ruminating on 2020 sourcing


Ruminating on 2020 Sourcing

I took it upon myself to conduct an unofficial and unscientific talent acquisition survey.  I wanted to talk to various Sourcers from around the nation and get their take on the candidate of 2020. Did we learn anything this year that will help us prepare for 2021?

The Sourcing ruminations I gathered are mostly anecdotal, but they are from the horse’s mouth and should be given credence.  Sourcers are the first point of contact with a potential prospect and have been privy to unfiltered candidate emotions.  Everyone’s opinion or empirical observations have at least a smidge of truth and are worth reflecting upon.

The hope would be that we’ve learned something from 2020 with the ups and downs, the highs and lows, and the struggles and successes that will help position us better in 2021.  Even though this year showed us that any good plan can be whittled to dust within 24 hours, we must make an attempt to understand.  Covid-19 dismantled economies in literal days.

In 2020, talent acquisition teams had furloughs and reassignment we never dreamt possible, but here we are.  I surveyed about 30 Sourcers from coast to coast, from Maine to California.

Most of the Sourcers were in healthcare, keep that in mind, but from all types of organization sizes, strength, and profit level.

Here are their thoughts on 2020:

  • More candidates responded in 2020, still declining, but the responses are kinder and swifter.
  • There is an increase in texting responses from prospects, they seem to like texts as a first form of contact.
  • Moderate to large increase in candidate negotiations for increased salaries.
  • Moderate to large increase in counteroffers.
  • Moderate to significant increase in internal transfers.
  • There are organizations that sped up their hiring process to meet Covid needs – they fared better than those who kept it business as usual.
  • Candidates are off the market fast. Sometimes within days.
  • The majority of candidates are asking to work remotely.
  • “Good candidates are very picky”. Sourcers note skilled staff know their value and expect more in a new position.
  • People are sharing a lot more personal information with us, they want to share their real needs, their human side (less formality).
  • Loss of entry level worker roles to remote positions.
  • Pay and bonus structures are hot right now. Rates need to be competitive.
  • Phenomenal candidates are pushy and are very high touch. Without high touch, they walk away. Serious attention needs to be given to a “white glove” treatment.
  • Due to furloughs, the quality of candidates in 2020 was high.
  • Candidates seem uncertain – to stay or take a leap of faith and relocate for a new role – requiring more assistance, documents, selling collateral to convince.
  • Reprioritization of family. Candidates are asking for input from spouses, consideration of children, and family issues in a way we haven’t seen before.
  • Candidates appear burnt out and anxious.
  • People are asking about Retention – Turnover Stats. Candidates are challenging culture claims. They want proof that they are moving to a great company.


In Closing

I hope talent acquisition leaders read this.  This is not the time to take our foot off the gas.  We need shorter processes, revamped compensation plans, a renewed emphasis on community resources for relocation purposes, hiring manager involvement, and recruitment marketing and engagement plans that have dollar signs behind them.

We are not at the end of this yet. The candidate of today will take some time to recover.  And they are getting smarter.

2021 will continue to bring challenges that must be addressed with fresh eyes and focus.

Happy hunting everyone.

Christine Hampton

Christine is a Doctor of Business Administration candidate researching talent sourcing strategies in healthcare. This is Christine's 29th year in Talent Acquisition, with the last 9 years focusing on sourcing and recruitment marketing.