I read a great article not too long ago on “learning to source and sourcing to learn.” Which elaborated on how both learning and sourcing are necessary and complementary to one another to create an effective sourcing strategy. This insight got me thinking. As TA professionals, when it comes to sourcing, don’t we all strive to be as effective and efficient as possible?
Of course we do.
That said, while reflecting on my own journey in talent acquisition, I realized without a healthy dose of curiosity, there’s no foundation for a sourcing strategy to take shape.
When I first started my career in talent acquisition, I began in agency recruitment.
Right away, I was given a laptop, a phone, and a list of requisitions that needed to be filled. Through trial and error, I quickly learned what it meant to INVEST time in sourcing to learn first.
To get great results quickly with my sourcing approach, I needed to understand viability, candidate behaviors, talent supply and demand, hiring trends, geographic market analytics, and competitor insights. All so that I could be as calculated and strategic as possible.
I wasn’t nearly as productive trying to wing it or by diving headfirst into active sourcing. In fact, the art of crafting an effective sourcing strategy is built on research and planning. Which is driven by curiosity and savviness.
When it comes to sourcing, we are so much more productive and precise when we first have a solid understanding of both the target talent and the proverbial “lay of the land.”
Be the Candidate, Learn Talent Behaviors
In this new role, my curiosity led me to start researching talent persona behaviors. My ambition was to understand the professional world of a candidate the best I could as if I was in their shoes.
I sought to go beyond the job profile to fully grasp what viability means and how it’s defined in that industry sector and by that particular hiring manager. Here are things I did to help get in a candidate-first mindset:
- Asked myself: What are deal breakers? What is highly desired?
- Separated the “must-haves” from the “would like to haves.”
- Investigated candidates’ common aspirations, challenges, and motivations.
- Questioned general pain points or challenges in that role.
- Questioned how or where candidates were commonly engaged outside of work and through work. (This includes groups or associations they would likely join and follow.)
When it comes to meeting candidates where they are at, you can see how curiosity serves well in talent acquisition. Anytime I was considering my candidate target pool, I would ask myself these questions and apply the strategy based on my findings and insights.
Know the Competition, Sell your EVP
At the time, I also quickly learned that one of the first things an engaged candidate does is look up an employer, either via Glassdoor or other equivalent sites. to peek at reviews and ratings in order to learn more about the workplace culture. On top of that, they are also cross comparing your represented employer with other competitors to find the best fit.
This meant I needed a solid pitch for the employee value proposition (EVP) I represented. And I needed to craft my positioning and representation in a way that uniquely addressed benefits and pain points with the candidates I approached and connected with.
By offering something very appealing and of value to those who may be more receptive based on their current employer, this approach was a strategic way to increase and boost my overall response and acceptance rates. After all, an EVP is extremely powerful.
Knowing how to pitch and sell an EVP can make all the difference in engaging and retaining viable candidates. I recall that I would also create pros/cons summary lists. Like employer battle cards, so I could be well prepared when engaging with candidates.
I reflected on what the pros were for the EVP I represented. What are admittedly some cons? Considering competitive insights, where does most of the talent target pool currently work?
What are three to five employers I can learn more about? What are their hiring demands and trends like?
Are there geographic differences in brand perception?
What do I know about their layoffs and attrition this year?
Being curious and remaining observant about relevant competitive intelligence (CI) and leveraging this to position your EVP outreach strategy was very effective in getting candidate responses quickly. Plus, you’ll surely impress peers and hiring managers along the way with your CI.
Learn to Source, Source to Learn
Over time, I’ve come to learn the importance of being mindful of innate traits such as curiosity, passion, and ambition. It’s what separates the solid player from the rockstar. How do these drive you as a talent acquisition professional?
I often hear of “have the will, develop the skill” or “be efficient and remain observant.” What great testaments to going back to fundamentals here and reflecting on what drives us, motivates us, and sparks passion in us when we source.
Investing time not only to learn more about sourcing, but to source to learn will pay in dividends as you maximize ROI to quickly and effectively deliver and drive results.
Jasmine Bell is Director of Strategic Sourcing at global talent solutions provider WilsonHCG. With more than nine years of experience in talent acquisition, she helps to develop, implement and optimize strategic sourcing solutions for some of the world’s most admired brands. Jasmine thrives from learning and sharing and is passionate about connecting people and ideas to optimize productivity and drive value. Learn more about Jasmine here.
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