By Martin Lee, Kelly Services

Everyone claims to source and source well. But in reality, how many of us actually do? I’ll help shed some light on what to look out for in 2015.

In today’s complex market, where there are many more jobs than there are candidates, it’s no surprise that recruiters are having to improve their sourcing strategy to reach the talent they require. But one of the biggest sourcing challenges right now is not just how to find candidates, it’s how to get them to respond.

In answer to this, the words on many recruiter’s lips right now, including myself, is ‘Talent Pipelining’; which rather than focussing on matching candidates to a live job, involves building up a network of suitable people to call upon when needed. It’s a process which takes a more consultative approach to sourcing, enabling recruiters to really understand the market. It also allows candidates to be introduced to a company and become familiar with their brand and culture prior to any vacancy, paving the way for a better response.

Kelly Services try to understand future hiring needs and identify people in advance of actual requirements. This kind of approach should be seen as an ongoing strategy as opposed to a quick-fix solution. And its success can be best measured by the length of time a hire stays with a company; which is also one of the top KPIs identified in Kelly’s recent Hiring Manager Survey.

I believe that talent pipelining should be a methodology which is always used by in-house recruiters as part of their long-term sourcing strategy. And the smartest time to do this is when you have an abundance of candidates that actually want to talk to you.

I also believe that sourcing is not just about which tools you use, it’s about how well you use them. Let me refer to LinkedIn as an example. Most companies use LinkedIn, but very few utilise ‘LinkedIn Talent Pipeline’; which allows you to run multiple searches using a number of key words. It collates them in one project folder with no duplicates and can be shared easily between teams. To do this, you’ll need a LinkedIn recruiter licence and you’ll have to ask LinkedIn to activate the tool for you.

Kelly use this approach for a number of their customers including the Swiss Pharmaceutical market where Lab Technicians with language skills are in high demand. Kelly identifies how many people are in that market, maps the market and creates a talent pipeline for those candidates. Yes, you can search for language skills to find the majority of candidates on LinkedIn, but there may be other suitable candidates who have just not completed their profile. Those people who are harder to find (and are not ‘keyword rich’) may be passive job seekers doing well in their current role, but introducing yourselves to these candidates could be beneficial in the future.

I suggest that anywhere people go and give information is a potential place to source candidates from and choosing the best contact approach is vital to getting the best response. It could well be that a passive candidate is more likely to respond to a personal email message than a message on LinkedIn. And of course, content is key. I propose that sending 10 personal messages is far better than sending 100 generic templates.

Asking for referrals is another great way to source right now and is actually the number 2 source of hire in India for Kelly. Try running a keyword search on LinkedIn (which looks within your own network). You then copy the URL and send it to someone else. They hit return and the search will run again based on the recipient’s network. Most people don’t know this but it’s a really good way of collaborating with colleagues to find potential candidates. You can also filter by first degree connections as well, and it won’t cost you a penny.

So it’s time to get savvy with your sourcing tactics to find the best talent out there. Then once you’ve found it, approach with empathy for the candidate to get the best possible response.


Martin Lee is head of sourcing and research for Kelly Services' EMEA and Asia-Pacific regions. He is responsible for all sourcing activity within the EMEA & APAC regions, including sourcing strategy, process, implementation and ongoing enhancement. He also works with Kelly clients to advise them on the most innovative sourcing and recruitment solutions available for their business.

He is also speaking at Talent Leaders Connect, ‘Sourcing, Diversity and Performance Strategies’ on 25th June. He’ll be speaking on Sourcing for Everyone. View the agenda