Candidate sourcing is a very specialized and difficult position. Sourcers or researchers must use multiple platforms to find the most qualified candidates for a given job. Where those candidates are found can be hard to pinpoint: 78% of candidates use social media in their job search, but the best candidates for a position may be hidden somewhere else.
Sourcing is the investigative side of recruiting and is often used in difficult-to-fill roles. While there are highly specialized sourcers in some companies, in most cases, recruiters and HR professionals, and even hiring managers, might find themselves performing the sourcing function. If that’s you, here are some best practices to lean on when sourcing for your organization:
#1 Define the Role
Put in the prep work before the sourcing starts. Before any resumes are reviewed or candidates are called, a sourcer must have a detailed description of the position and team involved. This is the first and most important step, because knowing every aspect of the position is going to help filter out unqualified candidates from the get-go. The talent pool is massive: Sourcers have access to job boards—which 62% of candidates still report using—social media, internal talent pipelines and more. The faster a sourcer can vet candidates, the easier their job will be.
Tip: Ask the hiring team (not just manager) what the goals will be for the role. This helps you define the role for your potential candidates!
#2 Define the Limits of the Job
Sourcers should know where the limit of their job is, and what crosses over into “recruiter territory.” A sourcer uses platforms to find and qualify candidates, while a recruiter vets resumes and moves interested candidates through the interviewing and hiring process. Those who only source shouldn't to get bogged down in tasks that aren’t part of their job (e.g. setting up interviews, slogging through resumes or collaborating between candidate and employer).
Tip: Many sourcers discover candidates on various platforms. Instead of sending a bland InMail, try a unique message on the platform they seem to like best, and mention how their skills will be a great fit for the job. Be specific!
#3 Be Detailed with Searches
One of the most basic tools a sourcer has available to them is Google’s Boolean search. However, making the search function truly useful takes a few tricks. Simple strings, like a list of skills and the job title, are going to retrieve simple, unintuitive results. This is where detailed knowledge of the role and the ideal candidate become a goldmine for specific keywords. There are a plethora of online resources from smart sourcing minds that you can essentially plug and play:
Tip: Use responsibility terms (manage, coordinate, organize) to get better results. Avoid buzzwords that don’t really describe the job functions. Additionally, take advantage of Google’s search abilities and use their defining terms, “and,” “not” and “or."
#4 Not First-In, First-Out
Candidate sourcing is not first-come, first-serve. Sourcers may be under deadlines to find a certain number of qualified candidates in a certain amount of time, but they can’t let that have a big impact in the candidates that are selected. The first few candidates who fit the candidate persona may be pretty good, but they may not be great.
Tip: If you approach candidates from a personal standpoint, you are more likely to find out if they’re willing to take an assessment or hear more about the opportunity before presenting to a hiring manager.
#5 Build a Sourcing Pipeline
Sourcers are in constant contact with candidates, and the best sourcers keep a running pipeline. Candidates that are currently passive may become active in the future, and it’s up to the sourcer to remember those candidates and keep them on tap for future searches. Great sourcers make an effort to connect with those candidates and keep a relationship going—making the candidate readily available when the time comes to fill the right position.
Tip: Ensure your pipeline stays filled. You don’t have to have an open role to ensure you seek out candidates who’d be a good fit. Once you start flexing those sourcing muscles, you might even end up being an internal advocate for incredible candidates BEFORE you have a position open!
#6 Use Social Media
Prospect candidates likely spend a lot of time on social media. They might even be spending multiple hours a day on it. For sourcers, it’s a gold mine of information. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn give valuable insights into a candidate’s personality and give clues to how they would fit in a certain position.
Tip: Use Facebook’s Graph Search function. It’s a free tool that enables sourcers to find candidates on Facebook who work for a specific industry, near a certain location or for a specific company.
#7 Track the Right Sourcing Metrics
One of the most important things a sourcer should track is their best source of new candidates. Whether it’s LinkedIn or Monster.com, sourcers should be tracking where their best candidates—that is, the ones who are eventually hired—are coming from. The second metric to keep an eye on is time-to-hire for those candidates. The average time to hire is 27 working days: A good sourcer knows if they’re above or below average, and how they can improve.
#8 Look Beyond the Current Position
No person is an island. Every potential candidate a sourcer looks at is a person with friends, family, coworkers—connections. When reviewing candidates, a sourcer should keep an eye on the industry a candidate works in, their management level and their geographical location. All those details are clues that the candidate may know someone who is perfectly suited for a position.
Tip: Sourcing with referrals takes on a whole new meaning when working with local associations, fraternities, clubs and groups. Try looking at associations and events as opportunities for sourcing!
#9 Use Your ATS
An Applicant Tracking System is specifically designed to store and retrieve candidate information. The best sourcers take advantage of the ATS’ features by utilizing it to find candidates that have already expressed interest at some point or another. It has all the information a sourcer needs to find the right candidates for the position.
Tip: When prospects become candidates and candidates become applicants, ensure a positive and personal candidate experience by creating a seamless path through your whole interviewing process with a robust ATS.
ClearCompany’s Applicant Tracking System has immediate access to millions of robust profiles and powerful search capabilities. It’s the perfect system to take sourcing to the next level.
As the head of a department in the midst of a sustained period of rapid growth, Sara has spent hundreds of hours interviewing, hiring, onboarding and assessing employees and candidates. She is passionate about sharing the best practices she has learned from both successes and failures in talent acquisition and management.