Some experts predict that the combination of today’s intense labor shortage and the continuing skills gap, that was plaguing multiple industries even before the pandemic, will lead to a complete labor crisis by 2030.

With an uncertain future ahead, it’s vital for employers to take steps now to build a robust talent acquisition strategy that maintains a key focus on talent sourcing. This step is so important that 54% of employers around the world ranked talent sourcing and acquisition as their number one priority for 2021.

To help you with this process, keep on reading this blog about the unique role of sourcing and why it's such a valuable part of the talent acquisition process, including best practices for developing your own sourcing strategy.


what is talent sourcing?

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, sourcing is the proactive searching for qualified job candidates for current or planned open positions followed by attracting and engaging with potential candidates for both current and future roles within the company. Sourcing is typically part of the recruiting function performed by the HR professional, but it may also be conducted by managers within the company.

Decades ago, many employers solely relied on online and print job ads to source candidates. This post and wait strategy alone, however, will not be effective in finding high-quality candidates in today’s highly competitive job market. Instead, employers must take proactive steps to source candidates.

difference between talent sourcing and recruitment

Sourcing and recruitment are two distinct roles within the HR function. Sourcing is the proactive process of searching for qualified candidates for current and anticipated positions within the company. Recruitment, on the other hand, deals with screening, assessing and interviewing these candidates as well as handling job offer negotiation when a role opens up within the company.

why is talent sourcing important?

A talent sourcing strategy involves building a strong talent pipeline that focuses on the company’s current and future hiring needs. While maintaining a strong process for sourcing talent requires an investment of both time and money, it also delivers an excellent ROI in the form of various benefits, such as:

ability to attract passive candidates

One of the worst mistakes recruiters can make is to underestimate the power of passive candidates. These are the candidates that are already employed and not actively looking for a new job. However, studies show that over 70% of all candidates are passive. This means that you could lose out on a majority of the candidate pool without a dedicated strategy in place to recruit these passive candidates.

70% Percentage
70% Percentage

The good news is that just because passive candidates aren’t actively seeking out new job opportunities doesn’t mean that they’re not willing to consider them. It just means you need to think outside the box in order to find these candidates where they are online and to understand what it would take for them to take the next step. With the right sourcing strategy in place, your company will be able to successfully attract both passive and active candidates.

improved quality of hire

Actively sourcing candidates can also help you improve the overall quality of hire. First, this type of strategy will increase the size of your potential candidate pool and provide your company with better hiring options. Secondly, the right sourcing strategy will ensure your company is looking for candidates with the right skills, traits and qualifications, which can improve both job and boss fit.

faster time to hire

Using a candidate sourcing strategy to build a strong talent pipeline can significantly improve your time to hire rates. In most cases, the candidates in your talent pool will already be vetted and prescreened. This step alone can save your company time and resources when it comes time to fill open positions. Additionally, in many cases, your sourcing team has already started the engagement process with these candidates, which can also help to shorten the time it takes to move the candidate through the application process and improve offer acceptance rates.

best practices for sourcing talent

The best way to attract qualified candidates, especially in a highly competitive job market, is to build a strong sourcing strategy to identify, attract and engage with both active and passive candidates. Here’s a look at some of the best practices for sourcing high-quality candidates.

1.understand company needs

Before you can take any steps to build a strong sourcing strategy, you must first understand the unique needs of your company. Take the time to assess what types of skills, traits and qualifications your company requires both today and in the future. Be sure to obtain input from your employees, supervisors and hiring managers to obtain a complete view of the company staffing needs. With the skills gap continuing to grow in many industries, it’s equally important to identify which of these skills, traits, and qualifications candidates must have right from the start and in what areas can the company invest in training and skillbuilding to equip their workers after hiring.

You can then use this information to develop candidate personas for various roles within the company, which will provide you with a better view of what your ideal candidates look like. Once this step is complete, you can use these personas to create a customized sourcing strategy that is specifically designed to target these ideal candidates.

2. build a strong employer brand

Studies show that 75% of all job seekers research a company brand even before applying for a job. If your company has a negative employer brand online, it can significantly impact the number of qualified candidates willing to apply for your open positions. This factor is especially true for passive candidates, who may already be hesitant about changing employers.

It’s vital to conduct a comprehensive employer brand audit to determine how your company image compares to the competition. If the results of this audit are less than desirable, take the time now to revamp your current brand and take active steps to address any negative online comments. For example, encourage some of your most loyal employees to leave online reviews to provide a glimpse of what it’s like to work for the company.

3. leverage use of social media

Social media is one of the best platforms for reaching candidates of all ages, locations and interests. Studies show that 3.6 billion people across the globe use at least one form of social media. While these platforms can enable your company to reach many prospective candidates in a short period of time, they are also saturated with content.

This factor means that you must take the time to create a targeted social media strategy for candidate sourcing. Be sure to develop a strategy that maximizes the use of each type of platform. For example, Twitter uses an advanced search engine that allows users to search for almost anything. So, when posting career opportunities on Twitter, be sure to use targeted keywords and hashtags. YouTube, on the other hand, can be an ideal platform for creating videos showcasing what it’s like to work for your company.

You should also understand that various generations use social media in different ways. Since today’s job market now includes candidates from five different generations, it’s more important than ever to create inclusive content that resonates with each of these groups. Alternatively, you can choose to create targeted sourcing campaigns for multiple generations.

4. maintain a continuous talent pipeline

Sourcing isn’t a one-time effort, nor should it be done only when the need for new hires arises. Instead, talent sourcing is the proactive process of continually identifying what the company’s talent needs are, determining which sourcing

methods work best for each talent group, and attracting and engaging with prospective candidates. In fact, the main objective of sourcing should be to build a strong talent pipeline that can be tapped into as needed.

This means that you want to keep all valuable candidates in the pipeline until the point of hire. For example, if you made initial contact with a qualified candidate but were unable to guide them through the application process, don’t simply give up. While engagement didn’t work the first time, it doesn’t mean that the candidate won’t be willing to consider future job opportunities within the company. In fact, studies suggest that candidates are four times more likely to respond to job opportunities if they’ve connected with the company before.

It’s crucial to the success of your sourcing outcomes to build a continuous talent pipeline that includes all potential candidates, including those who abandoned the application process midway, as well as those who made it through the screening and vetting process but weren’t selected for the job.

5. invest in referrals

Referrals remain one of the best ways to source high-quality candidates. There are a number of ways to source these referrals, including:

employee referrals

Studies show that as many as 30% of all new hires come from employee referrals. The reality is that no one knows your business better than your employees, so it only makes sense that they would know what type of candidates would be right for the company. The right employee referral program can produce candidates at all levels within the company. The important thing is to develop a referral program that is fair, transparent and available to all employees.

referrals from within

You also don’t want to miss out on the talent you already have working for your company. Whenever a new job opening is available, start by asking supervisors and hiring managers if there is talent within the company that can move into these roles. Using in-house referrals can improve worker morale and job satisfaction, not to mention enable you to fill these open vacancies faster.

6. analyze sourcing metrics

Digital technology allows employers to gather, store and analyze large amounts of data. When used correctly, this data can provide excellent insight into the success of any given sourcing campaign. It’s important, however, to make analyzing this data a dedicated part of the sourcing process.

There are numerous types of sourcing metrics your company can track, such as:

effectiveness of sourcing channels

One of the most important metrics to track is the effectiveness of each sourcing channel used, such as social media, employee referrals and job board posting. It’s equally important to attach some demographics to these metrics, such as age, location and education level. This combination of data collection and analysis will enable your sourcing team to develop targeted campaigns and to evaluate if each sourcing channel used is really the best method of reaching your target candidates.

response rate

The response rate is calculated by dividing the number of contacts made by the number of respondents. Take the time to conduct some A/B testing to evaluate the effectiveness of each type of contact. This data allows you to determine which messaging strategies are resonating with the candidates and to tailor your strategies to maximize outcomes.

candidate conversion rate

The candidate conversion rate is another prime metric to track. This will let you know how many prospective candidates actually move forward and complete the application process.

number of touchpoints

This metric will detect how many touchpoints are necessary to entice the average candidate to complete the application process. Naturally, you want to source high-quality candidates as quickly as possible, so the lower number of touchpoints the better. However, it’s also important to determine which touchpoints are making the greatest impact and which ones tend to prompt the candidate into action.
Learn more about how the right strategy can enable your company to find the talent it needs to grow by downloading our guide to sourcing top talent.

about the author
sanjay shetty
sanjay shetty

sanjay shetty

head, search & selection & strategic accounts

sanjay shetty is a human resource or "Talent Specialist" with more than 21 years of experience of hiring across all industries and levels and managing relationships with companies across India

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