Wayne Gretzky, arguably one of the greatest hockey players of all time, has a few of my favorite quotes. First one is probably his most famous, and that is “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Slightly less well-known is this:
“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”
I will add to this and say, “I skate to where the puck [in my game] is going to be, not where it has been.”
When you are sourcing, do you think about where YOUR potential candidates are going to be, or do you just go to the same tired places because that’s where everyone else has been?
When looking for candidates, go where the candidates are going to congregate in your industry. And for each of us, that is going to be a different place. For example: a marketing sourcer is probably going to find a plethora of candidates through various popular social networks. An accounting sourcer – not so much.
The whole idea behind this quote is forward thinking and future planning. You have to be one step ahead of your target or you’re going to miss it, or be late to the game and get stuck with all the leftovers.
Are you a talent attraction professional? Start thinking 6-12 months ahead of your target audience. How is the economy going to affect them? How is the current labor market going to affect them? The latest technologies? Then locate resources discussing these types of topics and share them. You’ll earn brownie points for thinking of them and their future. And while you’re at it, digest those resources yourself. Chances are a few new candidate resources will surface when you start thinking ahead…
We’re each playing similar, yet decidedly unique, games here. Stop worrying about the puck in other people’s games. Make sure you’re following the puck in your game and look ahead to where it’s going to be.
When you ask recruiters how they measure their success, most of them will tell you that it is related in some way to their placements. Notice I didn’t say NUMBER of placements, because that is going to vary depending on the kind of positions for which you recruit. Examples:
- A recruiter who only recruits C-level executives might view success as making one placement every 6 months, if those placements are worth six or seven figures a pop.
- In contrast, a high-volume recruiter who places candidates in call center environments wouldn’t be able to put food on the table with one placement every 6 months. They might view success as making 10 placements per month. For the C-level executive recruiter, this is simply an unrealistic expectation, given the nature of their work.
One size never fits all, so generalizing success in recruiting will always yield you inaccurate data. We all have different amounts of experience, different approaches to client and candidate management, different methods (and tools!) for sourcing, and let’s face it, we each have our own biases to our own way of doing things.
What this means is that you don’t need to go running off signing up for every new resource just because it worked for someone else, or changing the entire way you work just because one of your peers found success with a new method. But in the same breath, just because a particular method or tool doesn’t work for you, this doesn’t mean it will not work for anyone. Each situation is unique.
Define your own success and don’t measure your results against anyone but yourself. You don’t know other people’s stories, what their focus is, what tools they are using, what their fees are, and what their cost of living is.
Last Wednesday, I wrote a post about how I believe that sourcing is not dying, but evolving. I ended the post with a teaser about what I believe sourcing will evolve into in the coming years. I certainly don’t think the need for the skills which sourcers possess will go away, but I feel like other aspects of a sourcer’s repertoire will become more in-demand as our communication methods continue to change.
As I mentioned last week, human interaction is an integral part of any profession that falls into the same classification pool as sourcing, talent attraction / acquisition, recruiting, HR, etc. To ignore the fact that our jobs are very ‘high-touch’ would be foolish, no matter how deep into the technical aspect of sourcing we may be. In the coming years, and I think especially over the course of 2010, I see sourcing taking on a huge role of proactive communication. Since the accessibility of information via social networks keeps getting easier and easier, I believe being a good relationship-builder is going to go up in value. Please note: I do not believe this means that sourcing will inevitably equal recruiting. The reason I know this is because not all recruiters know how to build relationships. You all know what I’m talking about – we all know at least one recruiter who is a script-reading robot with the interpersonal skills of a rock.
Sourcers who are good communicators are going to be the goodwill ambassadors and (I hope Glen will forgive me for this) the talent pipeline builders. Sourcing is going to take on a very proactive marketing-type role, involving such things as interaction in discussion forums, posing questions on LinkedIn, writing for and selecting content for a company blog, getting involved in the Chamber of Commerce, attending networking events, and getting the word out about either their companies or their clients.
We have seen throughout the history of recruiting how important building true relationships is, and sadly I feel that recruiting, and thus sourcing, has become more transactional in recent years. Sourcing of the future will move away from the transactional and more toward the strategic, as people become more web savvy and numb to blanket messaging. Sourcing, I believe, will begin to take on more of a proactive than a reactive role. Since more of the technical search aspect of it can (and will) be automated, this opens up a window of time to start being proactive. Consider this: traditionally, sourcers wait to research until they receive a search request from a recruiter. I think the future role of sourcing will be for sourcers to continually have their ‘antennae’ up for good talent, and to also take the opportunity to start developing those initial relationships so that when timing is appropriate, the recruiters can approach them warmly with job opportunities.
There is no cookie-cutter mold into which a sourcer fits. At SourceCon 2007, during my presentation about what true research is, I stopped for an interactive portion and polled the audience of researchers for their educational and professional backgrounds. I asked 5 people to share, and not one of them had the same educational OR professional career path. So, when thinking about who would be the best types of people to hire for this future sourcing role, two in particular come to mind. They might surprise you a little:
- Public relations specialists: In the ‘entry level’ years of PR, traditionally individuals will conduct research and create ‘pitch lists’ for their companies or their clients. While they’re honing these research skills, they are also taking lessons on pitching, managing campaigns, and client interaction from their senior coworkers. Translate this into a sourcing role: you’ve got someone who knows how to find the right people, and then who knows how to interact with them professionally and get them excited about a company or a job opportunity.
- English majors: I am the daughter of an English teacher, and I used to help Mom grade her students’ grammar papers. But earning a degree in English goes well beyond knowing proper grammar – you learn to master the high standards of accuracy, clarity, and finesse of the language as well as information synthesis, summarization, and analysis of literature. As search engines strive toward semantic comprehension, a person who has studied sentence mapping and understands the historical progression of the meanings of various words and phrases will be able to pair this with searching a social network to find the right people. And with the increasingly lackadaisical attitude toward proper grammar and punctuation in communication due to spellcheck and text message abbreviations, someone who has mastered these skills will be highly sought-after in a role where good communication is so crucial.
I have mentioned the PR job description in a couple of blog postings, discussing the similarities between its and recruiting’s job duties. English, on the other hand, I would guess is a bit of a surprise to some, but I truly believe that will be a sought-after major in the coming years.
As we observe and experience the change in our job functions, let’s not forget the importance of knowing the basics. Understanding Boolean will always be key to successful sourcing. But understanding the rising value of strategic proactive relationship discovery and development will help you evolve with the position. Work on GOOD networking skills. Start learning about semantic search. Educate yourself on professional communication skills. Study the people who really know how to cultivate relationships. And don’t believe for a second that sourcing is dying – it’s just getting a facelift.