Active sourcing is super intense

It is now common knowledge that there are three types of people in the labour market, namely the non-seekers, the active seekers and the passive seekers. Non-seekers are not interested in any change in their career. The active seekers are the exact opposite. They are under pressure and desperately want a new job sooner rather than later, or a job at all. Passive seekers usually have a job but are open to new opportunities.

As a logical consequence the non-seekers are not available and often there are hardly any active seekers due to the growing talent shortage in the labour markets. That leaves the passive open-minded. As an employer, you have to actively find and address them in close collaboration with people in your business lines. This is the basic idea of active sourcing.

Now you might think that active sourcing is basically simple. You look for suitable people on LinkedIn, talk to them and everything will just work out by itself. Maybe you could also automate active sourcing by using artificial intelligence. I think that’s wrong.

Where does active sourcing and approaching potential candidates make any sense at all? First and foremost, active sourcing makes sense when it comes to filling singular, hard-to-fill positions. These are positions where many companies tend to call for services of an executive search consultancy. You may search for an expert in international tax law or a company physician, to name just two typical examples. Here, neither an employer branding campaign nor the development of a talent community would pay off.

Active sourcing is super intense and time-consuming. This becomes clear once you realise which basic premises should ideally be followed:

  • You need a job-specific employee value proposition that can only be developed with people who really know the job. The same applies to relevant search criteria.
  • You really have to deal with the candidates personally. Anything else is annoying and hardly appreciative, especially for the candidates.
  • You actively engage relevant networks of current and selected colleagues. You not wait for referrals but request them.
  • The personal approach to candidates should be made by a representative from the department who is as senior as possible, i.e. it is better not to have a recruiter or an executive search consultant and certainly not a machine.
  • You only approach candidates who could be seriously considered. Anything else would be annoying.
  • Representatives of the business line and especially the hiring manager need a lot of time to be available for personal, sometimes long conversations.
  • The entire selection process in the event of interest or application must also be fast, appreciative and transparent in order to shape the best possible candidate experience.

Yes, large companies in particular have a natural desire to make activities and processes as scalable and efficient as possible. After all, it’s usually about volume. Accordingly, we are currently experiencing an increasing debate about the industrialisation of candidate search and approach. The fundamental question, however, is whether to focus on efficiency or effectiveness. Efficiency may be easy with the necessary technical means. But when it comes to recruiting, success can primarily mean being effective. Whether we like it or not, effectiveness has a high price.