What have we covered?

It’s time you get hold of exclusive strategies, tools, and hacks on candidate sourcing to find top talent efficiently. 

What is candidate sourcing?

Candidate sourcing refers to the practice of proactively searching for and attracting potential candidates to fill specific job vacancies.

Here, recruiters do not have to wait for applications to come in, instead, they go all out and find people who might be a good fit for the job.

The key to good talent sourcing is using the right tools to help you find, track, and communicate with potential job seekers.

Also read: This is your secret weapon in successful recruitment

Why source candidates at all?

reasons to source candidates

Now that we know the ‘what,’ let’s understand the ‘why.’ Here are some major reasons you must source talent:

1. Build your talent pipeline

By proactively sourcing candidates, you can start developing a pipeline of potential talent even before job openings exist. 

You can also cultivate relationships with qualified professionals and be ready to fill roles as needs arise.

2. Shorten your time-to-hire

Sourcing candidates in advance gives you a head start when an actual opening does occur because you already have potential applicants identified, screened, and often engaged. 

This allows you to move through the hiring process much faster versus starting from scratch each time.

3. Gain a competitive advantage over other recruiters

By building relationships with passive candidates, you position yourself and your company as employers of choice. When they do decide to make a move, they may think of you first.

You can also gain visibility amongst talent that other recruiters may not have discovered yet through their usual recruiting platforms.

What is a direct source candidate?

A direct source candidate is a job applicant who is found through direct outreach efforts rather than through a more generic source like an online job board or social media.

Direct sourcing involves actively seeking out and contacting individuals who match the qualifications of a specific open role but who have not otherwise applied or expressed interest in the job. 

This could include— 

  • Researching profiles on LinkedIn.
  • Contacting referrals.
  • Searching resume databases.
  • Utilizing other research techniques to identify talent directly.

These directly sourced applicants have essentially been “recruited” by the company rather than opting into a more passive application process.

Compared to candidates who self-identify through job ads, directly sourced folks provide recruiters with a more curated talent pool that closely matches the requirements of the role in question.

Don’t miss out: Who are purple squirrels? A comprehensive guide for recruiters

Sourcing vs recruiting: What are the major differences? 

The primary difference between sourcing and recruiting is that sourcing focuses on finding potential talent while recruiting covers finding, screening, selecting, and hiring candidates.

1. Timeline

Sourcing is an earlier activity in the hiring process, ranging from a few days to several weeks to pinpoint potential candidates.

Recruiting spans a more extended period, involving various stages from a few weeks to several months, depending on the role and the qualified applicants.

2. Candidate interactions

Sourcing professionals often make the first contact with prospects through emails or job postings on platforms like LinkedIn.

Recruiters engage more deeply with applicants, conducting phone screenings and face-to-face interviews, contributing significantly to the candidate experience.

3. Outcome

The outcome of sourcing is a qualified pool of candidates who can be quickly engaged for current or future opportunities, while recruiting is the successful hiring of an applicant who meets the job requirements and is a good fit for the organization.

Read more: Sourcing vs recruiting: What’s the difference?

4 crucial steps involved in talent sourcing

process of candidate sourcing

Now, let’s look at a step-by-step guide to understand candidate sourcing better: 

Step 1: Define your ideal candidate persona

First things first, who are you looking for? Understand the skills, work experience, and the type of talent you’re looking for. 

Picture them in your mind—this is your ideal candidate persona. It’s like knowing exactly what you want before you even start looking.

Step 2: Develop and implement a strategic sourcing plan

Now that you know who you’re looking for, how are you going to find them?

This plan includes where to look, what tools to use, and how to reach out. You can use this plan as your personal blueprint for finding the best talent out there.

Step 3: Build a relationship with the candidates

Here’s where things get personal. 

Reach out to your potential job seekers and start a conversation. Make them realize that you’re not just looking for an applicant but matching the right fit to the ideal role. 

A key to building relationships is active listening. 

Step 4: Track progress and follow up

Keep track of who you’ve talked to and how it went. Make notes and follow up with them. This way, you won’t miss out on a great candidate just because they slipped through the cracks.

Don’t miss out: Top 10 places where recruiters can get CVs for free!

5 essential tools you must utilize for candidate sourcing

1. Easy-to-use applicant tracking system

Utilizing an AI recruiting software streamlines your sourcing process, making it more efficient and effective.

An ATS can help you manage candidates, clients, and hiring manager relationships while maintaining a seamless recruiting process.

2. Social media platforms

These are great for reaching out to potential candidates and promoting your company culture. 

Of course, LinkedIn is a must-have for professional networking, while Facebook and Twitter can also be useful for more casual engagement and showcasing your company’s personality.

3. Job aggregators

These platforms compile job listings from various sources, making it easier to post jobs and reach a wider audience. 

For instance, Indeed is known for its vast database and reach, and Glassdoor offers insights into company cultures and salaries, which can attract candidates.     

4. Professional meetup platforms 

These sites can help you connect with potential candidates in a more informal setting, often leading to more genuine connections. 

Meetup is great for finding groups with specific interests or skills related to your industry, and Eventbrite can be used to host or find relevant professional events.

5. Referral software

Platforms such as EmployeeReferrals.com simplify the process of managing employee referral programs

They encourage current employees to refer acquaintances for open positions, leveraging existing networks to source qualified candidates.

You might also like: How to get clients for a staffing agency?

Overcome these 4 common challenges in talent sourcing

challenges in applicant sourcing

1. Overcoming bias

Unconscious bias can sneak into the sourcing process, potentially limiting the diversity of your candidate pool. 

To combat this, implement structured sourcing criteria and consider blind recruitment practices where feasible. 

Tools like Textio can help neutralize job descriptions, ensuring they appeal to a broad audience.

2. Sourcing for niche skills in emerging industries

Finding talent with specialized skills in new or rapidly evolving sectors can be time-consuming. 

Broaden your search by tapping into specialized forums, professional groups on social media, and attend industry-specific conferences

For instance, LinkedIn groups and GitHub can be goldmines for discovering talent in tech-centric fields.

3. Managing candidate expectations

In today’s competitive job market, job seekers often have high expectations regarding flexibility, culture, and benefits. 

Clear and transparent communication from the outset is key. 

Use your company’s social media platforms to showcase your culture and what it’s like to work at your organization, helping to align candidate expectations from the start.

4. Combatting information overload

With the vast amount of data available, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. 

To streamline the process, use advanced candidate sourcing software that allows for efficient sorting and tracking of candidates. 

Book a demo with Recruit CRM to see how we help recruiters smoothly source candidates. 

Top 7 candidate sourcing strategies to help you source better

candidate sourcing strategies

1. Leverage social media platforms

Today, social media isn’t just for cat videos and memes in fact, it’s a talent kit for recruiters. 

You can use LinkedIn to post job ads and search for candidates with the specific skills and experience you need. 

Twitter and Instagram can be used to showcase your company culture and engage with potential talent by sharing updates about your team, office life, and company achievements. 

2. Implement employee referral programs

Tap into your employees’ networks by encouraging them to refer friends or former colleagues who they believe would be a good fit. 

Make the referral program appealing by offering bonuses, extra vacation days, or other perks for successful hires. 

This not only speeds up the sourcing process but also tends to bring in candidates who are a better fit culturally, as they come with an endorsement from someone who already knows your company.

3. Advertise on niche job boards

While general job boards reach a wide audience, niche job boards target specific industries or job functions. 

For example, Stack Overflow is great for tech roles, Behance for creative positions, and Medzilla for healthcare jobs. 

Posting on these specialized boards helps you reach candidates with the exact skills and experience you’re looking for, reducing the time spent sifting through unrelated resumes.

4. Keep the hiring manager in the loop throughout the process

Effective communication with the hiring manager ensures that you’re aligned with the candidate profile from the start. 

Regular check-ins allow for adjustments based on the quality of the talent pool and market feedback. 

5. Optimize job listings for SEO

By incorporating keywords related to the job title, skills, and industry into your job listings, you improve their visibility on search engines and job boards. 

Think about the terms candidates might use when searching for jobs and include these in your listings. 

A well-optimized job listing attracts more applicants and ensures that they are more closely aligned with the job requirements.

6. Implement an ATS + CRM system

An ATS helps streamline the application and screening process, while a CRM system allows you to maintain a database of potential candidates for future roles. 

This combination is powerful for managing your current recruitment needs and building a pipeline for future openings. 

Look for systems that offer seamless integration, easy-to-use interfaces, and robust analytics to track your sourcing efforts’ effectiveness.

7. Utilize recruitment marketing techniques 

Approach candidate sourcing as you would a marketing campaign. 

Develop a strong employer brand that highlights what makes your company a great place to work. 

Use targeted ads on social media and professional networks to reach potential employees. 

Also read: 8 best candidate sourcing strategies that recruiters can rely on

AVOID these 5 common mistakes in candidate sourcing 

mistakes in applicant sourcing

When it comes to talent sourcing, there are definitely some common pitfalls to avoid. 

1. Overlooking candidate experience

The first one is really important – don’t overlook a candidate’s experience just because it may not perfectly match what’s in the job description

People gain valuable skills in all sorts of roles, so be open-minded. You could be missing out on top talent if you commit this mistake. 

2. Relying solely on job boards

While job boards are useful, don’t rely on them exclusively. Think broader—reach out to your network on LinkedIn, attend industry events, and partner with other recruiters. 

A more diverse sourcing strategy will uncover more great candidates.

3. Ignoring employer branding

It’s also crucial not to ignore employer branding. 

People want to feel excited about the companies they apply to. Make sure your careers page, Glassdoor profile, etc., clearly represent your culture and values. 

This will help you attract the right types of candidates.

4. Not personalizing communication

Personalizing communication is key too. People don’t want to feel like just another application in the pile. 

Take the time to have real conversations and show candidates you see their potential as an individual.

5. Neglecting candidates that fall short by fewer pointers 

And lastly, don’t neglect applicants who are almost, but not quite, a perfect match. Maybe they’re missing one or two years of experience, but they could get up to speed quickly.

Giving these borderline applicants a chance could reward you with top talent.

Candidate sourcing is an art—one that requires skill, dedication, and a touch of audacity. 

With the perfect strategies and tools, your treasure hunt is bound to be successful.

Frequently asked questions

1. Who is a sourcing specialist?

A sourcing specialist is a recruiting professional responsible for finding and attracting quality candidates for open roles. Key responsibilities of a sourcing specialist may include:

a. Researching and expanding talent networks through online profiles and databases.

b. Identifying job seekers that match job requirements through targeted searches.

c. Reaching out directly to active and passive candidates to generate interest.

d. Sourcing applicants from different platforms like LinkedIn, niche job boards, and universities.

2. What is social sourcing?

Social sourcing is the practice of leveraging social media and professional networks to find and attract talent. It involves active engagement on platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. The key aspects of social sourcing include researching passive candidates, starting online conversations to generate interest, staying up to date on trends, and sharing company updates to build an employer brand. 

3. How to use AI in candidate sourcing?

Using AI in candidate sourcing involves leveraging technology to automate and enhance the search for qualified talent. These tools can scan resumes and online profiles for specific skills and experiences, match them to job descriptions, and even predict their fit based on their online presence. 

4. How does sourcing affect recruiting?

Sourcing directly impacts the efficiency and effectiveness of the recruiting process. By proactively identifying and engaging with potential candidates, it helps build a rich talent pool, making it easier and quicker to fill vacancies. This passive candidate sourcing means you’re not starting from scratch with each new job opening, leading to faster hires. 

5. What is a boolean search?

A boolean search allows recruiters to combine different search terms with logical operators to refine results on sources like job boards, company career sites, or databases. This helps target searches more accurately to find candidates with very specific qualifications or backgrounds.

For example, a recruiter searching for an applicant with 5+ years of experience in digital marketing AND knowledge of SEO AND social media platforms could use a boolean search query like: “digital marketing” AND “SEO” AND (“social media” OR “social networks”) AND “5 years experience”

This search will return only candidates that have all the required terms—digital marketing experience, SEO knowledge, and experience with social media/networks, as well as minimum years of experience.

6. What are some top tips on sourcing passive candidates?

Here are some top tips for sourcing passive candidates:

a. Thoroughly research their online professional presence on social platforms to gain insights beyond what’s on their resume. Look for clues that indicate they may be open to new opportunities.

b. Reach out with a connection request and personalized message highlighting any common interests, background, and value you see them bringing without mentioning a specific role.

c. Set up informational interviews to have an open conversation and learn more about their current situation, long-term goals, and what they’re looking for in a future opportunity.

7. How to source entry-level candidates?

Here are three essential tips for sourcing entry-level candidates:

a. Reach out to career centers and recruiting representatives at local universities to advertise open roles and source recent graduates.

b. Post jobs on college job boards and work with career advisors to identify qualified talent from relevant programs of study.

c. Attend career fairs, information sessions, and networking events on college campuses to meet potential candidates face-to-face.

8. How to source executive-level candidates?

You may follow the following tips to source executive-level candidates: 

a. Search profiles on LinkedIn of C-suite executives with the required experience. Refine by past companies, titles, skills, and education.

b. Set up informational coffee chats to learn about career goals and determine cultural fit without discussing open roles directly.

c. Consider candidates who are currently employed but may be open to the right opportunity.

9. How to secure a candidate sourcing budget?

Securing a budget for candidate sourcing involves demonstrating the ROI of sourcing activities. Start by collecting data on how sourcing has shortened the time-to-hire, improved the quality of hires, and reduced recruitment costs. Present case studies or examples where proactive sourcing led to hiring hard-to-find talent.

10. Is talent sourcing hard?

Without the right tools, yes, candidate sourcing can be challenging, especially in competitive job markets or when searching for candidates with niche skills. It requires a mix of creativity, persistence, and strategic use of technology to identify and engage with potential applicants. However, with the proper tools and strategies, it becomes a manageable and rewarding part of the recruitment process.