Many times in my career when I was in or associated with HR, we talked about recruitment. Seldom did that discussion ever cover the activity and approach of sourcing.
What is Sourcing?
Sourcing is the identification of the total pool of talent that may be able either immediately or with structured training to fill the job or jobs that a company is looking to fill. The idea in underlying sourcing is as follows: What is the largest possible pool of talent that my company can search to find the people we need? Important to note here is that we’re trying to identify the largest pool of talent. The premise being, within that largest pool, the company will be able to find the people it needs quickly and then go through the hiring process. Also, it is important to note that a solid period of pre-sourcing thought is required to align the company on experience, core competencies, qualifications, certification, attitude and other aspects that can either shrink or widen the sourcing pool for the role the company is looking for. This is all too often prescriptive and historical. As a result, the company can make it difficult for itself to find the people it needs due to its own perceived requirements.
Some time ago, a company I know well was trying to find four-year degree engineers to bring in as entry level workers and accomplish safety certification work. Business was improving and the company needed more engineers. Four-year degree hires was the approach, as this process had always been the norm. That said, it was always difficult to recruit four-year degree engineers to these roles as entry level because they were less desirable than R&D and other engineering entry roles had more prestige and paid more.
After doing an analysis of the core competencies required for the actual job and reviewing for entry level parameters (from school or entering from mid-career), they came to the conclusion that it would be wise to widen the sourcing pool for the job role to not only four-year degree engineers but two-year degree engineers, vocational school engineers and those with engineering or work experience that matched the core competencies required.
This opened to a significantly larger sourcing pool and allowed the company to hire large numbers of new recruits from all sections of the sourcing pool much more easily and quickly. A structured on–the-job training onboarding process was put into place to ensure consistent training and assessment to do the work. An added advantage was that the team became much more diverse in nature as the company expanded the sourcing pool, so more diverse candidates applied and were hired.
VMEC advises clients to think about the sourcing pools, know the core competencies required, take a hard look at historical or prescribed practices, strive to have the widest sourcing pools possible and put in the appropriate structured on-job-training to ensure consistent competency and predictable learning curves to competence. Sourcing precedes the hiring process and our experience is that it is worth considering and innovating to build the largest pools possible based on the core competencies of the job.
Author: Patrick Boyle is the VMEC Center Director and CEO. Before joining VMEC, his most recent role was that of Senior Vice President and Chief Learning Officer at Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and prior to that, Patrick was President of the UL Knowledge Services Business, providing knowledge, education, training and advisory services to manufacturers around the world.