Talent Sourcing Specialist – What is Talent Sourcing?
Recruiting pundits have forecasted the demise of talent sourcing a while ago. Dr. John Sullivan in his article – The End of Sourcing Is Near … the Remaining Recruiting Challenge Is Selling” dated Feb 2013 in ERE.net – famously claims with social media going mainstream finding talent is painless as is visible in sites like LinkedIn and leaving their digital footprint all over the internet. Very true. Run a LinkedIn search and you will get hundreds if not thousands of profiles. Which ones to select? What is the right profile? Who will be a good cultural fit? The search o’ meter challenge has changed from finding any talent to finding the RIGHT talent. What/who is the RIGHT talent? We define the RIGHT talent as someone who will be a good cultural fit in the organization; deliver and stick around.
A recruiter in a tech startup may get excited if an Account Executive at Microsoft applies. However, unless they have had experience with AE’s from this company working in the company and have known to succeed – more likely the hiring may end up being not successful. Moving from a well-known global brand; a highly structured, quota-based environment to a fast-paced, unbranded, unstructured environment is likely to be a recipe for disaster. It is all about finding the RIGHT talent – not any talent.
Again, the challenge companies face is not finding talent but finding the RIGHT talent. Back to the needle in a haystack analogy. How does an organization know they have sourced the best out there? Could they have done better? Was enough effort expended in finding the best out there? As with anything the probability of bad hiring can be minimized by following a well-defined sourcing methodology/process that works to ensure the success of finding the right talent.
We went to LinkedIn and put in Talent Sourcing Specialist in jobs and get 2218 results. A lot of these include procurement specialists. We selected filter and got the following:
HR (1558); Supply Chain (341); Purchasing (334); Sales (89) & IT (64). In titles, we get the following: Sourcing Specialist (493); Talent (312); Talent Acquisition Specialist (793); Senior Human Resources Recruiter (519); Talent Acquisition Recruiter (261).
We selected HR with 1558 results. As the Talent Acquisition Specialist (713) is most prevalent we focused on this skillset. Browsing through the titles less than 5% of roles are labelled “Talent Sourcing Specialist”. A dying breed?!
A quick analysis shows the sourcing function has all but folded into the recruiting (talent acquisition) function. Seems like gone are the days dedicated sourcers existed in their own right. Dr. Sullivan was right – dedicated sourcers are on their death bed. Having said this – is this the right direction the talent acquisition industry is headed to? Sadly no. Like we said before, the challenge is finding the RIGHT talent, not ANY talent.
“Also read about: LinkedIn sourcing tips for recruiters”
Today, a small startup has the same access to talent in LinkedIn as a Fortune 100 company with the right subscriptions. The difference is who puts in the effort to source the correct talent. The answer may surprise you. Talent Acquisition specialists in a Fortune 100 company are busy processing incoming applicants (active talent) and barely get time to source proactively passive talent (happily employed and not looking to change jobs). While sourcing talent is a part of their job description it soon slides down the list of priorities and in some cases is bypassed as recruiters focus on quickly closing roles with incoming talent through job postings. After all, TTC (time to close) is a critical metric that can easily be quantified, the quality of hire is not.
What does a talent sourcing specialist do?
In a simple sentence – source passive talent for current open roles and build talent pipelines for future challenging, hard to close recurring roles.
A day in the life of a dedicated talent sourcing specialist would include:
The most critical aspect of the job. What does the role entail? What skill sets are a must? What skill sets are nice to have (preferred)? Keep in mind that preferred skill-sets can rise in importance as required skill-sets – ignore them at your peril! Is this a new or back fill role? If back fill – what happened to the previous candidate? The sourcer’s internal customer tends to be the recruiter. The sourcer needs to sit down with the recruiter and truly understand the role; anticipated challenges and understand deliverable timelines. Any queries the recruiter cannot answer can be redirected to the recruiter’s end customer – the hiring manager (HM). Where both recruiters and sourcers exist – the recruiter tends to manage the relationship with the HM.
A good talent sourcing acquisition specialist knows to understand the role thoroughly is the foundation of sourcing the role with the right talent. The sourcer needs to be knowledgeable of the role, the skill sets and potential challenges that could arise. A detailed questionnaire with a checklist is a great tool and will ensure nothing slips through.
In addition, the sourcer will partner with recruiters and other relevant stakeholders to assess current and forecasted hiring needs, the scope of each individual position, soft requirements, and culture alignment necessities.
The foundation of good sourcing. More than half of a sourcer’s time should be spent on research. Two aspects of this. Incoming research (what is out there) and outgoing (what can your company attract). Many a time we have worked with smaller clients who want talent from their Tier 1 competitors. There are two issues with this mode of thinking.
Number one – is your brand good enough to headhunt from your Tier 1 competitors? You also need to consider where have you attracted talent in the past from? What companies have worked in terms of talent sticking around and delivering?
Number two and more importantly will they be a good fit in the company? On the incoming research, the sourcer needs to have a solid understanding of the marketplace they intend to recruit from. What are the right companies to target? Who are their direct/indirect competitors? For college recruiting – what are the local educational institutes to focus on?
The sourcer will monitor and advise on market and industry trends to ensure proactive efforts enable future workforce solutions. Talent mapping & competitive intelligence gathering become an integral component of the research process.
Finding the right talent becomes relatively easy once your research is complete and you have researched where to source. Sourcing like sales is a numbers game. The more qualified talent you research and qualify, the higher the chances of finding the right talent. Compare sourcing 20 qualified candidates vs. sourcing 100 qualified candidates. Granted you are constrained by the size of the talent pool. How tight should your search be? Hopefully, with your research, your search will be beyond entering keywords in your search.
You need to be targeting the correct companies to headhunt from – a process we call CBT (company-based targeting). Try to understand the profile’s background. Do not get anal about certain keywords/certifications missing in the search process. Keep your searches wide. Remember happily employed passive talent tend to have below-average profiles that are incomplete and sometimes downright inaccurate. Why not? Well, they are not in the market and not anticipating someone to reach out to them for job opportunities. In addition, always remember these are profiles, not resumes and tend to be less formal or official.
The sourcer also conducts a variety of primary and secondary sourcing techniques including like Boolean and targeted search methods, tapping into professional networks, leveraging social media, engaging in blogs and forums, resume mining, employee referral leveraging, and attending networking events and/or job fairs. They will proactively source and network from a variety of recruitment sources such as university relations, job boards, talent networks.
Good talent sourcing specialists will frequently assess the productivity and effectiveness of various sourcing methods and adapt strategies as necessary.
If the organization needs to hire more diverse talent the sourcer will be involved in diversity and inclusive candidate sourcing.
Developing future passive talent pipelines are a must. Any company looking to hire more than 10 people over the course of 12 months needs to have a workforce plan – what skill sets will they need to hire with time frames that will feed into developing pipelines. The workforce plan needs to include contingency planning – what happens if someone with a critical skillset leaves the company. For example, a company may always be challenged to find good sales reps and retaining them. In this case, it makes perfect sense to be proactively sourcing passive sales reps throughout the year and building pipelines. Do you need to keep the pipeline warm by initiating contact and engagement? We do not believe this is necessary as long as you have a large pipeline talent pool to tap into – remember sourcing is a numbers game. It is all about timing. With a good size talent pool – someone from the pool will be open to a dialog when you are looking to fill a backfill or new role.
What Does a Talent Sourcing Specialist Job Description Contain?
The talent sourcing specialist should be well versed with the skill-sets discussed in the previous section – namely the ability to analyze, research, source and build passive talent pipelines. What about soft skill sets? Here are some:
While the sourcer will be working independently they need the ability to communicate, negotiate and influence the recruiters they work with who are responsible ultimately for closing the roles. They need to confidently voice what their research alludes to. For example, it can be that the talent pool is very limited and it will be hard to find the right talent unless the requirements are watered down – maybe 3 years of B2B sales will suffice rather than 5+ years. They will need to negotiate and influence their end client w.r.t what the market is saying. The sourcer will attend recruiting strategy meetings with recruiters to understand the hiring department’s needs and requirements of the position. A good sourcer will establish and maintain relationships with recruiters to stay abreast of current and future hiring needs.
Good analytical skills
Structuring, analyzing, prioritizing the data becomes vital as the sourcer needs to constantly focus on what is important and relevant. They also need to see the big picture and not get lost in the minutia of technical jargon. Realistically there is no ideal candidate. Prioritizing skillsets becomes important. The sourcer needs to be capable of problem-solving and thinking creatively around strategies for identifying quality talent.
Some searches can be hard and require multiple iterations as you hone in on the right skillsets. Finding a needle in a haystack requires grit and tenacity. It could mean spending hours and hours researching and understanding the marketplace. The sourcer needs to have the tenacity to keep on probing, discovering what is important and matching with what is available in the marketplace.
Planning and organizing
Running multiple searches requires organization and planning. Each search is different and will be at different stages of progression. Also, priorities will change as business needs shuffle. They will need the ability to manage multiple searches using strong project management and prioritization skills.
The talent sourcing specialist will either evolve into a sourcing manager or become a recruiter (talent acquisition specialist and not talent acquisition sourcing specialist). There are far and between few roles for a sourcing manager. A sourcing manager would manage a team of sourcers and partner with the recruiting manager. The sourcing manager would be a subject matter expert in talent sourcing and knows the trends within the talent acquisition industry. They would come up with innovative and creative ways to the source. They would design KPIs, success metrics and reporting related to sourcing. Also drive the design, development, and delivery of effective strategic sourcing plans with the recruiting manager and internal client stakeholders, while keeping in line with the client’s branding and social media policies.
The traditional role a sourcer normally progresses into is the recruiter role where they may end up doing full desk recruiting that may entail some sourcing.
Talent Sourcing Specialist Salary
For salary data, we obtained data from Salary.com, LinkedIn, Glass-door and Indeed.
The entry has a median salary of $45,000 with 0 to 1 years of experience.
The mid-level sourcer has a median salary of $55,000 with 1 to 3 years of experience.
The senior-level sourcer has a median salary of $65,000 with 3 to 5 years of experience.
The sourcing manager has a median salary of $75,000 with 5+ years of experience.