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If you were to ask a candidate sourcing specialist about the key challenges preventing internal recruiting teams from producing strong sourcing results, what do you think they would identify as critical issues?

I recently raised this question with James Chapman, managing director of recruitment research firm BRS Global. Chapman regularly runs web-based Q&A sessions on sourcing, so he’s heard from a wide range of internal recruitment teams about the challenges they face when sourcing. Here are the top four reasons why internal recruitment’s sourcing results often disappoint, according to him:

1. Failure to Agree on Realistic and Transparent Candidate Briefs

Many recruitment teams fall at the first hurdle – namely, securing a workable candidate brief at the outset.

Obtaining such a brief is critical for at least two reasons. First, recruiting success depends on comprehensive, transparent requirements that will not be changed once the project gets underway. Inadequate briefing of your sourcing colleagues and moving the goalposts once work is underway are two surefire ways to sabotage results.

Second, candidate requirements must be realistic. Candidate sourcing is in part a numbers game. Every layer of requirements that reduces the number of suitable candidates inevitably makes sourcing that much harder. Once you throw undesirable locations or subpar remuneration into the mix, your sourcing team may be left with a brief best dubbed “Mission Impossible.” In such circumstances, it’s no wonder when an in-house sourcing effort falls short.

One reason it helps to engage external recruiting experts is that they’re likely to give hiring managers more robust responses when unrealistic or inadequate candidate briefs are proposed. It can often be hard for in-house teams to say “no” or push back.

2. Inadequately Resourced Projects

Closely linked to the above challenge is the issue of inadequate resourcing. According to Chapman, candidate sourcing results can differ quite a bit depending on time constraints. A candidate contact effort that depends on email and InMail is far less effective than one that includes phone outreach, and persistent outreach over a three-week period produces far better results than reaching out once and waiting.

silhouetteGiven these facts, the degree to which a candidate brief is achievable is closely linked to the resourcing put into the project. You may feel confident about successfully completing a brief within two weeks, but if your time is whittled down to just a couple of days, you’ll feel serious pressure.

One of the biggest challenges internal recruiting teams face is that they are often expected to work on too many assignments simultaneously. As a result, they can’t devote the necessary time to each assignment to produce great results. Clearly, the business either has to make the candidate brief easier to deliver upon by relaxing hiring criteria or bolstering remuneration, or it has to resource the project sufficiently. Often, an external service provider charging for its time can more easily convince the business to take these steps than an internal team can. In-house recruiters generally feel they just have to “get on with it,” no matter how poorly resourced the project is.

3. Outdated Tools

If candidate sourcing is in part a numbers game, the other part of the equation is how effectively recruiters can work those numbers. To effectively find and approach candidates, you need to be up to date with the latest tools, Chrome extensions, platform updates, etc.

Inadvertently, corporate recruiters create an environment in which external suppliers are likely to be stronger in this domain. By securing hard-to-fill assignments with greater resources allocated to them, external recruiting suppliers have to explore new tools and stay on the cutting edge of technology in order to deliver results that clients will pay for.

By contrast, internal recruiting teams often feel the pressure to deliver on multiple assignments, devoting as little time as possible to each requirement. This state of affairs encourages in-house recruiters to stick with tried-and-true approaches rather than experimenting with new tools. It’s little wonder, then, that internal recruiters are so addicted to LinkedIn.

One suggestion here would be to hire external recruitment suppliers to work on some of your requirements – but be sure to make knowledge transfer to your in-house team part of the deliverables.

4. A Lack of Data

Last but not least is the issue of “flying blind.” If you were to look back over your team’s last year’s worth of assignments, would you be able to identify why your results have fallen short? You may have a hunch, but nothing you could put in a formal report or presentation and take to management to be addressed.

If you invest adequate time in your candidate sourcing assignments, you’ll be able to do far more research and track more meaningful data. If you actually speak to large numbers of target candidates for each assignment, you’ll start to hear consistent feedback about the reasons why candidates would or would not be open to moving to your company.

Maybe pay is an issue. Maybe the company’s reputation is undermining you. Maybe parts of your business are led by people for whom others in the industry would not want to work. There are myriad reasons why candidates may not be flocking to your open jobs, but you’ll only be able to uncover them if you invest sufficient resources in your sourcing assignments.

By giving your sourcing efforts the resources they need – whether through in-house teams or by engaging with external suppliers – you’ll make better hires while furnishing the business with the market intelligence it needs to succeed in the long run.

Tony Restell is the founder of social media agency Social-Hire.com. He also collaborates with James Chapman on candidate sourcing Q&As. You can find Tony on Twitter: @tonyrestell.



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