Candidate Sourcing Strategies to Build Your Talent Pipeline

By Chris Murdock

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Throughout the world, the core goal of HR teams is attracting qualified talent. In this competitive hiring landscape, it can be especially difficult for companies to stand out from the competition. If you want to stand out, you need to hire quality talent to help get you there. Waiting for candidates to come to you won’t get results, so we’ve gathered a few of the best tips for sourcing candidates.

Communicate with the Hiring Manager

Communication with your hiring manager is important throughout the entire candidate sourcing process. This is necessary to ensure you’re on the same page regarding what a strong candidate looks like. Not only will this verify your team is sourcing quality talent, this also allows you to fine tune your search criteria based on the team’s feedback. When sourcers are not included in these conversations, it reduces the effectiveness and overall cohesion of your team.

Source From Your ATS First

For many companies, re-engaging candidates is a missed opportunity. Even though nearly 99% of companies believe re-engaging candidates will help them build their talent community and protect their employer brand, fewer than half of employers re-engage declined candidates. Instead, you should utilize your team’s past efforts by beginning every search with the candidates your team has already deemed qualified to work at your organization. AI platforms like Atipica can help you mine your ATS to see candidates you already have in your pipeline that would make a great fit. It’s a great way to highlight or take a fresh look at underrepresented candidates to help eliminate the “ATS black hole.”

Diversify Your Online Sourcing Channels

Many recruiters say they first turn to their professional network when sourcing, while others say they turn to LinkedIn but stop there. While LinkedIn is great, it’s not the only online resource out there. Adding some other, less frequently fished sources might help your team reach untapped talent. Candidates may be more receptive to outreach messages on less conventional websites. They key is to understand your target candidates so you can better predict where to find them online. For instance, GitHub is a great place to find talented developers, while other sourcing software like Hiretual and Entelo help you find, engage and pipeline talent while streamlining the process with automation and AI tools.

Utilize Your Employees’ Networks

Organizations can expand their talent pool 10 times by recruiting through their employees’ networks. Run sourcing sessions with your team to see if anyone in your employees’ networks would be a good fit for one of your open positions. For IQTalent Partners, this is our number 1 source of candidates!

Perfect Your Outreach Messages

You’ve worked hard to source the right candidates, but that doesn’t matter if they won’t engage with you. Here are a few rules to follow:

  • Lead with a subject line that will make the candidate want to open and read your message — make it about the candidate, not their or your role.
  • Keep the message open and focused on the candidate — something like “Tell me about what you’re looking for in order to make a move.”
  • Personalize your message with relevant information you found about them
  • Paint a brief picture of the role and your organization
  • Explain how you think they could add value to the team

Build a Strong Employer Brand

Candidates aren’t likely to respond to your messages if they perceive your employer brand negatively, and an unknown employer brand can stall your efforts as well. In contrast, a strong employer brand is an incredibly effective recruiting tool. Organizations that invest in employer branding are three times more likely to make a quality hire. In a study by Allegis Group Services,84% of candidates say they would consider leaving their current jobs if a company with an excellent corporate reputation offered them another role. Additionally, employee turnover can be reduced by 28% by investing in employer brand. In other words, what candidates say about you can have a direct impact on your quality of hires and how well you retain employees. Those reviews on Glassdoor matter more than you would think in terms of sourcing top talent.

Follow Up With Candidates Who Don’t Respond

Did you know follow-ups can actually be more effective than the first email you send? You can send candidates company news, congratulate them on work milestones, wish them a happy birthday, ask them how big projects went and even congratulate them on new jobs. Even if these check-ins don’t yield immediate results, you want to stay top of mind with your best candidates so you’re the first to know when they’re ready to make a move. Plus, even if they’re not interested, they may refer someone who would be a great fit. This “polite persistence” is an effective way to keep candidates in the loop while also continuing to build a strong relationship with them. The difference here is you’re not spamming the candidate; you’re working to build a healthy connection for possible future opportunities.

Optimize the Application Experience

Two things for companies to consider are how long it takes a candidate to apply to any given open position and how many clicks it takes a candidate to fill out an application. Overall, recruiters should be able to put themselves in the candidate’s shoes to ensure best practices are in play. For example, your career site should display accurately both on mobile and through desktop and an organization’s job applications shouldn’t include any unnecessary questions.

Utilize Social Sourcing

To build a strong social sourcing program, recruiters should invite employees to share company news and job openings across their personal social accounts. Today’s technologies allow employees to seamlessly opt into set it and forget it job publishing where company information can be shared simultaneously. When organizations tap into their employee networks, they increase brand awareness and expand candidate reach.

Discover Candidates Through Employee Referrals

Organizations don’t need to look far to recruit and source candidates. A company’s current employees have the potential to be their best hiring tool. Hiring Insights found that 88% of employers rate employee referrals above all other sources for quality hires — fulfilling job requirements quicker, staying longer and referring other candidates. By building an employee referral program, recruiters can hire top talent and avoid backfilling roles.

Do Not Overanalyze Resumes

Resumes are by nature imperfect and poor representations of a person’s experience and capabilities, so don’t read resumes — scan them. If you can’t absolutely disqualify/rule out a candidate based on reviewing their resume in 10 seconds, pick up the phone and call them — you might be surprised. You’ll call people you would not likely have called before, and you’ll find out that some of those candidates actually do have the skills and experience you need.

See Each Resume as More than a Potential Match for the Open Position

What many fail to understand is that resumes are more than just a pdf, a document or a sheet of paper about work history, skills and training. They’re people! While it’s easy to lose sight of that fact in today’s digital landscape if you find yourself scanning a search result that appears to be under or over-qualified, remember to not make assumptions about candidates based on their resume/profile. Additionally, understand that people who are in fact too junior or too senior for your current needs might fit future roles. Finally, people who are either too junior or too senior for a particular position might work with or know someone who is an exact match.

Run Multiple Searches Across Multiple Sources

No matter how strong your sourcing skills, you should always run multiple searches. It’s impossible for one Boolean search to find all qualified candidates. It is also critical to leverage every resource you have available to you. You may be in love with LinkedIn, but the best candidates for that special position you’re working on may be hidden in your ATS. The key figure to note here is to maintain an adaptable mindset. It can be easy to lose yourself down the rabbit hole searching across multiple platforms. Keep a list of what stands out to you across your searches to help keep yourself organized.

Don’t be a Sourcing Snob

Despite popular opinion to the contrary, job board resume databases are not filled with desperate, low-quality candidates. If your experience suggests otherwise, perhaps it’s your searches or your search strategy. And if you’re the type who believes that the job board resume databases are filled with “active” candidates, you might be surprised to know that approximately 75–80% of all resumes in the major job board resume databases are dated over 30 days old. Some are 2–4+ years old.

Update Your Online Presence for an Effective Sourcing Strategy

The most common hiring channel reported by Glassdoor is online applications (42%), followed by college or university referrals (10%), employee referrals (10%) and recruiter referrals (9%). The least common job interview sources reported were in-person connections (such as meeting company representatives at a job fair, 8%), staffing agency referrals (2%) and all other sources (4%).

Since the majority of people apply online, it’s important to ensure that your online platform is up-to-date across all channels that talent might be researching you. Have you Googled your own brand to see what pops up? Optimizing your online presence is one of the essential ways of sourcing candidates.

Learn About the Role From Co-Workers in Similar Positions

Reaching out to co-workers on the team you’re hiring for will help you better understand the responsibilities and work environment of the position. These insights will provide an opportunity to enhance the job description when talking to candidates which will end up helping each person visualize themselves in the role. Software like Microsoft Teams helps simplify this process so you can quickly gather feedback and add it to your project.

Attend Networking Events

Networking allows you to discover people you wouldn’t necessarily find online. Since many of the best candidates are highly involved in their industry, networking events, such as industry meetups, are ideal places to meet potential candidates. The connection can become a future hire or part of your network.

With these candidate sourcing tips at your disposal, you’ll be able to recruit more efficiently while acquiring high-quality talent.

About Chris Murdock:

Chris Murdock is the Co-Founder and Senior Partner of IQTalent Partners. Chris has over 12 years of executive recruiting experience and leads search execution and client relationships along with supporting searches across the firm. Prior to Founding IQTalent Partners, Chris was a sourcer with Yahoo!’s internal Executive Recruiting team in the corporate offices in Sunnyvale, California. 

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