How To | Recruiting Strategy | Social Recruiting

What is Talent Sourcing & The Best Candidate Sourcing Strategies

What is Talent Sourcing & The Best Candidate Sourcing Strategies
Maelle De Francesco

Maelle De Francesco


Employees are the backbone of any company. While some business owners think that customers are the primary VIPs, without top-notch employees the customer experience would be lacking. Hiring the right people for your company is an intense process that begins well before you see resumes and interviews.

The first step is talent sourcing. It’s the broad umbrella of tasks that kicks off the hiring process by discovering the pool of talent for any given position or skill set.

There are a lot of aspects to sourcing talent for your business so by understanding what it is, the process, and strategies, you can tap into the best possible candidates for your open positions.

What is Candidate Sourcing?

what is talent sourcing

Talent sourcing is the phrase recruiters and hiring managers use to describe the process by which they locate potential candidates. This step needs to happen long before resumes are reviewed and interviews scheduled.

What does talent sourcing involve? It’s made up of several aspects:

  • Identifying
  • Generating
  • Locating
  • Researching
  • Networking

Each part of the process is done in conjunction to determine where the best candidate pipeline is for any particular job. For example, some industries have a lot of luck with traditional job fairs. Other industries target passive candidates, which means they look at people who work in the industry who may not be actively looking for a new job.

Only after you’ve created a talent pool from your sourcing efforts can you begin to narrow down potential candidates for the next steps in the hiring process. Talent sourcing can be done through traditional or online advertising, networking in targeted communities, or even referral programs through your current staff. Whether your company prefers more traditional methods or creative sourcing procedures will depend largely on your industry and corporate culture.

For example, Google uses its platform for a unique sourcing experience. They’ve built in an application process to certain keywords on their search engine related to the types of coders they hire. If someone searches that keyword phrase, they are redirected to a special job application.

The Process for Sourcing Talent

Talent sourcing is just one of the typical three-prong approaches to hiring. Talent sourcing process begins with Talent acquisition, or the overall strategy in place to find and retain talent. The middle aspect, where an organization will identify specific talent for the company, is sourcing. Recruiting is the culmination where the identified candidates are matched to open positions.

Creating a sourcing process will be a key factor in identifying and hiring top talent in any position within your company. Understanding the sourcing process will help you stay ahead of requests so you don’t find yourself scrambling. Let’s take a look at the kind of process you may employ.

1. The Job Description

Any applicant sourcing process needs to begin in the job description. It’s helpful for HR to create standard descriptions for every position within the company so the information is readily accessible when a new position becomes open.

A good description includes:

  • Expectations
  • Skills requirements
  • Soft skills

You can work with the department managers to flesh out job descriptions for typical positions so when a job becomes available, you can hit the ground running.

2. Identifying the Ideal Personality

Beyond the job description, you need to understand the persona of the individual who will succeed in this role and department. Start by shooting for the stars. What is the dream candidate for this role? What will they bring to the table? What previous experience will allow them to excel in the job. You also want to consider the corporate culture so you know what kind of personality will fit in best with the existing team.

A company also needs to pay specific attention to their own employer brand. This is how you share your positive company image and reputation to attract good employees to apply. In a LinkedIn study, they discovered candidate turnover decreased by 28% and cost per hire by 50% when employer branding is strong.

3. Sourcing Candidates

This leads you to the next phase which is sourcing candidates. Once you know the job description and expectations, and the ideal candidate you can begin looking at your candidate pipeline, advertising for the position, or networking.

At this stage, relying on technology to assist you in the organizational process is essential. Long gone are the days that this can be done by hand. An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) or Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) will allow you to organize and process many more potential candidates for the job. These systems also allow you to tap into existing resources. Sourcing can be much easier each time if you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

There will of course be minutia throughout the sourcing process that you will become accustomed to and an expert in as you gain experience. This is why some companies will outsource the process to agencies or workforce management solutions. It can streamline the sourcing process and give companies back vital time to focus on their business.

What are Candidate Sourcing Strategies?

candidate sourcing strategies

Sourcing potential candidates for your job can come from multiple channels and pipelines, including those right under your nose. But it’s often helpful to understand the real-world examples of where exactly to look when a need arises. Here are a few recruiting sourcing strategies you should consider.

1. Meet with the Hiring Manager

Before you begin the outreach process, meet again with the hiring manager to make sure nothing’s changed. You want to make sure everyone’s on the same page when it comes to your manager’s expectations. Use the job description originally developed for the role and ask targeted questions to help you understand if anything has changed.

2. Source Your ATS

Once you’re comfortable with the skills and experience you need to find, it’s time to hit your Applicant Tracking System. You may have already sourced the perfect candidate for this job but since it’s been a while, you need to refresh yourself. Your ATS will allow you to search for keywords related to the hiring manager’s expectations and the necessary skills.

3. Think Creatively about Online Channels

Next, many recruiters will turn to their online channels to find new potential candidates. What are your go-to websites? Don’t just visit LinkedIn and think that’s the end of your search? Don’t limit yourself to one or two online job boards to source candidates. Dig deeper to find websites where the talent you’re seeking gather.

4. Network at Face-to-Face Events

In-person events are still a great way to find top talent. Networking can happen anywhere from in line at the bank to a specific industry event for people who have exactly the skills you’re seeking. Some recruiters utilize job fairs to find people with certain experience for open positions.

5. Tap into Employee Networks

Current employees can be a great source of new talent. Referral programs have been successful for a long time since good people tend to refer good people. Most organizations will offer an incentive for retention if the referral candidate is hired and stays on the job.

6. Consider Targeting Passive Candidates

Some positions may be best served by looking at passive candidates. These professionals are not looking for an open position, but if approached correctly and provided with an incentive to change jobs, may consider the opportunity.

7. Engage Through Your Employer Brand

You should also focus on your employer brand, which can lead top talent to find you. Your employer brand is a way to showcase what it’s like to work with your organization. Increasing your positive reputation and interacting with people on social media will help engaged potential talent.

Recruiting Software and Sourcing Talent

As we mentioned, sourcing your applicant tracking system should always be an early step in the sourcing process. Whether you use an ATS or a CRM platform, the system has been designed to catalog potential applicants previously sourced. And often, these are for very similar positions.

Many HR departments or recruitment agencies are looking at SaaS or Software-as-a-Service models. Also known as cloud-based software, this offers the ability for recruiters and hiring managers to access the ATS from anywhere, which only increases the usability and functionality of the system.

An ATS becomes the central hub for organizing all things related to recruitment, including sourcing. For any previous job posting, your organization would have received high volumes of resumes that, while potentially qualified, did not make the final cut for hiring. But within those resumes are still stellar candidates that may be better suited for the new position.

According to a 2016 LinkedIn report on job seeking trends, 39% of people found their new jobs through referrals, 32% had success with job boards, and 30% discovered their next position on social professional networks.

Many systems feature all-in-on services that allow you to handle every aspect of the recruiting process right from the platform.

Many ATS systems today also make use of artificial intelligence. Such things as keyword searches can be automated which can save time for recruiters and hiring managers in the sourcing process. But even with the added convenience of AI, sourcing still needs the human touch to narrow down the most qualified candidates. For example, reworking keyword searches to encompass similar skill sets may give you different and more diversified results in the narrowed candidate pool.

But software can make all aspects of the sourcing process easier by adding other forms of automation. For example, posting jobs online was once a tedious process requiring individual access to several job boards. But a good software solution will allow you to input data once to conserve time and increase efficiency.

Conclusion: The Road to a Great Candidate Sourcing Strategy

From sourcing to the final hiring process, what any HR professional or recruiter wants is a system that makes the entire process streamlined. Being able to manage your recruitment all in one place, from sourcing to interviewing and assessments will increase the ability to focus on other important aspects of your job.

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