The constant conflict between Scalability and Personalization in Talent Sourcing

Alexey Geht
5 min readSep 14, 2021

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Let’s begin with asking some questions that every Sourcer has in the back of his head.

  • How personalized should my messages be?
  • How much time should I spend writing each message?
  • Is there a different strategy for a different position, industry, location?
  • Should I use Automation tools for my outreaching efforts, and if yes, which tools? And should I pay for them?
  • How can I stand out and be unique?
  • How do I measure success?

And of course, many more questions — feel free to add your dilemma's in the comments :)

A great book named The Robot-Proof Recruiter by Katrina Collier talks (also) about this topic and answers some of these questions. Must-read, in my opinion, for every Sourcer/Recruiter who wants to take his game to the next level.

I didn't write a book (yet:) but I am happy to share my expertise of thousands of hours writing, sourcing emails, studying from failures, and having sweet moments of success.

The first and most urgent inquiry is the level of personalization of each message. I have to say that this is not an exact science, and opinions may vary. Still, I believe that before you hurry up and run sending those emails, you should breathe deeply, do well-grounded market research and build an outreaching strategy.

The size of the pool

The Bigger is the talent pool, the less you must spend time on personalization. You can work faster and at scale, reaching more people. In this case, you will have a higher chance of getting people at the right timing for considering a move. Disclaimer! I don’t mean you should spam people with a template message-you should still make those emails personal but be smart enough to make it not very time-consuming.

The smaller the pool is, you will need to work harder and think before sending each email.

Are there thousands of profiles matching my desired skill, or is it a very niche domain with only a few hundred?

For example: if I am searching for a mid-level Backend Engineer coding in Java in London, I would have so many results that I couldn't possibly be able to send personalized emails to them all. On the other hand, if I am searching for a Lead Developer Advocate with 10k+ followers on Twitter with a background in Software Engineering and located in Spain, I would find only a few relevant people. I should take the time to reach out to them in the best possible way.

The bigger Is the pool, the less you need to personalize.

The nature of the industry or the position

What is the language of these professionals? Is it a pure techie who thinks mainly logically, or is it a Marketing or sales expert?

Engineers and technical people will appreciate a more direct, short, and to-the-point message. Sales or Marketing people might acknowledge a more extended and detailed message.

Location matters

In different parts of the world, people communicate in different ways and styles. Do your homework, ask questions, discover how formal your tone should be, and determine the demand for talent in this location (the higher the request, your message needs to be better and more personalized).

Automation and AI

Definitely YES! If you don’t use it, your competitors will, and you will stay in the back eating their dust. But to do it wisely, make sure you get the results you are looking for, and don’t spam people with non-relevant openings and bot-like messaging.

Many tools offer automated messaging with personalization and follow-ups (GEM, Lemlist, MixMax, AmazingHiring, SeekOut, Hiretual, Fetcher, Phantombuster, and many more).

It's obvious, Bringing strong candidates into the pipe. But we have to make a differentiation when making conclusions from our statistics. If I have a vast talent pool of Technical people and send semi-personalized messages at scale — I can expect a low conversion rate, but I will have good candidates in the pipe. If I target a small talent pool of Marketing people with highly personalized messaging — I can expect a very high conversion rate with suitable candidates in the pipe. So before you measure your success analyze the entire process, decide about the best practice, and only then will you be ready to examine your results with an objective eye.

closing thoughts

Outreaching to highly talented professionals in a boiling market where the demand overcomes the supply is an art -mastering this art takes time and practice. As Sourcers, we must continuously evolve, study from mistakes and success, educate ourselves from any source, and always be open for feedback. I hope this post will help you navigate your messaging strategy to a delicate balance between scaling and being human.

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Alexey Geht

#TalentSourcer #Yogi #DigitalNomad “Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power” (Lao Tzu).