Develop a Recovery Sourcing Strategy

Feb 6, 2009

The economy will recover some day. I’ll admit I was a bit overly optimistic in an earlier article this year. It must have been the New Year’s bubbly.

Regardless, it will probably take at least six months of planning, testing, and search engine equity before any Web 2.0 sourcing tools you implement will have an impact. So you might want to start today to figure out when you pull the six-month “before the recovery” trigger.

To get a sense of this, I developed a very crude forward-looking indicator. This has to do with the number of searches on Google including the word “jobs.” People looking for work will search on Google before going to a job board using a phrase like “Java jobs Dallas” or “nurse jobs Memphis.”

It’s a lot easier doing this rather than going directly to a career site or hunting and pecking on a job board. I’ve been tracking “jobs” on Google since September 2008 when the number of searches was 110 million. It’s climbed steadily since then, and in January 2009 reached a peak of 151 million searches.

I predict that when the daily rate per month stops increasing it will be a strong indicator of a turn-around in about six months.

This will be confirmed when the daily rate peak is reached and starts to decline. This is a sure sign of a recovery, which will be about three months ahead of a pickup in hiring.

So with this in mind, now is the time to begin the planning process.

This means figuring out what you’re going to do and maybe testing some ideas out. Here are some of my favorite ideas that I think will have a huge impact on Web 2.0 sourcing.

Seven Things to Do Now to Prepare for the Economic Recovery

  1. Put a plan in place now to overhaul your sourcing. It’s unlikely that the best person out there is going to stumble upon your ad unless you push it to that person. More likely, she’ll call someone she knows first, maybe one of your current employees, or learn about it through a tweet, a post on a blog, or an IM with one of your recruiters on some site now being developed. Regardless, now is the time to figure out how and where the best people will be looking in the age of Aquarius, and to be there.
  2. Prepare candidate personas for your critical positions. This should be the first step in every sourcing plan. Candidate personas describe your ideal candidate from multiple perspectives including the standard stuff like typical background, most likely prior employers, job titles, academics, schools attended, and group memberships. Also included in this should be likely first- and second-degree connections, awards won, alternate job titles, indirect competitors, patents or papers written, blogs read, and topics/interests the person might search on. Sourcing and Internet marketing programs will be developed based on this.
  3. Prepare a multi-stakeholder job analysis for these critical positions. Some people still use traditional job descriptions to advertise and screen candidates. Others use competency models. Hiring managers and members of the interviewing team use their intuition plus an assortment of favorite techniques. Who knows what recruiters use? Regardless, the best candidates always decide on whether they want to do the work required and the upside potential for learning and growth. A multi-stakeholder job analysis puts everything on the same page so everyone involved can find the best candidates, assess them accurately, and put an offer together that ensures high performance and retention. Email me if you’d like to learn how to develop this type of job analysis for one of your jobs.
  4. Identify your best sourcing channels. If you’re targeting the top one-third to the top 5%, your best channels will not be a major job board. More likely, it will be a proactive employee referral program powered by LinkedIn, search engine optimized talent hubs with push technology, a pipelining program with an automated CRM engine, and deeply networked recruiters who are subject matter experts. Once you’ve identified the channels, you need to optimize their performance. Here are some ideas on how to develop these multi-channel sourcing programs.
  5. Develop search engine equity. It takes months to get to the top of any organic search listing, even if you do everything right. However, a well-designed talent hub (a micro site for job classes to attract prospects) with the right key words, URL, content, and in-bound links will eventually produce big-time results attracting candidates who Google for jobs. This will be a huge competitive advantage for those who start now building these “big targets” sites. In the interim, establish a pay-per-click model testing out the best keywords. This will yield good results right away at a reasonable cost, and pretty soon you’ll be at the top of the organic search results for “jobs.”
  6. Start writing creative non-ads. If you want to still use job boards, make sure your postings stand out. Stop emphasizing skills and experiences – this is a turn-off to the best people. Tell stories instead. There are three things required to be in the game here. First, the title has to be different. For example, something like “Un-Cost Manager Guru” will at least get someone to read the second teaser line. On most job searches, these second line mini-descriptions are all but useless, but if you said something like this for an un-cost position you actually might get someone to click through: “This is a job for those rare business-oriented accounting folks who speak product marketing.” Then for the third point, make sure the copy describes the primary reason a person will be jazzed about doing this work at your company. Most people want to improve themselves somehow, so for the cost spot, something like “Our cost manager plays a critical role in every product launch decision we make,” will increase the likelihood the person will actually apply.
  7. Use social media the right way. My recruiting mantra is “don’t sell the job, sell the next step.” Too many recruiters rush to the close which turns off some of the best people who are willing to share info, but not consider a marketing job in Topeka. During this sharing process, you’ll develop a personal relationship, and if a significant career opportunity arises, people will be more open to seriously evaluate it. On a parallel theme, social media can be used to develop a similar type of online relationship. So rather than post jobs, post teaser non-ads or opportunities for candidates to learn more about you, your company, and some of the big projects you’re focusing on. Automating these types of interactive messages is where the action will be, but don’t lose sight of the importance of drip nurturing and messaging.

Of course, there’s more to building a creative, pushed, automated, Web 2.0, multi-channel, req-less, targeted, optimized, multi-stakeholder, top-person focused, recovery-based sourcing strategy. But if I included them all in this article, the last sentence would be way too long.

We’re collecting all of these ideas, including yours, on the Recruiter’s Wall. So check this to help write the longest one-sentence sourcing strategy in the world.

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