Sourcing Strategies for Recruitment: The Importance of Defining the Role

A key element in your overall recruitment sourcing strategy

The most imperative step of all your talent sourcing strategies for recruitment actually takes place before you even begin to source for the role. By clearly defining a role before you start, you’ll be able to ensure that you will find the most qualified candidates for the positions you’re trying to fill. This is a crucial step in talent sourcing best practice.

But why is this step so important?

By taking the time to carefully define the role, you can more accurately assess the level of performance, and therefore the skills needed, to succeed in the position. This in turn will help you to identify the most suitable candidates.

By not clearly defining the role, you risk instead defining the person, as is the case with 80-90% of the job descriptions listed on LinkedIn and Indeed. 

But what’s wrong with defining the person before the role? By simply creating a shopping list of skills, experience and qualifications, you will close off the process to a tranche of candidates that might not meet the criteria, but have a track record of performance.

Assess performance rather than skills

By assessing performance rather than skills, the probability of the candidate’s success in the role becomes more predictable. This is an idea advocated for by Lou Adler, CEO of Performance-based Hiring Learning Systems and author of Hire with Your Head and The Essential Guide for Hiring. In this article for LinkedIn, he says:

“There is no reason the same performance-based process used for promoting people internally can’t be applied for external hires. It can, by defining the job before defining the person… The work required determines the skills needed, the skills needed don’t define the work required.”

What results from defining the person before the role, as Lous Adler puts it, is “not a job description, but a person description.” This narrows the talent pool and results in your client hiring clones of the people they hired in the past. We don’t need to tell you how this will stifle any company’s D,E&I strategy. And as this McKinsey report shows, greater diversity means greater performance.

Of the sourcing strategies for recruitment, defining the role will not only aid in diversifying the candidates you submit, but it will also deliver more relevant talent to your clients because they have a track record of success.

Now on to the key steps that you should follow when defining a role before starting the sourcing process:

Identify the specific needs of the organisation 

The first step in defining a role is to understand the specific needs of the organisation that the role will be supporting. This may include understanding the type of work your client does, the industry in which it operates, and the specific challenges and opportunities it’s facing.

You should also think about the organisational culture. This includes evaluating how your client’s values, working practices, and general style are aligned with those of potential candidates.

Determine the key responsibilities of the role

Once the needs of the organisation have been identified, the next step is to determine the work that’s required. This may include identifying the tasks and duties that the individual will be expected to perform. You should also consider the experience and achievements that demonstrate the candidate can do the job effectively.

Define the necessary qualifications and requirements

For certain specialist roles, you may have to assess the qualifications that are necessary to do the job. This may depend on the complexity of the tasks and duties involved. It also might depend on the level of responsibility that the individual will be expected to take on. Sometimes there is a legal requirement for certain types of workers to have certain types of certifications of competency.

Since the birth of the skills-based hiring era, however, we’ve seen less significance placed on the level of education. In the heady days of degree inflation, employers made degrees a requirement of many jobs that previously didn’t need them. But as this research from Accenture shows, it made the labour market less efficient and prevented businesses from finding the talent they needed.

Identify the best candidate

Once the role has been defined, you can then identify the best candidates for the role. This may involve searching your talent database for relevant candidates or screening CVs or applications.

Overall, the process of defining a role before starting the sourcing process is an essential step. By taking the time to carefully consider the specific needs of the organisation, the work required, and any necessary qualifications and certifications, you can more accurately assess the skills and experience and achievements that show a candidate can do the role efficiently. This is the most effective way of ensuring you’ll find the best talent.

Want to read more about how best to define a role for talent sourcing?

Below are a few good reads that will help you define your sourcing strategies for recruitment:

1. “The Essential Guide to Hiring & Retaining Top Talent” by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). This guide includes a section on defining roles and responsibilities. It discusses the importance of clearly identifying the work and expectations for each role within an organisation.

2. “How to Define a Role” by Forbes. This article provides a step-by-step guide to defining a role. This includes tips on identifying the specific needs of the organisation, the work required, and any relevant experience or achievements.

3. “The Importance of Clearly Defining Roles and Responsibilities” by the Project Management Institute (PMI). This article discusses the importance of defining roles and responsibilities in project management, and provides tips on how to do so effectively.

4. “Defining Roles and Responsibilities in the Workplace” by the Balance Small Business. This article provides an overview of the importance of defining roles and responsibilities in the workplace. It also includes tips on how to do so in a way that promotes collaboration and clarity within an organisation.

5. “Defining Roles and Responsibilities” by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). This resource includes a template for defining roles and responsibilities. It also contains handy tips on how to use the template to create clear and concise job descriptions.

The bottom line

If you don’t accurately and effectively define the role before you start, it doesn’t matter what other sourcing strategies for recruitment you choose to adopt; you simply won’t be able to find the best talent. This is because you will be measuring candidates against an arbitrary and often irrelevant set of criteria, not their ability to do the work. As Lou Adler puts it, “It seems obvious that if a company wants to hire people who are both competent and motivated to do the work required, they need to start by defining the work required.”