7 Sourcing Mistakes Recruiters Make

April 13, 2015

With a trove of handy tools and online resources at their disposal, one might think that sourcing candidates for a particular position is easier today than in prior decades. However, according to veteran recruiters, the task of effective sourcing remains daunting.

“I find there is no single best method for sourcing,” shares Jane Newell Brown, author of “The Professional Recruiter’s Handbook.” “It really depends on the particular position you’re looking to fill. If you’re looking for a tech position in Silicon Valley you’re going to behave differently than if you’re in the highlands of Scotland.”

Here are a few common mistakes that recruiters make when sourcing:

1. Making assumptions about candidates you’ve never met

“Too often, recruiters will write to potential candidates and use a standard blurb they’ve cut and pasted into other InMails like, ‘I’ve got the most amazing job for you that I know you’re going to love,’” says Brown.

What’s wrong: When you approach a candidate with this attitude, you’re assuming something about someone you really don’t know anything about. “The truth is you have no idea what they’re going to like or not like,” says Brown, “and you risk losing any possible trust that you might otherwise have gotten.”

2. Discounting active job seekers

Many recruiters today believe that only passive candidates are desirable.

What’s wrong: “I don’t agree with the snobbishness of only going after people who aren’t looking for a job. It really depends on the role you’re looking for,” says Brown. If you’re hiring a personal assistant for a medium sized business for example, it would be a ridiculous waste of effort and energy to only go after passive candidates, she argues.

Additionally, because people switch jobs so often in today’s market—every 4.6 years according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics—Brown doesn’t feel people should undervalue or discount those individuals who are being proactive about their job search.

3. Writing general job ads that don't weed out weak matches

It takes a millisecond to apply to a job today and, for this reason, it’s often easy for a recruiter to amass thousands of resumes when placing an online ad.
What’s wrong: Unless you set some kind of bar for a candidate to jump over, it’s just too time consuming to go through thousands of resumes. Brown recommends putting a few things in the ad to knock out those people who are just sending their resume off without considering if they are qualified.

“I always ask for a cover note requiring people to list three examples of the projects they’ve worked on in the last three months that are relevant to the role,” says Brown. “I almost don’t care what they say,” she shares. “The fact that they’ve bothered to answer the questions with three examples will put them in the top ten percent.”

4. Tweeting job descriptions without developing a brand first

Recruiters who tweet often make one of two mistakes: They just post a job description to a sea of followers, and hope that someone qualified responds, or they tweet out about their personal life and then occasionally post a job description.

What’s wrong: “If you’re going to use Twitter as a recruiter, you need to be engaging people with your brand at a time when they might not be looking for a job in order to hang on to them until such time they are” shares Brown. Recruiters need to think about developing personalities for companies, by posting things that are going on at the company when they’re not hiring, such as diversity initiatives, or new workplace policies or milestones.

5. Turning a blind eye to candidates who don’t fit to a T

A lot of recruiters are set on candidates having a specific set of skills and experience and turn a blind eye to any profiles and/or resumes that fall outside the lines of a pre-determined list of qualifications.

What’s wrong: Being too rigid on skills and experience can make you miss out on people who have terrific attitudes, shares Brown. In her experience, a great attitude is the most important trait you can find in a candidate, and although you can’t easily distinguish an attitude from a LinkedIn profile or resume, you can almost always find it if you look between the lines.

Brown has had great luck with candidates who may not have all the required experience, but they go out of their way to explain in a cover letter why they’re a good fit for the job anyway. These individuals are often worth meeting face to face, says Brown. Additionally, people who have a lot of solid recommendations on LinkedIn or bring a lot of personality to their profiles can also wind up being great candidates that you would miss out on when you’re too narrowly focused.

6. Placing all your faith in a well-written ad

Often, recruiters feel they’re doing something good when they amass a thousand resumes from placing an attractive ad for a position.

What’s wrong: “If you end up with a big stack of resumes at the end of the day, you’ve done something terribly wrong,” says Chris Pritchard, a veteran recruiter who authored 101 Strategies for Recruiting Success.

“Most recruiters take a summary of qualifications they don’t understand and post an ad,” he explains. “Then they spend all day going through resumes, and all you have time to do is basically give a quick glance at cover letters and objectives. This is not how you cost effectively find the right individuals.”

Instead, Pritchard suggests that "recruiting should be a creative and intuitive process.” He doesn’t run ads. Ninety nine percent of the positions he fills are by approaching individuals online, after spending enough time to understand the job. “If you’re hiring a Java developer, for example, rather than going to recruiting blogs, you should spend time on sites that a Java developer might be visiting, like a coding blog.”

7. Skipping out on a LinkedIn Recruiter or Premium account

Many recruiters use LinkedIn, but don’t go the extra step of shelling out money to get a Recruiter account.

What’s wrong: Having a basic LinkedIn account doesn’t afford recruiters with as much access to candidates as a Premium account," shares Pritchard. “If you know how to use it, LinkedIn Premium is a lifeline for recruiters,” Pritchard advises.

Pritchard uses his account to do an advanced search for keywords from a job description. He can then review profiles of individuals he has no prior connection with. When he finds a profile that seems promising, he doesn’t reach out to the person right away. Instead he dives deeper into the candidate by seeing which groups they belong to—listed at the bottom of their profile.

“I then join the groups and start paying attention to what is being shared and what is relevant to this particular candidate.” Finally, when he does reach out to them, he can speak to them about what’s relevant to them.

When sourcing, he says, “too many recruiters approach it from the stand point of what is important to them or the hiring company. But in order to be really effective, they need to step out of their world and see things from the candidate’s perspective.”

*Image by Hometown Beauty

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