The Sourcing Plan: Selling the Hiring Manager on Smart Sourcing Tactics

22 06 2009

When a job order is received from a hiring or HR manager, often the first thing he or she will want to know is how you plan to source quality talent.  Quickly developing a sourcing plan that’s right for everyone as far as strategy, time and cost has become both an art and science beyond the scope of the average sourcing specialist.  Here are some tips to help create and deliver a top plan that will engage the hiring staff, let them know you are the expert and get candidates faster.

Source Matrix:

Remember that collection of books, manuals and old magazine clippings with lists of sources?  Get rid of it!  The most crucial ongoing tool a sourcing professional should be using is a source matrix.  I’m a little old-school and prefer to use a master spreadsheet with tabs divided by industry or job function, but creative repositories of information have been made on SharePoint sites or in Google applications.

This should be your central archive of job posting sites, social network notes, resume mining databases, research site links, blog lists and other tools that can be used for sourcing.  Include every piece of information you can such as links, pricing, usernames/passwords and even the first paragraph of the website’s “About Us” page.  It should be an ongoing responsibility of 1-3 teammates to keep this massive database updated with the latest sourcing options.  Because any recruiter would consider such a tool a gold mine, it should be password protected with limited access.

The Sourcing Plan “Skin”:

Hiring and HR managers want to see an attractive, easy-to-read document.  It should be content-driven and not overly-pretty, but having a uniform template for all your sourcing plans directs the eye where it should go quickly and reliably.  Pick your poison:  PowerPoint, Visio, even Word, but be sure to distribute every plan as a PDF.  Always include a section for detailing exactly what tactics have been executed, how much they cost, when postings will expire, links to the sites that were used.  Store the document with any other sourcing materials you accumulate throughout the life of the job order.

Plan Sections:

Each plan should have a table of contents that lists its various sections.  This helps others refer to individual areas easily.  I like to include these sections:

Overview: An overview is important.  You want to be brief, but also be able to explain to anyone who knows nothing about the job what the client is looking for.  The job’s official title, job number, hiring manager, HR manager, recruiter and sourcing professional should be listed here.  Also provide the names and titles of the interview panel if available.  If there are notes concerning cultural fits or other items that aren’t immediately obvious in the job description, they should also go here.

Sourcing Efforts Executed So Far: Sometimes the hiring manager or another recruiter will have already tried certain sourcing tactics.  Those should be documented here to show what hasn’t worked and how much cost has already been spent.  Don’t forget to include any postings to the client career website.

Recommended Tactics: Sometimes a recruiter will know right off the bat the best strategies to use given his/her past experience with the job type, level, salary band or geographical location.  Other times recruiters will have a standard list of tactics they like to try before getting more creative.  In any event, the sourcing professional should be able to glean from a job description and the hiring team’s input a basic strategy.  Documenting that basic strategy provides a blueprint for the rest of the team.

Recommended Sites for Resume Mining: This portion is fairly straightforward.  List the job boards or resume databases you plan to use, including their costs and samples of likely search strings.

Recommended Sites for Job Posting: Again, include the costs, duration of posts, additional features and their associated costs (premium posting feature, applying logo, banner advertising options, etc.).

Recommended Social Media Tactics: This is where the sourcing professional can get very creative.  Perhaps you plan to advertise and then release a series of position-related tweets on Twitter.  Maybe you’ll use the Advanced Search People function in LinkedIn to track down quality talent.  Some recruiters have even hosted a local networking event and advertised it on social media, usually for free.  Be sure to be clear in your descriptions to hiring teams to demonstrate value.

Recommended Industry Associations and Other Relevant Sites: Recruiters know well how useful industry association sites can be, but some allow for job posting or membership list mining and others do not.  Providing a separate section just for associations captures both in one concentrated area.

Recommended Blogs for Research: When we’re actively recruiting, we sometime forget to take a few minutes here and there to review blogs related to our target candidate’s job function, industry or geographical area.  Blogs can be time consuming, but they can provide useful information.

Other Tactics: You may have a few ideas of your own that don’t fit well into any of these categories.   Creative ideas get candidates’ attention.  Just be sure to document them on the plan.  In the rare instances when I recommend a third-party headhunter be brought in, this is the section where I list that option.

What You’ll Get: Without a doubt, this is the MOST important section of a sourcing plan.  Hiring managers like takeaways and results.  They want to know what they can expect of you as far as methods for gathering candidates, OFCCP documentation or regular updates on your progress.  Be sure to follow through with everything you promise.  If you have a document you’re keeping to track your progress and want to share that with a hiring team, mention it here.

Contact Information: Each member of the hiring team should be able to get in touch with every other member of the hiring team.  Often the recruiter is the “face” of the project, and you may want to request that all email communication is carbon-copied to the recruiter.

Diversity:

Using resources devoted to diversity is always important and they should be documented along with everything else.  However, some diversity sites are true job boards and others may be simply society sites where members’ information can be plucked.  Some sourcing professionals prefer to keep diversity sites a separate section, but I find it’s better to include them in with whatever category they fall into best.  If you can source resumes from a diversity site, include it in the Recommended Sites for Resume Mining.  If a particular diversity resource has a job posting function, include it in Recommended Sites for Job Posting, etc.

Delivering the Plan:

I prefer to deliver my sourcing plans electronically and immediately set up a follow-up call.  This may already be part of your process.  Conducting these calls clarifies your approaches to others and makes the sourcing professional and recruiter (if they are different people) look like pros.  If the hiring team is willing to gather again after a subsequent or more defined plan has been constructed, I recommend you do this to get everyone on the same page as far as what they can expect from the sourcing professional.

Executing the Plan:

More often than not the hiring team will not agree with all of your recommended tactics.  Cost, time or other factors may contribute to this.  That’s okay.  Be sure to get requested sourcing in writing via an email and save a copy of that communication with other sourcing documentation for the job order.  Saving that communication is critical in case there is confusion in the future about which tactics were authorized.  If you are keeping a master list of sourcing executed on behalf a client for multiple job orders, make sure you record that information as well.  When the job is filled, it is also important to cancel job postings that are still active to prevent further candidate flow.

Documentation:

Whether or not you are obliged to follow OFCCP guidelines, maintaining accurate documentation of your sourcing efforts is critical.  Knowing what sites yielded good leads is important not only for the health of your current job order; that information should also be notated in your source matrix.  If you are following OFCCP guidelines, HTML, PDF or text copies of all ads as they appeared to job seekers should be included with a list of job postings and resume sites.

Summary:

Whatever your hiring team’s needs and your personal recruiting style are, sourcing plans are a great way to track sources, organize your efforts for future job orders, control costs and to brand yourself as a recruitment expert.  Happy hunting!

Phelps,Michael photo


Michael Phelps is a former financial services recruiter and LinkedIn subject matter expert for a Fortune 500 recruitment process outsourcing company.  He now works in his family business, Phelps Research Services, with his father and sister as the VP of Research and a LinkedIn Trainer.

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