Sourcing Doesn’t End with a Great Name—That’s Only the Start of a Good Sourcer’s Work

December 7, 2017

Sourcing and recruiting may seem like two separate activities, but they’re not. If you’re not good at sourcing, you can’t be good at recruiting, and vice versa. Why? Because if sourcers can’t convince the strongest people they’re identifying as prospects to seriously consider their open jobs, then their effort is wasted.

In a “Small Batch, High Touch” process you only need 20-25 pre-selected passive candidates to make one great hire. Five or so of these should be great referrals and the other 20 cherry-picked direct sourced prospects who would naturally see your opening as a career move.

Cherry picking is an advanced recruiter skill despite the somewhat superficial name. For example, for a CEO search I looked for people who were division general managers at companies in the same industry who would quickly see that the job offered more rapid growth, more independence and a chance to demonstrate their leadership ability.

For an HR VP search in a remote area, I looked for HR directors at bigger companies within a 100 mile radius who would instantly see the job as a significant career jump and worthy of relocation. For sales reps for a fast-growing medical device manufacturer we looked for those in related industries but at companies that had seen their growth slow down.

The idea with cherry picking as a sourcing tactic is to look for people who would instantly see the opportunity as worth considering in a short tweet-like email, message or voicemail. However, the purpose of the message is to get the person to initially engage in a conversation to see if the job is as good as it seems. Once on the phone, persuading the cherry-picked prospect to become seriously interested in the opening takes strong recruiting skills. That’s why I contend that good sourcers need to be great recruiters. If not, you’ll lose all of these people for the wrong reasons.

You must offer a 30% increase to recruit the best talent

Early in my conversations with these pre-selected (aka, cherry-picked) prospects I mention that the only reason they should even consider changing jobs is for a minimum 30% increase. I then pause and let the idea sink in. Then I say with a big but, is that this increase is non-monetary. It consists of some job stretch - meaning a bigger job, a job with more impact, a job where the mix of work is more satisfying and, of course, one that offers faster growth for a longer period of time. I then say that this will take some time to determine but that I’d like to use the first call just to see if the possibility exists. I refer to this concept as the 30% Solution.

There are multiple purposes for presenting the conversation this way. The big one: It forces the person to consider a job change from a longer-term perspective, minimizing the chance that an offer that emphasizes a bigger compensation package will be accepted. The next big one: It allows the recruiter to engage in a more conversational career discussion rather than an impersonal box-checking exercise.

Obviously I could write a book about how to recruit and close strong talent but the point is that if sourcers can’t recruit, it doesn’t matter how good they are at sourcing. In this case, I contend that recruiters actually make better sourcers, since cherry picking doesn’t take advanced sourcing skills. A green belt in “Clever Boolean” is more than enough. 

*Image by clement127

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