A Sourcer’s Guide to Picking Up (or How to Engage Candidates)

by Madeline Courvisanos on November 29, 2011 · 2 comments

[This is a guest post from Madeline Courvisanos, most recently sourcing specialist at Quest Research and co-organiser of the latest sourcing networking drinks]

Belying our geeky reputation (perhaps formed by our obsession with nuanced changes in search engine functions), we sourcers can be a pretty slick bunch. This I discovered when listening to this week’s SourceClub, where I learned some very handy techniques on the art of candidate seduction. I mean engagement. The parallels are there – woo your candidate, establish a lasting rapport and you have a valuable and enriching long term relationship. A fumbling or bullish approach, on the other hand, could lead to your name (or that of the company you represent) known for the wrong reasons.

SourceClub was prefaced and sponsored by our friends at CareerOne, with the panel comprising Ivan Burrell (Ernst & Young), Mark Mansour (Macquarie Telecom) and Nicole Cain (Derwent Executive). The following is a summary of their smooth techniques for those of us who are the blushing debutantes of the sourcing world.
The Pick Up
  • Preparation is vital. Scripting, research, and following examples of others who hit the phone with panache will help you feel comfortable.
  • If nerves hit while on the phone, Ivan reminds us that we are the ones that need to take the lead – the person at the other end of the phone is likely nervous, too.
  • Quickly explain yourself and the position, before focusing the rest of the conversation on qualifying the candidate and creating a dialogue. Sound out your ‘date’ to avoid wasting your time.
  • Leverage your brand, find out your candidate’s sentiments towards the brand you represent and whether it would interest them to work there now or in the future.
  • Use situational questions to open up the conversation (who/ what/ when etc)

The Bad First Date
But what happens when a call moves from awkward to downright disastrous and a (metaphorical) drink is thrown in your face?

  • Nicole highlighted that you must determine why it is that you are being shut down. Is their boss is in the room? Is it a bad time of day?
  • Set up another time to talk. Appointments are the aim of all first calls and serve a variety of purposes – they show politeness and professionalism on your part, as well as extending the relationship, giving you the all- important second date.
  • Try other channels of communication to find the appropriate means of reaching your prospect – email or even text messages can be more discreet.
  • To calm an irritated prospect, try being extremely apologetic and polite to the point that they feel rude for being so dismissive! Again, your aim should be to start over with a new appointment.
  • Get on the phone again right away after a bad experience – don’t get paralysed!

The Other Woman (Or Man!)
Much has been said about getting past the protective ‘Gatekeeper’ – the diligent receptionist or PA – but to add to the more common tips to help get your call through, our panel suggested:

  • Leverage the Gatekeeper if you know that the PA moves with their boss from job to job
  • Using your own knowledge of the industry you’re working within – be specific and show off what you know.
  • Leave plenty of details when leaving a message. It shows trustworthiness. Also be appreciative of the time the PA is taking to help you.

The Gold Digger
So when do you raise the question of salary? And how do you prevent any nasty ‘gold digging’ surprises at the end of the process?

  • Find out the prospect’s range of motivational drivers from the very beginning. Beyond money, motivators may include travel (or lack of it), room for promotion, the opportunity to work on interesting projects or with talented teams. Find out all of these drivers from the start and limit the potential for nasty surprises at the end.
  • If the conversation keeps getting turned to money, back away from the prospect. This may encourage them to reveal other motivators. Ivan recommends putting their questions back onto them: “what do you think the salary should be?”
  • If they truly are motivated almost entirely by money, consider that they may not be a great hire – they may be easily lured away again. This may be fine for a contract position, but perhaps not for a permanent hire.
[This was the last Sydney SourceClub for the year, we will hopefully be starting up again in February. It was sadly also Madeline’s last as co-organiser as she is moving on to bigger and better things… and Canberra 😉 Thanks Maddy for all your help and your wonderful blog posts!! – Andrea] 


Count More With Feeling

by Madeline Courvisanos on November 4, 2011 · 6 comments

[This is a guest post from Madeline Courvisanos, sourcing specialist at Quest Research and co-organiser of the latest sourcing networking drinks]

“I ‘ave nuzing to count! And I wanted to count zo badly! Zis eez very frustrating. Frustrating is a feeling. Dat is one feeling – I counted a feeling!” Count von Count

A hot topic in Australian sourcing this year has been the issue of analytics. Also known as metrics. Or measurements. Or ROI. Basically, sourcers have felt the pressure to start counting. Count something – anything – seems to be the consensus in local and international discourse (see most recently Shally Steckerl’s presentation at SourceCon). Suddenly, we are like Sesame St’s Count von Count looking for something to count, reduced to counting the intangible.

But the panel discussion at Sydney’s second (and newly named!) Source Club last Wednesday night, shows a growing understanding and sophistication in approaching measuring what we do and the information we collect. The panel comprised of Skye Cracknell from HRX and James Griffin of SR7, who joined Andrea Mitchell to discuss this issue.

Why are you measuring… and for whom?

Sourcers are hired by organisations looking for that elusive competitive edge. And as we all know, the only thing that such organisations like more than a power point is stats. Preferably percentages. Preferably percentages accompanied by an infographic.

Power Point Percentage Pressure is one reason sourcers are scrambling to come up with some numbers to justify their existence. As Skye pointed out, however, standard recruitment measures, such as number of placements or even cost per hire, will always see sourcers at an unfair disadvantage due to the time frames involved in sourcing for niche/hard-to-fill/future roles. In setting up a new sourcing function, Skye has instead focused on a gradual program of proving the value of her team through a mix of “quick wins” and long-term strategy. This process is one of educating the client as to the less tangible (but value- adding) potential of sourcing in the long term, through tangible short term gains.

But pressure to measure is not just from the execs, but also from within. How are we performing? As a team? As an industry? As Andrea noted in last week’s post, we need a yardstick to improve our own performances.

So what should we measure?

Internal measures: These are measures we apply to ourselves to improve performance. Skye strongly rebutted the idea of old-school recruitment targets eg 20 phone calls, 5 meetings, 2 placements etc, which she branded as simply “bad management”. KPIs should instead be goals, not numbers (See this article for a similar frustration with simplistic KPIs in the public service). They should motivate and develop employees professionally and personally.
External measures: These are focused on justifying your team’s existence or convincing your client of your value. Our panelists suggested:

  • Database activity
  • Increases in capability
  • Feedback from candidates or clients
  • Influencer/competitor activity

Don’t underestimate the value of qualitative data

Essentially, gathering qualitative data is what we do. Finding talent and market intelligence are qualitative activities and it thus makes sense to report these findings in qualitative form. James noted the increasing sophistication of social media analytics (and clients who seek them) in moving beyond counting traffic or numbers of ‘likes’ to truly listening to social dialogue to change company marketing, branding and recruitment strategies. He emphasized “context over Klout” (read this), because ultimately we have been employed to collate qualitative data, filter it, and render it usable through placements, relationships and intelligence. So don’t undersell this valuable data to your boss or clients – this is what they needed after all.


Check your data

Cross reference qualitative and quantitative data or you will render your work useless. People lie, especially when it comes to their careers. They even lie on LinkedIn, as James quite rightly pointed out. This actually came as a surprise to some of us – what a sweet bunch we are!

At November’s Source Club we will look back at what has been a bumper year for sourcing. Rumour has it there may also be karaoke… Our panel will focus on Candidate Engagement – or how not to be awkward on the phone and get your emails returned. This is a session you can even bring your recruitment or sales friends to, there will be valuable tips for everyone. Register Here


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[This is a guest post from Madeline Courvisanos, sourcing specialist at Quest Research and co-organiser of the latest sourcing networking drinks] You’re at a bbq and the inevitable question arises. You can feel it coming and clench your jaw in anticipation, steeling yourself for the moment and preparing the speech in your mind. So what […]

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