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The Sourcing Toolbox

Cultivating relationships and building systems both require smart tech strategies.

By Madeline Laurano 
Sourcing is both an art and a science. The art of sourcing, including activities such as building a talent pipeline and cultivating relationships, is difficult to quantify. The science, on the other hand, is built on a systematic approach to identify the best strategies and tools used to uncover talent. Above all else, it requires transparency, insight and data around where sources are derived.
In today’s competitive economy, organizations need to clearly identify the most effective source of hire in order to make smarter sourcing decisions that will impact talent acquisition efforts as well as the business. Not an easy task, given the proliferation of sourcing tools available in the market. Social media, despite its obvious benefits, adds a new layer of complexity. As the quest to identify a single source of hire becomes more complicated, Aberdeen’s latest talent acquisition data shows that selecting the right sourcing technology is imperative.
What are the most effective sources of hire in place today? What technology is proving to be the most effective in terms of quality hires?
Despite the dramatic evolution of talent acquisition during the past few years, employee referral programs remain a powerful recruiting tool. In fact, Aberdeen’s 2012 talent acquisition research found that employee referral programs are the most effective source of hire. Employee referral programs can help organizations “get it right” since existing employees have a clear understanding of job roles, organizational environment, and cultural fit. As 33 percent of organizations indicate they are hiring more than 100 employees this year, identifying the best fit in a quick, cost-effective way is critical.
Given the pressure being placed on recruiters to identify the right fit in an endless sea of job candidates, employee referral programs should include a broader view of the workforce, including contingent workers and alumni. Organizations such as Microsoft, Deloitte, and 7-Eleven are strengthening their alumni networks through dedicated websites that engage alumni and involve them in the hiring process to refer candidates and build upon the talent pipeline. While alumni networkers are now widely recognized as a powerful sourcing tool, contingent labor is still isolated from strategic sourcing efforts. Although, 59 percent of organizations use contingent labor year round, only 24 percent of organizations include contingent labor in their sourcing initiatives. Employee referral programs are no exception.
Additional sources of hire that have been cited as most effective include:
• Candidate career portals: More commonly referred to as corporate career sites, such portals are the second most effective source of hire. Organizations are improving their career sites to engage with active and passive candidates. They are also beginning to use more tools such as search engine optimization (SEO), to drive traffic to these sites.
• Social networking: Networking sites and internal job boards are also cited as effective sources of hire. Given the number of users on sites such as LinkedIn (150 million) and Facebook (1 billion), social media has become an effective tool for sourcing talent. Yet, organizations are still immature in their use of these sites. The most common usages of social media are maintaining company profiles (49 percent) and broadcasting jobs (46 percent).
• Internal Job Boards: Organizations looking to improve talent mobility efforts are leveraging internal job boards. Talent mobility is now included as a part of the talent acquisition process. Fifty-three percent of organizations filled key positions internally in 2011.
• Participation at Conferences: Despite advancements in the
sourcing technology market, nothing can replace in-person networking as an effective sourcing method. Organizations cited participation at conferences, tradeshows, and events as one of the most effective sources of hire.
As sourcing continues to evolve, organizations are likely to consider technology that improves efficiencies and drives innovation. Leading organizations will be able to identify the right technology by linking source of hire to performance, expanding sourcing to include contingent labor, and assessing vendor performance.
Madeline Laurano is Aberdeen Group’s research director for talent acquisition solutions. She can be reached at

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