Laying the Groundwork for Success

In article two of our on-going “Sourcing Tips” series we tackle step one of the process: Answering the Circle of Why for your candidates and clients. This sourcing series is inspired by Executive Recruiter/Trainer Shannon Anderson of Recruiting Toolbox. Shannon worked as a technical executive recruiter for more than a decade matching awesome candidates with opportunities at Amazon, Google, Microsoft and many startups.

One of the problems in recruiting is the fact that sometimes critical steps in the process are skipped which often leads to poor outcomes for candidates, clients and recruiters. If recruiters can lay the groundwork for a successful ‘match’ outcomes will be better for all parties involved. One of those crucial steps is to truly understand, specifically, what the client is looking for in an ‘ideal candidate’ and what the candidates’ ‘career problem’ is. Both of these processes will be addressed in this article.

Solving the Candidate Career Problem

Solving Candidate Career Problem is Key

Solving Candidate Career Problem is Key

It’s super important to help our candidates solve their career problems (and yes, virtually everyone has a career problem at some point). Often candidates don’t spend a ton of mental energy thinking about their ‘career problems’ so it’s the recruiter’s job to navigate them toward getting what they truly want. When we orient our recruiting efforts around understanding and solving candidate career problems, we create a golden opportunity to do 3 things according to Shannon Anderson:

  • Differentiate our jobs from all the noise in the market
  • Place candidates into roles where they will be happy and productive longer
  • Develop resilient relationships with candidates and prospects that have residual, recurring benefits for them, us and our companies.

Additionally, recruiters/sourcers have to be good at helping people solve their “Career Pain.” Career pain or the career problem can be defined as the delta between aspirations and current situation (even it isn’t not literally painful at the moment, it will be later if not solved in advance). The problem is candidates often can’t articulate their career problem without help–by being asked effective, well thought-out, structured questions. Therefore, recruiters need to practice engaging candidates with techniques that will help them articulate what they truly want. There is little question recruiters need to be pseudo-psychologists in order to skillfully evaluate where candidates are in their career trajectories. It’s imperative to be able to read people and meet them where they are.

Three Buckets for Candidates

Given that candidates are often too busy to think about their career pain, recruiters need to learn ways to tease out where candidates are in their career journey. After engaging candidates with effective questions it’s time to put candidates into 3 buckets:

  • There are 3 Buckets to Put Candidates In

    There are 3 Buckets to Put Candidates In

    Candidates in Obvious Pain – Active Candidates: These folks know they are not happy in their current jobs and they are driving to solve it.

  • Candidates that Don’t Know they are Unhappy – Passive Candidates: These folks don’t know they are unhappy and may have an unexpressed or dormant dissatisfaction with their current job or career path. Often these candidates are curiously receptive to our outreach but often cannot articulate why.
  • Candidates that are Genuinely Happy – Future Prospects: Some candidates are happy in their current jobs or are otherwise not recruit-able, but they will eventually feel pain (because virtually everyone does).

The viciously viscous cycle is that people are often in constant flux and meander between: Passive, Active, and Future. People often move in and out of these states on a consistent rotation, sometimes even in a predictable cycle triggered by events such as the “4-year itch.” The job-to-be-done by recruiters is to help each candidate or prospect discover what state they are in and lead them to new opportunities where they will be happier and more successful. If we can do this we will get that amazing rush that comes from helping a candidate find a role that perfectly matches their interests and aspirations.

Specifics of the Circle of Why for Clients

In addition to helping candidates solve their career problem we also have to pay very close attention to the needs of our clients. Just like we need to ask pertinent questions to our candidates we must also engage effectively with our clients to ensure we are all on the same page. This is part of the ‘research’ phase of sourcing and by the end of this process recruiters should have a solid understanding of the “Job to be Done” and exactly what your client is looking for. On a basic level this is answering questions like: Why does the company exist? What problem does the company solve for their customers? This is important because it gives us context and focus and enables sourcing efficiency and ensures alignment. We must have intimate knowledge of the business problem(s) that needs to be solved. This step should NOT be skipped.

Answering Circle of Why is Critical to Effective Sourcing

Answering Circle of Why is Critical to Effective Sourcing

The following questions are excellent examples of answering the circle of why for clients:

  • What specific problem do we solve for our customers? 
    • What problem will this hire solve–for our customers?
  • What specific problem does this role solve for our customer, product or team? 
  • What are the meaty, specific technical complexities that this person has to solve? 
    • Are you building from scratch? Or is it a scaling problem? A performance problem?
  • What are the consequences of not solving this/these problems? What is the impact? 
  • Why is our company a better place for someone who loves to solve these kinds of problems? 
  • What might be missing from their career trajectory that we can offer? 
    • How can the new opportunity help fill a gap in someone’s career trajectory?

Knowing “Why” gives us context and the potential for alignment. One key to all sourcing success lies in understanding the why–Why are we here? Why does this job exist? What are the consequences of not solving this problem, not filling this role? Defining the role before defining the person makes the sourcing process work more efficiently.

Second in a Series on Successful Sourcing

This article is the second of a series on the “Successful Sourcing.” Upcoming posts will outline in detail more steps in the sourcing process. It’s so important to understand candidate career pain and answer “circle of why” questions from the client side in order to ensure better outcomes for all involved.

If recruiters and sourcers can connect effectively with potential candidates and understand their career pains, they can significantly improve their chances of successful placements. The good news is there are tried and true methods that work and anyone can learn how to be a more effective recruiter. Many thanks to Recruiting & Sourcing trainer Shannon Anderson for providing the content for this article.