Article 3 – Candidate Sourcing

(This is part of a series of articles on becoming a Recruitment Entrepreneur. If you wish to contribute to this topic please write to I will be happy to incorporate your ideas as well. You may also mail me if you wish me to write on any specific topic.)

Once you have a recruitment mandate from client and have collected and understood the job description & specifications, you are now ready for the next step and that is to identify a candidate. Much as this activity of calling prospective candidates and offering them job opportunities may sound very straightforward, it is obviously complicated.

Candidate sourcing involves three distinct activities.

  • Identifying a suitable candidate
  • Connecting (or establishing contact) with the candidate
  • Convincing the candidate to participate in the client’s selection process.

Identifying a candidate would require sourcing CVs and then shortlisting them as per the requirement. There are various options to source Cvs from and I shall list out some of them:

  • Job Boards – The easiest option for a recruiter, new to this business is to buy, a subscription to a job board. There are usually various options based on the number of days, months or a year long subscription.
  • Typically there also would be restrictions on the number of CVs that you can download as well as the number of jobs that you could post. Some job boards also have an option of buying access to only specific industry CVs. The cost of access to job boards could vary from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars based on the various options that you may choose. However, you could get overwhelmed by the sheer number of CVs that you can access or the applications that you would receive. Skill-fully shortlisting of candidates would then be a key to your success & efficiency.
  • LinkedIn Recruiter – LinkedIn has now become a major challenger to all the job boards. A recruiter’s monthly subscription could cost you anything around 80 to 150 dollars depending on the country that you are in. You can also just buy specific job posting which is much cheaper and could cost a few dollars per job.
  • The advantage LinkedIn has is that it also has lists and details of candidates who necessarily may not be looking for a job and have a LinkedIn account only for the purpose of professional networking. The advantage here is that you can access profiles of most professionals and also of those who are not actively seeking jobs.
  • Other Social Media – You could also post your jobs on Facebook, Twitter. However, the reach would be limited to your connections/friends/followers. There is an option of sponsoring posts, though would be difficult to do precise targeting.
  • In-house database – It is important to maintain an in-house database which could be useful for specific types of jobs that you may have worked on before.
  • On-Field Sourcing – Depending on the type of job you could also attempt on-field sourcing which would mean actually contacting such job holders directly. For example, if you need to hire a front-desk receptionist, you could actually call up company board lines and speak to receptionists. Or if you were to find a retail counter sales person, you could actually walk up to different show rooms and find a sales person.
  • The trick often is to not offer a job directly, but ask them if they know anybody who is looking for a similar job. You can always leave your visiting card/contact number with them. In case they themselves are interested they may say so (if not immediately, maybe later) else they may refer someone they know.
  • Reach out to your network– Depending on the requirement you could reach out to your alumni network, ex-colleagues, online groups, etc.
  • HeadhuntingThis is among the most efficient, though the most difficult of the sourcing method. This would mean first identifying a candidate who fits the job and then convincing the person to apply for the same. Invariably this person would not be an active job seeker. I shall dedicate an entire piece to this later.

So what is the best source for a candidate? It depends on the type of job that you are recruiting for and that you will only discover with experience. Though job boards works well for entry/junior level positions, social media/linked is useful for mid-level and head hunting & networking/references is the best for senior levels.

Shortlisting The Candidate

When you have a large pile of CVs, your recruiting efficiency will squarely depend on your shortlisting ability.  It is of utmost importance that you have understood the job description and specifications in great details. Some times the client is flexible with some aspects and very insistent on some others.

The suggested method or sequence for shortlisting would be, to note the ‘must have’  attributes (maybe a couple of them) and then the ‘should not have’ attributes. ‘Must have’ attributes could be some technical skill or license/certification, a ‘ should not have’ attribute could be a specific salary level (above/below) or the number of job hops or total years of experience ( not to exceed a certain number of years).

However, this would really depend on the kind of JD and the briefing that you have from the hiring manager. Once your rules are set, then shortlisting becomes that much easier to reduce the pile of CVs to a manageable number.

Contacting the Candidate

It is always a good idea to prepare a brief about the position in a pdf file ( doc files or ppts get distorted if opened using open source applications). Most candidates would prefer a scheduled call and therefore writing them a mail requesting a call ( and even suggesting preferred time slots).

The format of your mail will obviously vary depending on how you have sourced the CV ( job board, application, reference, etc). The more optimal the information in the brief you mail, the lesser would be your energy and time spent on explaining the position over a call.

The call should be more used to gather information about the candidate ( that may not have been mentioned in the CV). If a candidate is not interested in a job change, recruiter must use the opportunity to request if the candidate knows anyone else with similar skills who may be interested.

Convincing the candidate to participate in the selection process

This is the most important task. You need to first understand the JD thoroughly and you must also understand the candidates skills, experience and motives for the job change. You need to first be yourself convinced that the candidate is a good fit for the job, before trying to convince the candidate. It is ideal to do a face to face meting with the candidate (else a video call), to understand a candidate better.

A face to face call also gives you an opportunity to assess the personality and body language of the candidate. Once you have assessed the fitment of the candidate for the job, ensure that the candidate is changing her job for the right reason. 

The reason cannot only be for a better salary ( unless you assess that the candidate is highly underpaid for her experience and skills). Ideally, the reason could be for career growth, or for an opportunity to learn new skills, handle larger teams, more complex work, etc.  Why I emphasize this point is that if you just send any and every candidate to the client, then the rejection rate would be high. You will not only be wasting the clients time but also your own time in co-ordinating all the interviews and meetings/feedbacks.

More still the client will start doubting your recruitment skills. Also if the wrong candidate gets hired, my experience tells me that she would end up leaving the job or getting fired and you would be soon looking to fill in a replacement (most recruitment contract have a 3 to 6 months free replacement clause).

In a later article, I shall cover in detail the ‘Candidate Preparation’ that needs to be done before a candidate is sent for the selection process.

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