PowerSourcing The Power Scout Blog


    Why Talent Acquisition Needs to Adopt a Sourcing Mindset

    8 October, 2020

    In my blogs, I often mention how important it is for HR and TA Leaders to “change their sourcing mindset.” But I’ve often wondered does anyone truly understood why I continue to beat that drum?

    How did we get away from sourcing? Why don’t we understand it? Why is it so underutilized?

    You have to remember that, within the past 10 years, we’ve seen technology evolve at an unprecedented rate. Social media was in its infancy: it’s hard to believe that, a short 10 years ago, Facebook started opening its membership and the first mobile apps began to roll off the shelf, including LinkedIn for Apple 3.0.

    So, when thought leaders like John Sullivan posted that “The End of Sourcing is Near…” due to social technology’s rapid adoption, we listened. He was not the only one to forecast that “… the time will come when sourcing will be added to the ever-growing list of the many things that social media and the Internet are making obsolete.”

    Instead, it made sourcing more important than ever.


    Understanding the relationship between sourcing and recruiting

    There is a big difference between sourcing and recruiting. Literally the starting point of the recruitment process, at its most basic, the goal of talent sourcing is to convert non-applicants into applicants. Recruiting, on the other hand, is responsible for the conversion of candidates into hires.

    Screen Shot 2020-08-12 at 6.17.37 AMThe relationship between talent sourcing and recruiting is symbiotic: they are two specialties with very different skillsets that complement each other. One emphasizes value creation, building a foundational pipeline of talent that makes for a fuller and more satisfying hiring experience for the candidate, recruiter, and hiring manager alike. The other is attuned to capabilities, or how the candidate gets hired. They develop people and resources, set standards for working, and drive functional excellence.

    Neither sourcer nor recruiter is considered primary nor secondary. Instead, like the structure of a DNA molecule, both teams are intertwined yet play unique roles. While many organizations have relied on the same resource to handle both sourcing and recruiting. Our research and experience show that by decoupling these tasks, it greatly improves speed and efficiency in the recruiting process. And, we’ve also seen how using a true sourcing model gives organizations an advantage over others who still feel sourcing should sit on with recruiters.

    “Talent today wants a career for life, not a job for life. The new talent management approach focuses on attracting young professionals with some industry experience and supporting them to develop additional skills in-house. This is a far cry from the prior strategy of hiring for expertise, but a necessary departure in our rapidly-changing market.”

    Mercer Global Talent Trends 20202

    Why recruiters shouldn’t source

    Most recruiters regularly source talent for assigned requisitions using LinkedIn and job boards to find candidates who may be open to the particular position. While many of those recruiters may disagree, at Newton Talent, we don’t consider those activities “true sourcing.”

    Our sourcing model is defined by finding profiles of individuals based on your unique candidate personas who may not even be active on social channels. This type of sourcing activity helps to attract top talent that can be often overlooked by recruiters who rely solely on looking for a LinkedIn status set to “open to opportunities” or awaiting on a response from an InMail. Don’t get me wrong, these have value, they just aren’t true ways of sourcing.

    Even though there will always be some recruiters that focus on filling open positions, the time and the resources of the recruiting function have shifted toward a more strategic and future-oriented role. Internal recruiters are acting more as consultants, rather than transactional order takers. The time involved between the recruiter and hiring manager has increased significantly as they guide them through different talent strategies, best practices, and market intelligence as a true talent expert should. This leaves very little uninterrupted time for sourcing and engaging with talent profiles who need nurturing.

    Strategic workforce planning and insight into worker’s skills profiles and motivations are critical to building a sustainable talent pipeline. That’s why creating a well-defined candidate persona is such an important part of the sourcing process. It helps you find candidates that could have long-term impact at your organization. With a candidate persona in hand, sourcers can more confidently cast a wider net, not only helping them to find that tough skillset you might need today, but to identify those that will help you fill your future talent needs, as well.

    A well-defined persona helps your sourcers target opportunities to the right groups of talent profiles and “sell” the open position. And, at the end of the day, it helps you hire people more likely to be engaged because they value what your position offers.


    Think of it as lead generation for recruiting

    When was the last time you dove into your recruiting metrics to understand what sources drive most of your hires?

    In the sales-marketing world, they look at a metric called attribution. As you are aware, marketing is always being asked about win rates and sales cycles. Marketing attribution is the process used to accurately track, report, and understand the effectiveness of marketing. It brings data together into a single source of truth and helps marketers accurately understand which of their efforts are contributing to down-funnel metrics.

    When marketing measures their performance in terms of opportunities, pipeline, revenue, and ROI, the business (and the sales team) succeed. Similarly, in recruiting, when measures of performance are outlined in terms of leads, qualified leads, and candidates submitted and interviewed, it is easier to measure who and what efforts are contributing to the down-funnel metrics—and makes it a very accurate measure of sourcing/recruiting performance as it relates to your hires.

    Let’s focus on the people in the recruiting process and draw a correlation to activities involved in the sales process. Most sales functions have what is called a lead generation specialist. These individuals are responsible for researching, finding, and calling leads, as well as qualifying those driven to the company through advertising, email campaigns and other marketing outreach activities.

    The Lead Generation Specialist is responsible to ensure the lead meets the minimum requirements to determine understand and qualify where the buyer is in their buying cycle. They often use a sales qualifying process using the BANT methodology. This is a qualification process using the four criteria: Budget, Authority, Need, and Time.

    Create a Bulletproof Business Case for Sourcing; Download our Free Whitepaper

    Your employer branding activities help to drive leads from social posts, job postings, and other outreach messaging campaigns you may run. The Sourcer operates in the same manner as the Lead Generation Specialist; not only do they follow up on these leads, they are also responsible for researching, finding, and generating interest of their own that fit the defined talent profile. They will pass that talent prospect onto the recruiter who will convert them into a candidate.

    In Sourcing, you need to qualify your prospect, as well. I like to call our qualifying process AIR: Awareness, Interest and Readiness.

    • Once they engage with the prospective talent profile, the sourcer’s job is to generate Awareness about the company and the opportunity to both active (through recruitment marketing) and passive (self-generated) leads. At this stage, an organization’s EVP is so important to the recruitment process.

    • In the Interest stage, candidates want to know exactly what is under the hood, beyond the job description. Knowledge of the culture, unique projects they might be part of, and examples of day-to-day life with your company helps your talent prospect make informed decisions about whether they’d like to start a conversation and begin exploring the opportunity in more detail.

    • Finally, in the Readiness stage, the sourcer asks questions of the talent prospect to determine interest and timing, so they know if and when the potential candidate is ready to move into the next phase of the process and meet with the recruiter.

    With business transformation an everyday reality, finding and nurturing the right talent to get us where we want to go is the biggest opportunity and challenge of this decade.  

    Embracing a sourcing mindset is both a Business and an HR challenge

    Organizations that unlock the power of sourcing will be able to transform at a pace that will leave their competitors behind.

    Again, sourcing is the crucial first step in bringing the best talent into your organizational fold. The best sourcing teams are able to cultivate a robust and steady stream of high-quality potential candidates that remain engaged with and are interested in joining your organization. By having a clear sourcing process and strategy in place, utilizing best practices, and constantly searching for ways to revise your strategy, you will maximize, create efficiencies, and improve your recruiting process. And most importantly, increase satisfaction with your hiring managers and your candidates.

    If you want to learn how a sourcing model improve the performance of your talent acquisition team, let’s talk!


    Patty Silbert

    President of Newton Talent since 2018, Patty Silbert has over 30 years of experience developing the innovative solutions that help HR professionals just like you meet their most pressing recruitment challenges and their companies achieve their talent acquisition goals. She is a regular writer and speaker on the subjects of recruitment strategy, employment branding, HR technology, and leadership.