What is your sourcing plan?

Part Two of the Sourcing Plan series.

|| By Christoph Lohr, P.E., CPD, ASSE 6020, LEED AP BD+C



In December, we spoke about why organizations need sourcing plans. This month, we’ll start the process of describing the activities an organization needs to take to get the results in this most critical part of operating a business.

The three parts of a good sourcing plan are: (1) the planning process, (2) the sourcing process, and (3) the interview process. We’ll cover each section in detail.

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[PeopleImages]/[E+] via Getty Images.

Process 1: Planning process

Geoff Smart and Randy Street, authors of “Who: Solve Your #1 Problem,” wrote, “Scorecards are your blueprint for success. You wouldn’t think of having someone build you a house without an architect’s blueprint in hand. The first failure point of hiring is not being crystal clear about what you really want the person you hire to accomplish. You may have some vague notion of what you want. Others on your team are likely to have their own equally vague notions of what you want and need. But chances are high that you vague notions do not match theirs. Enter the scorecard, the method we’ve devised for designing your criteria for a particular position.”

While an excerpt of Julie Zhuo’s “The Making of a Manager,” reads “One exercise I do every January is to map out where I hope my team will be by the end of the year. I create a future org chart, analyze gaps in skills, strengths, or experiences, and make a list of open roles to hire for.”

Before you can interview possible employees, or develop a way to recruit the best of them, you need to figure out what kind of people you “want on the bus” as Nick Saban says.

The planning process can be broken up into multiple steps as follows, based on the book titles mentioned above.

  1. Create a future organization chart with skill gaps/strengths, and identify future roles/hires. Try to visualize how the organization will grow. Project types may impact discipline percentage makeup. New roles may need to be created to organize the work. Identify pathways for current all-star employees.
  2. Create ideal candidate descriptions, also known as "scorecards." Managers should create scorecards for the positions they want to fill within their organization chart and evaluate whether current team members have abilities, need development or if the role needs to be a new hire.
  3. Create a training program for managers and staff on recruiting and interviewing. Develop short and quick training program for manager and staff (most likely slightly different training, but staff need to be involved) on how to recruit/interview. This would also be a great way to describe in broad terms the direction we are going.
  4. Overhaul manager LinkedIn profiles to increase social media presence in strategic ways. For an organization to differentiate itself from competitors, LinkedIn profiles have to be up-to-date, and more importantly, profiles of managers need to include: (A) manager providing recommendations for staff for performance in form of LinkedIn recommendations and kudos, and (B) staff should be encouraged to share recognition on managers leadership abilities which will peak candidate interest. Who doesn’t want to work for good manager? This will be a “bullhorn” message on social media to potential employees that an organization is the place to work for them to further their career. Obviously, this needs to be backed up with actions; however, this small commitment to advertising these results will pay dividends.

Process 2: Sourcing process

“Getting great candidates does not happen without significant effort… [CEO’s of billion dollar companies] recognize recruitment as one of their most important jobs,” notes Smart and Street in their book. “They consider themselves chief recruiting officers and expect all of their managers to view their jobs the same way. These successful executives don’t allow recruiting to become a one-time event, or something they have to do only every now and then. They are always sourcing, always on the lookout for new talent and always identifying the 'who' before a new hire is needed.”

Zhuo suggests in her book: “… brainstorm where to look for your ideal candidate. You might come up with specific titles or organizations to search for on LinkedIn, people who you can ping for recommendations, conferences to attend, or ads you’d like to place.”

The “sourcing process” is basically how an organization conducts its recruiting efforts. This needs to be a priority, otherwise work will suffer down the road. Even though most engineering firm’s decision-makers (principals) typically are promoted based on work brought in (sales), there is the need to identify those that excel at leading others and in organizing and getting the work done (operations). It’s a different skill set, and sadly, from my perspective, it is appears to not be valued by many, if not most companies.

  1. Create a “Potential Candidate Management” (PCM) database. Create a new database for potential candidates or use a recruiting program such as Google Hire ($200 per month). All staff members should get access to help populate this. As new potential candidates are met, they are entered into the database for tracking purposes, regardless if they are interested in the moment, and assigned a “potential fit score” of low, medium or high.
  2. Have a recruiting agenda in all team leader, PM and team meetings. To keep team leaders and the team focused on the task of recruiting, manager and staff meetings should have an agenda item to focus team effort on recruiting efforts. Manager meetings will include time to identify that week’s top talent to contact and confirmation of the previous week’s contacts.
  3. Team leaders should set aside 1% of time to make contact with potential candidates every week, on average. Team leaders will schedule 30 minutes every week to identify and nurture relationships with possible candidates. A standing meeting on Monday or Friday is a good way to help jog memories. Managers should call the top talent on the radar screen and/or develop new leads. This could also include time to go to lunch with potential candidates during the week. A company needs to set aside a budget for this. Managers have to attend engineering society events with the intent to meet potential candidates. If you want experienced candidates, you have to go where they are.
  4. Managers and/or staff-members to speak at colleges. To open up a pipeline of the best college recruits, managers will work to set up a relationship with the various local higher-education organizations. Managers will then set up a time to speak at each institution during the year with the intent of building a relationship with the students to increase the pool of interns and new graduate hires to choose from.

With the completion of the sourcing process, a team with approximately 30 people (four of which are managers) should expect to have a pool of about 200 potential experienced candidates (ranging from 2-40 years of experience), and a pool of no less than 50-100 interns or new graduates to select from as openings become available.

For those of you reading this article that manage or hire others, I’d ask how many of you wouldn’t love to have this kind of “backlog” to pull from right now? I imagine most of you would think it was awesome. I also imagine those of you who think this would be a terrible idea probably are asking, “how do we interview all those people?” Solving that problem is what we will cover next month. Stay tuned.

Christoph Lohr, P.E., CPD, LEED AP BD+C, is the vice president of strategic initiatives at IAPMO. All views and opinions expressed in this article are his alone. Have some thoughts on this article? Contact Christoph at

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