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Building and Seeding Talent Pools 3

(February 27, 2006)  Over the last decade, the sourcing profession has emerged from low status obscurity to its current place as a co-equal partner in recruiting. Like a good hunting dog, the sourcer finds and flushes the quail so that the hunter can shoot them (obvious political joke avoided in the interest of time). There are even sourcing superstars who take equal billing with the great recruiters.

Whenever an additional specialization emerges, some things get lost.

When recruiters sourced from instinct (the older days), the process was more naturally about "fit". Instead of hunting for exact matches using digital tools, the older approach was more approximate. The creative thinking behind old fashioned sourcing involved re-imagining the skill-sets required to do the job. Approximation is an analog method that is often lost in automated or digital revision.

For example, in the early 1990s, interbiznet needed website reviewers with internet research skills. There were none to be found because the specialty was just too new (there are a variety of causes for a labor shortage). It took a huge amount of energy to discover that the local video store employees had the basic skills. They were in the business of reviewing and evaluating complex media. We just needed to teach them how to think about job boards and recruiting websites.

Knowing how to rethink the labor supply is a critical part of developing a talent pool. The latest sourcing techniques can make it seem as if the process is very predictable. Sourcing is all about statistical likelihoods, not certainty. Developing creative alternative to current supply problems is the real essence of sourcing.

The reason we mention all of this is that it is easy to underestimate the cost of sourcing and acquiring the people who become members of your talent pool. If you're scratching your head, remember that talent pools are the supply cabinet from which talent is drawn when it is required. They are the foundation of staffing solutions without lag times. They are the key to solving shortage related issues.

Talent pool economics resemble direct marketing. Over time, it gets easier to predict the numbers. In direct marketing, it usually takes between 300 and 400 offers to get one qualified response. That's an interesting metric to think about. If it's directly transferable to sourcing and development activities, you'd need 400 members of a talent pool for the exact hire you intend to make.

Obviously, it's a different story if you're trying to develop relationships with middle schoolers for specific professions. The length of time that your relationships are expected to last will determine a range of factors that are similar to current Human Capital concepts. Talent pools have development, attrition, investment requirements, capital planning and so on.

What is the appropriate size and investment for a talent pool? In the next column we'll get very specific.

- John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

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         © 2013 interbiznet.
         All Rights Reserved.

         Materials written
         by John Sumser
         © TwoColorHat.
         All Rights Reserved.