Candidate Sourcing: A War For Talent vs A War On Talent

Candidate Sourcing: A War For Talent vs A War On Talent

Justin Lowe May 17, 2018 8:56:00 AM

Here’s something interesting: 1998 was the year McKinsey first released their paper referring to the concept of “the war for talent.” 20 years later -- ahem, 2018! -- some of those authors reconvened for Fast Company and are now calling it “the war on talent.”

Tech changed the game. In some ways, it changed everything -- especially in terms of sourcing candidates. Even 20 years ago, the predominant recruiting channels were the phone, word-of-mouth referral, and maybe some early-stage search engines/Google. Talent acquisition had yet to see the rise of the job board. Social media was nascent. The organized web itself -- post-Google, essentially -- was also embryonic. 1998 vs. 2018 are two different worlds.

Back to that “war for talent” to “war on talent” switch…

Tech plays a big role here too. The rise of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) can sometimes hinder a candidate’s application, depending on how convoluted the process is. LinkedIn had enough users to command a $26B price tag from Microsoft years ago. Job boards, job postings, and resume banks seem to be everywhere. You can apply to thousands of jobs online with a single click. And now, two of the largest job sites globally -- Indeed and Glassdoor -- have the same parent company.

It feels like the landscape for sourcing candidates became very chaotic for talent acquisition professionals. So where do we go from here?

Niche job boards: There are hundreds out there. The bigger names for tech talent include GitHub, StackOverflow, Dice, and others. You could also use FlexJobs, RemoteJobs, Upwork and other platforms for contract-to-hire roles or project-based roles.

Employee referrals: This is often overlooked, but if you do it right, it’s a big win for you as a talent acquisition pro. Think about it logically: if someone likes working for you, they want the company to succeed. They want the “best people on the bus.” If they have respected colleagues from previous jobs, there’s a tremendous natural incentive there to refer them in to the talent acquisition process. Companies often get tripped up here because of money. They don’t know how much money to tie into the referral process. Dirty little secret: you don’t even need to offer money (although you can).

Networking events: These are the best recruiting channels for building proactive pipelines, or pipelines of great employees who currently (a) need a role or (b) work somewhere else. You don’t have approved headcount for their skills yet, but when you do … BOOM. Instant fill if done right. This is about building relationships, i.e. taking them to coffee/happy hour and asking them about their careers, aspirations, challenges, and more. If they grow to trust and respect you, they’ll be super excited to come onboard when a role does arise.

Chrome Extensions and other tools: This is a more tactical and technical tool for sourcing candidates. For example: what levels of personalization should you be using? Dan Louks even has a presentation called "27 Chrome Extensions For Recruiter Productivity."

The 2018 McQuaig Global Talent Report will be out soon, with data from more than 300 companies about the most effective recruiting channels. Sign up to get your free copy here.

The caveat in this area: don’t just throw tech at your issues because it’s “hot” or “new” or anything. A lot of recruiting teams make that mistake when figuring out how to get better at sourcing candidates. Instead, this is the flow you need to follow:

  • What specific problems are we having? (Time to hire, quality of candidate, # of candidates in the pipeline, etc.)
  • Why does it seem like we’re having this problem?
  • How does it logically seem we’d fix it?

Then look for case studies on others who’ve had similar problems. Make a list of tools they used. Investigate those tools. Get demos. Price them out. Make an informed, logical, step-by-step decision. It will take time, yes. But if you rush into a purchase because you think you need the new hot thing NOW NOW NOW, well, that software or extension is likely to become “shelf-ware,” when none of your team actually uses it.

What does the future of talent acquisition look like? No one knows for sure, of course. But these are some of the trend lines:

  • The top of funnel hiring processes (sourcing, screening, scheduling) are likely to be increasingly automated out
  • That should, in theory, free up recruiters to do more strategic sourcing of candidates (proactive pipelines, meetings, face-to-face context)
  • A refocused approach on putting more “human” elements into “Human Resources” responsibilities (for those of you who fall under that department)

It’ll be interesting to observe as we progress through the second half of the year. In the meantime, tell us: what recruiting channels work best for sourcing candidates in your organization, tech tools and otherwise?

Topics: Recruitment, Talent Acquisition

Justin Lowe

Written by Justin Lowe

Director of Marketing and Sales