The Ultimate Guide to Sourcing

Few skills are as important to the ongoing development and success of a business than job sourcing. Not only does it take a back seat to the everyday duties of actually running a business, but the smaller a business is, the less likely it is to prioritize sourcing at all.

This is problematic for a number of reasons because smaller businesses need to examine their sourcing methods closer and more often than their bigger counterparts.

Large corporations tend to snap up all the great talent, while smaller companies tend to get stuck in the mindset where they’re far more focused on the pre-hire specifics than the post-hire reality.

Worse still, a number of businesses large and small still confuse sourcing and recruiting. Sourcing is a very specific skill; it is not about sifting through resumes. For entry-level level hourly openings, an average company will receive 144 applications. For professional positions, that number decreases only slightly to 89.

Finding people willing to work for you is not a challenge.

Job Sourcing: The New Way of Thinking

Even so, quality recruitment remains a challenge. Companies under a thousand employees will typically spend about $3,000 per hire, and three times as much when training. Unfortunately, this is not much less than larger firms spend — which puts your small business at a disadvantage.

So what’s the solution?

Increasingly, and especially with the advent of social media, the current thinking on job sourcing has shifted.

Announcing a position on a job board is no longer enough. The new philosophy says that sourcing should be conducted in much the same way that companies conduct a marketing operation: selling the job as if it were the product.

There are a number of ways that you can approach this new philosophy in sourcing, both online and offline. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Sell the Story

If you’re a small business, you’re already operating at a disadvantage when it comes to your larger competitors; you don’t have the budget, manpower, or time that the big boys do.

What you do have is the advantage of being young and struggling.

Whether you’re operating in the tech sector or not, startups are the embodiment of the American dream. Make sure potential employees know that you’re young and vibrant and have new solutions to old problems.

Your fresh approach to your segment of the market can be intoxicating, especially to Young up-and-comers who also have something to prove. Working for an innovative company can be as attractive as purchasing an Innovative product. Make sure they know that.

Rebrand the Position

For decades, a business would post a simple ad explaining what the open position was, what it entailed, a rough indication of the salary — and more importantly, lots of information about what was expected of the applicant.

But you’ll get better results in the new marketplace by rewriting your job notices as advertisements, emphasizing not your demands but the opportunities your position presents to young professionals.

Don’t just tell them what you want; give them something they want.

This works especially well on potential employees who already have a job and haven’t thought about anything better. Present yourself as that better deal.

Passive > Active

While we’re on the subject, your time is much better spent on pursuing the currently employed, or passive, job seeker rather than the unemployed, active job seeker.

Their professional past is already well-documented so there’s no need to worry about their dedication or salary expectations. You can focus on the pre-hire intangibles and let the post-hire take care of itself.

Bringing someone away from your competitors will always make for a better candidate.

Move Beyond LinkedIn

After the job board became passe and the newspaper “want ads” died, the website LinkedIn was positioned as the next great move in online sourcing. And it has been — to an extent.

For one thing, bigger companies have recruitment teams sifting through these online resumes all day long. Current thinking favors reaching out to social media and using the algorithms of places like Facebook and Instagram for very targeted, specific searches.

You can go local or regional, set up a company page to tell your story, and generally work the network as if you were an acquaintance who just happened to hear of a great job opening.

Some companies have gone as far as to create Tinder profiles and Snapchat profiles positioning themselves not as a hookup but a job opportunity. Believe it or not… it works!

Improve Your Search

Facebook’s Graph Search is an excellent tool that was developed for advertising marketers, but in keeping with the theme of this new sourcing philosophy, it actually works great for recruiting, allowing you to micro-target positions and firms by specific location.

On Twitter, you can search hashtags for firms, industry events, and Industry topics. The more newsworthy the better! This is bound to lead you into the communities you want.

Start a Conversation

There’s also no reason you can’t start a blog of your own about the service or product your company provides, or even create YouTube videos that talk about topics relative to your field.

People will respond if you set yourself up as an expert in whatever it is you do for a living.

Reddit and Quora are also great places to start a conversation relative to your type of business. Again, merely posting a job opportunity is old and busted thinking. Social media is about engaging personally — and if you can show that your firm has a real passion for what they do, it will attract more passive recruits.

Cold E-mail

This is one of the older remnants of the sourcing arts, but it’s still used today because it still works wonders. Each and every one of those newsletters that clog up your inbox every day, for example, was sent by a potential contact. Don’t ignore them!

The good old-fashioned Google search also works wonders in finding email addresses of potential candidates, and you can still use the professionalism of email to make your introduction look a little more formal than social media.

Be light and engaging. Don’t waste time with too many details and entice the candidate by making it clear what you offer — not just a salary but a chance to do good work in a good company.

Remember to follow up, too, but not to an annoying degree. There’s a delicate balance that has to be learned. A good mass mailer can help you find it.

Get the Big Picture

Recruiters tend to pour through resumes looking for specific positions and work experience, but when you’re sourcing it’s often better to take a step back and consider the whole person you’re targeting.

A skill set is much more important than a job title, and life experience can often be more telling than a starting salary.

A good fit for your company might not be someone who’s held the position before; it could be someone who has the personality traits and social skills you need, as well as some of the knowledge.

Especially for smaller companies, it’s always better to focus on where your candidate is going than where your candidate has been.

Use Inbound Marketing

Again, treating sourcing as if it were an arm of the marketing wing is the surest way to get great results. You can even run it as if it were a marketing campaign:

Assemble a team of go-getters, come up with a workable plan that doesn’t scrimp on the specifics, and have them go out and sell, sell, sell.

The difference is they’ll be selling a job opportunity, rather than the product.

Hire a Team

No, not a team to help you source candidates — an actual team of candidates from your competitors.

This is an interesting new trend in sourcing and recruitment: finding a nucleus of people who are already doing the job and working well together and then offering incentives to bring them in as a group.

The hive mind can be a very powerful weapon. You may find that the candidate you’ve targeted will help do your sourcing for you within a competitor’s company.

Look Under Your Nose

In the middle of all this recruitment, don’t forget that sometimes the people you want are already working for you in another position, or a lower one.

Don’t be afraid to promote from within! They’re already familiar with the company culture, after all, and the product or service you provide. Move them up the ladder and spend less money finding someone to take their old job.

Get Out There

Just because everyone’s deep in the throes of social media doesn’t mean you can’t do a little bit of good old-fashioned pressing the flesh.

Industry conferences are a good place to begin, as well as trade shows; setting up a booth is a great way to micro-target and tell your story at the same time.

Schmoozing used to be the name of the game for a reason… it works! Bring a team from your company and make an impression that says that you’re where the action is.

Use Group Referrals

In the same way that social media allows you to branch out from friends and family and add other people to your social circle, the network you already have in-house can be invaluable for new recruitment — if, that is, you know how to incentivize it.

Make sure to let your workers know that they’ll score bonuses for bringing in new talent. This way, they’ll do the networking for you off the clock.

What About the Website?

The company website often goes forgotten these days when talking about sourcing… but it shouldn’t.

Despite all the social media sites, it still remains the major calling card of your company on the internet — and unlike your Facebook or Instagram page, it can be tweaked to land high in Google rankings.

Again, SEO your page and your blog just as you would for a product. Make sure your job positions are searchable and provide lots of contact info for potential candidates.

There’s also no better place to include your mission statement so that candidates know not just who you are and what you do, but what you stand for as well.

it’s also one of the best ways to conduct your passive recruiting. Candidates can visit your website at their leisure and learn about your company, see what makes you special to the industry, engage with your social media accounts, and compare and contrast what you offer with other employers.

Then, when the time is right, they feel like they can make the decision themselves. Remember: the hard sell is dead. The future’s about being interesting and engaging.

Don’t Get Resumes, Get Results

It makes sense that the future of sourcing and recruiting would move from merely sifting through resumes to actually creating a relationship with your potential workers.

With a large number of underemployed still eating up the job market statistics, your best candidates may not be actively engaged in looking for a better job at all.

This is where you come in by creating a social media presence, establishing a dynamic official website, wading into the discussion of what matters to not just consumers but candidates, and ultimately marketing your open position as if it were a product.

You’ll be situating yourself for the realities of the new century in the process.

Start Using These Sourcing Techniques Right Away

The best news of all is that you can start putting these tips to work for your company right now, whether you’re a recruiter or just the owner of a small company trying to source for new talent.

Between web analytics, polling, customized micro-targeted searches, and active engagement, you can create a presence that will attract both passive and active candidates.

Don’t make the mistake so many businesses make and put sourcing and recruiting on the back burner. Just like your product or service itself, your recruiting techniques should evolve and change with the times, or you’re bound to get left behind.

Start treating your search for new candidates as if it were a marketing plan, and you can begin strengthening your roster today. It’s an investment that will definitely pay off… and sooner than you think!