By Jessica Miller-Merrell 


As you scour the Internet doing everything from sourcing candidates to shopping for shoes to your checking up on your ex, you’re leaving a digital footprint everywhere you go. But as you know, the Internet is a just a machine, and as much as we feel it knows us, all it’s doing is aggregating data about us, and replacing true familiarity and personalization with an automatic response tailored to us based on what our digital trail shows. Technology has completely changed our lives, the way we interact with each other and of course, the way we recruit.
The truth is, the Internet makes it so simple to source that we can find a candidate as easily as Facebook can advertise the same purse we were looking at on another website just hours before. The struggle is getting that candidate to respond to your messages and eventually choose to work for your company, which is less likely to happen following this pattern than you going ahead and buying that purse.
We’ve done this to ourselves
Recruiters have been sourcing and wooing candidates for ages, there’s nothing new there. But what has changed over the last decade or so is the monumental shift in where and how we recruit. If you’ve been in the industry for some time, think back to the way you used to recruit, before LinkedIn messages were ever an option. Chances are you had to put in more work to find candidates, and it usually involved getting to know them personally and talking to them – sometimes not just through email but on an actual phone!
Fast forward to 2015 and you’ll find recruiters doing what I call sourcing light, where they sort of source candidates but mostly just do a keyword search, message anyone who seems to fit on first glance and hope for the best. I’ve seen countless examples of recruiters being confused about the industry a candidate is actually in, sending terribly impersonal and horribly worded messages and just making a terrible impression overall. There is a reason that LinkedIn changed their recruiting solution expectation last year to suspend recruiter product accounts for 14 days if their response rates dip below 13 percent. Our industry has created a candidate pool that is simply not impressed by our half-baked efforts. They’re hip to the fact that many recruiters are phoning in their social sourcing, and they’re tired of wasting their time reading messages from people they don’t know. 
Let’s talk relationships
But let’s imagine just for a moment that every message sent is personalized in some way, is well written and is relevant for the candidate. It’s still the equivalent of a telemarketing cold call where the person on the other end of the phone happens to know your name. The best candidates, especially those in highly sought after industries, aren’t just getting your “personalized” cold call LinkedIn message or email. You’re likely one of many.
Sourcing is easy, and yields the results you would assume you’d get from something that’s easy. Engagement – the kind of engagement that fosters relationships – is the real challenge and it’s what brings real results. Relationships are what will get candidates to respond to you and eventually want to be a part of the team. It’s more difficult and strategic than throwing it all against the wall and hoping something sticks but it also leads to the kind of results you would expect from focused, strategic efforts. Relationships are the only way to really be effective in social sourcing.
Watch for part two of this series to see how you can build the kind of relationships that lead to job acceptance.
  
TalentCircles is the most comprehensive candidate engagement platform on the market. Take a product tour or request a live demo today. 

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology anthropologist specializing in HR and recruiting. She’s the Chief Blogger and Founder of Blogging4Jobs and author of The HR Technology Field Guide. You can follow her on Twitter at @jmillermerell.


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