29 August 2011

Sourcers are geeks, and other observations from the 2011 ATC Sourcevent


At The ATC Sourcevent
(left to right) Kevin Wheeler,
Ross Clennett, Bill Boorman
Two weeks ago I joined 200 other recruiters and sourcers at the ATC Sourcevent Conference held at the Melbourne Convention Centre to find out the latest developments in the world of sourcing. 

It was a fascinating day. Organisers Trevor Vas, Horace Chai and Kevin Wheeler should be very proud of a well-run and very valuable event. They brought over from the US two of the most respected people in the sourcing world, Glen Cathey and Jim Stroud to present at the Conference.


I was facilitating two sessions so, unfortunately, I couldn't hear all the presenters I would have liked. However from the sessions I did attend and the conversations I had with the speakers and the participants, here are my Top 10 observations and conclusions from the Conference: 

1. The capability gap between recruiters who see their job as sourcing and those that don't, will grow rapidly.


Morgan Consulting had 14 of their recruiters attending the event, prompted by Managing Director, Andrew Aston's recent discovery that his business was one of Seek's biggest Victorian advertisers. 


Andrew understands that having recruiters embrace sourcing isn't so much about the how of sourcing, it's about the mindset of recruiters seeing twenty first century sourcing as a critical part of their skill set. 


2. Posting job advertisements is the least cost and time effective way to find the best talent.


No surprise here, yet how many recruiters, when they take on an assignment from a client, jump to posting an online job advertisement as their first sourcing action?


As Glen Cathey demonstrated, when you use deep sourcing techniques, you can indentify, on average, about 43 or 44 closely matched candidates per hour, compared with referrals and cold calls, which generate about 10 closely matched candidates per hour, whereas job postings generate about 1 or 2 closely matched candidates per hour. 


3. There is a huge competitive advantage to be had.

Glen Cathey shared some US Bureau of Labour Statistics which indicated that approximately 30% of the workforce is either actively or casually seeking work. The remaining 70% are regarded as passive job seekers or not looking. 


Assuming research into the Australian and NZ workforces would produce similar results, then recruiters who cannot genuinely offer deep internet search techniques to locate the best and most suitable candidates, are at a huge disadvantage compared to their competitors who can. 


4. Recruiters and sourcers have different core competencies and motivation.
As the world of internal recruitment and RPOs has proven, the most effective team results occur when traditional recruiters are not forced into becoming sourcers. Highly skilled recruiters are predominantly extraverts and enjoy the process of initiating and building relationships and then closing the deal. 

Sourcers are predominantly, for want of a better word, geeks. They enjoy the intellectual challenge of building their technical capability via Boolean search techniques and other techniques to identify and locate candidates that other ‘lesser beings' cannot. 

5. Sourcers are not even a close cousin to the recruitment agency para-consultant or resourcer.
Para-consultants and resourcers have traditionally been more re-active and administrative in their work and, as a result, are generally at the bottom of the recruitment agency pay scale. 

Sourcers, by comparison, are generally highly paid (many on a base salary well into six figures) and undertake work that is pro-active and strategic (eg building talent pools). One of the big mindset shifts required for many recruitment agency owners and managers will be with respect to remuneration for highly skilled sourcers. 

6. Role specialisation is critical for accountability and the best results.
Deloitte has the following roles and responsibilities within their recruitment team:

  • Sourcing Team Manager (responsibilities: Performance, Process, KPIs, Metrics, Reporting)
  • Lead Recruitment Managers (responsibilities: Workforce Planning, National Prioritisation, EVP)
  • Recruitment Managers (responsibilities: Local Prioritisation, Assignment Brief, Candidate Collateral)
  • Sourcing Specialists (responsibilities: Research, Candidate Engagement, Assignment Management)
  • Online Sourcing Specialists (responsibilities: Research, Name Generation, Talent Intelligence)
Deloitte is one of Australia's biggest recruiters of professional staff. The Deloitte recruitment team is resourced to be able to recruit approximately 9,000 people across Australia during the next four years. Clearly, role specialisation will be a key part of being able to deliver this result. 

7. Statistics are your friend
Sourcers live and die by their stats. They relentlessly measure their activities and results. They use these statistics to constantly seek out performance improvement. What possibilities abound for recruiters if they could be so focused on monitoring and using the statistics that matter? Here's an example of some of the areas that Deloitte measures:

  • Ratio of Introduction to Interview
  • Ratio of Interview 1  to Interview 2
  • Ratio of Interview to Offer
  • Ratio of Interview to Hire
  • Percentage of total hires
  • Ratio of Male/Female Introductions
  • Ratio of Male/Female Interviews
  • Ratio of Male/Female Offers
  • Ratio of Male/Female Hires
  • Candidate experience
  • Hiring Manager experience
  • Recruiter experience
  • Ratio of Cold/Warm/Hot candidates
  • Speed of conversion from pipeline to QAI
  • Comprehensiveness of pipeline
  • Comprehensiveness of market map
  • Quality of competitor intel
  • Quantity of market intel
  • Engagement in CRM
  • Success of CRM
8. Video is still vastly underutilised as a sourcing tool.
Considering the popularity of YouTube and the access to and ease of use of video technology, it is clear there is plenty of upside for firms in using videos as a low-cost and time effective sourcing tool. Recruitment agencies appear to be one of the sectors slowest in their uptake of this resource. 

9. The capability gap between search firms and recruitment agencies is narrowing.
Traditionally search firms have charged their clients 25%-35% for their services. These large fees were seen to be justified because of the additional human labour needed to undertake the necessary name identification as well as the significant extra time required to complete this candidate identification thoroughly. This is no longer the case. 

Identification of suitable candidate has never been easier, cheaper or faster. What remains challenging and time consuming is the process of recruiting these highly sought-after individuals. This is where the ‘closing the deal' skills of a recruiter or search consultant remain critical and are not about to be replaced by technology. 

Recruitment agencies that can offer clients deep talent mining capability now have the opportunity to stake a genuine claim in the ‘mass market executives' territory (ie $250k - $750k) which was previously occupied by search firms. Best of all they can do this at a charge (say 22%-24%) that is above their current highest fee (ie 18%-20%) and below what search firms charge. 

This is potentially a lucrative source of new revenue for recruitment agencies. Of course, the major challenge in this market is firstly reaching, then convincing the decision makers (ie CEOs and Boards) that recruitment agencies offer a genuine alternative to search firms. 

10. Things are changing ... fast and it's getting even faster.
The traditional value proposition of recruitment agencies in being able to source and recruit high quality talent with a value-for-money price, remains just as valid now as it ever was. The big difference now is that the tools to deliver this proposition are now far more widely available and the alternatives are many.  

I estimate only about 5% of Melbourne's recruitment agency community was represented at this year's ATC SourcEvent. That 5% gained a huge advantage over the other 95% that did not attend, in understanding both the what and the how of the change that is upon us. 

I can only urge the other 95% to make sure they are in attendance at ATC Sourcevent next year to truly understand how quickly the landscape for recruiters is changing, and who and what is responsible for that change.  

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