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Spelunking for the Stars: Game-Changing Sourcing Strategies

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By Paula Dorn, Director of Sourcing
With Tom Brennan, Senior Writer

Part 3 in our series – Sourcing: Tracking Down Hidden Talent

The stars your company (or client) needs to hire aren’t all twinkling in plain sight. Some are hiding in the deep, dark corners of cyberspace. That’s why deep-dive sourcing strategies are fast becoming a necessary part of recruiting, as I discussed in Part One of this series. In Part Two I shared some sourcing strategies for the first two “levels” of sourcing: searching the résumé databases and leveraging the mainstream social media sites. Here in the final part, we’ll explore the second two levels. 

Level III: Go Where They Gather

Two kinds of organizations have exactly what you need: lists of people with the qualifications you’re targeting — professional associations and trade show/conference organizers. Looking for an electrical engineer? Some of the best belong to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and IEEE sponsors conferences and events around the U.S. and the world. The trick is getting access to those lists. In some cases the associations (or marketing agencies) sell the lists, and in some cases you’ll need to find a “friend on the inside.”

Often someone in your organization belongs to a professional association you’re interested in. Your Controller, for example, may belong to the Association for Financial Professionals, and there’s your “in.” You’ll find contacts on the association’s website, and association leadership usually is open to helping members find good opportunities. Try folding Level III sourcing strategies in with Level II, social networking, and search for people with the right associations in their profile.

Got a Niche? Scratch It

National associations often have local chapters with members who are geographically desirable, and chapter leaders may be a little more accessible to networking than national ones. And don’t forget about “niche” associations — the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, for instance, has members around the country. If you’re looking more for characteristics than specific expertise — say, leadership and entrepreneurial accomplishment — there are associations that are not field-specific, such as the National Association of Women Business Owners.

Level IV: Back to School

This level definitely requires an investment in relationship development. Reach out to alumni associations at schools known for top programs in the relevant discipline. Searching for IT professionals? Reach out to associations at BYU or Virginia Tech. Marketing professionals? Try Pennsylvania or Cal. U.S. News & World Report publishes an annual ranking of schools to help you out. A related source is regulatory and licensing boards, if you need a CPA, pharmacist or professional in other regulated industries.

Of course you won’t be able simply to visit a website and download names and addresses — you’ll need to develop contacts on the inside. In fact, you’re not looking for a roster as much as for leads, or a promise to “spread the word.” Alumni associations are all about networking. Also try reaching out to professors in the appropriate department — they’re often expert networkers, too.

Hook ‘Em and Book ‘Em 

You’ll need to get people on board to help, but everyone is busy. You’ll need a “hook.” It won’t be enough to say, “I’m from Acme and we’re looking for a Project Manager.” Figure out what will generate enthusiasm and lead with that: “Acme is investing in growth and we need a project management expert to re-engineer our processes.” Also, be persistent: emails go into spam folders and even voicemail can get lost in the shuffle.

To wrap up this series I’ll share something I’ve learned from being both a recruiter and a sourcer. As a recruiter I focus on finding candidates who have at least 80% of the qualifications on the req. But as a sourcer I learned that, while someone with 25% of the qualifications may not be the right fit, they may know someone who is. And that’s the essence of sourcing.

To learn more about Decision Toolbox, contact us – we’d love to hear from you!

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One Response to “Spelunking for the Stars: Game-Changing Sourcing Strategies”

  1. March 28, 2014 at 1:15 am, Rina Johnson said:

    Great article Paula. Very insightful. Networking is the “ticket” these days and these are excellent examples to prove that.


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