This Sunday I had the pleasure of joining Tru Tel Aviv organised by Karen Azulai for the second time. The Israeli market is my constant source of inspiration and so I left the event with plenty of notes and several small epiphanies! Here’s a summary of the topic I tackled along with a group of the attendees: the intangibles in the sourcing process.
When setting out to source candidates were always presented with a set of requirements. Depending on the process you may be equipped with a job description, a candidate profile – and you should be able to discuss these during an intake meeting.
What’s in the document seems straightforward: they’re the tangible aspects you need to consider in your search. Those tangible traits of the candidates, like skills, are concrete, easy to describe and demonstrate by the candidates in the selection process.
But there’s usually something more on top of that, more elusive and tricky. The intangible qualities we look for in candidates. The Hiring Managers struggle to describe what they mean, claiming they’ll “know when they see it”. I’m sure you’ve been frustrated dealing with the intangibles in sourcing before – they are a recipe for a hiring disaster.
Some of the intangibles come up all the time and we’re so used to them we barely even question them anymore. These may include personality and the dreaded culture fit. Then there are those that are less typical like lifestyle, an important intangible when sourcing for a position requiring working remotely or one that requires lots of travels.
There is good news and bad news here. The bad news is that including intangibles in your search string is rarely possible. The good news however is that there’s far fewer intangibles in sourcing than what we usually imagine. Based on this, I’d advocate three different solutions to the challenge at hand.
My favourite example in this category is the culture fit(the notion of culture add vs culture fit is a topic for a whole seperate blog post). HR professionals seem to believe that you can’t describe culture, but that’s simply not true. There exist multiple functional models that can be used for describing a culture, all we need to do is to look for inspiration from culture studies.
One of these models have been developed by Trompenaars who advocated using a culture survey made up of hypothetical questions with no right or wrong answers. This was in line with his definition of culture: “a way to solve problems and reconcile dilemmas”. There are even already tools on the market that utilise a scientific approach to describing culture to understand a candidate’s preferences for organisational culture.
If you’re looking for a person with certain personality traits, you might find it a struggle in the sourcing process. One of the few examples I know of using personality profiles for sourcing comes from Karen Azulai who used Crystal Knows to find candidates that would do well in marketing.
What you can do however is decide what traits a candidate should demonstrate in the recruiting process and how you will assess whether they have done it successfully thus only using this criteria for selection. I’d argue that this is a more common sense approach when dealing with experienced professionals.
Some intangibles may be expressed in clues that you could use in your search as keywords. Here, once again, an example from Karen Azulai’s presentation delivered at SOSU Munich. Very often we claim to be searching for top talent – but how can we source for a candidate with a track record of excellence?
You could try, as argues by Karen, using many different keywords that can serve as a clue o uncover the best candidates in a given field. Turns out excellence is not as intangible as you’d think!
Another idea would be sourcing for book readers when looking for professionals who are highly focused on their own professional development (have a look at GoodReads for that) or sourcing for meetup attendees for the same (in which case you can use Meetup).
These are some of the ideas gathered during the tru unconference in Tel Aviv. What are some of your ideas on dealing with intangibles in sourcing?