Curiosity, Control and Confidence
I’ve spent the past year exploring a world that I’d been fascinated by for years: training. I don’t think I could have done this without the help of my amazing team at Lightness who continue to train me on how to train :) At times it was difficult, frustrating or simply exhausting but for the first time in my career I get support in learning every single day and I wouldn’t give that up for anything.
The fun part of my current role is meeting with recruiters, sourcers and recruiting managers almost on a daily basis. I’ve always been interested in understanding what makes successful sourcers tick and, while I try to avoid generalisations, I’ve noticed there’s clearly a pattern as to who gets the most out of training sessions I deliver.
I also set up this group, Poland Sourcing Community, supporting those recruiters and sourcers looking to develop their skills without necessarily involving their employer. I know how hard it is to keep up with new sourcing trends and techniques when you don’t receive any training at all (or the training you receive is outdated) so it was important for me to help those in need of some guidance.
I constantly get asked what to look for when hiring sourcers and while I think the answer is different depending on who you are and what you want, I thought I’d share the traits I’d look for. Please bear in mind though your list could look very differently – sourcing is defined differently in different organisations and personal preferences are also important.
There is always something more you can learn when you work in sourcing. I find that people who are naturally curious often do better with keeping up with the latest trends than those who know a lot to begin with. Funnily enough, I recently asked someone with no sourcing experience how to get to a particular group of people, they had some amazing ideas that most recruiters I know would struggle to come up with. It’s amazing how good people get at looking for things when they practice it outside of a corporate process ;)
There’s another benefit from hiring curious sourcers. People who are curious will usually know a little about a lot and are used to asking questions, both of which help with the “engagement” (=having meaningful conversations) part of the job. You don’t have to train them to ask questions when talking to candidates or keep reminding them to do proper research before approaching a candidate. It’s their nature to do all of that.
There are many ways you can attract candidates to your company. You can post and ad and wait for applications (and as long as it’s a good ad that you thought through that’s a perfectly good way to approach it) but that doesn’t give you much control over what happens. If I was looking for a sourcer, I’d look for someone who likes control and prefers knowing exactly who they’ll be speaking to about a role and how soon they can have someone interview with the company. That way they wouldn’t have to worry if the job ad didn’t end up attracting the right people. In fact, I’d probably encourage them to skip posting one altogether (something I rarely see recruiters do, unfortunately) and use the time it would take to create one to make more phone calls, send more emails, InMails, Twitter messages, texts or getting in touch with potential candidates some other way. Because let’s face it, unless you’re a really good copywriter, that’s probably a better way to use your time.
There’s a lot of people in recruitment with fragile egos. We like to think we’re doing everyone a favour by simply doing our job. We talk about how we change lives etc… while the truth is it’s not about us at all. If I was hiring a sourcer, I’d look for someone confident enough so they don’t need constant reassurance. Someone who can accept that their role done well will make them more or less invisible. Someone who doesn’t need to make themselves feel more important by calling themselves a superhero, talking about how they only hire the best or how their company is the best employer ever. Finally, someone who treats all candidates (even if not qualified for the role) with respect instead of pretending they’re in a position of power. Sourcing isn’t about the fake confidence so many in our industry try to portray, but rather about feeling so confident you don’t need external validation. Because candidates have their role in the process, but that role is not massaging a sourcer’s (or recruiter’s or the hiring manager’s…) ego.
We are used to thinking about sourcing as an entry level role into recruitment (here’s an interesting blog on the subject I recently read), but in reality, a sourcer is the human manifestation of your employer brand. That’s why it’s really important to make good choices when hiring your sourcing team. And while there’s no solution that will work for every organisation, the most important thing to do is to spend some time deciding what it is that you should be looking for. Someone with so much influence on your employer brand surely deserves a little consideration :)
So what are the most important traits of a sourcer on your team?