very few 2nd places in recruiting. One candidate gets the job and the rest do not. One Recruiter fills a req and the other agencies go home empty-handed despite hours of work. It’s the SMARTEST ones who win.
6. Be Targeted. Personalize.
You can try to tell yourself otherwise, but it’s those personalized messages (email, InMail, voicemail) that have the best response rate. Customize the subject line. Use their name. Tell them what about their profile / resume interested you. Be very specific. Tie their experience and interests into the message. What’s in it for them? Make it about them! I’d much rather reach out the 15 perfect candidates with a custom message than spam blast 500 people just because they have the word “Java” somewhere on their resume. You reap what you sow, so put a little effort into the front end to yield higher dividends on the back end.
7. Grow Your Network.
When you grow your network, you expand your reach. It’s just a fact. Recruiters & Sourcers need both quantity AND quality in their network. A small network just isn’t as effective. Period. If you tweet and have no followers, you might as well go out in the middle of the woods and shout at the top of your lungs… no one is listening so no one can hear you. If you search LinkedIn and most results show 3rd level or out of network, you are greatly limiting your effectiveness as a Sourcer. If you share status updates but there’s no real reach, then your employer branding efforts and networking potential are greatly hindered. A cold call to a candidate you found in a database is rarely as effective as a conversation with one of your connections that you’re already talking to.
8. Give First. Pay it Forward.
Be a giver, not a taker. Offer to help others before asking for their help. It WILL come back to you. I’ve been helping folks for years and now, whenever I ask for help from my network, I get lots of responses, engagement, shares, retweets, leads and referrals. Besides, it just feels good to help others and makes networking and sourcing infinitely more rewarding and fun. Author Keith Ferrazzi said it best… “The currency of networking is generosity.” What have you done to give back to your network lately?
9. Be Real. Be Authentic. Be You.
This one sounds obvious, but it’s often overlooked. Just be you. Don’t overthink it. Be authentic. Be transparent. Be real. It’s WAY too much effort to try to copy other people or be something you’re not. And people can smell a phony a mile away. Know your brand, reinforce your brand, own your brand. You’ll build loyal followers and get REAL engagement which is the whole point, right?
10. Evolve or Get Left Behind.
Last but not least, you’ve gotta change with the times if you want to survive and thrive. Be hungry. Thirst for new knowledge. Stretch. Learn. Keep growing. Follow new trends, try new technologies, keep stepping out of your comfort zone. Get training. You have to WANT it. Things change pretty quickly around here and if you’re not keeping up, you WILL get left behind.
So, what are YOUR goals for 2014 to keep learning, stretching, engaging and staying current? Are you ready for the Sourcing challenges that lie ahead?
Stacy Donovan Zapar (@StacyZapar) is a 15-year recruiting veteran for Fortune 500 tech companies and CEO of Tenfold Social Training, a B2B Social Recruiting training company for talent acquisition and staffing teams around the world. She is also the Most Connected Woman on LinkedIn with more than 40,000 1st-level connections, making her the #5 most connected person out of 259 million members worldwide. Modified Photo Credit Matrix Wikinotica.
SmartRecruiters is the hiring platform with everything you need to source talent, engage candidates and make the right hires.