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8 Signs Your Candidate Sourcing is Broken

If you currently head corporate executive search or talent acquisition, you are likely inundated with offers for the latest, greatest recruiting technology solutions. The total of RecTech companies in the recruiting industry now numbers in the thousands.

In fact, the RecTech industry is so massive that Talent Tech Labs created a wall chart — just so they could wrap their minds around all the talent acquisition technology vendors out there. (You can download a PDF of their Ecosystem 8.0 wall chart here.)

We use our own mix of RecTech tools, along with our proprietary tech. I have always been a technology enthusiast. I was a data journalist in my former career and learned how to think strategically about technology and data. To this day, I remain inspired by the power of data to do good in this world. I regularly try out new apps and enjoy taking them for a spin.

I have served as a reviewer of new tech devices and apps. As an early adopter, beta tester, and blue screen survivor, I understand tech does not always work as planned. I believe in the promise of technology, and leverage the ways it can enable us to cover more ground more quickly. I also understand that there is often an opportunity cost. Unintended consequences can get the best of us. That’s is what sets up candidate sourcing efforts to break.

Does RecTech Make Recruiting Easier? Yes and No.

Talent acquisition leaders are confronted with so many recruitment technology vendors that they have been forced to bring in advisors.  Talent Tech Labs and Chris Russell’s RecTech Media have based their entire businesses on helping companies sift through the choices. They are trusted guides — the sherpas for companies figuring out what recruiting solutions to use. A good many of these solutions focus on the front end of the recruiting process: candidate sourcing. Candidate sourcers identify and profile prospective candidates — passive candidates that companies target in their recruiting efforts.

RecTech Solutions Are Not Designed to “Solve” Executive Recruiting

As most recruiters and candidate sourcers will tell you, RecTech apps are not designed to “solve” recruiting — not by a longshot. They help with part of the problem — not the whole thing. As a result, corporations are forced to cobble together an array of recruiting solutions that fall somewhere on the sourcing, engaging, selecting, and hiring continuum — when all companies want is to find the perfect hire.

It should be easy, right?

Each company chooses its own mix of recruiting solutions. Consequently, each employer then hands their candidate sourcing teams a candidate sourcing toolkit. For example, we have clients who use the applicant tracking system (ATS) Taleo, LinkedIn Recruiter, ZoomInfo, their own career site, job boards, lots of spreadsheets, and assorted apps. 

But here’s the thing: those recruitment tools don’t always play nicely with each other. Moreover, with every advantage that they deliver, they introduce challenges to manage. Rolled up together, those technical challenges can become an enormous time-drain.

For instance, LinkedIn may give you access to 500 million potential candidates. That sounds pretty amazing, right? But sifting through all those profiles to find ideal prospects takes hours, if not days. Candidate sourcers are forced to filter crudely on data that LinkedIn members enter themselves. LinkedIn profile information is not standardized, corrected, or verified to ensure it is up-to-date. 

In fact, many profiles lack the information you need to determine whether someone even qualified as a possible candidate. That makes more work for your sourcing teams. They have to contact the person just to determine whether they’re someone you want to recruit.

So while you do find possible candidates, you miss a lot of them too. And that’s one of the ways candidate sourcing breaks. There are times those missed candidates would have been your hires, if only it were somehow easier.

Candidate Sourcing is Broken at the Best Companies

Many top corporations struggle with candidate sourcing. We know that to be the case. That’s because we function as a kind of emergency room for broken candidate sourcing efforts. Clients come to us with searches in critical condition. They try for 6 or more months — in a couple of cases for more than a year — and then call Recruiting 911. We answer: we enjoy the challenge. 

By the time we get the engagement, sourcing teams are exhausted, recruiting leaders are stressed out, and hiring executives are losing patience. In most cases, they have been trying to fill an important, senior executive or senior technology opening. Usually, the roles are incredibly nuanced, as roles increasingly are these days. In all cases, they have not found their person.

How do we save a broken search?

To properly diagnose the problem, we ask the client questions and conduct an exam of the candidate sourcing research. In doing so, we uncover the very things that caused the executive search to break. We see the same issues come up, regardless of the search, client, or industry. They all suffer from many, if not all, of the symptoms below.

 

Broken Candidate Sourcing

  1. The ideal candidate profile does not describe what the hiring executive actually wants.
  2. The position description does not describe what the role actually does.
  3. The sourcing team failed to identify the employers that grow ideal candidates — top target companies.
  4. The sourcing team did not develop a sourcing strategy informed by thinking about the data.
  5. The sourcing team built a list of candidates that is way too long and unfocused.
  6. The sourcing team missed potential candidates because they did not map target company teams.
  7. The sourcing team failed to elicit referrals to the best-of-the-best from trusted high-level sources who are super-connectors.
  8. The sourcing team did not have the time or ability to engage the interest of ideal candidates.

 

Effective Candidate Sourcing

  1. Resolve disconnects between the ideal candidate profile and what the hiring executive wants.
  2. Get down into the weeds to understand what the role actually does.
  3. Take the time to come up with a list of ideal target companies, one agreed to by the hiring executive.
  4. Stop living on LinkedIn and hammering away at title searches to generate hundreds of candidates who are off.
  5. For every target company, figure out what roles and titles are closest to the kind of candidate you are seeking and go there.
  6. Map the teams where the ideal candidates are seated. That’s how you make sure you don’t miss hidden prospects.
  7. Cultivate super-connector sources for referrals to ideal candidates, complete with discreet pre-references to ensure they’re bulletproof.
  8. Prioritize outreach to your list across multiple channels: email, phone, text, and social media. For highly sought-after talent and for busy executives, trying once or twice does not cut it. You have to commit to reaching out at least half a dozen times before closing them out as non-responsive.

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