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Collaborative Sourcing, the Power of Networks, and the Wisdom of the Crowd

Guest post by Alexandre Pachulksi

Talent sourcing is one of the youngest, fastest growing areas of talent management. Many of us, myself included, have only recently discovered how important sourcing really is, and it has been incredible to see all the advancements that have taken place in this community. Generally speaking, most people seem to be focusing on the hacking part of sourcing. We’re looking for the right Boolean string, or the right way find an email address hidden in the code of a website, and a good deal of the content on blogs and at conferences is related to this. While this is all incredibly useful, I feel our focus on hacking has sometimes caused us to neglect the more human side of sourcing.

In 2004 author James Surowiecki wrote a fascinating book called The Wisdom of Crowds that brought attention to the idea that, under the right circumstances, the collective knowledge of a large group of people is superior to that of a few experts. While a few single individuals may have a wealth of knowledge, a large enough group of people is going to be more accurate in their choices. This concept has been applied to many areas of business and culture, and it has helped me to take a different perspective on sourcing.

Sourcing, owing to its relative youth, is often viewed as a solo sport. One sourcer, sometimes two, searches for and curates a list of candidates to provide to recruiters and/or hiring managers, and then refines the search based on feedback. Overall, it’s work that is done in isolation and has each party working separately at each stage in the process. While sourcers have been able to deliver great results with this model, I believe that applying some of the concepts of the wisdom of crowds, and looking at the human side of sourcing, could help us to achieve even better talent acquisition results.

Surowiecki explains in his book that there are four elements that create a wise crowd: diverse opinions, independence, decentralization, and aggregation. Most sourcers will probably agree that the first three traits are well established in sourcing. Unfortunately, aggregation is often a missing component. We sometimes fail to bring information from all stakeholders together and harness the power of small groups. Furthermore, we occasionally fail to harness the wisdom of large groups by leveraging the power of people’s networks. Yes, we can hack for data and break it down, but are we also bringing people together to review that data and are we using personal, human relationships to source the right candidates? Too often we are not, which means we are missing out on the power of aggregation.

Small scale aggregation occurs when everyone involved in the recruiting process is actively sharing information and keeping up to date. Most current models have information going from group to group in a kind of workflow. However, if everyone is able to be watching information together from an early stage there are large efficiency gains to be had. For example, if the hiring manager is able to see the preliminary lists of candidates a sourcer is finding, she can give feedback on which candidates are good fits. This allows the sourcers to instantly refine their searches rather than waiting until they’ve curated an entire list. It’s a small thing, but over time, and with hundreds of vacancies, it can make a large difference.

Large scale aggregation is different in that it involves significantly bigger groups and occurs through all of the networks that we and others have. Thanks to social media and other technology we have a relatively easy way of tracking and finding all the people we know. If we as sourcers make the effort to bring multiple people and their networks together we’ve not only expanded our ability to search, but we’ve expanded how we can best find and contact people. Everyone we know is not only a potential source, they are also potential sourcers. From this perspective, sourcing is not an individual effort at all. It’s a group process! (Shameless plug: The importance of aggregation and collaboration is one of the things that inspired me to create Hello Talent and try to make it one of the best sourcing tools available.  I believe that as more sourcers try to harness the wisdom of crowds they’ll need tools to make that easy. Hopefully Hello Talent can be one of those tools.)

So what can we as sourcers do to better harness the wisdom of crowds? I believe there are two key parts. One, take the time to involve everyone in the process and do it early! If you bring people together and make it clear that this is a collaborative effort, you’ll benefit from shared knowledge. Two, don’t neglect people’s networks! Hacking is a big deal, but if you also have the ability to work with other people to see if they can facilitate connections you’re going to not only find more candidates, but also have a larger volume of them convert into hires. In the end, sourcing is something that can be done in isolation, but by applying the wisdom of crowds the entire process can be made much more effective.

Alexandre is the co-founder of Talentsoft and creator of the sourcing tool Hello Talent. He has a doctorate in knowledge management from Dauphine Unviersity Paris, is a regular speaker at events, and writes extensively, including having written three books about talent management.

My Sourcing Story : Sören Frickenschmidt, Boehringer

Name: Sören Frickenschmidt
Country: Germany
Company: Boehringer

Q1 – What problems are you currently solving in your role?
I am heading the recruiting services team at Boehringer Ingelheim in Germany, a family-owned pharmaceutical company with 47.000 employees worldwide. My team is filling positions with internal and external candidates and manages temp labor. My day-to-day work mostly revolves around making sure that we have all we need to do so, are aligned with everyone playing a role in the process an adapt to external and internal changes.

Q2 – How do you define sourcing as it currently exist at Boehringer and how you see it evolving? 
When we talk about “sourcing” we mean identifying and contacting possible candidates instead of waiting for them to react on our offers. We have started to do this systematically some time ago and it is getting more important and more effective each year.  For the lion’s share of our positions, we get very good applications if we post the jobs on our website or online job boards. On the other end of the scale, there will always be positions where we need the help of selected external partners. But there is a growing area in between, where the best option is to actively approach interesting candidates ourselves.

Q3 – What are the biggest challenges you currently face as a recruiter/sourcer
I see two big challenges: One is adapting quickly to permanent volatility and ambiguity in the recruiting demand. The other is bridging the gap between our desire for a positive candidate and manager experience and a highly regulated and complex environment.

Q4. Who in recruitment do your admire or learn from? 
There are some brilliant professors, tech start-ups and consultants out there. But my best source of inspiration are other practitioners from large organizations. New ideas, strategies and technologies are fascinating, inspiring and always come with a lot of sex appeal. But I learn most from people who actually did something in a real world environment – and either solved a problem or learned from the failure.

Q5 – One bit of sourcing advice I can give to my peers
Innovation is just the sidekick. Impact is the superhero.

 

My Sourcing Story : Billy McDiarmid, HR Consultancy

Name: Billy McDiarmid
Country: Scotland
Company: HR Consultancy
Twitter: billymcdiarmid

Q1 – What problems are you currently solving in your role?
The range of disciplines that we cover! I work with a team of 30 end-to-end agency recruiters in sectors including finance, engineering, financial services and legal. Sourcing and attracting candidates is completely different in every sector so I try and come up with best practice that can be used both in those sectors and across the business. I also work close with external clients to solve their problems that cannot be resolved through straightforward contingency or retained recruitment.

Sourcing is … the process of identifying, attracting and engaging with people so that when the time is right it will be easy for them to become a candidate

Q2 – How do you define sourcing?
The process of identifying, attracting and engaging with people so that when the time is right, it will be easy for them to become a candidate! I’m not a believer of the active / passive candidate terminology. People are simply people until they decide to throw their hat into the ring for a position – then they become a candidate. It doesn’t matter whether the have been looking for job or not.

Q3 – Sourcing tools I use daily
Where do I start?
– Our CRM and Marketing platforms Firefish Software and CampaignMonitor.
– For talent pooling I use HelloTalent.
– For social media I use Buffer, Audiense and Canva,
– For data I use DataScraper, Outwit, Import.io, Blockspring and Postman.
– For contact information and engagement, I use Prophet, Lusha, Name2Email, Rapportive and Streak.

Always remember – your competition will stop looking at some point. If you never stop looking, then you will find those that others can’t!

Q4. Can you tell us five people you admire most in sourcing?
There are so many people but the top five would be:

Aaron Lintz – very much a geek in the same mould as myself, and just superb at hacks.
Michael Kelman – one of my favourite parts of the recruitment world is the community, and whether you love Michael or not he has created one of the best for sharing ideas and learning.
Martin Lee – for introducing me to the sourcing community in the first place!
Kasia Borowicz – for not being frightened of calling recruiters out and for always putting the candidate at the core of the recruitment experience.
Randy Bailey – just a great source of information – always willing to share and get sourcers speaking to each other!

Q5 – One bit of sourcing advice I can give to my peers
Always remember – your competition will stop looking at some point. If you never stop looking, then you will find those that others can’t!

Billy is speaking at #sosueu on 27-28 September.

 

My Sourcing Story : Ralitsa Burneva, Amazon

Name: Ralitsa Burneva (Rali)
Country: Luxembourg
Company: Amazon Web Services
Position: EMEA Recruiter

 

Q1. Can you tell us about your current role and what problems you are solving on a day-to-day basis?
I work as a full-cycle recruiter for AWS and support the hiring for our Partner organization across EMEA and for our Nordics Sales teams. AWS is growing at an enormous pace which puts a healthy pressure on us in the recruitment team to find the right people yesterday, in big volumes and at the same time keeping the Amazon hiring bar high and keeping our amazing culture uncompromised.

 

Q2. What are the biggest challenges you currently face as a recruiter/sourcer
I am now working as a full-cycle recruiter for the first time in my life, after several years as a sourcer. It requires a special effort, strict planning and prioritization to still be doing your own sourcing, be creative and up to date with your sourcing approach and at the same time deliver quality service to your clients throughout all other stages of the process.

Sourcing and recruiting across EMEA has its unique challenges and I need to be aware of the specifics of all local markets I touch upon.

On the other hand, the tech industry is getting more and more competitive and fast-moving which calls for speed-of-light recruitment actions. Every day I need to find the right balance between moving fast enough and insisting on the highest standards when it comes to candidates’ skill and cultural fit; between the huge influx of applications we get at AWS and proactively engaging with the people we are interested in.

 

Q3. How do you define sourcing?
Sourcing is the art of match-making in the corporate world.

It is the best job in the world for people who:

  • Are information and internet geeks
  • Crave puzzle-solving and finding the missing pieces
  • Love engaging with people and helping them achieve more than they thought possible

 

Q4. Sourcing tools I use daily?

Internet, phone and chocolate! J

Specific tools change constantly as every day better ones arise but there are a few:

Referral sessions!, a great internal tool our IT team built for us at Amazon, Meetup, Quora, 360social, Newsle, Facebook Graph Search, MailTester, various phone number search engines (vary by country), good old X-ray searches, CSE, LinkedIn…

 

Q5. Can you tell us the people you admire most in sourcing?

This list can go on and on!

Glenn Gutmacher, Shally Steckerl, Maureen Srarib, Irina Shamaeva, Jim Stroud, Balasz Paroczay are just a few people who have influenced my sourcing journey. I am super excited I will get to meet some of them at SOSU!

 

Q6. One sourcing advice I can give to my peers is….

Everyone can learn how to play with tools, do research and gather CVs. What really differentiates you is how you engage with your candidates – so spend time to get to know them on personal level, dive deep into their goals and drivers and be present for them every step of the way. You might be surprised to understand how much that mattered to them when they get to choose between your offer and another one at the end.

 

My Sourcing Story : Q&A With Victor Soroka, EPAM

Name: Victor Soroka
Country: Ukraine
Company : EPAM
Position: Global Leadership Hiring

Q1. Can you tell us about your current role and what problems you are solving on a day-to-day basis?

My current role at  EPAM is about Leadership Hiring mostly. We are growing in 20+ countries for 25-30% every year so leaders’ attraction is a critical point for us. EPAM has its own unique engineering culture so sourcing and recruiting our type of leaders requires combination of sourcing creativity, global market and industry understanding as well as deep knowledge of company DNA.

Q2. How do you define sourcing?

As we all know there are no only one “right” definition of sourcing. For me sourcing is range of activities focused on identifying and attraction professionals who are qualified for the specific position based on initial requirements. Depends on the specific situation your sourcing strategy can be focused on passive or active candidates (or both groups) but the main goal is the same – fill the pipeline with specialists who meet the role requirements.

Q3. Sourcing tools I use daily?

It may sounds a little bit old fashioned but I’m a big fan of tools which really work so I would like to put LinkedIn Recruiter at the first place in my sourcing tools list.

Except that:

Q4. Can you tell us the people you admire most in sourcing?

I would pretend that this question is not about specific names of sourcing masters we all know (however I have my own favorites in this listJ) and try to put this in the following way… Most of all I admire people in sourcing who are brave enough not to follow old patterns and constantly trying to invent something new, even if it means replacing sourcers with algorithms (just joking).

 

Q6. Is sourcing conducted differently in the CIS region?
I do not think there are some major differences compare to global sourcing, however we can definitely talk about some local specifics:

  • sourcing as a separate function/role/unit is present in tiny % of companies, in most cases one person does a full cycle recruiting, in some companies HR and Recruiter is still the same person;
  • active sourcing is common mostly within IT industry, in most other cases “post and pray” approach is used;
  • RPO is not really popular in this part of the world but you will find number of freelance recruiters available (especially in IT again);

Q7. What sourcing tactics work best in CIS?

  • right mix of global and local sources should be used; penetration of LinkedIn is relatively low (especially when we are talking about not-IT candidates);
  • % of English speaking population is low so make sure to include local languages titles into your search strings;
  • global people aggregators may have not enough information about candidates in this part of the world so don’t forget about old good Boolean Search and X-Ray Search.

Q5. One sourcing advice I can give to my peers is…

…get into details. You can have all possible sourcing tools and systems but it is not possible to run effective sourcing without deep understanding of the role you are working in. So my advice – before starting searching (or even worse contacting candidates) make sure you do understand who you are looking for and what this person supposed to do on day to day basis.

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Victor will be at #sosueu in September. Get your tickets now.