Building A Sourcing Strategy Beyond LinkedIn

Last week, I was at the LinkedIn user conference. I can’t really knock the event: if you’re a heavy user of LinkedIn, it was a great place to be.

Being the inquisitive person I am, I asked a few of the participants I had met over two days about what would happen if they couldn’t find the people they needed on LinkedIn or if they ever decided to move away from LinkedIn, especially as a Recruiter product customer?

Now LinkedIn is generally regarded pretty widely as a great source currently. I don’t see that changing anytime soon. But not everyone is there and not everyone will always be there.

So what happens when you look beyond LinkedIn? What happens if you’ve been relying heavily on it and you need to do a search beyond the people available there?

For one, you should always keep up to date on sourcing tools and techniques. At the very least, even if a certain source is working well today, it might not work well tomorrow and it definitely won’t work well for every search you’re doing.

On another note, how, when and where you search is as much a part of your organization’s talent acquisition strategy as anything else you’re putting out there. Are you willing to spend more time doing searches and add to the “time to fill” metric if it means a better end candidate? Are you willing to invest resources in continually sourcing for high need positions and making timely hires when a top candidate enter your pipeline? Can you track where your sources of hire are coming from? Can you attach selection quality on a per-source basis?

I can’t tell you the right answer because every organization is different. But for those of you I talked to about some alternative places to search, here’s a list of some great articles on how to search elsewhere:

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That’s a very short list, too. If you’re a do-it-yourself sourcer, there is no shortage of great people and knowledge already published. And if you want a short cut and are willing to pony up some cash, there are some tools out there that make searches easier.

But probably what resonated most for me during the LinkedIn event was a post from Amybeth Hale last month. The part that kept ringing through my head was:

To wrap things up, you may have noticed a common trend here that started with the notion that there is no one “right” way to source – and my belief is that really understanding what your “right” way is means you must be constantly learning, practicing, and relating to those around you.

It is easy to fall into the trap of finding something that works today and going back to the well time and time again. When I talk about the value of sourcing to people who don’t know or understand the role of sourcers, I always relate it to the bigger talent acquisition puzzle. If you’re building a house but you’re sourcing subpar supplies for the work, a great architect and builder don’t mean much. The house could very well still fall down.

It’s important that you get your sourcing strategy with LinkedIn right. But once you do, don’t be static. Continue to expand your learning, practice and relationships with those around you. Most importantly, build your talent acquisition strategy around the people you need, not just the tools that you know or the ones easily at your disposal.


8 Comments on “Building A Sourcing Strategy Beyond LinkedIn

  1. Thanks for the great article Lance! I couldn’t agree more. While Linked In might be a great starting place, it certainly should never encompass the whole of any sourcing strategy. I think Linked In often has the lowest hanging fruit, and is a quick and easy way to get at biographies that don’t often accompany names identified through other sources. However, the wealth of information outside of Linked In is too rich and too substantial to only focus on Linked In itself. I even use other resources firstin some cases because they are better focused on what I want to find, and then only back into Linked In afterwards to check for the bio on a name I found elsewhere….Linked In is important, but never should it be the solo source to check on.

  2. I think it goes far beyond just keeping up with the latest tools and techniques though. It boils down to understanding the basics of sourcing inside and out — a critical step in becoming a stellar sourcer that, unfortunately, so many people bypass today in hot pursuit of the fun toys.

    The basics include (but are not limited to) the following: knowing whom it is that you are searching for, knowing where to search for them, and knowing how to search. Period. No number of cool tools will substitute knowing these three things. From Alice in Wonderland:
    Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
    The Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to
    Alice: I don’t much care where.
    The Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.

    Yup… and, if you’re unclear on any of those three items above, then it’s time to put a little more effort into understanding sourcing basics, in my personal opinion.

    By the way, the analogy you used for building a house with subpar materials warrants a post all its own, Lance 🙂 Nice work!

  3. This is an important message, Lance – a message that is going to cut the wheat from the chaff. I agree w/ RG below abt that subpar comment – write more on it.

  4. Hey Lance, it would have been great to have you attend our session on sourcing outside of LinkedIn at TalentConnect! One of the other presenters mentioned during a session “great hires from LinkedIn are not indicative of LinkedIn recruiter being amazing. It is indicative of a great recruiter using a powerful tool”

    There are plenty of tools out there and until you understand the basics of search, they are worthless. As soon as you can master the basics of search, these tools enhance productivity in orders of magnitude.

    Just as you would never put eggs in one basket, why only search on LinkedIn when you know that you are ignoring a large portion of the population is not on it(only 175M members).

  5. Good stuff. We do full cycle recruiting which hurts our true sourcing methods, IMO. Req load to high, trying to keep up with 20+ reqs x 30+ candidates per can be a challenge. Sourcing is key to finding top notch, passive, talent, IMO.

  6. Great Info Lance. There are many tool and technology available but one has to decide what works best for him/her and also keep in mind that any one channel may not always be the best.

  7. Nice post Lance!

    Of course LinkedIn is only one of the tools in anyone’s tool belt, but I would argue that LinkedIn is largely untapped. Access to LinkedIn does not yield any competitive advantage – most people realize 20-30% of what LinkedIn has to offer at best.

    I estimate that globally, well over 100,000,000 profiles are never retrieved or reviewed. The number for the U.S. alone would be 40,000,000 – 50,000,000+ profiles that no one ever finds or reviews.

    With numbers like that, I’d challenge sourcers, recruiters and talent acquisition teams to ask why they would prioritize Internet, Google+, or Twitter sourcing over LinkedIn when they are barely scratching the surface of the valuable human capital data that LinkedIn has to offer?

    Food for thought.

  8. Lance, fantastic article.

    The biggest challenge with sourcing really comes down to the individual and not necessarily the resource that is being sourced. In the case of LinkedIn, I would be willing to bet that 70% to 80% of the profiles that can be accessed are not even hit by recruiters during any given search. You started to go there in your last paragraph when you said, “it’s important that you get your sourcing strategy with LinkedIn right.” What is highly important for sourcers today and tomorrow is not necessarily how many tools they can use within their toolbox, but how can they take advantage of and make better use of one of those tools, such as LinkedIn.

    Again, fantastic article!

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