The Five Elements of a High-Performance Sourcing Strategy

For the last several months, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it takes to be excellent in talent acquisition. My continued benchmarking research is at the root of it all, as we’ve collected a wealth of information on what today’s leading organizations are doing to attract, engage, and hire talent.

I’m currently working on a framework for high-performance talent acquisition, which includes a breakdown of essential elements of success in each phase. At Brandon Hall Group, we break talent acquisition down into five phases: Plan, Source, Assess, Hire and Onboarding.

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Of all the stages of talent acquisition, sourcing is perhaps the most dynamic – and this is evident in how rapidly the use cases for sourcing technology are evolving and changing. The emergence of social technology has had an especially profound impact.

The Source Stage is the culmination of all efforts to find and engage candidates. For small companies in particular, sourcing has been limited to posting open jobs on various job boards and social networks. As competition for talent continues to increase, however, very few employers can rely on direct applications as a source of talent.

Instead, data from our first annual State of Talent Acquisition Report shows recruiters at the most effective hiring organizations are actively searching for qualified candidates across various social networks, job boards, and talent communities. Across the board, however, employee referrals continue to be the single most effective source of qualified candidates for organizations of all sizes.

But as I dig deeper into the data, it would seem there’s far more to sourcing than the channels recruiters are using to find candidates. As I see it, technology is rapidly evolving the sourcing function in some very significant ways.

Five Elements of Sourcing Strategy

Finding the best talent can be time consuming. Success requires a more diverse approach to sourcing than before. While the challenge for some recruiters is to cast a wider net, others need to do more targeted networking – and demand for technology that can minimize the work each strategy requires has resulted in a major increase in the number of sourcing tools available today.

While this corner of the vendor landscape changes almost daily, the most effective sourcing tools typically fall into one of these categories:

  • Broadcasting. The main purpose of these tools is to increase the exposure of open jobs and/or your employer brand. Functionality can include distribution of job postings, creation and management of email campaigns, and aggregation and management of social networks.
  • Searching. Almost every ATS has some form of search capabilities. The extent of those capabilities, however, can play a huge role in recruiters’ sourcing outcomes (as any Boolean master can attest). Searching technology is getting increasingly sophisticated, with many systems automatically searching through internal candidate databases to find potential matches for new job postings. Others use complex search algorithms to track down top talent outside of the ATS, and rank candidates based on experience and competency.
  • Attracting. While many sourcing solution providers are improving recruiters’ search capabilities, others are focused on leveraging candidates’ search habits. These tools leverage SEO tactics to improve visibility of job postings, which is becoming a recruiting staple. Note: Few (if any) standalone products focus exclusively on SEO, and instead incorporate this functionality into the standard requisition opening workflow.

  • Referring. Employee referrals have become one of the most popular sourcing strategies for finding quality hires. To that end, a number of vendors in the space have developed tools geared toward improving employee referral programs – through automating the administrative workload these programs require, gamifying participation, automating job sharing on social networks, and more.
  • Engaging. These tools are heavily CRM focused, in that they keep a recruiter in touch with important activity in their networks. For example, when a candidate has recently made a number of updates to his LinkedIn profile, or has recently accepted a new job. These tools make it easy for recruiters to maintain a birds-eye view on their talent pool, and maintain a high-touch relationship with top talent.

Sourcing technology is probably the hottest corner of the market in talent acquisition technology these days – and for good reason. Every organization sources candidates as part of its talent acquisition process, though some are decidedly better than others.

I’ll be sharing more insights on this trend in my forthcoming framework report. For now, I’ll leave you with this: While the basic function of sourcing may remain the same over the years, organizations that diversify their sourcing strategies and leverage advances in sourcing technology will consistently winning the race for top talent.

Kyle Lagunas, Talent Acquisition Analyst, Brandon Hall Group

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