Does PERP Represent the New Future of Sourcing?

Apr 1, 2010

We all know that employee referral programs and networking are the prime means to find top quality talent. However, this takes time, effort, and the hands of a very skilled recruiter to be productive. It appears this won’t be the case much longer, since we’re now heading toward a technological tipping point.

Automating the ERP process represents the upcoming wave of new technology. From what I’ve seen, fundamental changes are now underway that will soon change the way corporate recruiters find the 85% of candidates who are not now looking. This could have significant negative repercussions for external recruiters and every other current sourcing approach.

LinkedIn,, and, among others, are now offering and/or are beefing up their employee referral capabilities as we head toward an era of full ERP automation. This essentially means that your employees’ LinkedIn, Facebook, and Outlook contact lists will be scrubbed for suitable candidates for your company’s current and future positions. Adding the P in ERP though is where the real advantage lies, and you can get in on this action right now.

The differences between PERP and ERP are night and day. ERP is based on the idea that your employees will refer their close friends and associates who have asked to be referred to your company. This is a pretty narrow group of people, with the quality and timing hit or miss. Since your employees are reluctant to say no to a friend, quality is questionable, as well at the low chance you have an open position available at the time of referral even if the person is good. Here’s how the P in PERP changes this model:

  1. Instead of waiting for a referral to call in, your employees will regularly and proactively review their existing contact lists to identify people who are potential candidates for your open positions. This requires that employees are aware of these open positions, and your employees (or recruiting team) are proactively contacting these people. Getting these people interested in what you have to offer won’t be to hard if your outbound messaging is compelling, but will be a wasted effort if you send a boring and skills-infested job description.
  2. A P2 employee referral program adds another level of proactivity to the mix. In this case your employees continually and proactively expand their current network of associates with the best people they’ve ever worked with in the past. This way when you send out the compelling emails, you’ll reach a broader group of top performers. If the emails are especially compelling, they’ll have a viral effect, reaching even more top performers. (We’ve developed a pretty corny “wild ‘n crazy” ad wizard that converts boring job descriptions into compelling ads. If you don’t laugh too loud we’ll let you look.)
  3. A P3 ERP goes even further. With this addition, your employees send regular messages to their contacts suggesting that your employees be contacted whenever their connections begin contemplating a career change. This way your company will have a chance to pursue these people before they enter into the public job-hunting market. When your employees are contacted they need some means to automatically search current and soon-to-be opened job postings for a fit. Getting hot prospects first in combination with some type of automatic matching feature will be a huge competitive advantage.
  4. Adding interactive email to your CRM (candidate relationship management system) further automates the PERP process. In this case, prospects candidates who respond to your initial outbound email will receive an appropriate system-generated response based on their request. This will appear to be a personal message from a recruiter. With the appropriate decision-tree logic, candidates can be reeled-in via a series of information sharing emails. Then when the candidate indicates he or she is serious and wants to talk about a specific job, a meeting can be automatically arranged to talk to a recruiter.

While this type of full automation isn’t quite here yet, don’t be surprised to see partial solutions offered at the next ERE Expo. Regardless, here are some things you can do now to get started developing your own PERP right away:

  1. Have your employees proactively expand their current connections. In the future, the companies with the largest number of high-quality connections to their employees will be in the driver’s seat. They’ll quickly lose this advantage though, if their offerings describe lateral transfers instead of career moves.
  2. Have your recruiters cherry-pick your employees’ existing connections. LinkedIn is great for this. Just have your recruiters review the current contact lists of their fellow employees and find out who’s the best, whether they’re looking or not. Then contact these people and recruit them for your open opportunities.
  3. Add some type of quality requirement to those people being referred. Make sure your employees are required to justify why they’re referring someone. This provides some indication that the person listed in the talent database is an all-star or a bench player. It also provides the employee a reason not to refer someone unqualified.

Getting people before they enter the job market is what early-bird sourcing is all about. This gives you the chance to decide if you’re interested in pursuing a candidate, and a week or two headstart on the completion. But be cautioned. As the process gets automated, early-bird sourcing will not be an option.

Just consider the flip side to all this. Every company will soon be at risk in losing its best people if its competition is implementing a PERP and it’s not. Just to stay even then, it will need to enter the fray. This will accelerate the process of job-changing as the 85% of the candidates who are not now looking are soon connected somehow with everyone else via PERP. Aside from hyperspeed sourcing, turnover will increase, loyalty will decline, compensation will increase, and the world as we know it will change.

Fasten your seatbelts.

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