The End of Sourcing 1.0 is Near, Sourcing2.0 Just BeginningPosted at February 18, 2013In case you haven‟t read Dr. John Sullivan‟s recent article entitled, “The end of sourcing isnear…the remaining recruiting challenge is selling“, I highly recommend that you do so.While I agree with some of the points that Dr. Sullivan raises, I disagree with others as Ibelieve he has an oversimplified view of sourcing.I argue that some basic and common sourcing functions and tactics will be coming to an endsoon, and in fact, they have already ended in companies that are on the leading edge ofsourcing.However, as with many corporate functions, there will never be an end to sourcing itself –there will only be an evolution.What follows is my sourcing manifesto.Read further to explore: Why sourcing exists in the first place The underlying flaws of the “everyone is easy to find” argument The limits of matchingtechnology Why big data requires people to make sense of it Mydefinition of sourcing Strategic vs. tacticalsourcing The true value of sourcing What can (and should!) be automated in sourcing Sourcing 1.0 vs. 2.0You should be advised that this is a lengthy article – if you‟re looking for a quick read, youwon‟t find it here.Why Does Sourcing Exist?Before we can claim that sourcing is coming to an end, I think it‟s important to examine whysourcing exists in the first place. If the underlying need for sourcing isn‟t coming to an end,then the sourcing function itself isn‟t likely to come to an end.Quite simply, sourcing exists because companies increasingly recognized that not enough ofthe right and/or qualified people were applying to job vacancies.
Whether or not companies performed a root cause analysis of the inefficiency and in manycases ineffectiveness of posting jobs and formally recognized the intrinsic limitations jobposting could be a matter of interesting debate (for the record, I don‟t think many did/do).Whether recognized or not, the reality is that posting jobs is a passive and reactive method oftalent attraction that affords very little predictive control over 3 out of 5 critical candidatematching variables (0% for two of them), and this latter point cannot be overlooked orminimized. The ability to exert a high degree of predictive control over the SOLAR variablesaffords a company with a corresponding ability to increase the probability that they peoplethey are finding and attempting to recruit are well qualified and matched to any specific joband the company, whether the people are “active” or “passive.”Furthermore, posting jobs only offers a company access to those people who proactively takeaction to change their current employment situation (aka – “active” candidates). The U.S.Bureau of Labor and Statistics and work performed by Lou Adler and LinkedIn both confirmthat at any point in time, people who interested in and willing to take action to change theircurrent employment situation are the clear minority – approximately 20 – 30% of the totaltalent pool at best.Relying solely upon the posting of vacancies ultimately yields a company the best of theactive talent pool– not the best people that could have been recruited.Doesn‟t sound like a good way to develop a talent-based competitive advantage, does it?
Because the majority of the total talent pool simply won‟t take any action to find and takeaction to apply to job openings (aka – “passive” candidates), the only way to tap into thedeeper end of the talent supply is to take proactive measures to find and engage them (aka-sourcing). The probability that the best person for any given position is proactively takingefforts to find and apply to job openings at the time any given company needs them isintrinsically low.Many companies recognize the fact that some of the best people are likely workingsomewhere, doing a great job, and being appropriately valued and taken care of to the pointwhere they would never take any action to explore job opportunities. However, if thesecompanies don‟t have recruiters who have the time to focus heavily on sourcing or have splitsourcing out into a separate role and function, they will likely never be able to acquire trulytop talent beyond the best of who‟s in a position to find and apply to their jobs.Now, let‟s recognize that sourcing has always existed – it‟s the one of the earliest phases ofthe recruiting life cycle. Sourcing has always been a part of executive search, as well as alarge part of agency recruiting.The decision to split sourcing out of the recruiting life cycle into a separate role and functionlikely came as a result of realizing that in many corporate talent acquisition teams, therecruiters are often inundated with (largely unqualified) applicants for the jobs that have beenposted, leaving them little time to proactively find and engage the larger portion of the talentsupply that will never find and apply to their jobs.At a high level, taking any role that is responsible for many things and splittingresponsibilities and activities across multiple roles to increase efficiency and efficacy is agenerally accepted best practice in economics and business, and it has been happening forthousands of years (some would credit Plato‟s Republic as one of the earliest documentedarguments) – it‟s called division of labor. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Division_of_labourA highly applicable example lies in the fact that some sales organizations have evolved tosplit their sales teams into “hunters” and “farmers.” This has happened because companieshave recognized that some sales people are great at maintaining and growing relationshipswith existing clients but are not very good at prospecting and landing new clients.Conversely, some sales people are great at finding and signing new clients but are not verygood at maintaining them after the deal has been closed.In many respects, I believe that splitting the recruiting process into sourcing and recruiting isperforming very much the same thing – sourcers are the “hunters” and recruiters are the“farmers.”For those companies that recognize the intrinsic limitations of job posting (both the inabilityto exert predictive control over critical candidate qualification and matching variables and thefact that the majority of the talent supply simply cannot be reached via job distribution) andthe benefits of division of labor, sourcing will never “come to an end” or die.How can it? Will the need for companies to hire top talent ever abate? Will talent supply anddemand issues ever magically solve themselves?
Finding People is Easy, Right?Like many before him, Sullivan makes the claim that “finding talent is easy because everyoneis now „visible,‟” and as such, “that nearly everyone is easy to find.”I find the “people are so easy to find who needs sourcing?” argument especially bothersomebecause on the surface, it actually appears to make sense. However, the logic is flawed in thatit oversimplifies a complex issue, and it‟s actually not true that you can find almost anyoneonline (hat tip to phone sourcers).However, let‟s assume that you can find almost anyone online for a moment.As I have explained many times, the proliferation of human capital data certainly makesfinding people easier than ever before. I like to illustrate this point by using the “needle in ahaystack” analogy.As the stack of hay grows larger, finding hay becomes easier. However, as the haystackgrows larger, intelligently sorting through the hay to find the needles within becomescorrespondingly more difficult.In this analogy, the needles represent people with specific skills and experience (includingamount and type – team, scale, industry, company, environment, etc.), who live in specificlocations, whose desired compensation closely matches what the company is willing to pay,who represent an appropriate cultural match, and those people for whom the company‟sopportunity represents a logical or the desired next step in their career.I do believe this qualifies the use of the “needle in a haystack” comparison. Companies arenot looking for more hay – they are looking to identify and recruit the needles, and this willnever become easy because as the haystack grows larger, the more difficult it becomes to findthe needles (or to separate the signal from the noise – choose your own analogy) – butultimately, people are not widgets.Ten people can have nearly identical resumes, but each person can be vastly different than theothers in consideration of the many critical matching variables that ultimately determine whois and who is not a good fit for any given position, team or company.In case you do not like my “needle in a haystack” analogy, perhaps you will better appreciatemy home improvement store analogy.You would think that large home improvement stores such as Loews and the Home Depotwould make it easier to find tools and other home improvement items, simply because thegrant you easy access to hundreds of thousands of related items. However, if you‟re like me,when you enter one of those stores, you‟re never just looking for tools, hardware, appliances,lumber, light bulbs, fertilizer, etc. – you‟re looking for a very specific tool, piece of hardware,appliance, lumber, light bulb, fertilizer etc.Using Dr. John Sullivan‟s logic, finding a hammer or a light bulb should be easy because theHome Depot has many of them within easy access.
However, I never find this to be the case – and I am sure am not alone. Just yesterday, Ientered the Home Depot looking for a light bulb for the light fixture in my master bath. Ineeded a frosted, globe shaped 60 watt bulb with a standard (non-candelabra) base. Findingthe light bulb should have been easy given that the Home Depot has thousands of light bulbsfor sale.However, after walking up and down the light bulb while several times, while I could findmany varieties of bulbs that somewhat closely matched my need (right shape but clear, rightbulb but wrong wattage, right bulb and wattage but candelabra base, etc.), it turns out that theHome Depot didn‟t have the exact bulb I needed.Furthermore, as I‟ve tried to make clear many times in the past, having access to data andinformation does not provide anyone with a competitive advantage. Access is simply “tablestakes“ - everyone has access to the Internet, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ andmany other massive sources of human capital data.Back in 2009 I read this excellent post on the Google blog written by Jonathan Rosenberg,former SVP, Product Management at Google, which is just as poignant and relevant today“When every business has free and ubiquitous data, the ability to understand it and extractvalue from it becomes the complimentary scarce factor. It leads to intelligence, and theintelligent business is the successful business, regardless of its size. Data is the sword of the21st century, those who wield it well, the Samurai.”Ultimately, the access/availability argument against sourcing is fundamentally flawed.Just to put the final nail in the coffin, has having easy access to large quantities of datareduced the need for or eliminated the roles of financial analysts, data analysts, marketinganalysts, business intelligence analysts, or data scientists?The obvious answer is no.We are entering the age of “big data” where we have access to massive volumes of a widevariety of data being created at unprecedented velocity (there are more than 1B tweets sentevery 3 days!). We have access to more data today than we ever have in the past which hasactually created the need for people who can make sense of it all. They‟re called datascientists, and they have the hottest job you haven‟t heard of.Oh, and someone should probably tell Paul DePodesta and Billy Beane that using baseballdata to develop a competitive advantage (Moneyball) was pointless and ineffective becauseeveryone had easy access to the same player and game data.No Need for Doomsday PreppingAlthough Sullivan clearly recognized that sourcers reading his article might get defensive(“Nobody likes reading about their upcoming doom”), sourcers need not worry about theirimpending obsolescence.Technology won‟t replace today‟s sourcers – it will displace and shift them.
This is a significant variance from Sullivan‟s position. Instead of rendering sourcers obsoleteand extinct, advances in sourcing technology will simply reposition the sourcers of today intothe wielders of tomorrow‟s technology.Historically, software that has been developed to automate the movement and manipulationof data has not actually resulted in the elimination of (m)any positions.For example, SAP and Oracle/PeopleSoft financial applications haven‟t replaced the need foraccountants, and business intelligence applications such as Cognos, SAS, Business Objects,and SSAS/SSRS haven‟t replaced financial, data, and business intelligence analysts.Instead of replacing people and roles, the development and evolution of ERP and businessintelligence applications has actually resulted in the need for people who have a specializedexperience in the ability to use these applications. In many cases, these specialists are in highdemand and low supply, and as a result, are compensated accordingly.This trend is continuing with the advent of big data and the analytics opportunities that bigdata can afford – particularly predictive analytics. As I have already mentioned – the rapidand explosive increase in the volume, variety and velocity of data available today has actuallycreated the hottest job on the market – data scientists. In many respects, I believe that thesourcers of tomorrow will essentially be human capital data analysts and scientists.When Sullivan writes that “…as the electronic presence of almost everyone in the worldincreases, the volume of information will become too large to sort through by highly paidprofessional direct sorcerers. So instead, eventually recruiting will employee Internet webcrawlers that will electronically search 24/7 for individuals who fit the desired candidateprofile,” he is partly right.I believe we are already at this stage where it is much more practical, effective and efficientto leverage technology to gather and initially sort through vast volumes of human capital data– especially unstructured Internet-based and social data whose volume, variety and velocityposes a significant challenge. However, someone will still have to point these solutions in theright direction and configure their facets/filters, and more importantly, people will still berequired to actually make sense of the data and make appropriate decisions and takeappropriate actions.To claim that “the volume of information will become too large to sort through by highlypaid professionals” is ridiculous. Massive volumes of information have been present in sales,finance, marketing, business intelligence and even HR for quite some time now, and thevolume of data and information is one of the main reasons why highly paid professionalsexist to make sense of it. This trend is continuing today with big data and analytics.Jeffrey Liker nailed this concept when he said that “Computers move information, people dothe work” The “work” he is referencing is analysis and decision making.I‟ve had the privilege of seeing Dr.MichioKaku speak at a conference on the subject ofartificial intelligence and the jobs of the future. Dr.MichioKaku is a theoretical physicist andfuturist specializing in string field theory – he‟s a Harvard Grad (summa cum laude) with aBerkeley Ph.D. and he is currently working on completing Einstein‟s dream of a unified fieldtheory, so you might say he‟s a pretty smart guy.
Kaku claims that “…pattern recognition and common sense are the two most difficult,unsolved problems in artificial intelligence theory. Pattern recognition means the ability tosee, hear, and to understand what you are seeing. Common sense means your ability to makesense out of the world, which even children can perform.” As such, Kaku believes the jobmarket of the future will be “dominated by jobs involving common sense (e.g. leadership,judgment, entertainment, art, analysis, creativity) and pattern recognition (e.g. vision andnon- repetitive jobs). Jobs like brokers, tellers, agents, low level accountants and jobsinvolving inventory and repetition will be eliminated.”That‟s good news for sourcers and recruiters who perform sourcing because sourcing requiresjudgment, creativity, analysis, common sense, pattern recognition (instantly making sense ofhuman capital data), and the ability to take intelligent and appropriate action on the data (whoto call, how to most effectively engage, what questions to ask to “fill in the blanks” left by thedata, etc.).As I‟ve written and spoken about many times, AI-empowered matching algorithms havemany flaws, one of them fatal – they can only operate with text that is present to analyze andmatch against. Job descriptions and resumes (including social summaries of professionalexperience) are intrinsically flawed and never complete – you cannot effectively summarize aperson‟s experience, capability and potential in a text-based document.Any company relying heavily on AI matching for sourcing without human involvement iseffectively limiting themselves to the portion of the talent pool who happens to mention thekeywords and titles that the matching algorithm “thinks” is relevant at the expense of thosepeople who actually have the right skills and experience and who could be the company‟snext great hire, but who did not use the keywords that the matching algorithm recognized asrelevant, let alone mention them at all.Talent Sourcing and Matching – Artificial Intelligence and Black Box Semantic Searchvs. Human Cognition and Sourcingfrom Glen CatheyAs I‟ve predicted for 3 years now, sourcers of the future will be human capital data analysts,leveraging ever-increasingly more powerful tools and technologies to aid them in their effortsto quickly find and identify top talent, and not just the people who are the easiest to find.
However, don‟t get me wrong – there are likely some sourcers today who will not evolve intothe sourcers of tomorrow . Keep reading to find out who they are and who should be worriedabout their obsolescence.What is Sourcing Anyway?It‟s problematic to debate on the future of sourcing when there isn‟t a commonly understoodand agreed upon definition of sourcing.However, before I define what sourcing is, I‟d like to first recognize that regardless ofdefinition, sourcing isn‟t necessary for all positions.Sourcing really only becomes necessary when employer branding, job posting, and all otherpassive methods of talent attraction fails to produce a consistent and sufficient quantity ofwell qualified potential candidates. If you can produce a good supply of highly qualified,interested and available candidates from your talent attraction strategies and efforts, proactivesourcing of additional candidates is unnecessary to facilitate hiring for roles that are currentlyopen.
Second, I‟d like to establish that talent attraction tactics and strategies are primarily focusedon and effective for people who are actively exploring career opportunities, whereas sourcingis an activity primarily focused on people regardless of their job seeking status.The fact is that the majority of any given talent pool is comprised of people who are eithernot looking for a new job or those people who most would classify as passive job seekers –those people who are not taking any action to discover or pursue job opportunities, but whowould be interested in learning of opportunities that would better their current situationand/or advance their career. Depending on your reference source, passive and non-job seekersrepresent at least 70% of the total talent pool.Now that we‟ve established that sourcing isn‟t always necessary to facilitate today‟s hiringefforts and that sourcing is primarily focused on identifying and engaging talent that simplycannot be acquired through job distribution , I am going to take a shot at shot at defining whatsourcing is.Sourcing is any activity and effort undertaken to proactively facilitate hiring today and/or inthe future.Simple, right?Although some people would argue that employer branding and job posting could beconsidered sourcing (I‟ve even taken this stance in the past), job distribution and employerbranding is: 1. a passive strategy (requires the talent pool to take action) 2. reactive (involves the engagement of people only once they have responded and taken action) 3. effective only on the portion of the talent pool that is in a position to take action to discover and pursue employment opportunities (<30%)Sourcing is the compliment to employer branding and job distribution because sourcing is: 1. an active strategy (involves active pursuit of talent) 2. proactive (involves proactive engagement and requires no action of the talent pool) 3. required to find and engage the majority of the total talent pool (>70%) that will not take action to discover and pursue employment opportunitiesIn many organizations that have separated the sourcing function out from the recruiting lifecycle, the sourcers are responsible for proactively seeking out and engaging people who arehighly unlikely to be taking any action to make a change from their current employer,whereas the recruiters are responsible for handling the inbound flow of candidates that haveapplied to published vacancies.This is a clean division of labor. The sourcers focus on proactive outbound activity while therecruiters focus on reactive inbound activity.Tactical vs. Strategic Sourcing
It is important to recognize that sourcing can tactical, strategic, or both.Purely tactical sourcing involves those sourcing efforts whose sole goal is to find candidatesfor positions that are currently open. As such, tactical sourcing efforts are not necessarilyaligned with mid and long term company goals.Strategic sourcing involves those sourcing efforts whose primary goal is to ensure long-termtalent supply stability and the minimization of talent supply risk. Examples of strategicsourcing include talent mapping, competitive intelligence and analysis, and talentpool/pipeline development. As you can imagine, strategic sourcing should be closely alignedwith mid and long term company goals.Sourcing efforts can be simultaneously tactical and strategic if and when sourcing effortsfocused on finding candidates for positions that are currently open are combined with effortsto collect competitive and market intelligence, as well as ensuring that anyone identifiedand/or engaged that is not currently available or that is under/over qualified is entered into atalent pool (or pipeline) that can be leveraged in the future when they might be recruitable,appropriately qualified, or match another hiring need.While there are probably some types of sourcing that will come to an end soon (if theyhaven‟t already in some leading organizations), there are many different levels of sourcingactivities.Here are six: 1. Name generation – identifying people without the benefit of a resume or data-rich social media profile as potential candidates and passing this information to a recruiter to engage (Internet and phone sourcing) 2. Resume and social profile discovery – identifying people as potential candidates and passing their information to a recruiter to engage 3. Finding (via #1 and/or #2) and engaging talent – determining their availability and interest and passing this information and the candidate to a recruiter to assess qualifications 4. Finding (via #1 and/or #2), engaging, and assessing talent: determining qualifications, interest and availability and passing this information and the candidate to a recruiter for a quality check and further processing (inviting to apply, submission to hiring manager, etc.) 5. Finding, engaging, assessing, and selling prospective candidates: determining qualifications, availability, interest and selling the opportunity (current and future), to both compel passive and non-job-seekers to take action and apply or to enter the company‟s talent pool, as well as to more effectively elicit referrals 6. Same as #5, with an additional focus on discovering and documenting market and competitive intelligenceThese six levels can be used to assess and gauge a talent acquisition organization‟s level ofmaturity with regard to how they leverage sourcing.Any and all of the above can be either tactical, strategic, or both depending on the primarygoals of the efforts (filling current openings and/or ensuring the availability of appropriatelyqualified talent at the right time and quality in the future).
If you were paying close attention to the progression in the different levels of sourcingactivities, you should have noticed a few things.For example, #‟s 1 -4 all involve passing names and/or candidates on to recruiters for furtheraction. You may have also noticed that the only difference between #4 and #5 is that in #5,the sourcer is consultatively selling current and future opportunities.#5 and #6 should have struck you as pretty much what many organizations would assume afull life cycle recruiter should be doing, but if we‟re being brutally honest, many recruitersdon‟t really sell – they simply tell prospective candidates about the jobs they are currentlyworking to fill (more on telling vs. selling later).Another issue that I‟ve already called to light is that many corporate recruiters are often toobogged down with screening applicants to proactively find, engage, and sell passivecandidates on their current openings, let alone strategically pipeline talent for futureopportunities or gather and document competitive intelligence.As I mentioned before, it‟s this very issue that likely served as the genesis of sourcing as aseparate role and function.Companies realized that they had jobs that their full life cycle recruiters simply could not fillin timeframes anywhere close to their time-to-hire targets or in time to meet critical businessdeadlines simply because some jobs require a significant amount of proactive sourcing inorder to identify the right talent.In less evolved talent acquisition organizations, sourcers are added to an existing team ofrecruiters to supply the recruiters with names and candidates that the recruiters don‟t have thetime or ability to find and engage, and with qualified and interested candidates for positionswhere none of the applicants are qualified.With each year, more talent acquisition organizations are evolving the sourcing modelbeyond using sourcers as recruiter assistants and are leveraging sourcers to perform themajority of their proactive recruiting.Yes, I said recruiting.If someone is proactively finding, engaging, assessing, and selling prospective candidates oncurrent and future opportunities, are they not “recruiting?”If a sourcer finds and engages a passive candidate, sells them on and fully qualifies them forthe opportunity they are working to fill, what‟s left for a “recruiter” to do with the candidate?Aside from negotiating offers – largely administrative tasks.If you are of the opinion that recruiters should “close down” candidates, I‟d argue that inworld-class talent acquisition organizations, 90% of the closing of passive candidates shouldbe performed by the sourcer (otherwise known as pre-closing).Sourcing Involves Selling
In organizations that use sourcers for name and resume generation only or perhaps initialcandidate contact, Sullivan is correct in that there is little to no selling involved.However, in organizations that effectively leverage the full power of division of labor whererecruiters focus on working with inbound applicants and the sourcers focus on working withproactively identified candidates, the sourcers are in fact “recruiting” just as much as therecruiters are.Furthermore, one could easily argue that the sourcers are likely “selling” more than therecruiters are, because the sourcers are engaging people who did not already express aninterest in the company because they aren‟t applicants.The people that sourcers engage are predominantly not looking for a job and likely don‟tneed to make a change from their current employer – this takes a different level of sellingthan what will be effective with most applicants, who are people who have already expressedinterest in making a change from their current employer, as well as interest in the job andcompany they‟re applying to.TellingIsn’tSellingI think it is important to point out that you really can‟t sell something to someone unless youfirst find out what the person would be interested in buying.Most sales gurus would tell you that the most critical step in the sales process is identifyingand/or creating the need. You can‟t (or perhaps more importantly, shouldn‟t!) sell somethingto someone that doesn‟t meet their needs.To be able to compellingly pitch an opportunity, you have to first gain an understanding ofwhat the person is looking to do next in their career and discover how your opportunity mightalign with their needs, desires, and goals – and you can‟t do this without making contact,which is why I believe that sourcers should be responsible for finding, engaging, and sellingprospective candidates instead of simply flipping leads or resumes.Additionally, selling is much more effective when you are selling benefits and not just tellingthe person about features and attributes/advantages. If you don‟t know what I am talkingabout when I mention features and benefits, I‟d argue you‟re not really selling anything.Regardless of role (recruiter or sourcer), Sullivan is correct in identifying the fact thateffective selling is absolutely critical.People with highly sought-after skills are stalked by sourcers and recruiters on a daily basis.People who aren‟t taking any action to make a change from their employer do not respond toevery email, InMail, and voice mail they get from sourcers and recruiters.As such, the “selling” actually begins with effective messaging. You can‟t sell someone on anopportunity let alone recruit them if you can‟t even get them to respond to you. Hence theneed for sourcers to be consummate sales professionals!What is the Value of Sourcing?
I would argue that the value of sourcing is directly proportional to the level of sourcingmaturity of an organization.There is little value in a list of names or a folder full of resumes or LinkedIn profiles.There is a great deal of value in producing people who are a solid match for yourorganization‟s needs and interested in pursuing your employment opportunity – eitherimmediately or at some point in the future.In this regard, I agree with Sullivan that low value sourcing activities are coming to an end.However, high value sourcing is just beginning.According to a white paper produced by LinkedIn, although sourcing was a critical focus in2012, only 2 percent of organizations had a long-term approach to sourcing initiatives.As I previously mentioned, strategic sourcing involves those sourcing efforts whose primarygoal is to ensure long-term talent supply stability and the minimization of talent supply risk.Examples of strategic sourcing include talent mapping, competitive intelligence and analysis,and talent pool/pipeline development. Strategic sourcing should be closely aligned with midand long term company goals.Strategic sourcing can also go beyond simply ensuring long-term talent supply stability – itcan (and should!) be leveraged to yield a company with the only sustainable competitiveadvantage, which is to consistently find, recruit, and retain great people.What Can Be Automated…As some people are fond of pointing out, you should not use expensive resources to collectinformation from the Internet and scrape resumes from databases. You can use inexpensiveresources or use software to collect names and resumes at WAY less than $1/resume/profile.However, it‟s equally fair to recognize that you can use software and technology to automatenearly every step in the recruiting life cycle, including messaging (aka “blasting,” akaspamming), candidate screening, assessment and even interviewing (audio/video).One could argue that the end of recruiting is near simply because we can use technology atevery stage of the recruiting life cycle.However, just because you can automate something (or outsource/offshore, for that matter), itdoesn‟t mean that you SHOULD.Ultimately, companies should leverage their “expensive” resources for high value activities.When it comes to sourcing, this includes using technology to quickly identify people whohave a high probability of not only being the right match for, but also interested in aparticular opportunity, leveraging effective messaging and engagement techniques andstrategies to make contact with the people identified, and effectively selling the opportunity
to people who would never have otherwise taken any action to investigate or pursueemployment opportunities with their company.Final ThoughtsSourcing is no closer to an end than recruiting is.As long as companies have hiring needs for which employer branding, job distribution andother talent attraction tactics and strategies fail to produce the right quantity of talent at theright quantity at the right time on a consistent basis, and as long as there are talent supply anddemand challenges, sourcing will never die.Dr. Sullivan is right when he says the end of sourcing is near – however, only if you definesourcing as collecting/scraping human capital data. We are likely to see an end of sourcing1.0 relatively soon.Yes, I know – I‟m not particularly fond of the whole x.0 approach either, but it does do agood job of demarcating progressive evolution.Sourcing 1.0 can be characterized by using more expensive human resources for the scrapingand collection of names, social data, and resumes, leveraging sourcing as a purely tacticalfunction, as well as viewing sourcing as a subordinate role in the recruiting process.Sourcing 2.0 involves using more expensive human resources to expertly wield advancedtechnologies to move and manage unstructured and structured human capital data to exertpredictive control over critical candidate qualification variables, leveraging sourcing as astrategic function, and positioning proactive sourcing as at least, if not more valuable than thereactive recruitment of applicants.While we are finally beginning to see the emergence of advanced sourcing technologies,including what I classify as “big data” sourcing tools (TalentBin, Entelo, Dice Open Web,Gild, etc.), they still require people to use them, make sense of the information they produce,and take action (effectively message, engage, sell, and recruit).However, while advances are being made with sourcing technologies, the fact that manycompanies openly admit that they do not effectively leverage the human capital data in theirown ATS indicates we have a long way to go with regard to recognizing and making use ofthe strategic value of human capital data.In an organization where recruiters are responsible for screening/assessing, selling andprocessing candidates who have applied to job openings and sourcers are responsible forproactively identifying, engaging, selling, assessing and submitting people that would neverhave otherwise applied – both the recruiters and sourcers are “recruiting,” and one couldeasily argue that the sourcers are “selling” more than the folks who are working with peoplewho have already expressed an interest in making a change from their current employer aswell as an interest in the job they applied to.I agree with Dr. Sullivan in that the emphasis in recruiting needs to shift to selling. However,you can‟t sell to someone you haven‟t found in the first place, let alone successfully engaged.
Engaging active candidates is not particularly challenging – especially those people who havealready expressed an interest in your company and opportunity when they applied to a jobopening.While selling is critical, it is perhaps most critical with regard to sourcing efforts focused onpeople who are in high demand and low supply, who are typically highly pursued and do notneed to entertain the engagement efforts of sourcers and recruiters because they are doing agood job somewhere else and relatively happy where they are. However – that doesn‟t meanthat they can‟t be recruited.To that end, I‟d argue that there is no more critical need for selling than the selling that needsto be performed by sourcers.While a full life cycle recruiter can and should be capable of performing proactive sourcing,there are many undeniable advantages to the division of labor between sourcers andrecruiters, exactly as many sales organizations have divided “hunting” from “farming.”Having a dedicated sourcing function ensures that the identification and recruitment of peoplefrom the deep end of the talent pool, where top talent is statistically more abundant, is moreconsistent and scalable, and it clearly demonstrates an appreciation for and investment in thestrategic aspect of sourcing, which goes well beyond finding and submitting candidates forcurrent job openings.While Sourcing 1.0 is likely coming to an end soon, and it already has in leading edge talentorganizations, Sourcing 2.0 is just beginning, and we will experience a continued evolution ofthe role and function over time.