With competition for talent remaining high, optimizing sourcing partnerships such as those with educational institutions, industry and discipline associations, and other communities have become a critical element to many recruitment strategies. This is especially true for those sources that feed critical roles, engage underrepresented communities, or provide a steady stream of candidates for high-volume positions.
For some, these sourcing partners are also becoming increasingly important as sponsoring jobs on job boards, using job-related ad-words, and purchasing premium access to candidate databases are becoming too expensive for many organizations to compete.
With such a burden on sourcing partners, it begs the question:
“How can I drive success with these sources and stand out from the crowd?”
Here are a few tips:
1) Focus on meeting their needs, not them filling your reqs
A common mistake many organizations make with sourcing relationships is focusing on what they want out of it. Filling jobs and providing opportunities for people to get their jobs is all well and good, but it’s also what everyone else is doing. When there are more jobs than candidates within the sources’ community, then, at best, your positions will get thrown on the pile with all the others for candidates to sift through.
Stop that. Instead, shift the focus.
Rather than telling your source partner what they and their community can do for you, focus instead on their priorities.
For example, many educational institutions are not just focused on placing their students now, but also desire future success and wealth generation for their students. Why? Those students are their future sources for donations and press coverage to build their brand. Therefore, what are you doing to invest in the future growth of your new employees to ensure they become future assets for the educational institution?
Ask your sourcing partners about their priorities and goals for their placement programs and employer partnerships. Build your partnership strategy around how you can meet those priorities while addressing yours.
2) Build relationships directly with those interacting with your future employees
Working through career centers, membership newsletters, and membership job platforms are great for reach. But for true influence, you want allies and advocates among those who engage and influence your future employees.
For example, a professor's recommendation to their favorite students or an announcement for a great internship during a class will get a lot more attention than a list of jobs in a career center. An association forum where your career development program is mentioned as a great example of ways to achieve career goals will peak interests of talent far more than a job ad in a newsletter.
Find those who are interacting with the future employees you want and build relationships directly with them. Use the previous technique of understanding their goal and priorities and aligning to those so that the partnership is mutually beneficial and mutually valued.
3) Gain understanding by going directly to the source
Knowing the priorities of the partner will help gain access to your future employees. Knowing the priorities of your future employees will empower you to effectively compete to excite, engage and hire those future employees.
Go beyond collecting resumes at career fairs and events. Go beyond the interview. Go beyond the ‘sales pitch’ of why people want to work for you. Instead, spend the time to truly get to know them.
Ask them about their future goals, concerns, priorities, questions. Take the time to truly understand their needs, perceptions, desires, and fears so that when you tell them about your opportunities and your brand, you will know how to resonate by focusing on what matters to them.
For example, members of one association may have trends around priorities for work/life balance, and welcoming inclusive workplaces, while another may be more focused on financial stability and safety, while another may be focused on career growth opportunities, wealth generation, and public advocacy. How you emphasize the various values of your job and organization will change based on these priorities.
For example, students of one of your partnered educational institutions may have questions around how to manage career growth or how to figure out what they want to do when they graduate, or how do they navigate benefits or other foreign ‘adulting’ topics.
Engage the community in focus groups or small discussions to talk about topics that they want to talk about. Understand their needs, and desires, and fears. Answer their questions. Explore their topics of interest. Not only will this provide information to tailor job and employer branding communication, the effort itself will contribute to the value of your brand. Participants will associate your brand and organization with answers, respect, and engagement because you are taking the time to focus on them, and not just on you.
Bringing it all together – building sourcing relationships is about relationships
Like with any relationship, sourcing partnerships are not just about you and filling your jobs. It is also about the sourcing partner. The more you understand and incorporate the prioritizes and goals of the partners and the desires and needs of their members, the stronger your relationship will be. And with those strong relationships, your organization will stand out against the noise.