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Automated recruiting solves Groupon's sourcing talent woes

Building a talent pool through effective sourcing is a major effort by Groupon. It is using a recruiting automation tool to find passive candidates.

Groupon's approach to sourcing talent includes use of social media, internal assessments and automated recruiting. The social media tools help cast a wide net for potential candidates. But Groupon needs to know the skills it should be looking for, and that isn't always obvious.

To find out why some of its sales reps excelled, Groupon, which recommends deals and offers coupons to its users, interviewed its top-performing sales reps and their managers. "And we asked them, 'What makes you so good?'" said Karishma Patel Buford, Groupon's vice president of global talent management, at the recent Society for Human Resource Management conference.

Going into this survey, Groupon had a good idea about what makes a great sales rep. But the behavioral assessment produced an unexpected result. This, ultimately, helped Groupon improve not only its training, but its approach to sourcing talent as well.

"Our pain right now is around sourcing," Buford said in an interview, and improving talent sourcing means being able to cast as wide a net as possible and using automated recruiting. Sourcing talent is the focus of its technology investments, she said.

Groupon's talent management effort has a dedicated person on talent sourcing alone, with one goal: to try automated recruiting as much as possible.

Use automated recruiting as much as possible

It takes so long to review inbound applications at the 6,000-employee firm, as well as discover passive candidates, Buford said, that the firm is trying to use automated recruiting to create time.

And we asked [sales reps], 'What makes you so good?'
Karishma Patel BufordVice president of global talent management, Groupon

But critical to any recruiting effort is knowing the skills being sought.

The interviews with top-performing sales reps turned up many of the things Groupon expected to find: Sales reps were competitive, had an entrepreneurial mindset and were resilient in the face of rejection. But then, it discovered something else it wasn't even looking for.

Groupon's top sales reps had good organization skills, said Buford, who has a doctorate in clinical psychology. This finding was surprising. "We were missing this in the selection process, and it was such a differentiator," she said.

"A great sales rep had to have incredible organizational skills because [it's like] you're owning your own small business, and it takes a ton of discipline to run your own business," Buford said.

Groupon's initial motivation for conducting the sales rep interviews was to help improve the performance of sales reps in the first six months. But the information also improved the process of sourcing talent and determining what Groupon sought in candidates.

Using Entelo for automated recruiting

Groupon said its competition for skills are the major Silicon Valley firms, such as Amazon, Google and Netflix.

Groupon's biggest sourcing tool is LinkedIn -- "There's no other LinkedIn today," Buford said.

But the firm also searches social media sites for passive recruiting prospects and is using Entelo, a San Francisco-based recruiting automation firm, including a new tool, Envoy, "that's essentially sourcing while you sleep," Buford said.

The Entelo automated recruiting tool searches for passive, high-skilled candidates on social media sites, such as GitHub, but also runs an algorithmic analysis on the candidates in an effort to identify the best candidates. It also automates the initial contact, sending a "high-touch" customized email. Groupon is also looking at Restless Bandit, another automated recruiting platform, Buford said.

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