Nowadays, very few companies are able to meet their personnel needs without proactively sourcing candidates. But the amount of time and effort required for proactive sourcing is not insignificant. Ultimately, it is only worthwhile if it addresses the correct target group and includes long-term investment in the development and maintenance of a talent pipeline.
Proactive searches or proactive sourcing?
You can proactively search for a candidate or proactively find them. Companies may undoubtedly prefer the latter. So equating ‘sourcing’ with just a proactive search for suitable talent is not quite sufficient. It is also about the right source. Recruiters not only need to know who they are looking for but also where this person can be found. Ideally, that is in your own talent pool that includes all relevant and necessary information, allowing you to approach the candidate directly and convince them to join the company.
The strategy must fit the target group
But one thing at a time: first of all, when sourcing talent, a precise definition of the target group is the first step to success. “When recruiting staff, many companies often approach a lot of target groups at the same time, based on a scattergun approach. Many are not even aware of it, but it comes back to haunt us – at the latest when measures come to nothing or are too expensive in the long run”, knows Michael Eger, Partner at Mercer | Promerit, a consultancy firm for transformation and people management. However, in order to make time-consuming and costly sourcing activities efficient, HR needs to know which target group this strategy is right for. Otherwise, for example, a company may invest in the search for a marketing assistant through expensive proactive sourcing activities, even though a suitable candidate could have been found more quickly and cheaply via a job ad in a job portal.
Critical target groups require one-to-one recruitment
“In companies with very diverse target groups, very often around 30 percent of new hires are from mass target groups, 50 percent from standard target groups and some 20 percent from critical target groups where proactive talent sourcing comes into its own“, estimates Michael Eger. Because, whilst communication with mass target groups and standard target groups is largely automated (one-to-many or one-to-few), special appointments also require special one-to-one treatment. As a rule, this involves talent that is difficult to find and attract, such as engineers, digitalization specialists, or experienced managers. “To be able to recruit successfully, companies need to know their candidate target groups very well”, stresses Michael Eger.
CRM is essential for sourcing talent
But such a target-group roadmap only provides real added value if recruitment activities are fully aligned with it. This is only possible through a CRM system with an effective talent pool and useful filter functions, such as the Talent Relationship Platform (TRP) from Talentry. A CRM system not only allows automated communication with, and management of, large target groups often with thousands of contacts. For one-to-one sourcing, it is simply indispensable. There are often no applications from people in these narrow target groups. This is where networks have to be proactively developed and all touchpoints carefully tracked. This way, for example, second-choice candidates from previous application rounds, promising interns, and graduates also remain in the company’s own talent pipeline.
Without consistent contact management, any effort goes to waste
With proactive sourcing, recruitment processes are often non-linear. Usually, after the initial contact, it is necessary to take up contact several times over a longer period of time before candidates actually enter into an application process. Michael Eger says, “Even where there is a mutual interest, the timing or job profile may not be ideal”. Without CRM, the large amount of effort invested in the contact so far would go to waste. “If I’m in a position of carefully tracking communication and other activities with the candidate, then I know exactly if and when I can contact them again with details of a vacancy.”
Proactive sourcing is your company’s own headhunting
“Proactive sourcing is comparable with the work of a headhunter – only internal”, explains the HR expert. “Its most important resource is an excellently maintained database that has been developed over a number of years. This way you know exactly which candidate you can approach for the vacancy because he or she not only has the necessary qualifications but ideally is looking for a career move within the next five years or has to move due to family circumstances or may even be still in the probationary period and unhappy with their new employer. This relationship management is worth its weight in gold and it’s what headhunters are paid for.”
CRM also makes economic sense for small companies
For Michael Eger, whether proactive sourcing and investment in a CRM platform are worth it for a particular company is a simple business case. “You only have to ask yourself the question, what would a headhunter have cost? Usually, proactive sourcing pays off after just a few successful new hires.” Company size is no indication for or against investment in a strategic CRM system. “More significant are the vacancies that have to be filled. Do I have to look for a helicopter pilot once every 10 years, or do I have periodic requirements in critical target groups for which it is worth developing a talent pipeline? Even small companies that have to recruit more than ten software developers each year can also benefit from proactive sourcing.”
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