The Modern Guide to Candidate Sourcing

New technology affects the way every industry operates and recruiting is no different. Over the last decade, the role of the recruiter has changed drastically thanks to advancements in web sourcing.

While evolution is always a good thing, many in the recruiting world have wondered: is the act of strategic candidate sourcing dead?

This debate picked up steam in 2013 when recruiting expert John Sullivan declared candidate sourcing a dying practice. His reasoning? “Finding top talent will always be important, but eventually it will become so easy that, except in specialized cases, there will be no reason to have it done by highly paid recruiters.” (source)

While there is some truth to this claim, others argue that sourcing has not died – rather, it has changed.

Let’s take a look at the modern candidate sourcing strategy, how it has changed, best practices, and whether or not you need a candidate sourcing platform.

What Does Sourcing Candidates Mean?

Sourcing means proactively searching for and qualifying candidates for a position, rather than relying on incoming resumes and applications to find candidates. When sourcing on the web, recruiters seek out both active candidates (ones who are searching for jobs) and passive candidates (those who aren’t actively seeking employment).

Research shows that 31% of all hires are proactively sourced, and that sourced candidates are more than 2 times as efficient to hire (source).

How Has Sourcing Changed?

The short answer: Everyone is online. As the web continues to improve the speed and efficiency of human communication, the connection between recruiter and candidate is streamlined. Let’s look at the three primary developments that have changed the way recruiters’ source candidates.

Social media sourcing

Social media platforms have transformed the way recruiters find candidates. Check out these statistics (source):

  • 4 million job seekers have used social networks to find a job.
  • 73% of companies successfully hired a candidate with social media.
  • 93% of companies use LinkedIn for recruiting, while 66% use Facebook and 54% use Twitter.

Job boards sourcing

Online job boards have become the go-to tool for job seekers. But remember: sourcing is proactive, not reactive. You’re not sourcing candidates if you’re waiting for them to come to you.

Job boards are as useful for recruiters as they are for candidates. People upload their resumes to job boards—even if they aren’t actively searching. These databases of resumes are a great resource for recruiters and headhunters.

Automated sourcing technology

As more and more candidates build a strong presence on the web, new technologies have emerged that can streamline the sourcing process.

Using job descriptions and information from previously successful hires, companies can now use AI to search for and collect candidate data. Automated software can then reach out to qualified candidates to gauge their interest. In short, recruiters can automate the entire sourcing process if they wish to.

However, fully-automated sourcing has its pitfalls. The information that automated services use to collect data (resumes, job descriptions, etc.) don’t paint the full picture of a candidate. There are details that make certain candidates special, details that only a human recruiter can pick up on.

How To Recruit Top Talent Despite Industry Change

We compiled a few tips that can help you stand out in today’s crowded recruiting landscape.

1.     Emphasize referral programs

That’s right. Despite all the new platforms available to recruiters, the old-school strategy of using referrals to source candidates is still alive and well.

If you haven’t already, establish a program in which employees are paid a referral bonus for referring a candidate that gets hired. It may be an older, less tech-dependent method of sourcing, but it’s also one of the most effective. 78% recruiters say they find their best candidates through referrals (source).

If you have a referral program in place, put some extra emphasis behind it. Studies show that referred candidates are not only more likely to take the job, they’re also more likely to perform well in the role (source):

  • Referred hires accept offers 15% more often than non-referred candidates.
  • Referred hires perform up to 15% better than non-referred candidates.

2.     Prioritize social sourcing

Recruiters cite social networking as an increasingly effective way to source quality candidates. Use social media to build diverse talent pipelines and engage passive candidates.

LinkedIn is the most effective platform for sourcing candidates. Because it is a professional network, users’ profiles are more likely to contain the job titles and keywords that recruiters often search for.

On other platforms like Facebook and Twitter, recruiters must think outside the box. For example, Twitter’s advanced search option allows you to search for keywords and phrases within a given location.

For example, say you’re looking to fill a mid-level marketing position. By searching for specific keywords near your company’s location, you find a Marketing Coordinator who has tweeted out links to their company’s content.

This is a sign that they may be a quality candidate, and you can reach out to them directly on Twitter. Even if they aren’t seeking a change in position, you can add them to your talent database for future reference.

3.     Don’t neglect passive candidates

As we mentioned, there are two types of candidates: those who are actively looking for jobs and those who are not. Surprisingly, passive candidates often end up being the best employees.

Ready for more good news? They aren’t as difficult to recruit as you may think. 85% of employed people say they are open to switching jobs, but only 18% of businesses are increasing their focus on passive candidates (source).

Gain a competitive advantage by targeting more passive candidates and you’ll likely find the perfect hire. In fact, studies show that passive candidates are 120% more likely to make a positive impact on your business (source).

Remember, passive candidates aren’t necessarily looking for a new role, so don’t strictly advertise job postings. Instead, share engaging content that may spark interest without being overly promotional. Your company’s reputation makes a big difference when it comes to attracting passive candidates (source):

  • 66% of people who changed jobs were aware of the company they joined before they applied.
  • 92% of candidates would consider switching jobs if a company with an excellent reputation offered them a job.
  • 45% of people aged 35 to 44 would leave their job for less than a 10% pay increase to join a company with an excellent reputation. Only 12% would leave for a company with a bad reputation.

Key Takeaways About Your Candidate Sourcing Strategy

Candidate sourcing will continue to evolve. But these changes don’t mean that strategic candidate sourcing is going away any time soon.

The best recruiters know how to automate the tedious parts of sourcing, while still using human intuition and manual efforts to find top talent. After all, sourcing is about making connections with candidates. And in that regard, even the most sophisticated technology can’t replace a great recruiter.