Sourcing and the Great Assumption

First to admit that I am not a sourcing guru. For one reason or another, that is assumed by people I meet, and at first I was not sure why that followed me around. Don’t get me wrong, on the daily grind of recruiting I was able to cold call and hunt down the folks, but no better than many recruiters – I just made tons of phone calls 🙂 I will admit, dropping about 150 voice mails before 9am each morning always helped.

As the world becomes socially smaller though, I really admire all the sourcing folks out there that really spend time and effort understanding the methodology of cutting through all the networks, groups, media sites, and of course those who gate crash and get the names. I have not honed this skill over the years, primarily because I have to focus on other competencies to hone, and have advised many to outsource this work to experts who hone those competencies daily.

I still stand firm on my belief that for positions where you need to recruit, as in you really need to sell it, you need to PLAN on having at least 50 conversations in the bag before you make the hire, give or take a few. These include the interviews and back and forth with the managers/candidates, so assume that about 15 of them are already off the table for sourcing.  You need to have 35 strong, detailed conversations about the job, people in the marketplace, their qualifications / interest / motivations / experience, and then some secondary validation in order to feel really good about the 3 to 5 people you are putting in mix. If you can’t count the 35, I think you are making some really big assumptions when stating “this is the best talent”.

Of course you may want to double count previous conversations you have had in the space, but I just call that knowledge. Maybe you can cut out a few, but don’t you think that you should at least have 25 good conversations with either people you trust will know the right people OR the actual prospects themselves in order to find a slate of 4 or 5? If not, what are you using as your decision engine…the resume or LinkedIn profile that they produced themselves?

So back to the Great Assumption – Managers think recruiters / sourcers are actually doing this work (or more) to find the talent that is needed AND we also think that in order to be successful, we need to have this amount of effort.


Sourcing is not about math. Sourcing is about results. We know the matching can just happen. This is not a manufacturing process. There are people who just gel with the recruiters, leaders, and managers. Chaos happens, and we break through the math all the time. Maybe “great” recruiters are lucky, or the brand works, or maybe they are just highly skilled and tuned to the managers, so their research is solid.

Besides – I can prove that sourcing at this level is unlikely to happen all the time anyway:

  • 2100 hours in a year for a person to work
  • assume 20% for non-recruiting meetings, training, water cooler time (1680 hours left)
  • assume all meaningful convos + notes captured are 30 minutes (3360 sessions)
  • 50 sessions per hire (67 positions filled a year)
  • Meanwhile – you forgot scheduling, research, document prep, offer letters, admin, and a bunch of other stuff.

Maybe your team does less – maybe they do more. But even IF they are doing less or more, you can’t deny the numbers…so what are you giving up? I appreciate if you team is really good at finding 2 people and selling it hard to the managers who buy it when you tell them “this is the best talent” and a great hire happens. Be honest – did you REALLY source to 35 to 50 conversations or just get people who match.

And it is AWESOME to get people who match. That is the goal. Just don’t tell the managers you busted 100 hours of sourcing and hard selling when you made three phone calls and got three great candidates.

We need to be cautious about the Great Assumption – that we sourced “all the talent”. 1 – it is difficult to prove, 2 – it is difficult to have it happen consistently, and most importantly – 3 – it does not really matter if you have a great hire and the person is productive.

Take Action and Translate to Everyday:
Let your managers in on the secret. Let them know that you will plan to have 35 to 50 conversations with the likely suspects after research and knowledge is gathered, meaning it could take X amount of time. You may be able to shortcut and get results early by finding people in the first 10 conversations, rather than the last 10. But if that happens, you will not talk to the other 40 on the list.

It’s now on them to close the deal, and you will assist as needed. Remember – results are not a measure of effort, and you have other managers looking for results. 



Appropriate Complexity and the EVP

Transparency in a job – its duties, responsibilities, and its interactions with others is becoming more important than ever. Jobs are on the rise, contingent labor is up, and small businesses are slowly starting to expand. All in all, people are starting to ask certain questions about each job, and employees are asking themselves if they should stay.

As companies build and maintain an employer value proposition, an overlooked area that we advise them on is COMPLEXITY. Not the complexity regarding their EVP philosophy, but the complexity of a role, and how it is part of a candidate’s consideration, or how employee’s view their job.

The complexity of a role changes from business to business, meaning the actual role of a marketing analyst at Pepsi could be more complex than say at Coca Cola. Sometimes roles increase and decrease in complexity during a short period of time, especially as businesses role out initiatives, merge with other companies, install technologies and so on. The trick is figure out what type of complex environment does the employee (or candidate) have successful experience in, and do they want to have the same, more, or less complexity in their next role.

Some jobs are straightforward – notice I did not say simple. But the procedures and processes are defined, the goals are defined, etc. That particular level of complexity may not be appropriate for a candidate. They may want something more sophisticated. Conversely, they may have other parts of their life that are already complex (or have become complex) and then actually want to reduce complexity. You know, we work about a third of the week, so sometimes enough is enough.

You know when a person says “I’m not happy” or “I need something else” and then a manager says – “what are you, crazy?” or says “they don’t get it, this is a great job” – PAUSE. Ask yourself if the complexity of the role has been changing. Could be the complexity of the candidate’s / employee’s life, but look at the job. Maybe its changed more than you know, and you have to get through the job psychology with the person.

When recruiting or retaining, find out what level of complexity candidates and employees are looking for. The question is hard to ask directly, so try and piece it together. You can use complexity as a closing technique or a retention technique, and a powerful tool in your EVP.

Complexity is part of the Development, one of the four corners of the employer value proposition. Personal Match, Financial, and Work Experience are the other three corners, and across all four, there are dozens of elements that make up a strong EVP.