Tips from General Motors: How to Become a Better Sourcer or Recruiter

September 21, 2016 Deanna Hartley

Ever wonder if there’s a more time- and cost-efficient way to source and screen candidates? To answer these important questions, we spoke to one of the best in the business: Will Maurer, global sourcing manager at General Motors. He offered up some real-life examples and insights on how to expand your sourcing skill set, work more effectively with hiring managers, get the most out of your database — and take your sourcing strategy to the next level.

How can sourcers/recruiters work with hiring managers to more effectively deliver better candidates? 

There are many skills that are required and many techniques that can be leveraged in order to increase your effectiveness when working with a hiring manager. It all starts with cultivating a strong partnership. I emphasize the word “partnership” because I think it’s imperative that you are seen as a trusted advisor and not simply an order-taker.

In order to be viewed as a partner, you need to gain credibility. One of the things that can help immensely is ensuring you are prepared for the initial intake session. Simply bringing the job description and checking off some boxes won’t get it done. One of the ways that we achieve this is by acquiring labor market data as it relates to the role and then studying it so we are able to speak to it. It helps establish you as a subject matter expert, shows that you’re prepared, and stimulates higher-level strategic conversations.

As W. Edwards Deming said, ‘without data you’re just another person with an opinion.’ Data can be very impactful. It brings validity to your insights, which is crucial when setting expectations or establishing an overall strategy.

I think you also need to bring what are commonly referred to as “calibration resumes.” These are resumes that you have identified as possible prospects based on the job description. Walking through these resumes opens a discussion regarding the role, the team, and the requirements and will help you hone in what the hiring manager is looking for. Again, the focus is to gain credibility because the most important thing you can do to work effectively with hiring managers is to ask them to be part of the process. Our goal is to turn everyone in our organization into recruiters, especially our hiring managers.

Will Maurer, Global Sourcing Manager, General Motors

Will Maurer, Global Sourcing Manager, General Motors

When you think about it, hiring managers are probably best positioned to fill their own roles. They will typically have a robust network of people that operate in their field if they have been doing it a while. They also have the ability to tell their story and share how working for their current organization has impacted their career. This is very powerful when talking to a potential candidate. Don’t assume that hiring managers automatically know how important they are in the process. Educate them. You can help them tap into their network and establish their own unique value proposition. Once they understand how impactful they can be in the process and how important their contributions are in today’s market, they can be a phenomenal resource.

Once you have established that partnership, it’s also important to note that you can’t stop there. Communication, accessibility and follow-through are key in keeping that relationship strong.

As a sourcer, how can you get the most out of your database and the tools you have at your fingertips?

It’s important to understand not just the tools at your disposal on a surface level, but also the nuances of each tool. This includes features that have been developed to improve your overall efficiency and effectiveness. We have created a scorecard to evaluate our various sourcing tools. Naturally we look at the number of results or candidate profiles that a tool can generate, but we also look at its efficacy within a particular set of skills and any features that streamline or simplify our processes.

The idea behind this is that we identify the tools that can have the greatest impact within each functional vertical. This is vital.

I think that tool selection and evaluation is an important concept that is often overlooked. It’s easy to get lost in the myriad of products available and find yourself in a situation where you are ‘dabbling’ with many potential solutions instead of maximizing your performance with the key tools at your disposal. I would never discourage trying different avenues and continuing to innovate but I think that you need to establish what tools are going to be at the foundation of your sourcing strategy.

Once those tools are identified, it really comes down to being committed to learning the tool and the vendor having the ability to provide continuous education. We put a lot of emphasis on our suppliers being accessible and providing training not just at the time of implementation, but throughout our relationship with that vendor. Having a competent and readily accessible support staff is very important.

For someone looking to become a more advanced “modern-day sourcer,” what would you recommend to help expand their skill set?

What prompted the “Modern Day Sourcer” were some observations I had made when attending various conferences that were tied to talent acquisition. It occurred to me that in some instances there was a gap between how companies defined a sourcing professional and what I believe is truly needed to be successful in this space.

There is no doubt that someone in a sourcing role needs to be a search expert, but I think there’s more than that. The labor market, candidate expectations, and how candidates select employers have evolved since I began in talent acquisition several years ago. Additional skills are required.

First of all, it’s important that you are a student of your craft. If at any point you think you have this business completely figured out, then you’re setting yourself up for failure.

There are so many resources out there to help keep you informed about our industry. There are websites, blogs, workshops, conferences, certifications, training curriculums, and more. Personally, I make it a goal to obtain a new certification each year. Make an effort to educate yourself and learn something new every day. I would start with your current organization. Educate yourself on how your business fits into the market, how the various business units interact, and how talent acquisition fits in the company as a whole. This goes a long way when trying to gain credibility and present yourself as an advisor.

Also, don’t forget about the skills outside of putting together Boolean searches or interviewing prospects. Presentation skills, overall communication skills, the ability to build and document a comprehensive strategy, and adopting a marketer’s mindset are some of the things that are important as you embark on your journey towards being a talent ambassador, educator and strategic partner.

When working on these other skills, you need to have the ability to humble yourself, put yourself out there and get feedback from your colleagues. Ask them to observe you. Then ask for feedback and look for common themes. Once you have identified potential areas of improvement, you can formulate a strategy to work on those areas and implement it accordingly. You can also look for special programs to help build these skills. If you’re struggling for an answer, go to your manager and ask for his or her insight. I am always thrilled when a team member comes to me looking for ways to better themselves and we can usually figure something out together.

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