human intelligence remains the linchpin to effective sourcing

May 24, 2016 Vince Szymczak

If you want to help your organization gain a competitive business advantage, try going back to basics: recruiting basics. And one of the fundamental elements of winning great talent is the art and science of sourcing, which has evolved into a skill comprised of new methodologies, ingenuity, cutting-edge hacks and daily improvisation.

I say sourcing is a blend of all these things because it’s a regimented discipline involving a rigorous approach combined with creative thinking. Great sourcers follow tried-and-true methods but they also know how to expand on them using their own experience and problem-solving skills. In my role at Randstad Sourceright and supporting the development of the European Sourcing Center of Excellence, I’ve seen many clever sourcers demonstrate truly out-of-the-box thinking to find the talent our clients need — innovative ideas that you just can’t teach in sourcing school.

As the competition for talent heats up and the availability of great talent diminishes, employers will need outstanding sourcing skills to help close the gap. In our 2016 Talent Trends Report, only 12% of talent leaders rated their organization’s ability to attract top talent as excellent. One-third rated themselves as average or poor. That’s pretty revealing.

To overcome these challenges, companies will need sourcers to find and engage talent in innovative ways. To do this, they need specialists with deep subject matter expertise, the know-how to push current technologies and adopt new ones and the ability to work closely with hiring managers to identify, and most importantly engage, the right talent. This requires special skills that not all sourcers possess. In fact, standout sourcers possess some unique traits. To learn more about the DNA of a great sourcing specialist, click here to download our white paper.

effective tactics

At the SOSU Europe and Asia events in the past year, we saw some of the most forward-thinking sourcers share their inventive approaches. A great example is my colleague Balazs Paroczay’s presentation at #SOSUASIA on his 40 must-have tools that every sourcers can rely on. It’s one of the best toolkits you can turn to. This insight can only come from someone with years of experience and sharply-honed skills.

Similarly, our globally recognized US colleague Jim Stroud presented on personal brand-building for recruiters at #SOSUASIA and its importance on nurturing relationships with candidates. As an author of many articles and blogs about creative ways to source — from getting leads through news headlines to the recruitment of neurodiverse candidates with specialized skills — he has a long history of innovative sourcing and talent engagement solutions.

Relying on sourcing innovations is one way to uncover hidden talent. However, even old-school methods can lead to great results when executed well. For example, there has been a lot of talk about moving away from Boolean search toward semantic, but good sourcers know most databases today are still Boolean-friendly (you can read more by downloading my white paper). Being thorough and introspective on your search construction will produce the best results. 

One aspect often overlooked in sourcing is understanding how well your approach is working. A good approach should always include efforts to continually improve, and you can’t do this without a process to measure performance. That’s why it’s important for every organization to constantly review results, update methodologies and reassess its strategy. Check out Balazs’ simple sourcing productivity calculator to get a better understanding about productivity.

the HI factor

In today’s hyper-connected global market, the path to finding talent is shortening. Add in the fact that technology is making it easier to perform many tasks and sourcing becomes much more expedient. That might be the case, but hiring great talent hasn’t become any easier. Here’s why: Talent, especially passive candidates, will only respond to offers that add value to their careers and lives. That requires great sourcers to think about the value proposition they create and promote in the context of target candidates. This can only be achieved when human intelligence complements tech and processes.

All the technology in the world can’t make the kinds of crucial decision-making that human intelligence is capable of. Many of these tools are effective for generating CVs, but they aren’t great for finding good matches. When we source from headlines or come up with great hacks or write sophisticated Boolean strings, these are the innovations that only an experienced sourcer can bring to the table. Don’t get me wrong, I love having a growing toolkit at my disposal but in the end the skills I bring to the table are what help find the right talent – and it’s only through this highly personalized approach that you can connect with and engage the most passive talent.

Without doubt, this is an exciting time for sourcers. On one hand, we have more tools than ever to locate great candidates. On the other hand, competition for talent is rising. Now is the time to demonstrate how sourcing expertise can be the difference between finding and hiring talent.


about the author

Vince Szymczak

Vince is the sourcing subject matter expert of Randstad Sourceright EMEA Recruitment Delivery Centre in Budapest where he is responsible for all technological and methodological questions of sourcing and recruitment. He is identifying and creating best practices and strategies to enhance the sourcing delivery engine within a wide range of areas such as sourcing process and efficiency improvements, toolkit, knowledge sharing and defining best-in-class sourcing methodologies – hence he is always

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