October 12, 2023
October 12, 2023

Everything You Need to Know About Candidate Sourcing

Isabel Strijland

Many recruiters undervalue the significance of effective sourcing in their role. Developing a candidate pipeline that demonstrates strength right from the initial contacts enhances not just the caliber of the hires, but also optimises the resources employed for finding the ideal individual in the later stages of the process. Furthermore, this approach can lead to substantial cost savings by avoiding the expenses associated with hiring the wrong candidates. According to European Magazine, the cost of a bad hire is about 1/3 of their year's salary So how does candidate sourcing work?

What is candidate sourcing?

Candidate sourcing is the process of proactively identifying and attracting potential job candidates who may be a good fit for a specific job role within a company. It involves searching for qualified individuals who possess the skills, experience, and qualifications necessary to meet the requirements of a particular job opening. Then engage them to be interested in the role and company. In this article, we explain what candidate sourcing is, which methods to use, which pitt-fall to avoid and which trends to follow.

The goal of candidate sourcing is to build strong talent pipelines, ensuring that when a job opportunity arises, there's already a pool of qualified and interested candidates to consider. This proactive approach helps the company reduce the time and cost of hiring, increase the quality of hires, and stay competitive in the war on talent.

In summary, candidate sourcing is the strategic and proactive effort to find, engage, and attract potential candidates for a specific job role before the need for hiring becomes urgent.

How to start candidate sourcing?

Starting candidate sourcing involves a systematic approach to identifying and engaging potential candidates for your job openings. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you get started:

Part 1: Understanding & Syncing - get this right and your sourcing strategy will have a solid base!

  • Understand the job requirements: Review the job description and requirements for the position you're sourcing for. Clarify key skills, qualifications, experience, and other attributes needed for success in the role.
  • Sync with Hiring Managers Regularly: Check in with hiring managers to set realistic expectations. Then throughout the process sync often to update them on the candidate market, and get new insights on the candidates in the process. Make sure to adjust your Sourcing on the feedback you receive.

Part 2: Planning - be realistic with the data you collected and the resources you have access to.

  • Create a Sourcing Plan: Define your sourcing strategy based on the job role, industry, and target audience. Then decide which sourcing channels to use, such as job boards, social media, professional networks, or referrals. Collect all information in a market map to see where talent is located, and which competitors are relevant.
  • Identify Target Keywords: Identify keywords relevant to the job and skills you're looking for. Later on, you use these keywords in your search queries on various platforms to find potential candidates.
  • Find Talent on Several Channels: Visit job boards (e.g., Indeed, Glassdoor), professional networking sites (e.g., LinkedIn), and industry-specific platforms. Use advanced search filters and Boolean operators to narrow down your search results.
  • Craft Engaging Messages: Prepare personalised outreach messages that highlight the job's benefits and why the candidate might be a good fit. Mention specific skills or experiences from the candidate's profile to show you've done your research.

Part 3: Execute - this is the hard work, but also fun part, because here you will start to see results.

  • Reach Out to Relevant Candidates: Send connection requests or messages to potential candidates on platforms like LinkedIn. Introduce yourself, explain the job opportunity, and express interest in their background.
  • Engage Passive Candidates: Passive candidates may not be actively job hunting, so focus on presenting the value of your opportunity. Highlight the potential for career growth, challenges of the role, and alignment with their skills.
  • Leverage Employee Referrals: Encourage current employees to refer potential candidates from their networks. Offer referral bonuses or incentives to motivate employees to participate. Research from LinkedIn stated that about 48% of the hires come from referrals.
  • Attend Networking Events: Attend industry events, conferences, and meet-ups to expand your professional network. Collect contact information and connect with potential candidates you meet in person.
  • Build a Talent Pipeline: Even if you don't have an immediate opening, continue engaging with potential candidates. Use applicant tracking systems (ATS) or spreadsheets to organise and track your candidate pipeline.
  • Use Analytics and Feedback: Monitor the effectiveness of your sourcing efforts using data and analytics. Adjust your strategies based on which channels are producing the best candidates.

Part 4: Diligence - keep your data and candidate knowledge clean.

  • Maintain Consistent Communication: Respond promptly to candidate inquiries and messages. Keep candidates informed about the hiring process and any updates.
  • Respect Privacy and Compliance: Check if the tools you use have the right GDPR setup in place. Ensure you're following privacy laws and obtaining consent before storing and using candidates' data.
  • Personalise Outreach: Tailor your messages to each candidate's background and interests. Show that you've taken the time to understand their profile.
  • Stay Organised: Keep detailed records of your sourcing efforts, including contact information, messages, and outcomes. Share data in the weekly updates with your hiring managers, this can be async or in-person.

Starting candidate sourcing requires persistence and adaptability. As you gain experience, you'll refine your strategies and develop a better understanding of what works best for your company and the positions you're recruiting for. 

To be successful you need a multi-channel approach, let's dive into the different channels that are available to find candidates.

Which channels to use for sourcing?

There are a lot of places where your talent of choice is present. Identify the places where they are most active, showcase their work and are easy to reach.

  1. Job Boards: Utilise popular job boards such as LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor, and specialised industry-specific job boards to post job openings and search for qualified candidates. About 59% of the candidates start their job search here. 
  2. Social Media: Leverage platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to connect with potential candidates, share job postings, and engage with professionals in your industry. It's a must-have channel, given that 89% of all recruiters report having hired someone through LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
  3. Communities: There are many work-related or passion-related communities where talent share and showcase their work (e.g. Github for developers, or Dribble for designers). Find out where your talent is active.
  4. Employee Referrals: Encourage your current employees to refer qualified candidates from their professional networks, offering incentives for successful hires.
  5. Employee Alumni: Stay close to the people who left your business, as they will be a goldmine for the network hence they had a good experience in your company.
  6. Networking Events: Attend industry conferences, seminars, workshops, and meet-ups to network with professionals and build relationships that can lead to potential candidates.
  7. Direct Sourcing: Use Boolean searches and advanced search techniques on search engines and social networks to find passive candidates with specific skills and experience.
  8. Graduates Talent Pools: Build relationships with academic institutions to tap into young talent by attending career fairs, hosting campus events, and collaborating with career services.
  9. Professional Networks: Join and participate in industry-related professional associations to connect with experienced professionals who are passionate about their field.
  10. Recruitment Agencies: Partner with recruitment agencies, like Acelr8, to support your sourcing and identify potential candidates to fill your candidate pipelines, particularly for senior or specialised positions.

When you cover the above channels, you use a diverse approach to reach talent in all kinds of different places. Doing so involves managing a lot of different touchpoints, and in these steps, parts can go wrong. Find out which common mistakes to avoid. 

How to make your sourcing successful?

Here are some additional important points to consider:

  1. Targeted Approach: Sourcing is not a one-size-fits-all endeavour. Tailor your sourcing efforts to the specific job role, industry, and skills you're seeking. A targeted approach increases the chances of finding the right candidates.
  2. Passive vs. Active Candidates: Not all candidates are actively looking for jobs. Passive candidates, who are currently employed but open to better opportunities, can be valuable additions to your talent pool. Don't overlook the power of engaging with passive candidates.
  3. Sourcing as Relationship Building: Successful candidate sourcing involves building relationships with potential candidates, whether they're currently interested in the role or not. Maintain a positive and respectful interaction with candidates to leave a lasting impression.
  4. Consistent Effort: Sourcing is an ongoing effort. Even when you're not actively hiring, maintaining a talent pipeline ensures you're prepared for future hiring needs and can respond quickly when positions open up.
  5. Leveraging Technology: Use applicant tracking systems (ATS), candidate relationship management (CRM) tools, and other sourcing technology to streamline and organise your efforts. Technology can help you manage and nurture candidate relationships effectively.
  6. Data-Driven Insights: Analyse sourcing data to identify which channels, strategies, and sources yield the best results. Use this information to refine your sourcing approach and maximise≈ your ROI.
  7. Employer Brand Matters: A strong employer brand can significantly impact your ability to attract high-quality candidates. Focus on showcasing your company culture, values, and opportunities for growth.
  8. Collaboration: Candidate sourcing often involves collaboration between HR, recruiters, hiring managers, and even current employees for referrals. Maintain open lines of communication to ensure everyone is aligned on candidate requirements and expectations.
  9. Ethical Sourcing: Respect candidate privacy and consent. Ensure that your sourcing practices align with ethical standards and data protection regulations.
  10. Adaptability: The job market and candidate preferences can change. Stay adaptable and be willing to adjust your sourcing strategies to stay relevant and effective.

Which common mistakes to avoid?

When sourcing candidates for a job opening, avoiding common pitfalls is crucial to ensure the recruitment process is efficient and effective. Steering clear of these mistakes can lead to better candidate matches and a more streamlined hiring process. 

  1. Lack of clarity in job requirements: Not having a clear and detailed understanding of the job requirements can lead to sourcing candidates who aren't the right fit. This wastes time for recruiters, hiring teams and candidates.
  2. Relying solely on active job boards: While job boards are valuable, relying solely on them can limit your reach to only active job seekers. It's essential to incorporate methods for targeting passive candidates who may not be actively searching for jobs.
  3. Ignoring employer brand: A weak or negative employer brand can deter potential candidates, making it harder to attract top talent. Failing to address employer brand issues can hinder sourcing efforts.
  4. Single channel strategy: Over-reliance on a single sourcing channel can lead to a lack of diversity in your candidate pool. To ensure a well-rounded pool of candidates, it's crucial to leverage multiple channels.
  5. Spamming messages: Sending out a large number of messages can be good, but make sure it's targeted to the right candidates and there is a touch of personalisation. This will avoid coming across as spamming.
  6. Neglecting candidate experience: Treating candidates poorly during the sourcing process can harm your employer's reputation and deter qualified candidates from considering your company in the future.
  7. Inadequate follow-ups: Failing to follow up with sourced candidates in a timely and respectful manner can lead to frustration and a negative perception of your company.
  8. Miscommunication with candidates: Not being clear about job details, expectations, or the recruitment process can create confusion and potentially cause candidates to drop out.
  9. Disregarding skill assessment: Failing to assess candidates' skills effectively can lead to hiring individuals who don't meet the required qualifications.
  10. Not building relationships: Viewing sourcing as a transactional process instead of an opportunity to build relationships can result in missed opportunities for future hiring needs.
  11. Ignoring data and analytics: Not leveraging data and analytics to track the effectiveness of sourcing strategies can prevent you from refining your approach based on what works best.
  12. No collaboration with hiring managers: A recruitment process works in the context of the business, make sure to stay up to date on the latest thoughts of the hiring managers on the candidates in the pipeline and adjust your sourcing accordingly.

To avoid these mistakes, it's crucial to have a well-defined sourcing strategy, clear communication with candidates, a strong employer brand, and a commitment to continuous improvement based on feedback and data analysis.

Follow the sourcing trends of 2023

There are loads of trends following the technologies developed, and AI made this space develop even more rapidly.

Here to highlight a few:

  1. AI-Powered Sourcing Tools: The use of AI-driven tools for candidate sourcing is likely to continue growing. AI can help automate initial candidate screening, identify passive candidates, and suggest potential matches based on skills and qualifications. Another AI example is that automated chatbots and text messaging can be used to initiate candidate interactions, answer questions, and provide updates on the application process.
  2. Quality of Quantity: In times when the main goal for startups is to become profitable, the workforce needs a close look. We move away from the trend that growth means more people and focus on automation and efficiency. This is reflected in the sourcing strategy by slow hiring and tighter requirements. 
  3. Personalised Candidate Experience: Sourcing strategies will likely prioritise personalised candidate engagement. AI could be used to take away repetitive tasks and tailor communication based on candidates' preferences and interactions.
  4. Social Media and Niche Platforms: Social media platforms and industry-specific online communities will remain valuable sourcing channels. Recruiters might leverage niche platforms to find specialised talent.
  5. Remote and Hybrid Workforce Focus: Sourcing strategies will likely adapt to the growing remote and hybrid work trends in global workforces. Recruiters will seek candidates who are comfortable with these work arrangements.
  6. Talent Communities and Pipelining: Building and maintaining talent communities for long-term engagement could become a more prominent aspect of sourcing. Recruiters will nurture relationships with potential candidates over time.
  7. Skills-Based Sourcing (instead of job titles): With rapid changes in job roles and technologies, recruiters may focus more on skills than traditional job titles. Sourcing tools could be used to identify candidates with specific skills relevant to the company's needs.
  8. Referral Programs: Employee referral programs will continue to be a reliable source of quality candidates. With our digital databases and social platforms, it becomes easier and easier to tap into the network of our employees.  
  9. Video and Multimedia Content: Video job descriptions, employee testimonials, and virtual tours of the workplace could be used to attract candidates and provide a more immersive view of the company.

Sourcing wrap-up

Candidate sourcing is like a muscle you train over time. The best sourcers in the world build out their skills in finding talent and engaging them. Combining those learned traits, with all of the above strategies and mistakes to avoid, will make you into the secret weapon of your company when it comes to talent. The companies that hire the right people, will thrive.

Are you struggling with any of these steps? We have successfully sourced teams at DeepL, Hotjar and Volvo in Europe and the US. Book a call and discuss your sourcing plan with our experts.


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