I was holding a confab last week (circa 2012 - but it's still valid today, whatever day it is) with a few recruiting directors from some global companies discussing the future of sourcing and recruiting. The emphasis was how to get better results from LinkedIn Recruiter. Their contention was that more could be done, but their recruiters were balking. The discussion started with a few questions. Imagine you were there at the meeting. How would you respond to these points?
- Do you want to increase your emphasis on hiring passive candidates?
- Are you in a talent scarcity situation where the demand for talent is greater than the supply?
- Do you want to raise the talent level of your total current workforce, sustain it, or lower it?
All said they want to accelerate their passive recruiting efforts; they all thought they were in a talent scarcity situation for most critical positions; and, of course, they all said they wanted to raise their talent level. I suggested that to begin achieving these three results they needed to implement a 40/40/20 sourcing plan. This means that no more than 20% of their sourcing resources and efforts should be spent on job postings, about 40% on name generation and targeted emails, and 40% on networking. This 40/40/20 sourcing plan maps closely to the job-hunting status of LinkedIn members. This is shown in the pie chart summarizing the results of a survey we conducted with LinkedIn in 2011.
Based on more than 4,500 fully-employed members, 17% categorized themselves as active (Searchers, Networkers, and Hunters), 15% Tiptoers (only telling very close former associates), and 68% passive (Explorers were open to receiving calls from a recruiter to discuss a possible career move). To source and recruit the best of these people you can’t just post traditional job descriptions, send boring emails, or make dozens of phones call a day, and expect to attract and hire many good people. Implementing a well-designed talent scarcity approach to hiring top talent requires that each part of the 40/40/20 plan be optimized to attract the best people in each job-hunting category. This then needs to be combined with rigorous performance-based selection standards and exceptional recruiting skills, to raise a company’s overall talent bar. I contended that without this type of overt and proactive approach it was very difficult to even sustain the current talent levels, since short-term needs dominated long-term decision-making.
The Essence of a 40/40/20 Sourcing Plan
- 20% of your efforts need to be posting compelling, career-oriented recruitment advertising so that the best active candidates will find it easily when searching on Google or a job board aggregator. Not only does the posting need to be easily found, but it also needs to highlight the “ideal” candidate’s intrinsic motivator. This is what motivates the person to excel and what they’re not getting in their current job. Here’s an example of how we captured this for a posting we prepared for a client earlier this year for a business unit controller.
- 40% of your sourcing needs to be focused on preparing short, personalized career stories that are emailed to prospective prospects. These prospects are identified using “Clever Boolean” techniques plus the advanced search filters built into LinkedIn Recruiter. Using LinkedIn’s InMail or a tool like eGrabber for extracting email addresses, it’s simple to send emails in reasonable volumes within a hour after taking a search. This needs to be followed-up with timely and persistent phone messages from the recruiter. What’s left as a voice mail is as important as the email message.
- 40% of a company’s sourcing efforts needs to networking-based with the objective of spending more time getting pre-qualified warm referrals, rather than making endless cold calls. Most of the initial names will be generated by using LinkedIn Recruiter to search on your co-workers’ connections, and before calling, getting the co-worker to vouch for the person. This is much more proactive than waiting for a co-worker to recommend someone. But this is just the first step. Once on the phone, there’s a heck of lot of recruiting that needs to be done. Much of this involves getting the person to consider the career opportunities involved in the open position, rather than attempting to browbeat the person into hearing about your “great” job, which is no different than every other “great” job the person has heard about.
We ended the meeting by creating the agenda for next month’s call. The ideas focused on what came next once a company implemented a 20/40/40 sourcing plan. I suggested that there were some prerequisites that should come first, specifically:
- How to obtain the full support and engagement of the hiring manager. If hiring managers aren’t willing to invest extra time upfront and spend more time recruiting candidates, it was unlikely any sourcing plan would help in attracting and hiring stronger people.
- Convert jobs into careers. Top people, whether active, passive, military vets, or diverse candidates, aren’t the least bit interested in taking lateral transfers unless the upside is clear and obvious. Recruiters need to convincingly make this case on each and every call, from first contact to the final close.
Implementing a 40/40/20 sourcing plan is a necessary step for any company facing a talent scarcity situation, but it’s not sufficient. To pull it off, you also need great jobs, fully-engaged hiring managers, and outstanding recruiters. However, this is just the beginning. It’s how you execute that will separate the winners from the runners-up.