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Two-and-a-half years ago I joined Randstad Sourceright to build a world-class sourcing centre to cover the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. That time, early 2013, we had nothing yet in place but a strong ambition to build a brand new, unique and highly value-add service line, the so-called Centre of EMEA Sourcing Expertise (aka #rsrsrc), and to bring in and spread the love of all things of sourcing within Randstad and its clientele.
As per these days, I am joining a new role within my company and leaving the centre with a well-established, high-size and super professional sourcing regiment that is ready to rule the world – or least the region.
Building a regional sourcing centre from scratch is quite an exciting journey (and notably a rather hard job) and below, I am listing the 5 biggest lessons learnt that we had to understand to get to the level of sourcing delivery excellence where the centre is at today.
This post may also serve as a ‘public tribute’ to everyone who contributed to our success, who believed in and supported us. There are many of these folks not only within the #rsrsrc but all around the Randstad universe. Thanks million, all of you!
Due to digital technology revolution, searching for good candidates is basically not a challenge anymore. You can find tens of thousands of candidates in hundreds of different databases (or networks) or you can partner with heavily competing people aggregator providers – from the opposite perspective – to map the entire web presence of one certain individual.
There are search plugins but also productivity, document and data-grabbing, email verification, image search and face recognition, click-rate or any-other-type analytics tools (trillions of them!), and it looks like the core competitive advantage of a top sourcer is ultimately on his toolkit. On the things he uses, all the wow-factor-ways how he can identify a new candidate. Play this mysterious geeky card on any recruiting event and your audience will fearfully fall in love with the top sourcer in you…
This is however a trap, I believe, and we definitely tried to avoid to put a way too big emphasis on technology when we had launched the centre.
Not only because (1) it costs a fortune (and brings then little value) and (2) can soon-or-later be available for every sourcing provider (so that ‘the’ competitive advantage is suddenly gone), but also because (3) the more tools you have in place the higher fake comfort you create for your sourcer. By buying many of the cool tools you keep your sourcers in the belief that searching is easy and they will easily find every candidate. Ha! Well… guess what, they won’t! Hence this profession is on high demand nowadays.
Sourcing technology – in my rigid opinion – should always remain a secondary element of a sourcing delivery engine, albeit a seriously important one.
However, and this was one of the most important lessons for us, if you provide a wide-ranged toolkit to your sourcers make sure they first get the right mindset and fully understand only when and for what purpose to use the tool. As the very old Hungarian piece of wisdom states: you do not shoot with cannon to catch a single sparrow.
Your brain will catch the sparrow – I add to that.
You might have recently heard me (or Johnny Campbell) speaking about measuring sourcing productivity. We both share the excitement of sourcing conversion rate management and the magic one can achieve in increasing sourcing productivity via rigorous process control and measurement.
Yes, there is something purely transactional in this sexy sourcing world – be frank, this is also a number game! And where numbers are playing a leading role, process becomes the consigliere.
In our #rsrsrc world process gives the basis for everything. This is the so-called VICES (Vacancy intake – Identification – candidate Connection – candidate Engagement – Submission) cycle that we introduced as our standard sourcing delivery model.
Although various positions, candidate markets, countries or multi-countries, sourcing channels in use can create a rather different look of delivery the bottom-line of sourcing just remains the same. That is the above five principles (process cycle) that a sourcer always repeats – regardless how exotic or regular an assignment is. This is the very same in everything a sourcer does so that is why we have moved all the components and systems around the VICES: technology, measurement, management and control.
Due to the VICES not only did we learn how to easily standardize and teach the sourcing procedure but how to increase productivity (and basically do a better job day-by-day) and how to achieve and retain high quality in scaling in a business that was doubling its size on a regular basis. That was fun, folks!
So this is what you can standardize… and there is the other side: all the things that you cannot standardize or at least, I believe, you should not.
The beauty of a professional and highly efficient sourcing centre comes from the fact that you need a standard procedure with transactional and repeatable process elements that is, however, run by extremely smart unique individuals. That is the paradox: you build standardization but you do not let your people become standardized.
You rather encourage them to keep their individualism, to keep their thoughts and extend their thinking horizon and feel free to challenge you back. Sourcing is not a status quo business as you never know what will happen when you pick up the phone or send an email.
You constantly remind them to talk to every candidate on a human-to-human level and having high numbers in the candidate funnel is only the sourcer’s problem – no any candidate cares about that.
You need to reconsider all you have learnt about selection and job requirements when you start building a sourcing operation. Who is a good fit for the job? Is it the experienced recruiter, or the entry-level researcher, maybe even a graduate that you can shape and form as much as needed? Is it someone ‘outsider’ coming already with work experience but from a different industry? These are the open questions you will face.
Based on the lessons we learnt we believe the below profile will make the ideal sourcer.
Beyond these skills, nothing else really matters… Neither previous experience, nor background, education, nor whatsoever traditional requirement will make any real difference in sourcing performance. It may sound a little strange but hey! this is a brand new profession being just born at the beginning of the 21st century so challenge the regular way of thinking. That may not be applicable anymore.
What is the level of contribution a sourcer brings in to the business? Is it the slate of qualified, interested and available candidates or the number of hires the recruiter makes at the end? Or the number of hires the recruiter makes only from the directly sourced candidates? Or the hit ratio between these two channels? Or all of it? Maybe, something totally different?
Everyone, who has ever run a direct sourcing operation, will immediately understand the dilemma.
If sourcers, however, do not really (or only little) contribute to the hiring business… well, this is where you start having difficult conversations.
The only way how we can avoid and eliminate these painful discussions is to empower sourcers and give them the entire candidate funnel to own and manage. Let sourcers become fully responsible to select, build and leverage the holistic sourcing channel mix (including recruitment marketing, in-coming applications, ATS-based candidates or even referrals as well) and let them make the pre-selection from all candidates to the best shortlisted ones.
This is the only workaround to build accountability and to see the real contribution to the hiring business.
Making the maximum number of hires with the best candidate quality and delivery speed is everyone’s ultimate interest in our business, although, I am afraid, recruiting politics, power-games and (outdated) traditions will unfortunately block this necessary evolution still for a longer time. Therefore…
Sourcing is still a very new function for most of the companies. Sourcing leadership is the role that usually has no previous track record within a recruiting organization. This role is full of questions, doubts, arguments and unclarity. It is difficult to succeed due to the high amount of different stakeholders: recruiters, candidates, hiring managers, bosses (and their bosses) and not less importantly: the team itself, the sourcers.
If you do it very well the trap is that you set expectations too early and too high and everyone looks at you as the miraculous guy that will solve every single recruiting problem. If you struggle your stakeholders will immediately start wondering why you are out there – do not underestimate the radical change that a sourcing function is bringing into everyone’s life.
Growing into a solid and strategic Sourcing Business Partner role is the next thing, I think, we will see appearing in the industry in the next few months and years. This will obviously become a critical advisory role for organizations that want to succeed and win on the talent acquisition domain. Regular recruiting managers will probably not make the game as long as they do not combine all the above (and even more) and bring in the change and the new skill- and mindset to the business.
Are you out there already? Let me hear what you think!
@Copyright 2020 Balazs Paroczay. All Rights Reserved.