What makes a sourcer or recruiter incredible at what they do?
I don’t know about you, but I left SourceCon 2016 in Florida with more than just a list of tools to install in my browser, language to include in subject lines, or new buzzwords to absorb. I started thinking about what linked each and every session together, and what formed the basis of every conversation I had with some of the smartest talent leaders out there.
The traits that make great talent sourcers. The very best recruiters. The traits that consistently give them outreach and close numbers most would be envious of.
1. They’re resourceful
This became abundantly clear from the outset. From Chrome extensions to calendar add-ons, to new ways to use social networks – this was a room filled with unintentional beta testers, and students eager to learn the ways of scrappy source-hacking pros.
Mixmax – An email extension for Gmail that can tell you not only when a message is opened, but when a recipient clicks on a link in an email, and a whole lot more.
Email Hunter – Discover email addresses with one click from a LinkedIn profile.
OneTab – a definite resource hack. Originally intended for tab-heavy users, Stacy Zapar explained how she uses it to bookmark prospects and forward them to hiring managers.
Pro tip: We’ve put together a full list of sourcing tips and tricks shared by the audience. Access it here.
2. They think critically
According to SourceCon speaker Glen Cathey, two things separate the good from the great when it comes to best in class recruiting.
People skills, and critical thinking.
Cathey challenged the room to think about the latter from the start. How can you get to the right candidate, without thinking critically about what you’re looking for?
If you do not know how to ask the right question, you discover nothing. – W. Edwards Deming.
But how you do apply such a lofty goal to the everyday? Iterate constantly on the search strings you run, Cathey suggests. Experiment. Test new variables. Try searching new sources of talent – be it a different social network, portfolio site, or event. Note what works and what doesn’t, and refine.
“The biggest challenge is finding interesting questions that we need answers for,” Cathey says.
Only he who can see the invisible can do the impossible/F. Gaines: U can do the impossible if u see the invisible/Glen Cathey #Sourcecon
— Gustavo Café (@gcafe) March 1, 2016
3. They take a personal approach. Every time.
Who better to start the second day of SourceCon off than talent powerhouse Stacy Zapar, and she started it very literally with a fire…ball.
— Stacy Donovan Zapar (@StacyZapar) March 2, 2016
In true Zapar style, she clearly laid out her 12 point blueprint to outreach success, from the planning meeting to those who don’t make the cut.
Her key piece of advice? Make it personal.
Zapar’s talk was full of suggestions on this front – focus on the human connection in your first outreach, not the job. Don’t speak in recruiter jargon (“job rec” = instant block). Speak more about the candidate, and know what their interests are before you hit send. And whatever you do, make a pact to end the spam once and for all.
“Don’t spam. It makes it harder for the rest of us.”
The ‘personal’ message continued right throughout SourceCon, including Shannon Pritchett’s talk on practical engagement tips.
— Julie Anderson (@julzbabie) March 2, 2016
4. They set themselves a high bar
Like athletes comparing race times, there was a lot of chatter during sessions and breaks about what constitutes a good benchmark response rate for outreach. Stacy Zapar talked through her plan to reach an 85% response rate, step by step. Glen Cathey was a little more bold – if not in number than in prognosis.
“You should have a 73% response rate. If you’re not, you’re not doing your job. You need to figure out why.”
5. They source in the real world too
SourceCon presented plenty of opportunities for #booleanbrags, but the source of untapped talent that popped up over and over again didn’t involve strings of text, but rather logging off and sourcing prospective candidates in the real world. Meetup was a clear favorite of the group – an easy way to find local events attended by specialist skill and interest groups. Lanyrd.com also got a mention – a site useful for finding niche conferences and events.
— Wendy (@WendyPeper) March 1, 2016
6. They know when to leverage networks and connections
That in itself is not exactly news for recruiters, but two pieces of advice stood out about how to use your connections to increase candidate engagement.
The first? Use the profiles of your hiring manager, future team members or CEO to pique the interest of a cold lead, and catch their attention. Work on the outreach message together, and what they’re comfortable saying, and when the reply comes, simply ask them to forward the message to you for outreach.
The second piece of advice came during the quick fire “Tips and Tricks” session, where anyone has the chance to contribute a pearl of sourcing wisdom. One such gem was to simply look at who in your network is connected to the prospective candidate, and ask them directly for a cell number or outreach. Obvious, but easily forgotten.
7. They look forward to the next big thing
Social recruiting legend Jim Stroud’s session at SourceCon was the center of all things future facing, and in it, he challenged recruiting teams to not just search for talent on a daily basis, but actively invest time in keeping one of the biggest groups – millennials – in an organization once they join.
Among his arsenal of tips:
- Offer to pay off student loans – a very attractive carrot Stroud says, especially for debt-burdened millennial graduates
- Display employee satisfaction results on your careers page to show how your company values culture and wellbeing
- Develop an alumni page, to show where ‘graduates’ of your company have gone onto
Stroud also turned the conversation to the value of emotional intelligence, both internally, but also at the interview stage. Not only is a team trained in emotional intelligence more productive, Stroud noted, they’re less likely to leave – citing figures from one organization where this training led to a 63% reduction of personnel turnover.
When it comes to applying emotional intelligence to those you’re hiring, Stroud suggests looking to Facebook games and quizzes, and other ways you can informally generate buzz on your social networks, see who participates and what they score, generate a valid reason for outreach (“Steve, I just saw you got Don Draper in the Mad Men quiz I posted”), and start a conversation about job openings.
8. They appreciate the art of great outreach
Recruiters live and die by their response rate, and a small tweak or adjustment to language, phrasing or structure can mean getting a prospect hooked, or being swiped over in an instant. Luckily, SourceCon veterans delivered with the goods on how to implement a solid framework around cold calling and email.
For the founding father of sourcing Shally Steckerl, it’s about persistence and structuring your outreach around the 1-2-3 approach. He suggests reaching out via email, voicemail, and then social or text, over the course of two days.
If you don’t get a response, repeat the three outreach a few days later, once more later again, and then finally, finish with a last-ditch message –
“I thought I’d give this one last shot. After this, I won’t be trying again but it is important.”
He says you’d be surprised at how many candidates respond to that.9. They nurture relationships that matter most
Did someone say hiring managers? Outreach and engagement isn’t just about the candidate side. It’s about those you work with day in, day out. According to Recruiting Toolbox’s John Vlastelica, the best recruiters “have an exceptional ability to engage, advise and leverage hiring managers.”
Easier said than done?
But Vlastelica, seemingly able to predict that answer might be coming, shared examples to show how tech’s biggest companies are bridging the recruiter – hiring manager divide. His advice? Build more structure around set-up and debrief conversations, think creatively about the relationship, and when all else fails…
“Would you like to hear what the managers who fill these type of roles 10 days faster do differently?”
On the candidate side, Zapar spoke of the virtues of tagging and nurturing your talent pipeline, even if they didn’t get the job. A well-oiled and fed pipeline means when the next job rec opens, you will have already curated a group sold on the merits of your company.
What have we missed? What one trait you think is essential for best in class recruiting?