By Dawn Onley
f you call it a party, they will come.”
Nellie Peshkov, vice president of talent acquisition at Netflix, said these words during LinkedIn’s Talent Connect conference for recruiters in 2016, referring to “sourcing parties,” where recruiters, hiring managers and company employees meet over lunch or after work to strategize on finding the best candidates to fill certain jobs.
Stacy Zapar, founder of Tenfold, a recruitment consultancy, and its subsidiary, The Talent Agency, both out of San Diego, said she has found Peshkov’s advice to be true after hosting many sourcing parties herself. Zapar, who helps clients with talent acquisition strategies, said these gatherings are effective because they draw from potential job candidates who are working in the fields for which recruiters and hiring managers are seeking to source. The candidate pool comes from suggestions of company employees, and quite often, these candidates once worked with the employees.
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“I’m a big fan of sourcing parties,” she said. “Recruiters who try to act alone can only get so far. Techies know other techies. Marketing people know other marketing people.”
When Zapar hosts sourcing parties, she orders pizza and drinks and invites hiring managers, select staff members, and recruiters to the table to discuss the open position and to have them plug in the job-search criteria on their LinkedIn accounts. “Every person in the room gets a different search result, unique to that person and [dependent on] how well they know that [potential candidate],” Zapar explained. “Even with the same search string, if there are 20 people in the room, we’re going to get 20 different search results based on who we know. It’s a really great way to get targeted search results.”
In addition, when employees find candidates and reach out to them, these candidates are often receptive and responsive. As a bonus, if a candidate is ultimately selected as a result of the sourcing party, Zapar awards a referral fee to the person who brought that candidate in.
The response rates on LinkedIn are very low for cold recruiter outreach, she said. “They don’t release this info, but it’s between 13 [percent] to 18 percent,” she said. But when a recruiter uses someone’s first-level connection in an introduction to send a message, “the response rates go way, way, way up [to about] 90 percent. We’re getting top-quality candidates because these are people [that employees] have worked with in the past. The wheels are greased.”
Sourcing parties have grown in popularity with large and small employers over the past several years and are particularly useful when companies are searching for candidates with hard-to-find skills. These collaborations also allow teams to feel they’ve contributed to the recruitment process.
“From our experience, sourcing parties are a way of turning a friend into an employee, and having that type of relationship among at least some of our co-workers has improved our business’s level of communication and morale,” said Peter Yang, co-founder of ResumeGo, a New York City company that offers professional curriculum vitae and resume writing services.
Yang said sourcing candidates has worked more effectively at ResumeGo than traditional hiring methods, such as using online job posts. “While there are tons of people who claim they have the expertise to write industry-specific resumes, highly skilled and proficient resume writers are actually few and far between,” he said. “There were just too many unqualified and unreliable candidates applying, and their applications were eating away at our time. So as an alternative, we decided to utilize the existing connections our current resume-writing team already had by hosting sourcing parties.”
This move proved successful, Yang said.
“During our sourcing parties, we created a comprehensive list of personal contacts our resume team was in touch with and planned a course of action for how to reach out to them about our job openings,” he said. “We ended up recruiting several employees using this method and referrals.”
Amanda Bell, director of recruiting for Lever, a San Francisco-based recruiting software company, said sourcing parties, or “sourcing jams” as they call them at Lever, make employees feel closer to the recruitment process.
“We’ve used sourcing jams in the past to help bolster our hiring efforts,” she said. “We’ve found this is a way to not only help create a strong pipeline, but to also reinforce that hiring is everyone’s responsibility and that they can get involved. Employees feel like they’re brought along and that they are more aware of what the process is … and truthfully, it’s helped reinforce our culture of empathy. People are more inclined to help the recruiting team the more visible the effort is, and we’re happy to make it as visible as possible.”
Dawn Onley is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C.