RTT – Future Innovation in Direct Sourcing: LinkedIn and Beyond

These are the thoughts and takeaways from the latest Resourcing Think Tank (RTT) held on Tuesday 19th November 2013 hosted by Epicor’s Shane Hicks (VP Global Talent), titled ‘Future Innovation in Direct Sourcing: LinkedIn and Beyond’.

The following summary has been prepared to reflect a segment of the discussion held amongst senior HR and Resourcing professionals from leading national and international businesses. Specific company details, experiences and examples have been omitted from this summary as all discussions are held under ‘Chatham House Rules’.

As technology continues to evolve at an extortionate rate and businesses are forced to conjure up new innovative direct sourcing methods to attract the very best talent, what’s in store for recruitment over the coming years? During this Think Tank we discussed LinkedIn’s sustained success, reflected on the gravitas of some of its competitors such as Google+, questioned the current relevance of Job Boards and deliberated over the technologies that actually add value to the sourcing process.

Is LinkedIn still effective as a sourcing tool?

Unsurprisingly one of the first questions tabled was around the current effectiveness of LinkedIn as a sourcing tool. After all, if you’re forking out on products like Recruiter Licences you want to know that your money is being well spent. Fortunately for LinkedIn, the vast majority of our attendees are still incredibly reliant on the platform. However, whilst it seems that its efficiency has improved in certain geographies (such as Eastern Europe and Russia) the response rate to in-mails has certainly dipped (particularly in the UK). Typically, it appears to be an issue with poor targeting – are recruiters sending the right message to the right people and in the right language? If not then it’s no wonder that response rates are poor (a response rate of 30% is roughly where you want to aim for).

What’s more, why are some recruiters relying on in-mails to capture the interest of a candidate and engage them? LinkedIn’s a fantastic tool for identifying candidates, but surely picking up the phone to someone is far more powerful. If there’s no answer or if you don’t have any way to contact them by the telephone, an in-mail’s a good last resort but shouldn’t really be the initial contact point.

Involve hiring managers in the sourcing process

Further to the subject of in-mail response rates, if you are using the messaging tool, why not involve your hiring managers and get them to send them? It’s undoubtedly more engaging for a candidate (particularly if they’re passive) to receive a message from a like-minded professional or their potential future boss, as opposed to a recruiter.

Furthermore, for niche skillsets why not target your hiring managers on developing a bank of talent? These hiring managers are likely to have like-minded peers in their networks – from both a social perspective and from networking events / courses that they’ve attended relevant to their sector.

Utilising the power of internal referrals

In terms of sourcing channels, referrals can be one of the most effective when it comes to the quality of candidates. However, it’s crucial not to over promote referrals as you could be in danger of creating a certain type of culture and preventing a truly diverse workforce. It’s suggested that businesses should aim for a referral figure of 35%.

When it comes to referrals setting expectations upfront is essential. You need to create ‘the deal’ so that employees know that their referred peer will be treated fairly and will receive feedback. Do you have a policy stipulating that any referred candidate will be at least interviewed? Whatever the expectations you set, make sure you stick to them.

Based on the experiences around the table, some of our members share details of their referrals schemes:

How are referrers rewarded?

  • £1000 if referral remains with the business for six months (only applicable at certain salary grades)
  • For salaries under £30,000, referrer is rewarded between £200-£500
  • Referrer is entered into a draw to win a holiday

When are referrers rewarded?

  • Half paid up front and the remainder paid after three months
  • Paid on referral’s start date

Are your employees on or off LinkedIn?

If you’re utilising your employees’ networks for providing referrals or building their own bank of talent, it’s important to give them the tools / skills to do this. Offering LinkedIn ‘Primp my Profile’ workshops is a great way to show your staff how to make the most of the social platform, optimise their profile, engage with their market peers and access relevant resources. Having your employee population professionally and consistently represented on LinkedIn is also powerful from an employer branding perspective, particularly if they’re getting involved in online discussions. Many organisations are often concerned about putting their employee population in the public eye, however if you’re confident in your EVP then surely you have nothing to worry about?

Using social media to engage and identify candidates

If you look upon social media as a quick win then you’re probably using it incorrectly. It’s about working with the long term view in mind and creating content and communities that your target audience will want to engage with (as opposed to boldly marching into social environments, blanketing jobs and waving a banner saying how great you are as an employer).

Unfortunately, when it comes to using social media to identify candidates there doesn’t seem to be a one size fits all. It’s about selecting the most appropriate channel based on the search. Our members share a couple of tips for attracting / sourcing talent using social media:

  • Use Viadeo when… recruiting for roles in France and the USA
  • Use Xing when… recruiting for roles in Germany
  • Use Facebook when… attracting junior candidates or candidates returning from a period of maternity / paternity leave
  • Use Google+ when… recruiting for candidates with technical / IT / software skills.

** The above is based on collective opinion and suggestions are not supposed to be mutually exclusive **

Managing your online reputation

Who has ever used TripAdvisor to inform a decision on the best hotel or restaurant to book? Probably most, if not all of us, have done so at least once. Carrying out this due diligence now seems to be embedded in consumer behaviour. And for the candidate journey it seems to be no different. People ‘buy into’ peer to peer recommendation, therefore managing your online reputation is crucial on sites like glassdoor.co.uk. If you’re unpleasantly surprised by your employer’s online profile, take the time to understand why it’s being ranked poorly and where possible make some internal changes. Additionally, identify your brand advocates and ask them to leave positive reviews on the site.

The future of Job boards

Gone are the days when posting a job advertisement under a shiny banner will result in attracting the right talent – it’s about proactive and innovative sourcing to stand out from competitors. So are job boards still relevant in today’s market? Yes, we would argue that they are for targeting active candidates. However it’s about refining the job boards you are using in terms of the quality of applications and aligning a smaller proportion of the budget to this channel (a lot of businesses already seem to be doing this). Indeed.co.uk is recognised as one of the best job boards and aggregators as 47% of candidates who start their job search on Google end up on their site. Whilst we agree that job boards haven’t exactly had their day, often the most valuable tool they offer is the candidate search – this is noted as indispensible for recruiters looking to tap into the active candidate market.

Pre-recorded video interviewing

Video interviewing is one of the technologies stood at the forefront of recruitment. It has a number of benefits such as reducing the amount of time screening candidates over the phone and increasing the involvement of hiring managers in the recruitment process. You’re also more likely to get more detailed feedback from a hiring manager if they’ve viewed a video application as opposed to just a CV. If using this tool, why not get your hiring managers to record a brief video introduction explaining the role in more detail and promoting the business as a great place to work. Typically, this tool is associated with recruiting more junior positions, however there’s nothing to say it wouldn’t be equally as effective if used at a more senior level (assuming the questions are challenging enough).

The future of LinkedIn

So, are there currently any alternative tools that would threaten LinkedIn’s on-going relevance? The answer is probably not. Whilst Google+ has made some great strides with regards to providing an alternative for identifying talent, recruiters are far too dependent on LinkedIn to even think about cutting the cord at this stage. However, what’s clear is that businesses are investing more in their own candidate databases to avoid too much of the recruitment process being conducted on LinkedIn – after all, who owns that data?

The Resourcing Think Tank’s recommendations for Innovation in Direct Sourcing

  • Undoubtedly direct sourcing will continue to evolve and what’s obvious is the need for a multi-channel approach for sourcing and generating engagement
  • Never underestimate the importance of picking up the phone! Social media tools are great for identifying talent but real engagement is driven by personal contact
  • Take the time to understand how your organisation is portrayed online (glassdoor.co.uk) and manage its reputation accordingly
  • Whacky sourcing tools will always come and go but the real skill will always lie with a recruiter’s ability to ‘sell’ a job and employer, and generate engagement throughout the process
  • Recruiters now need to think more like marketers and understand how they can reach their target audience (through what medium) and then how they can effectively ‘sell’ to a candidate
  • When it comes to using social media – turn the short-term into the long-term game and seek to build communities and relationships that will last
  • Make use of your hiring managers when tapping into niche skillsets – their networks are likely to much stronger in the desired area.
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