25 questions you need to ask before setting up a sourcing function

Setting up any sourcing function (in-house, agency or an RPO-type megacenter) is a massive exercise.

Many think that hiring a handful of experienced sourcers will make the game. Great sourcers know what to do (and how) and their previous expertise will automatically solve everything.

Others more believe in focusing on the continuous learning and development part of sourcing. top-25-logoThese leaders are often aiming to build a sourcing SWAT team that is perfectly trained on the latest and newest trends (and tricks and tips and armed with techs). While there is nothing wrong with this (really, nothing! it’s great) the story just should not have an end here.

Interestingly, only a few leaders realize that sourcing is actually a service and as such it is not enough to only focus on the people and the tech/training sides but “boring” things like service level agreements, communication plans, products and deliverables, measures etc-etc. (things that usually characterize any other business services) should all be in most-focus for the sourcing leader, too.

Building a successful sourcing function is probably one of the most difficult and complex gigs in recruiting. It is tricky, super challenging and can be little rewarding at the beginning.

Below, I gathered the top 25 questions I learned during my sourcing builds. Hope it can help your organization, too, to start the build in the right direction and raise the critically important questions in the right order.

Let me know your thoughts (and arguments) in the comments below!

Before you start… check where your client stands

Don’t fall into the trap that your sourcing mojo will impress everyone. Nope, you can be the ever best, technically perfect sourcer on the planet if you are not fully-fully aligned with what your client needs you will never fulfill the story.

It is not true that providing great candidates will validate a sourcing function. Maybe it is a good start but the initial fame will definitely not last too long. At the end of the day hires validate everything in recruitment. If you cannot contribute (or cannot transparently showcase how you directly contribute) to this end-goal your efforts are just in vain.

Start the brainstorm with deeply understanding your client(s):

  • What are the most painful parts of the current recruitment delivery? Is it cost? Time? Quality? Satisfaction? The talent tomorrow, scarcity? All jobs or only some job families? Or maybe lack of market intelligence, knowledge? Don’t let your client say: all the above. No – you must have focus and priority here otherwise you won’t be able to create the right, tailor-made sourcing solution.
  • Where will the sourcing function bring in the most value to the entire recruitment organization? How does good look like? When will the efforts be considered as successful and most valuable? Can a crystal-clear agreement be composed and signed off by both (recruiting/TA and sourcing) parties at the very beginning of the collaboration?
  • What is the expected ROI (return on investment)? How can the value of sourcing be measured: quicker procedures? fewer third party fees? What about the non-monetary measures such as HM satisfaction improvement or strategic market intel gathered? What is the amount of investment that a company needs to make to build the ever best (or just the necessary) sourcing function – is it worth the total investment
Designing the service portfolio

Here we talk about the regular service elements so all our knowledge around marketing, communication, design, product development and so are greatly helpful.

  • What type of services should be provided? Just-In-Time sourcing against active requisitions or future req support? Executive Search or all levels and bands? Market mapping? Pipelining? Naturally, corporations would love to have them all and in one, however again, it is crucial to build the right priorities and scope of the sourcing services.
  • Is sourcing “search only” or “search and talk”?
  • Is sourcing “passive candidate only” or “passive and active”? What are the benefits (and counter arguments) of having the sourcing team worked with applicants as well? How would that impact the daily job of the recruiters?
  • Which other research and market intelligence services should be in the portfolio? Can those services be considered as core deliverables of the sourcing function?
  • Where is the right balance between the standardized and the flexible service elements? What can (and must) be standardized and what should be kept as always full tailor-made? Which elements of the sourcing delivery are changeable (e.g. number of candidates presented) and which parts are more fix and stiff (e.g. minimum delivery time)?
  • How should pricing look like? Who should pay the bill: Talent Acquisition, HR or the Hiring Manager community? What is better: having a pay-per-candidate or a pay-per-hire construction? Or maybe pay-per-time spend?
  • What is the right name of the function? Sourcing can often relate to procurement and, therefore, lead to confusion, research may not refer to candidate engagement… Is it an SSC function (rather low-touch) or a value-add, CoE-type service line?
  • Check data privacy! O Lord – this is one of the most dreadful parts. Do talk to the legal department before any sourcing build. Which data can be stored? Which one can be gathered? Where will you need consents? etc. Your ATS provider will not have the right answers (although they usually advise you here…).
Building the team
  • What is the right team structure? Flat or hierarchical? Is there a need to have various seniority levels within the team? Or different, splitted functions (e.g. sourcers who only search while other sourcers who only engage etc.)?
  • What is the right governance? Is there a need to have separate leadership on the sourcing team or maybe, the function can easily be moved under an existing TA lead? Is sourcing a separate identity of part of the talent acquisition group? Which governance model would make the collaboration become stronger and better between recruiters and sourcers? Between sourcers and Hiring Managers? How should daily, weekly etc. communication and issue management (escalations) go?
  • What is the most optimum combo: how many sourcers should support one recruiter? How many recruiters can one sourcer support? What is better: having fix working “pairs” (tandems) or a more SSC-type model? Having sourcers linked to recruiters or business units?
  • What is a realistic workload? How many sourcers are to be hired to support the annual hiring volume?
  • What is a correct sourcing productivity? How many leads, candidates, hires per day, week, month, year etc.? What is an acceptable delivery time? Who is a top performer and who is performing below the average?
  • What is the DNA of the super sourcer? Who is the right sourcer character? Requirements, skills, competencies, expertise? How to attract and select the best ones? In case of experienced sourcers, which exact previous experience is needed to be successful in a new organization?
  • Buy or build? Which scenario is better? If a build (so developing, creating sourcers and not buying already experienced ones): how much time is needed to make someone “newby” become fully productive? What is the very minimum, shortest lesson curve (ramp up time) needed in case of the build?
  • Compensation: what to incentivize? (big-big-big question)
Measurement, reporting
  • What are the sourcing-specific measurements we need to bring into play? how? why? when? Can the in-place systems (ATS, CRM or anything else) technically support to get the right reports (or data)? What is more important to measure: time-to-search or time-to-submit or time-to-hire etc.? Is there an option to measure the entire candidate funnel (# of identified, contacted, engaged and submitted candidates)?
  • What are the KPIs and SLAs that best reflect the progress and tell the story (and explain the value) of sourcing? How often should these be measured? The SLA is to be agreed upon with your client – the KPIs are there to help you best understand the productivity. Set up them wisely!
  • How should the communication plan look like? Who will communicate with whom? How frequently? Will the sourcing function provide weekly reports? Or project reports? Shall the communication be standard or more free-style and customer-based?
Tech & Knowledge
  • What is the must-have sourcing technology (toolkit)? Which tools are only nice-to-haves? Which CV databases to buy? Where can tech automation help the processes? What is the real need (and right time) (and right money) to invest into a CRM, a parsing engine or any other expensive systems? How should I build the sourcing technology budget?
  • What is the best way to train and upskill a sourcing team? How to keep them always up-to-date? Which training can be done online and what is the need to invite a trainer in person? Is any sourcing certification worth the cost? How can the team be trained on non-core-sourcing subjects such as SEO, sales and marketing principles (think cold call, for instance), branding, persona creation etc.
  • What is the best way to keep and share the knowledge within the team (and the entire recruiting/TA organization)? Via any system? Via voluntary practice-based communities? Via weekly newsletters? Folders?

(photo credit: http://www.timeslanka.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/TOP-25-LOGO.png)

Header photo by Evan Dennis on Unsplash

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