Source: Shortlist

Agency recruiters often have better technical sourcing skills than their in-house peers because of the high stakes riding on their success, according to a global sourcing expert.

Both internal and third-party recruiters deal with unique advantages and disadvantages when sourcing, but the stress of competition is a surprise perk for agencies, said Irina Shamaeva, who is a sourcing trainer and the chief sourcer at Silicon Valley recruitment firm Brain Gain Recruiting.  “We’re competing so we really need to search deep before we reach out to candidates, because we depend on those placements to make our levy, so agency recruiters are often more technically skilled,” she said.

“Corporate recruiters are often tasked with a lot of working with databases and procedures that takes them away from the proper sourcing they can be doing. That’s their challenge.” Her comments echo those of UK recruitment specialist Andy Headworth, who last year told agency recruiters to keep up with new technologies like database mining and social sourcing, because they must be able to achieve things their clients don’t have the time or resources for to win business.

Where internal recruiters have an advantage, however, is in their ability to build talent pipelines, Shamaeva told Shortlist ahead of her presentation at the upcoming Sourcing Summit.

“If [agency recruiters] stay in the industry for years they may be building some pipelines. For corporate people, they may not be necessarily rewarded for one placement, but for them – for the company to prosper – they need to be building those talent pipelines, and this is where sourcing brings a lot of value for them.”  Sourcing is, however, getting tougher for all recruiters as it gains in popularity, warns Shamaeva.

“On one hand, so much information is online. So somebody who’s not familiar with the area may decide, ‘it’s so easy. Now our job is only to sell, because we can look up everything online and off we go’. “On the other hand, the information that is online has become very distributed and not very easy to access,” she said.  “Sourcing is becoming extremely important, and at the same time it’s becoming more complex and less complex.”

The seeming ease of sourcing is a trap for unwary recruiters who go after low-hanging fruit, because people who are the most visible online are usually bombarded with recruiters’ calls, said Shamaeva. “[A worker] could have, say, an incomplete LinkedIn profile, but [finding] some professional blog, publications or patterns that tell us that they’re really a very accomplished professional – and maybe a top candidate – is tricky, and a special art and science,” she said.

One of the biggest factors stymieing the growth of sourcing is a desire to measure its return, added Shamaeva. “If you want to tell your management that you’re doing well in sourcing, you’re hitting a wall here, because what can you measure? The number of submissions? The number of resumes? How can you compare two positions?”

Where should recruiters start?

For managers trying to encourage consultants to hone their sourcing abilities, Shamaeva advises them to focus on advanced search engine or Googling skills, and effective use of social networks. “Practice is the number one thing. Reading a book will teach you as much about sourcing as reading a book about swimming will teach you to swim. You have to instantly get your feet wet,” she said. There’s no single social media channel that will give recruiters the best return on their time; a combination of channels is best practice, said Shamaeva.

“I would say LinkedIn, but if you go to LinkedIn and just search for a few key words from your job description you will not be doing better than the other person, because everybody does very similar things. LinkedIn is a very wide and deep resource, where you need to be skilled in order to make good use of it. “At the same time, LinkedIn alone is worth less than LinkedIn combined with other searches such as Google searches, professional networks and so forth,” she said.

The third part of the sourcing equation is productivity tools, which will help recruiters collect and process the information they find, said Shamaeva. “There are many little tools. Some of them are free, some of them are browser add-ons… that help you to extract details, such as contact information, for example,” she said.

Source: Shortlist News

Maintaining a dialogue with your candidates can turn them into passionate advocates for your business, says Mark Sumner, talent sourcing manager at New Zealand’s ASB Bank.

Speaking at the NZ Sourcing Summit in Auckland yesterday, Sumner said ASB used LinkedIn and other social media to create talent communities where it engaged with skilled workers – sharing information, showcasing its culture, and alerting them to opportunities.  By keeping candidates warm even if there wasn’t a specific job in the mix yet, the company built valuable relationships.  As an example, Sumner said that about a year ago a top banker had relocated to New Zealand from South Africa, and had joined ASB’s talent community.

“He identified ASB and [its insurance subsidiary] Sovereign as two of the key players where he wanted to work. Then he actually went out to market and told everybody this.  “We had people phoning up on the back of his referrals, wanting to come and work for us. Just because of him as a candidate, his passion for the brand.  “It took us nine months, but we managed to hire him into a role as well – and it’s those people who are the ones that you want to work with.”

Sumner said the company also used its own staff to promote its employer brand and open roles and it only took a handful of influencers to generate strong interest.  “Some of our EGMs share our jobs with their networks via LinkedIn – for us that’s a pretty big one.” A single influential person in specific job type could help the bank build a significant pipeline of potential candidates, he said.

What’s the point of a huge database that sits idle?

ASB head of talent acquisition Matt Pontin told the Summit ASB had some 5,000 staff in New Zealand and made about 1,500 hires per annum, with a strong culture of internal mobility and less than 1% of hires made through agencies.  Pontin said ASB valued quality over quantity when it came to sourcing.

In “the old agency days”, he said, the focus was on amassing a huge database with hundreds of thousands of candidates.  “Some applicant tracking systems still have that many candidates, and nothing gets done with most of them, so what’s the point?  “If you’re not engaging with passive talent, market mapping, knowing who’s who, putting them into your community, and getting ready to ignite them when you need to ignite them – then you might not be sourcing the highest calibre of talent.”

Recruitment managers need to be social media ambassadors

Sumner said ASB had worked hard to get its in-house recruiters to embrace social media.  “It’s taken a while – those recruiters that are used to filling roles by putting jobs up have taken a bit longer”, he said, but with the leaders of the recruitment function acting as “ambassadors” for social media, “I’m now proud to say the entire talent acquisition team is on Twitter”.

“They are still learning, but it is just about showing people that it works, and how it can work.”  The team had social media updates at its meetings, discussing what it had been doing, and what the outcomes had been.

“The results speak for themselves. If you are having to look at 50 people from a job board, to make one hire, whereas on social media we may only have to look at eight people to make one hire… I know what I’d rather do.”