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The End of Sourcing Is Near … the Remaining Recruiting Challenge Is Selling
Posted By Dr. John Sullivan On February 4, 2013 @ 5:51 am In Opinion | 63 Comments
With the growth of the Internet, social media, and employee referral programs, finding talent is becoming amazingly easy. In recruiting, we call finding talent “sourcing,” and for nearly three decades sourcing has been the most important but difficult aspect of recruiting. After all, if you can’t find great talent, you certainly can’t interview and hire them.
But finding top talent among professionals is now becoming painless to the point where almost any firm can do it successfully. The time is rapidly approaching were nearly every professional and working individual in the developed world can be found by a recruiting function.
Finding talent for recruiting purposes is now quite easy because almost everyone can be found through their “footprint” on some combination of electronic sites. You can be found if you have:
Look at this list and see how many of the 17 items apply to you. Most professionals meet a majority of the items, so if a corporate recruiter wanted to find you and they had the time … would it really be very difficult?
It’s hard to read the news without finding a story complaining about “the loss of personal privacy.” Unlike most writers and citizens, recruiters can view this broad loss of privacy is a positive thing for them. There is a direct inverse relationship between the level of privacy and the ease of finding information about someone. In fact, the opposite of privacy is “public,” which means visible. As the level of privacy is reduced, more of your information is exposed, so recruiters can easily find not only can your name but also critical information that tells them about your skills, interests, and experience. Sometimes all that is required to find a professional these days is a simple Google search on their name and a scan through LinkedIn.
As more people around the world gain Internet and mobile platform access, finding people and information about them will become proportionally easier. In short, if a company finds you desirable as a potential recruit, there is no way to hide from them. And if you happen to want to be recruited, you will make the finding process even easier by purposely making yourself and your resume highly visible.
A majority of applicants at most firms are active candidates, so they find you and thus they require no “finding effort” beyond job posting and branding. The remaining recruiting effort is direct sourcing by recruiters or employees. Finding top talent will always be important, but eventually it will become so easy that except in specialized cases, there will be no reason to have it done by highly paid recruiters. This is partially because as the electronic presence of almost everyone in the world increases, the volume of information will become too large to sort through by highly paid professional direct sorcerers. So instead, eventually recruiting will employee Internet web crawlers that will electronically search 24/7 for individuals who fit the desired candidate profile.
Most of the remaining “finding” will be done by your employees through the employee referral program. Employees will continue to find talent (and also assess it for skills and fit) during their interactions with colleagues while they are online, on their mobile phone, and when they physically meet prospects at professional meetings and social events. Some advanced referral programs are already reaching 50% of all hires. Not only are the employees finding these individuals, they are also making a contribution towards selling them on the firm before they convert them into it a formal referral.
Because there are so many individuals, consultants, and vendors currently involved in sourcing, they will of course negatively react to this forecast with some degree of passion. But remember this was the same reaction and series of denials that also occurred among those who worked on photographic film, who designed newspaper want ads, that occurred among recruiters who crafted Boolean searches, and that is currently occurring among those that make a living operating monster job boards (have you seen the drop in their stock price?). Even some executive search firms are suffering because social media and referrals are becoming quite capable of identifying future executives (by law most executives need to be listed in financial reports). The best executive search firms will still survive, however, because they almost always excel at the remaining important role of selling candidates.
The process for recruiting individuals is relatively simple. It has four basic steps:
Step 1 — Finding/direct sourcing – sourcing, finding, or seeking out top quality individual prospects.
Step 2 — Selling them on applying – selling or convincing the identified prospects to apply at the firm.
Step 3 — Candidate assessment — the process of determining which of the applicants to make an offer to.
Step 4 — Selling them on the offer – convincing the final candidate to accept your offer.
Of the basic steps, half are focused on some aspect of selling a prospect or a candidate. Recruiting leaders should begin focusing on these selling aspects because, as previously stated, “finding” is becoming so easy, and there is little push for change in candidate assessment because most recruiters and hiring managers are comfortable with the existing process of assessing candidates through interviews.
Once you realize that the selling aspect of recruiting is almost universally under researched, underfunded, and it is almost always executed in an unscripted manner, you’ll see that it’s ripe for significant improvement and change. If you review the recruiting literature you will find very little written about the science of selling and the importance of using data-driven selling approaches within the recruiting function. The pressure is increasing on recruiting leaders to make a decision to shift resources away from sourcing by recruiters and toward the remaining big challenge: selling.
Unfortunately, despite the obvious importance of selling, many employees, recruiters and most hiring managers are not very good at it. In addition, generally few effective data-driven selling tools are provided to those who have the responsibility for selling prospects and candidates. If you want to improve your selling capability in recruiting, here are some powerful “outside the box” actions to consider.
Over the last decade, employer branding and direct sourcing have received a great deal of attention and budget support. But the same is not true for the selling components of recruiting. As an illustration, there are several prominent sourcing conventions (i.e. SourceCon) held each year but there is not a single convention focused exclusively on selling as a component of recruiting. I 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. I urge strategic recruiting leaders to begin shifting resources toward this underfunded but strategically important area of recruiting … selling applicants and candidates.
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