Recruitment: automating your sourcing activities—Easy? Doable?

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Sourcing automatisation

This article originally appeared in the online HR magazine FacteurH

“Sourcing” has become an essential component of the recruitment process and now occupies a prominent position in recruitment. Several events and competitions are dedicated to sourcing, such as Sourcon (in Europe and in the United States) or SOSU in Europe. In September, #trusourcing, a collaborative event modelled on #truevent, was held in Paris and therefore entirely dedicated to sourcing. Over 250 recruiters/sourcers met for a full day to exchange on best trade practices. Among others, I met Pierre-André Fortin, Associate Director at N & T Entreprises, who led a discussion on sourcing campaigns: how to scrape, sequence, and thus automate your sourcing. I asked him to lay it out a bit for us all…

Pierre-André, how did you discover sourcing?

I started using the direct approach during an internship in 1999 and I’ve been working in a recruitment office mainly in this way since then. My job leads me to implement targeting, identification, approach and engagement techniques in order to assess the suitability of candidates/prospects in accordance with the recruitment requirement, then to accompany the shortlisted candidates through the recruitment and onboarding phases.

How do you define “sourcing”?

I would define “sourcing” as the “pre-maintenance” phase, i.e. targeting/identification/engagement/qualification and first validation of the project—in short, the research and approach phase.

In this respect, our business has gone from managing scarcity to overabundance. There was a time when, as a researcher, I had very little information to source and a large part of the job was to go out and find that information, relying primarily on talking skits and other social engineering processes… Nowadays, although the search for information remains critical, its processing has become essential. Whereas we used to need researchers from the Actors Studio, we now need sleuths capable of engaging and interacting with our candidates/prospects.

How did you begin automating your sourcing activities, and how did you get started?

The industry is a sector that has forever fascinated me … and the implementation of automatic processes in various services, just as much!

The idea came to me during an evening dedicated to sending emails to forty candidates/prospects for one of our mandates: I spent the evening, thinking “in detail” about the fact that I was performing a task with very little added value. Even though in many cases the solution is to entrust these tasks to a trainee or a junior employee, that evening above all brought me to reconsider my way of doing things and imagine how I could automate tasks with low added value.

In the course of several months I read tons of articles, tested many plugins, “tips” and various hacks shared by the sourcer community, to try to learn and imagine a solution to my needs. The all-in-one solution doesn’t exist, or at least not at the budget I wanted to devote to it… At first I only invested time, but not a dime… This forced me to ask myself a lot of questions about what I actually wanted to implement.

The first two projects I selected were: data collection and restructuring—as well as their overlapping—and candidate/prospect engagement.

To the first point, what we did is give ourselves tools that enabled us to collect and process data massively and become more systematic in the research process, in order that we may go deeper in our initial sampling.

As to the engagement point, we continued by setting up email sequences with automatic response/retargeting and monitoring of the analytics from the collected and enriched data. This allowed us to improve the quality of emails sent—by way of a more personalized approach—and thus increase our response and engagement rates by almost 25%.

From a distance, all this seems very technical and geeky… What would be your advice for those who want to initiate the process?

All this may seem technical, but beyond the techno dimension, the quest for automation led me to reconsider the whole processing chain of our mandates and go to work on our methodology. Our empirical approach to sourcing makes us worry about production. We progress in stages, in a sequential way, according to the cases … without necessarily considering the process as a whole.

When we decide to massively collect data, then to enrich it and finally to store it, we have to think about which data and for what use. Similarly, when we begin an emailing sequence for engagement, we have to think the whole sequence through in order to build and customize our different emails in a relevant way…

In the end, automation is a very rewarding exercise as it requires us to look at our practice from a higher level.

Throughout these projects, I worked a lot with my direct collaborator by sharing and testing tools, methods… This approach finally allowed us to challenge all of our methodology.

The project was coldly received by some within our agency, certainly because of the connotation to some form of alienating Taylorism… A few months into it, the perception is quite different and we’re in the process of spreading these approaches to the entire team.


To learn more :

La digitalisation permettra-t-elle d’automatiser le besoin en sourcing des recrutements?

Automatisation et robotisation des processus : disruption du sourcing?

Recrutement : ces services qui automatisent le sourcing


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