herd of deer - representing a herd mentality sourcing strategy

Fill Your Job Openings With a Different Sourcing Strategy

There's a concept called herd mentality.

It has seeped into our business and sourcing strategy. It is one of four main reasons companies struggle to hire high-quality candidates right now.

Herd mentality is one of our biggest diseases in sourcing and nobody talks about it.

We only focus on the sourcing symptoms.

  • I don't get enough applicants...
  • The quality of the applicants isn't very high...
  • We have a low application completion rate...
  • They ghost us after initial contact...

These are all sourcing symptoms of a bigger problem. But, the bigger problem isn't the talent shortage everyone claims.

The bigger problem is herd mentality.

It is underlying all sourcing problems at their core.

Learning from my own history...

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Speaking of herds, let me tell you a little story about my upbringing.

When I was four years old, we moved to my grandfather's dairy farm.

Over the past 20 years, family farms have almost gone away.

Most dairy is now done at big corporations, not the family dairy farm. There's a reason for this... milk is a commodity and commodities compete almost completely based on price.

When you have a commodity marketplace that's competing based on price, the number one way to win is through...

Economies of Scale

The bigger you get, the lower your costs come per gallon of milk.

Economies of scale drive bigger and bigger farm creations. Eventually they become big corporate farms. And when big corporate farms compete with little farmers, the little farmers don't have the economies of scale to compete.

My cousin struggled with this forever on the farm. They finally came up with a different strategy. This is a core strategy of how to compete as the little guy, the underdog. In a commodity type marketplace you need to:

Segment the market...

Instead of saying "all people buy milk," segment them according to the reasons they buy milk.

Differentiate your customers and their needs.

The differentiation for my family's farm was raw whole milk. Some people want to buy milk that isn't pasteurized. They want artisan cheese made with more valuable milk. These differentiation factors were a huge competitive advantage for them. It favored the small guy versus the big giant corporation. It's the only way our farm survived!

Now, what does this have to do with sourcing?

It seems crazy, but it has everything to do with sourcing.

When it comes to competition in any marketplace, there are certain laws you must follow. You cannot fight them or go against them because they are laws of nature. They are there no matter what.

The first law is commoditization...

Over time offerings will become more and more similar in nature. While you might have two products in the marketplace that look vastly different. Without any changes, over time they will copy each other until they nearly interchangeable, or commoditized. When you reach the point of commoditization, then the war is going to boil down to money...to price. The big dog generally wins unless the underdog chooses not to play the commoditization game. If an underdog plays the game, he will almost always lose to the people with the bigger budget. This applies directly to sourcing and job ads strategy.

Law number two is following best practices...

Following industry best practices or standards will almost always take you down the path to commoditization if you're not careful. Make sure that you're not using this idea that "what everybody else is doing will work for us." To ensure you're noticed, your sourcing strategy should not be copying competitors. Your job ads don't have to follow "best practices."

Law number three is the law of differentiation...

For a little guy, one of the most powerful ways to compete against commoditization is to segment the marketplace. This will help improve your sourcing strategy.

Identify what that segment wants and differentiate.

What does this mean?

  1. Don't segment one big tent that everybody's in. Instead, segment small factions or smaller tents that all make up the community.&h1nbsp;
  2. Once you have segments, you look for underserved markets. There will be small tents that are unhappy with the current offering.
  3. Adjust the product or job offering to better serve the underserved or unhappy segments you're targeting.
  4. When you want to grow, instead of switching back to a big tent, you simply add more segments to your strategy. Treat them mostly individually. You just start grouping those segments together but don't merge them into one. You still want at least some aspects, but you'll find they're almost always 80% similar. Find your secret sauce and amplify it. You can't stop building up.

If you follow these three laws, it leads to you becoming a choice for reasons other than price.

That is how you maintain profitability.

You need people choosing you not because you're cheap. They will choose you because you connect to their pain in your commoditization offering.

So why does HR focus on differentiation?

It's really quite simple... risk aversion. HR tends to be risk-averse. So, they follow "best practices" leading them over time to commoditize the job ad and sourcing strategy. The job ad and description start to sound exactly the same as everyone else.

We have a bias towards doing what other people are doing. It makes us feel safer.

We assume that... the sourcing strategy they use is working for them so it'll work for you.

We assume that "best practice" works best... versus it being the most common strategy that might not be working at all.

We assume that just because a strategy works for a big company, it will work for a smaller company.

So here's the question...

How do you differentiate your offer?

Step one...

Start with who... When your manager says "we have an opening", don't ask for the requirements. Ask "who would be a good fit for the job?". If you get a handful of "who's", you'll want to group them together based on common strengths, pains, and goals for each job. Do not group them together by race, gender, vet, disabled, age, or any protected classes.

Ask them,

  • "What are your pains?"
  • "What are your fears and frustrations about working for us?
  • "Working in this job?"
  • "Working in this industry?"
  • "What are your wants and aspirations?"
  • "What do you wish it could be like?"

Focus on their strengths and their talents when they come into the job. Don't focus job requirements on what other employees are like now. Know that you can grow your new hire to have the same qualifications as your "who".

Step two...

Identify whether you are an upgrade for your target audience based on where they're at right now. How does working for you solve that person's pain and enable their gains? Keep in mind... if the answer is "it doesn't," then go back. You either have to change your target segment or change your offering to inflate it up and make it an upgrade. I usually focus on four main things:

  1. Is it unique? There's a quote from somebody that I was just listening to... He said, "Nobody notices normal." Nobody notices normal. Nobody notices ordinary. So, you need to be unique.
  2. Be relevant. You don't want to just be unique. It needs to be relevant, meaning it's unique in a way that matters to your target.
  3. Be compelling. To level up your sourcing strategy, you need to be compelling. That means it's unique. It's relevant. It's in alignment with your target's pain or goals. AND it's a big enough upgrade that it matters and gets them excited.
  4. Is it credible? Is it believable? Will it actually happen?

Step three...

Give them an offer... What is your offer? What is your job? Is it the best you can do?

Step four...

Explain to the marketplace that it's an upgrade. This is content marketing. This is the goal of a job ad. The goal is to speak the language of the target to explain and connect to their pain and goals. Talk about how your job offer is a solution to the current pains they're experiencing at their workplace. Make it seem as if you're reading their mind.

A herd mentality sourcing strategy is a huge pain point.

The more we copy, the more we commoditize. The more we follow "best practices", the more likely we are to struggle to attract job applicants.

The reason isn't the talent shortage.

Without a different sourcing strategy, people simply aren't given a reason to be excited about your job positions...

Download our Value Proposition Canvas to help you differentiate your job offer!

Try a different sourcing strategy! Stop with herd mentality. The more you just follow "best practices", the more you will struggle to attract job applicants.

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