Sourcing Still Benefits from a Human Touch

Susanna Frazier talks about her love for the candidate hunt

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer June 7, 2018
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​Susanna Frazier, head of strategic sourcing for Universal Music Group.

​Over her relatively short career, Susanna Frazier has become one of the top corporate sourcers in the business. She's currently the head of strategic sourcing for Universal Music Group, where she's building out the Los Angeles-based company's sourcing function. She's also the founder of Sourcers Who Code, a popular industry Facebook group, and a two-time SourceCon Hackathon champion.

In addition to sourcing, Frazier specializes in talent acquisition process improvement, recruitment marketing and best-practice education. She recently sat down with SHRM Online during a conference held by RecruitDC, a networking group for talent acquisition professionals in the Washington, D.C., area, to discuss her sourcing path, recruiter troubles and whether sourcing will be made obsolete by emerging machine-learning technology.  

[SHRM members-only online discussion platform: SHRM Connect]

SHRM Online: Why sourcing and not recruiting for you?

Frazier: I like sourcing because it's a mystery and a puzzle. I feel like I'm in control being able to source a target candidate. Recruiting scares me. In recruiting, when you're speaking with the candidates and essentially selling them on a position, that's when the process starts to get out of your control. You're dealing with people's lives, and if you don't take the utmost care, you could be rocking someone's world in a negative way. I would never want to be a full-cycle recruiter who does both the sourcing and the recruiting. I hear from those recruiters that they don't have the time to source, and I think that's really unfortunate, because that's the fun part.

I was trained at TEKsystems [a leading IT staffing firm], so my recruiting foundation is great. I know how to recruit and sell people on jobs, but I don't want to be trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. There's so much emphasis on hitting your numbers and [filling] seats.

SHRM Online: What do you do day-to-day as a sourcer?

Frazier: First, I'm in charge of job-posting optimization. I post jobs and try to create a buzz about the position from a recruitment-marketing standpoint. When I source, I take a targeted approach, where I go for a top 25 list of individuals to reach out to for a position, based on how long they've been in their jobs and how statistically ready they are to advance their careers.  

Then I engage with the individuals I reach out to. Once you target someone, you want them to respond, so optimizing outreach in subject lines and messages is an important aspect of what I do, essentially leveraging the EVP [employee value proposition] in the job posting I crafted to show leads why this could be a good opportunity for them.

SHRM Online: What's the most difficult thing about what you do?

Frazier: Recruiter pains. There's only so much you can control from a sourcing perspective. I've been building corporate strategic-sourcing functions from the ground up, where I'm a single sourcer coming in and supporting an entire recruiting department and then building out my own team. I'm single-handedly supporting all of the recruiters, so I may have someone say all of their jobs are high priority and they need me to amp it up a notch, when they're not. So, trying to manage the recruiters to where, as a sourcer, you're making the most impact on the company as a whole can be challenging.

SHRM Online: Do you believe that sourcing is a must-have skill for recruiters?

Frazier: Yes. If you look statistically at the quality of hires that a company has, the top hires are going to be from employee referrals or sourced individuals, not [from among] the people applying to your ATS [applicant tracking system]. Recruiters are typically managing the applicants from the ATS, but for long-term success you will have to put on your sourcing cap. You will benefit many times over from nurturing a network, building relationships and pipelining talent.   

SHRM Online: What are your thoughts on the wave of new technology, which seems to indicate that sourcing is one of the skills that might be phased out?

Frazier: When I was in recruiting, I wasn't trained on sourcing. I didn't know what X-Ray or Boolean search techniques were. I taught myself all that later. I don't think recruiters are trained to source, and it looks like they won't have to with all the new technology. And their plates are already full. They say they don't have the time to source. These tools will help them out, but from a sourcer's perspective, I feel like I can source a lot better than those tools. I love to craft my own Boolean strings. I know I can use tools where you just put in the job title and a list of candidates pops up, but they're not as targeted. These tools will help you cast a wider net, but personally I like to be a lot more granular. Techniques like Boolean and X-Ray will get you farther, and they're free. 

Some AI [artificial intelligence] tools like Seekout and Hiretual benefit both recruiters and sourcers. And they provide analytics and insights that I can map out and take back to my hiring manager. But the robots will not take over. SourceCon proved that. Randy Bailey beat the AI in the sourcing challenge last year. There's a human touch in this business, and that's something I take a lot of pride in.

SHRM Online: I know sourcers get excited about new tech tools. What's the coolest thing you've recently discovered?
Frazier: The coolest new tool I'm using is called Frrole DeepSense, and it aggregates somebody's complete social digital footprint. [It has] an app that integrates with LinkedIn. If I enter somebody's Twitter handle, e-mail address or LinkedIn profile URL, it will pull a complete digital profile, including a personality assessment, insights on what they like to talk about, what they engage with most—a ton of information. I use it when I've targeted someone I want to speak with more and need a sense for how I can cultivate my messaging to get a response. If they're direct, I can get straight to the point, and if they like to beat around the bush or use lots of emojis, I'll incorporate that as well. If someone likes one of our artists at Universal according to this tool, then I can drop in a song lyric as a subject line or say, "I see you're a big Taylor Swift fan. How would you like your career to support hers?"

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