The Who, What and How of Agile Sourcing

You understand the word agile, perhaps you’ve worked on a team that has used it. But have you ever thought about how it applies to the recruitment industry?

Agile methodologies allow businesses to work with flexibility and empowers team members to work in a way that delivers the most valuable work that benefits the most important projects.

Sounds ideal right!?

This all sounds great on paper, it looks awesome when presented in meetings and it seems downright irresistible when global billion dollar companies boast about how simple it is. But who is really using it? Can it work in any department? Is it applicable to the recruitment industry? Where there are so many moving parts involving the most mercurial elements- people.

At the most recent SoSu event in London we caught up with Natalie and Mark from ThoughtWorks to talk through the ins and outs of agile sourcing and how they make it work across their global team.

The Who

ThoughtWorks is a software consultancy company that has grown from a small group in Chicago to a business with a global presence in 14 countries. Over the last 18 months they have built a sourcing team from scratch supporting the strategic needs of the business.

The What

ThoughtWorks has been using an agile method throughout their entire business. The ThoughtWorks developers pair program and the whole company works in this collaborative fashion. This familiarity allowed Mark and Natalie to get creative and test the methodology within their recruitment process.

The team had dabbled in paired sourcing- two sourcers working on the same role, but had never attempted to translate the whole recruitment process into an agile way of working.

So armed with some pre-existing knowledge and a sense of curiosity the team began to test how they could make recruitment agile.

“We spoke one of our business analysts and asked them to sit with us and tell us what we need to do … the biggest reason why not do it because it sounds fun and it’s the right thing to do” Natalies says.

“We spent hours storyboarding our entire process, asking where our blockers are? Where do we keep having the same problems? The next day we got the whole team together and had massive ideation session about what the ideal process going to look like, what’s going to work”

The team listed out what they wanted to achieve from this process:

  • More focus
  • Identify blockers
  • Scalability
  • Structure
  • Improved visibility
  • Client feedback

Involving the whole team allowed them to create a new process that was ready to test.

The How

So how does a marriage between agile and recruitment work?

Two features of agile that are most well-known and easy to implement are daily stand-ups (check-ins) and sprints (work divided into weekly blocks).

The ThoughtWorks team check in with each other at the same time every day for 15-20mins to discuss what they’re working on and any potential blockers. As a remote team, this helps unify them and concentrate their efforts and improve transparency.

The sprints help them work through every role they aim to fill:

This sprint structure helps manage hiring manager expectations. After they receive their long list of 100 candidates on week 1 (25 candidates every day), the hiring manager provides feedback to aid the process.

This allows the team to work on multiple roles at any time, every role will go through the same four-week sprint process.

Swourcing and Paired Sourcing

The team also adopted some new ways that would make recruiting more collaborative. It allows a team to strategically map their sourcing efforts. Paired sourcing means two people can work on the same role and provide feedback to each other- the team try and do this at least once a week.

“We pair source we’re far better and more accurate with quality than when we don’t. We introduced what we call ‘swourcing’ so in agile you have something called swarming where all of us get together and work on one story together. So we’re doing the same thing with the job. Everyone sources the same role and we source at the same time we get to 100 candidates within a day. Everyone puts in 25 people and it’s quick and it’s easy and it’s fun”.

At any time the team can have roles in any of the four states of the sprint. Sharing the work this way has helped the team identify their own weaknesses and strengths. Weaknesses can be identified as bottlenecks and worked on so they no longer hold up the process. Strengths can be shared and taught to other team members so they can workshop each other and become more productive.

What a dream team eh!?

The Benefits

Thanks to this venture into agile sourcing the team has become more accountable to each other. Projects are moving along at a faster pace and transparency across the team and with hiring managers has improved vastly. The team has learned to play to their strengths and have built a model that can scale with their team and the ThoughtWorks company as a whole.

How can I start agile sourcing?

The ThoughtWorks team have created a truly amazing process. They kindly shared their top agile tips to help you get started.

If you would like to improve your sourcing methods and creating a more fluid process then check out the SocialTalent Sourcer Training today! 

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