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4 Essential Takeaways from our Sourcing Soiree in San Francisco

On Wednesday – the longest day of the year and the first day of summer – we celebrated at Lever headquarters. First, we stuffed ourselves with spoonfuls of Humphrey Slocombe, an LGBTQ vendor, in honor of Pride Month. Then, we had the main event to look forward to: our Summer of Sourcing Soiree in San Francisco. Decked out in leis and drinking Leveroo-made mojitos, dozens of talent leaders gathered to exchange candidate sourcing insights and marvel at the unusually warm Bay Area weather. Members of the Lever team shared our belief that sourcing is one of the most important activities in talent acquisition, an insight that prompted us to launch our #summerofsourcing campaign and blog series.  

Finally, our panelists took the stage. Moderated by our CMO Leela Srinivasan, we were lucky enough to host Netflix Technical Recruiter Walta Nemariam, Medallia Senior Talent Manager Michelle Huang, Meteor Director of Talent Chris Shaw, and Lever Sales Recruiter Michael Gallagher. Below, take a look at the four key sourcing takeaways they shared.

Carefully craft and personalize your messages

One by one, our sourcing juggernauts emphasized the importance of research. Chris digs around online to find candidate blogs and Twitter profiles. Once, he even discovered a candidate’s blog from 6 years prior, and didn’t hesitate to refer to it in his outreach. “But don’t be cheesy when you reach that far back,” he jokes. Michael has found that cheesiness sometimes works, though. His most creative subject line ever? “Yoga master with account executive skills needed.” That one certainly prompted a response, he remembers.

If you’re excited about a candidate, chances are that other recruiters are too. It’s a reality Walta knows all too well, and she’s learned a few tactics that will help you stand out. “Engineers are getting 50 to 60 emails a week,” she warns. “Be genuine, keep it short, and have an action item at the end.” In her experience, it’s helpful to share details like which team they’d be on and providing a link to their hiring manager’s profile – that way, they end the email with concrete takeaways. One more pro tip? Run your messaging by the ICs on your team and ask if they’d respond to the reach-outs, suggests Walta.  

There’s no such thing as too many follow-ups, but space them out

When our audience asked our panel ‘How many follow-ups is too many?’, their answers varied slightly, but there was an underlying theme: smart persistence. According to Walta, you should initially reach out to your candidate once – and ask your hiring manager for help if they don’t respond – but then it’s time to take a break. “Wait three months, and follow up again,” she recommends. “Reaching out too much won’t create a good candidate experience.”

Michelle knows that millions of recruiters are skimming profiles and sending generic messages to candidates. In her mind, there’s no defined number of how many times you should reach out. Still, you have devote time to customizing and differentiating each message, and you have to do your best to time them well. Over several years of sourcing experience, Chris has learned a similar lesson. There’s no such thing as too many reach-outs, but you have to think strategically about when and how often you send them. Even a small adjustment like sending your emails in the early morning or late evening can help. 

Don’t shy away from digging into metrics

Chris has noticed that at least at startups, recruiters act as guardians of culture of the company. He encourages his team to leverage metrics to make the lives of their coworkers easier. “We dig into to data to make sure we’re saving the people at the company time,” he explains. “If we’re bringing too many candidates onsite, that impairs our team’s ability to get their own work done.” He’s learned that examining metrics is a great way to consider how to best engage and empower his team.

Walta uses Lever reports to assess her team’s recruiting strategies and establish takeaways. Recruiters at Netflix are not judged according to how many candidates they’re hiring or how long it’s taking, but she still sees value in evaluating the effectiveness of each process. If she notices that a certain number of candidates make it past the recruiter and hiring manager screen, but then sees a consistent drop off after the tech screen, she makes a point to understand why that’s happening in order to improve future processes.

Don’t make these four mistakes 

Michael: “My old boss was our Head of Sales, and they said “Sign in, and pretend to be me.” So once, I see this perfect candidate, reach out, and say “I’m the Head of Sales, I’d love to connect, etc. etc.” But then I signed off the message with ‘Michael Gallagher’, when the Head of Sales’s name was ‘Katie’. The candidate responded: ‘Hi Michael/Katie!’.”

Michelle:

“Early in my career, I made a huge mistake that I learned to never do again. A lot of people who use LinkedIn InMails have templates. I was taught that templates were the easiest way to get through 70 candidates a day. Once, we really wanted a specific candidate, and in my haste, I sent the wrong templated message to them. How do you get out of that?

Here’s what I learned: It may not be quite as efficient, but you can ditch templates, slow down a little with sourcing, and still be successful. You have to reread everything in your InMail before you send it. If you’re moving too quickly, you’ll lose that candidate you really want – quickly.”

Walta:

“I work with our security team, and many of the profiles I read look similar. Soon, I began working on UI roles within the security team, and I accidentally pinged someone about a UI role. The candidate wasn’t a fit for UI, and that was clear to both of us. That snafu actually turned into something good, though! I brought them in recently for a second round, and fingers crossed.”

Chris:

“Once, our team had a sourcing jam to reach out to all the best people in our networks. In one team member’s haste, he wanted to send a message to candidates and bcc all of them, but keep in mind: everyone worked at the same company. Needless to say, he forgot to bcc all of them, and they saw each person who was included. All the people he reached out to ended up creating a facebook group to make fun of this sourcer.”

Our panelists made mistakes that they now cringe at, yet they remain undeterred, because they’ve seen how truly valuable sourcing is. So what’s holding you back? Get to sourcing already!

We loved ringing in the summer with Walta, Michelle, Chris, Michael, and friends in the talent community of San Francisco! For more insights from a squad of sourcing veterans, dive into our ‘Ask the Sourcing Squad’ series here.