October 30, 2023
October 31, 2023

Building a Career in Candidate Sourcing: A Comprehensive Guide

Isabel Strijland

In the intricate landscape of talent acquisition, two fundamental pillars stand tall: recruitment and sourcing. Yet, in the world of hiring these terms often intertwine, leading to confusion about their unique contributions. Both require different skills and career choices. Sourcing is seen as a junior role or just part of the recruiting process. Let's break that myth and give sourcing the spotlight it deserves. Do you wear data-driven glasses? Do you love Sherlock Homes? And do you think in maps, organisations and Excel sheets?

What is the difference between Recruiting and Sourcing

Recruiting encompasses the entire hiring journey. While it includes sourcing as a component, its primary emphasis is on guiding potential candidates through the entire recruitment funnel. This begins from the moment a vacancy arises until a candidate is successfully onboarded. Activities under recruiting involve job posting, interviewing, negotiating offers, and the onboarding process.

In today's fast-paced world, companies are perpetually on the hunt for the perfect hire. With talent battles intensifying, the role of candidate sourcing has never been more crucial. If you're considering building a career in candidate sourcing, you're gearing up for a promising journey ahead. Here's how to dive into the dynamic world of sourcing and carve a niche for yourself.

Sourcing, conversely, delves deeper into the initial stages of the recruitment cycle. It is the proactive search for potential candidates who might not have applied for a job on their own. Sourcing is about identifying those potential candidates, reaching out to them, and persuading them to consider opportunities within the company. Its core elements include researching platforms like LinkedIn or industry-specific job boards, engaging passive candidates, and assessing whether these individuals align with the company's needs and culture.

Candidate sourcing isn't just about finding the right candidates; it's about connecting the right talent with the right opportunity. Sourcing specialists need a blend of research skills, technological expertise, networking acumen, and an understanding of business. You'll be identifying passive candidates who may not be actively looking for jobs but might be perfect for specific roles.

Step 1: Master the Art of Candidate Sourcing

Are you ready to excel in the world of candidate sourcing? It all begins with the right mindset and approach. Forget the idea of a formal "sourcing school." Instead, embrace the blend of skills required. It starts with an insatiable curiosity for candidate sourcing. It's not merely about finding candidates; it's about creating the perfect match between talent and opportunity.

Candidate sourcing is an art, not just a process. It involves delving into a candidate's aspirations, skills, and potential, and aligning them seamlessly with a company's vision, culture, and needs. The ultimate goal isn't just to fill a position but to ensure a mutually beneficial connection between the candidate and the organisation over the long term.

Being a great candidate sourcing comes down to having a:

  • Learning mind: your job is never done, as you constantly need to adapt to the context of the company, role, market and candidate. Learning does not stop and makes you stay on top.
  • Tech-savvy mind: using the right tools to structure your work and reach the candidates, requires a tech-savvy mind.
  • Structured mind: you will deal with a lot of data at once, creating structure in the chaos makes you identify patterns and successes
  • Data-driven mind: the answer lies in the numbers, you need to do enough outreaches and network-building in the right places to lead to successful sourcing.
  • Innovative mind: finding new methods and ways to reach candidates, from research to outreach.
  • System mind: connecting the dots to find the right people in the right places and engage them to speak.

Step 2: Hands-On Learning

Candidate sourcing is a dynamic field that requires a hands-on approach to truly excel. While there may not be a formal education system dedicated to sourcing, the learning process is an exciting journey in itself. Here's a deeper dive into how you can acquire the essential skills and tools to become an adept sourcer:

1. Offer Your Expertise: To gain practical experience, consider offering your sourcing skills to companies that have struggled to fill open roles for an extended period. Find out a step-by-step plan here. By doing so, you can learn to navigate the real-world challenges of finding the right candidates.

  • Embrace Technology: In the realm of candidate sourcing, technology is an invaluable ally. Mastering the use of various tools can significantly enhance your effectiveness:

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS): Platforms like Ashby, Greenhouse, and Workable are indispensable for tracking candidates through the recruitment process. Understanding how to efficiently use these systems will help streamline your workflow and keep you organised.

Sourcing Tools: Tools like SeekOut, Hiretual, LinkedIn Recruiter, Google X-ray, and Entelo are your secret weapons for uncovering passive candidates. Learning how to harness the power of these tools will enable you to access hidden talent pools and identify top-notch candidates who might not be actively job hunting.

Boolean Searches: Mastery of Boolean search techniques is essential for precision sourcing. It allows you to create complex search strings on search engines to filter out potential candidates with specific qualifications and experience.

  • Continuous Learning: The sourcing landscape is constantly evolving. To stay at the forefront of your field, make continuous learning a habit. Attend webinars, workshops, and training programs dedicated to candidate sourcing. These resources can introduce you to the latest tools and strategies, ensuring that you're always equipped with the most effective sourcing methods.
  • Experiment and Adapt: Sourcing is as much about creativity as it is about using tools. Don't be afraid to experiment with different techniques and approaches to see what works best for your unique needs. Be adaptable and open to change, as the sourcing field continually evolves with new technologies and strategies.
  • Enjoy the search: The best sourcers are often those who possess a natural curiosity. Approach each candidate search as a unique puzzle to solve. Understand that every candidate is different, and finding the right fit requires a blend of creativity and analytical thinking.
  • Market-mapping: "the process of collecting and organising data about competitors to comprehend their positions and detect market trends." Owning those research skills will give you an advantage over other sourcers, as it will impact the quality of your candidates down the line. An outcome can be that hiring talent in Germany is best, due to the availability of skills. Find out here how you work out opening this new market.
  • Data-Driven Decision Making: A crucial step often overlooked is the mastery of data analytics. Leveraging data and metrics can significantly enhance your sourcing strategy. Analyse the effectiveness of your outreach, track the sources of your most successful candidates, and use data-driven insights to fine-tune your approach. Understanding your sourcing data can lead to more targeted searches and improved candidate engagement.

In summary, hands-on learning in candidate sourcing involves actively immersing yourself in the field, gaining practical experience, and mastering the tools and techniques that are crucial to your success. By combining real-world practice with a commitment to staying current in a rapidly changing industry, you'll be well-equipped to excel as a sourcing professional. 

Step 3: Build a Strong Network

Networking is the lifeblood of a successful sourcer. Keep yourself updated on the latest recruitment and sourcing trends, ensuring you always have something valuable to share. Authenticity is key:

  • Join Professional Groups: Slack communities, and LinkedIn Groups. For example 'Talking Talent,' where sourcers worldwide discuss best practices.
  • Attend Conferences: Events like SourceCon are gold mines for sourcing professionals, offering invaluable networking opportunities.
  • Follow Thought Leaders: think about Irina Shamaeva, and Shally Steckerl are prominent voices in the sourcing community. Linus "the golden beard" Diestelkamp or our very own Paula Moniz on market mapping and sourcing tips.
  • Participate in Webinars: Regularly engage in webinars to stay at the forefront of industry knowledge.
  • Widen Your Reading: sources like Recruiting Brainfood and Recruiting Daily provide invaluable insights.
  • Understand all the different channels you can use in sourcing: job boards, networks, communities, agencies, referrals.

Step 4: Cultivate Soft Skills

As a sourcer, you are the vital link between candidates and organisations. Cultivate essential soft skills, such as effective communication, crafting engaging outreach messages, and maintaining clarity in interactions. Active listening is key to understanding candidates' needs and aligning them with the company's goals. Empathy plays a significant role here; put yourself in the candidates' shoes to grasp their motivations and concerns.

Step 5: Establish Your Personal Brand

Enhance your online presence:

  • Write and Share: Contribute articles on platforms like LinkedIn or Medium, sharing your insights and experiences.
  • Engage on Social Media: Show dedication and knowledge by sharing, liking, and commenting on sourcing-related content.
  • Consider Specialisation: Explore areas like Diversity Sourcing or Executive Sourcing, or focus on technical sourcing expertise.

Step 6: Grow your Sourcing Career

As a Junior Sourcer, you'll navigate the bustling hubs of startup communities, spotting potential talents at tech meetups or hackathons, all while soaking in the vibrant entrepreneurial spirit.

Transitioning to a Middle and Senior Sourcer role, you'll leverage advanced tools, from AI-driven platforms to virtual reality job fairs, seeking out experts for emerging sectors like fintech or AI ethics. Here, you become a storyteller, weaving the startup's mission into compelling narratives to attract the best talents, be it for a budding ed-tech initiative or a groundbreaking gaming venture.

As a Lead Sourcer, you're the visionary, orchestrating global talent hunts or collaborating with top incubators. Your strategy, whether leveraging augmented reality for immersive interviews or networking at exclusive tech retreats, shapes the future of startups by ensuring they have the brightest minds onboard. Find an overview by Denis Dinkevych:

(source: Denis Dinkevych)

In Conclusion

Adaptability is the hallmark of a great sourcing professional. Whether it's embracing new tools or adapting to shifting job market dynamics, your ability to evolve will define your success. Building a career in candidate sourcing demands dedication, continuous learning, and a talent for connecting with people. 

By understanding the industry, mastering essential skills, and staying updated, you will not only thrive in sourcing but also play a pivotal role in shaping organisations' futures. Are you ready to embark on this rewarding journey?

Thank you!

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