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Pick a strategy path: sourcing or advertising

sourcing or advertisingSometimes it’s useful to step back and generalize a little. I believe the appropriate cliche is ‘you can’t see the forest for the trees‘. Whatever. Let’s just say that if you don’t have a good guiding principle for what your business is about, you may end up flailing around (witness Monster during the endless years before its acquisition by Randstad).

Most companies in our industry specialize in either advertising or sourcing. Now, before you start correcting me, let me explain.

Those that focus on advertising are in the business of promoting job ads (and employers) to candidates. They do this in a variety of ways: on their own web sites, via programmatic and retargeting, via webinars, through appearances at conferences and other events where candidates are found, and so on. Examples of these include job boards like Indeed or Snagajob. At the end of the day, they’re in the ad business. Their customers are employers, and their targets are potential employees.

On the other hand, those companies that focus on sourcing are in the business of finding candidates that match specific criteria and serving them up to employers. They’re not trying (usually) to promote the employer to the candidate – they’re simply finding the candidate (or providing the tool to the employer) so that the employer (or recruiter) can then ‘work their magic’ and convince the said candidate to respond or inquire or apply or something. Companies that focus on sourcing tend to want LOTS of candidate data to sift through – because after all, they’re searching for a match, and not necessarily trying to get a candidate (or groups of candidates) to respond to the employer.

Now, of course job boards offer sourcing tools – and sourcing companies offer advertising. But the strategy difference lies in how each perceives itself, and its role in the hiring process. A top notch recruitment advertising service will focus on making sure that the employer’s ads (or ’employer brand’) are appearing in the right markets, at the right time, and perfectly designed to produce candidate response. A great sourcing service will focus on making the right match between the employer’s needs and the candidate’s skills (and availability), or having the ultimate matching/sourcing tool. The focus of each type of service will drive where it puts its resources, and how it goes after its audience.

There’s nothing ground-shaking here – but if you don’t know what your focus really is, you may end up chasing your tail, so to speak. In my experience, it’s always more lucrative and effective to have a guiding strategy for your business. You don’t have to be rigid or hidebound about it – but if you are constantly jumping from one strategy to another (or don’t even know that you have a strategy), you will end up frustrated. Sourcing or advertising? You need to ask the question and answer it.

So my advice: pick a strategy path. Whether you choose sourcing or advertising (or both), use it as a guiding principle to keep you focused. And don’t worry about the latest AI-this or chatbot-that. Only use those things that support your strategy. You’ll sleep better – and make more money.

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