Creating Agile HR, Part 4: Agile Sourcing

Sourcing, how and where you recruit possible candidates is a great way to use small, safe-to-fail experiments. That's because the recruiting landscape continues to change.

A little history: in the past, we read newspapers—on paper! Before the Civil Rights Act, employers advertised for “Men Wanted” and “Women Wanted.” (I don't remember if it was women or ladies.) Those ads became the general help wanted ads we see today.

In the late 90's, with the internet boom, Monster and other job boards started advertising electronically. Suddenly, a job ad could be large and all-encompassing because employers were no longer restricted to some number of inches of newspaper. That gave rise to specific job boards for specific kinds of jobs. (In Manage Your Job Search, I wrote about how to find the right kind of job board for you.)

With the advent of social media, hashtags and the ability to have some kind of a conversation started to change the networking landscape.

Sourcing is a function of who you know, your network, and how well you can funnel people into your candidate funnel. The more people you meet and can manage in your network, the more possibilities you have for finding the “right” candidate.

That means that sourcing is a great place to experiment. This suggested table from Hiring Geeks That Fit is one way to start seeing if this specific strategy works for you.

Sourcing cannot be just about the number of resumes received. It has to include the number of hires to know if the strategy worked. (That's the lead time.)

One of the big problems with hiring and being hired is the idea of loose connections. It's very tempting to only mine your network. If you use your current network, you are more likely to create an insular, and eventually mediocre, reinforcing culture.

When you use loose connections, you start to see alternative people, people who can bring new ideas into your product development.

How do you build loose connections? You go to professional meetings and meetups. You join the local agile groups and become visible. Maybe you even go to conferences, certainly local ones. You network.

This means that all your sourcing is an experiment. The “problem” is that sourcing is a lot like marketing. You know that parts of it work. You don't know which parts. For me, that means tracking where I find candidates for the short-term and the longer term. The longer you are a hiring manager (or a recruiter), the easier it is to grow your network and learn where to find candidates. Then, when the social landscape changes, you learn to adapt to those changes.

This is why a general HR person is inadequate for sourcing technical people. Generalists cannot go to all the different professional meetings. They can't know all the current hashtags. Most importantly, they cannot “focus” on hiring different people across the organization because they have other HR work to do. (Often, that work is more tactical and requires more time. Sourcing suffers.)

I've written about the costs of multitasking and lack of focus before.  Any recruiter needs to decide which position is #1, #2, etc.

In Create Your Successful Agile Project, I have a chapter about workgroups and how they might apply agile approaches. I'll touch on that in a future post. Here's what an agile sourcing board might look like.

The “Technical positions” is what the specific recruiters might work on. I have swim lanes for Platform, Middleware, UI, Firmware and Hardware.  You would change those lanes to be your areas of recruiting.

I've added WIP limits, but this particular board is past the limits. Often, that's because a recruiter can look for several candidates at a time. I'm not sure where WIP limits make sense, except to discuss the open position with the hiring manager and team and decide how many positions to look for as a team. I do think it's worthwhile to think about WIP limits and decide what to do about them.

The data I would collect here is the feedback from the resume review: does it affect the job description and where to source? The initial cycle time to get a candidate into the funnel might be longer than once the recruiter has some feedback. (That's why time to hire is an inadequate metric. We need to know the cycle time of all the feedback loops that I mentioned in Part 3.)

BTW, I might recommend that the HR sourcing folks do a lean coffee daily or at some reasonable cadence to see what their issues are and how they can help each other. I do not recommend a standup for a meeting. That's because their work is independent, not interdependent.

The agile parts:

  • Create small safe-to-fail experiments with where to look for candidates
  • Experiment with the candidate funnel: how many candidates do you reject when?
  • Iterate on the job description, using feedback from the networking, candidate responses, and hiring manager concerns re the resumes
  • Further iterate on the job description once the hiring manager phone screens candidates.

You can read about how to do all of this in Hiring Geeks That Fit.

The posts so far:

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