Sourcing failures have never been formally discussed in a sourcing conference until last week at SOSU (The Sourcing Summit in Amsterdam 27-29 September, 2016).

I feel very fortunate to have been able to air this topic and share my thoughts about it. I’ve had many sourcing successes but also some projects that have failed. I always felt there were so many reasons to why talent sourcing can go wrong and I wanted to share those with my community and moreover, have them share their failure stories. Judging by the plethora of posts and presentations on this topic as well as by the nodding heads and smiling faces during my lecture, it was very apparent to me that no matter from what country we are from, we all struggle with the same issues.

To date, most lectures, webinars, and workshops are all about what works for sourcing great talent. As to why it sometimes does not work, we are requested to do some “reverse engineering” on our own, sort of speak…and extrapolate from what works, what it is that does not work.

However, that is not the way to go about it. There is a myriad of reasons why sourcing can go wrong that have nothing to do with a bad engagement email or not using the right tools.

For the sourcing process to function like it should and produce positive results, there are so many pit holes we need to avoid. Should we fall into one, the whole process will be compromised.

IMHO, these are the main (meaning there are others but I believe they are of less importance) factors for potential failure points on the company’s side:

  1. The role is not well defined (including incompatible compensation)
  2. Hiring managers are not engaged
  3. Company has no or very little branding to show for
  4. Process in-house takes too long
  5. Responsibilities between the sourcers and recruiters are not well defined

And where we as sourcers may go wrong:

  1. Not asking the right questions before the search begins
  2. Not using all of the available resources as well as creative ones
  3. Not doing a good enough job on the first impression with the potential candidate
  4. Working on too many roles
  5. Not raising a red flag quickly enough when a search is not yielding results
  6. Not defining success

To go through a sourcing process that will be considered a success for both sides, I believe these 4 high-level ingredients need to be present:

  1. Ask the right questions
  2. Manage expectations / Define success
  3. Find those places in the process that seem not to work well and fix them as you go
  4. Communicate, communicate, communicate – Hiring managers HATE surprises!

Knowing this will enable you to launch a sourcing project and address the problematic issues BEFORE they develop into something that will hinder the process and the sourcing success.A friend who is also a pilot, told me that both pilots review a checklist before take-off, to be sure they are not forgetting anything to ensure the safety of the flight. But what’s more interesting is that they review other checklists at different stages of the flight. If pilots are doing it? We can also have such a checklist before we embark on our sourcing project, to ensure, as much as possible, the success of the sourcing process.

My main message though is, we as sourcers HAVE THE POWER TO INFLUENCE THE PROCESS. We do NOT hide behind the recruiters. We have to UNDERSTAND the business we are in (the competitive arena). We must air our opinions. We must follow up on our potential candidates as they go through a process within the company to ensure they do not get stuck in “bottlenecks” and slowly but surely disappear from the radar.It is our responsibility to do the best we can to make the process WORK and to be able to explain to our business partners why it failed.

I hope that we can keep this discussion open and share our stories, so we can all learn and perfect the Art of Sourcing.

(My presentation will be uploaded to my Linkedin Profile and my website within a few days. Check back again soon!)


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