Tech Tools Elevate Sourcing

To maximize recruiting efforts, all companies must become tech companies.

By Roy Maurer May 1, 2017
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Faced with a tightening labor market, HR professionals are sharpening their recruitment strategies to focus on leveraging data, personalization and on-demand sourcing. 

“It doesn’t matter what industry our clients are in—everything from manufacturing to professional services and retail—every company can now be classified as a technology company,” says Byrne Mulrooney, CEO of Los Angeles-based Futurestep, a Korn Ferry company that provides recruitment process outsourcing solutions. “This has forever changed the way talent acquisition experts do their jobs and what candidates have come to expect.”

Forward-thinking organizations are deploying solutions strategically to enhance employer branding, measure quality of hire, improve the candidate experience and shift to a more mobile search functionality.

Without implementing tools that accomplish those goals, “your recruiting team is likely losing candidates you don’t even know about,” says Lars Schmidt, founder of recruiting and branding agency Amplify Talent in Tysons, Va.

The Alchemy of Algorithms

While sales and marketing teams have long relied on “big data,” analytics and predictive models to optimize and personalize the process of converting prospects into customers, talent teams are now adopting the same technologies to automate aspects of their recruiting workflow and leverage rich data stores.

“Sourcing systems are becoming much more intuitive and can pick up on certain cues that will give employers a whole new level of insight,” says Eric Presley, chief technology officer at CareerBuilder, a Chicago-based HR solutions firm. 

For example, Recruiting Social, based in Los Angeles and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, taps into its data warehouse to develop personas for various job roles, build stronger queries for talent searches and assess whether a person’s skill set is well-suited to a particular position, says partner Angela Bortolussi. 

Creating candidate personas—broad composite profiles used to outline the most effective messaging and channels for reaching specific types of individuals—allows recruiters and sourcers to zero in on the right person for the role and to get the most from social hiring.

Personas often include biographical data, typical work history, necessary skills and traits for success, and common pain points synched with solutions to get a prospect’s attention.

Recruiters can also influence someone’s career trajectory by establishing interview questions in a prescreen that uncovers professional goals that align with the company’s plans. And through a smarter use of talent data, it’s possible to expand metrics beyond the hire itself to such longer-term measurements as tenure, performance, fit and retention. 

Creating Candidate Personas

Here are three tips for writing effective candidate personas:

Evaluate your top performers. Use performance data from your HR information system to identify trends in experience, background and career paths for your highest-rated employees. 

Use your own hiring data. Determine your top sources of hire for your top-tier employees so you can focus on optimizing your efforts with those sources.

Document your personas. Organize your research into detailed profiles and share them with your talent acquisition team.

Courting and Closing 

Personalizing interactions with prospective applicants is key to providing the kind of consumer-quality experience that people have grown to expect, says Shannon Pritchett, a veteran sourcer of job candidates and editor of the SourceCon website, a publication of ERE Media.

That’s why some organizations are adopting the practice of journey mapping—analyzing each step of the recruitment process to get a clearer picture of the experience and using data to predict an individual’s behavior.

Those insights can help recruiters engage and prepare applicants for their first meeting with a company. “That ‘getting to know you’ phase is critical,” Bortolussi says. 

Whether or not HR can access data to influence individuals as they move through the talent pipeline—for example, when a potential applicant connects through a chat function on a careers site or “likes” a company’s Facebook post—can make or break the relationship, says Roopesh Nair, president and CEO of Symphony Talent, a recruitment marketing company in New York City.

“If you’re not using technology to collect data at important touch points, you won’t know what matters to candidates or how you can refine your marketing strategy if needed to influence them to move further down the funnel,” he says.

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Recruiting Internally and Externally]

Talent on Demand 

By 2020, as much as 40 percent of the U.S. workforce will be made up of contingent workers, according to a study by software company Intuit, including temporary employees, independent contractors and project-based on-demand workers. On-demand sourcing and recruiting services are often used as a solution to meet unanticipated hiring spikes. 

While short-term, project-based freelance assignments are not new, employers’ ability to centralize this type of work and give freelancers access to potential jobs through online apps is not as common. For HR departments, determining the optimal workforce composition will become a core competency, says Kevin Wheeler, founder and president of the Future of Talent Institute, a San Francisco-area think tank. 

 Although data-driven sourcing and recruitment are empowering concepts, they must be combined with other strategies, experts say.

“We still have to keep the human touch in play and not depend totally on the data provided to make that hire,” says Ronnie Bratcher, a senior technical recruiter and sourcer based in Atlanta.   

Roy Maurer is an online writer/editor for SHRM who focuses on talent acquisition

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