Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Sourcing Strategy and Plan

There have been several requests for additional information about how to build a sourcing strategy, specifically around tactics that have been successfully used to execute the part of the strategy that is typically called "birds of a feather flock together". Some recruiters recognize that one cannot discriminate and fear that looking for too many similar people will also result in a homogenous group of employees. The value of diversity can not be understated so let me make some points here:
  • Employers should look for diversity not just in the traditional umbrella (e.g. sex, age, etc.), but also in thoughts, behaviors, and goals (not everyone can be the CEO)
  • When filling key positions the competencies required to execute the activities that lead to realizing the performance objectives are more important than what someone looks like
  • Write a great job profile that clearly markets the benefits of working for the company as well as the exciting opportunities and challenges that the selected person will face, include a list of the most critical competencies that candidates must have or are preferred
Clearly, you want to start with a robust employee referral program. If you selected great people then that is the group you want to continue to 'clone'. So, the question is, where are more people like this and how can you tap that market through this group? In today's world that is best done by having those employee leverage their social networking connections. The job profile can be forwarded by your employees to the people in their network whom they believe would represent them well if hired. You should also make finding the next great hire a lucrative event for your employees. Consider how much you would have to pay an external recruiter if they were to bring you the eventual hire...

As the profile is circulated in a viral method you will hit passive as well as active candidates. In your strategy you should clearly define the route you wish to go based on the timing and strategic nature of each hire. If you need someone fast you will need an active candidate. If the position is more strategic you will probably benefit from a more passive candidate. Those take longer to source and may require some research into professional associations, white papers, conference presentations, and other resource pools that indicate someone's expertise, philosophy, and methodology.

Also, don't forget to evaluate the value of each referral source as part of your plan. If you are doing a great job of screening candidates you should end up with a forced-ranking profile of each. Look retroactively at the source of each candidate to also force-rank the quality of each source. For example, if three of the top five candidates were sourced through employee connections on LinkedIn then LinkedIn should be a strategic priority and you should invest accordingly (e.g. pay for some employees to have account upgrades). If none of the top 50% of your candidates came from a specific job board then you should stop wasting time and resources on that board.

If you are shopping for an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to use in order to execute your strategy, look for a product that either closely matches the plan you have created or one that can be setup to follow your plan. If you want to incorporate the three strategies mentioned above, I suggest you look into Jobvite. A quick search of LinkedIn Answers about ATS's indicates that Jobvite is the preferred ATS that fully leverages social networking as well as source ratings.

One final point, The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs administers a number of laws and regulations. Make sure that your strategy (and your ATS, if you use one) complies with those laws.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Take Advantage of Free Self-Paced Content

With the growing popularity of the belief that knowledge belongs to everyone, the expiration of the training vendor is coming. The need for a large group of itnernal instructional design gurus is also on the wain. With open source solutions and freeware affecting the way that people see intellectual property rights, and with universities opening their vaults by putting free course content online, it is only a matter of time before companies realize that the only training design that is needed internally is subject matter expert (SME) training on company-specific topics such as new hire onboarding and in-house processes or home-grown software. Many leadership development and soft skills development courses will still be instructor-led, but more and more companies are also including those competencies in their hiring profiles because they realize that many of those skills do not improve after training (or, at least, not very quickly).

Harvard's recent release of free self-paced training at is a perfect example of what internal training teams will start to include in their intranet sites, learning management systems, content management systems, wikis, etc. What is your training team doing to prepare for this fundamental shift?