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Candidate Search outsourced recruiting

Candidate Sourcing Strategies to Build Your Talent Pipeline

April 1, 2021

This article about candidate sourcing strategies was originally published in September 2018. All relevant statistics and copy have been updated as of April 2021. 


Attracting qualified talent is a core goal of HR teams throughout the world. This competitive hiring landscape can be especially challenging for companies to stand out from the competition. If you want to stay competitive, you need to source quality talent that is screened and ready for positions in the future. But waiting for these qualified passive candidates to reply to your outreach may not  fill your pipeline quick enough,  so we’ve gathered our favorite candidate sourcing strategies.

Communicate With Your Hiring Managers

Communication with your hiring manager is essential throughout the entire candidate sourcing process. You need to ensure you’re on the same page and calibrate effectively  for  your ideal, strong candidate profile. This verifies your team is sourcing quality talent and allows you to fine-tune your search criteria based on the team’s feedback. When sourcers are removed from these conversations, it reduces your team’s effectiveness and overall cohesion.

#DYK that 82% of employers rate employee #referrals as the best ROI for quality #hires? Find out more #CandidateSourcing strategies on @IQTalent’s latest blog:Click to Tweet

Pull From Your ATS First

For many companies, re-engaging candidates is a missed opportunity. Even though nearly all 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. But, here’s the thing — all that past work your recruiting team did to engage your declined candidate could (and should!) be reused. 


AI platforms 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 diverse candidates to help eliminate the “ATS black hole.”


Diversify Your 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 available. Multiple other options are available for online candidate sourcing. Utilizing smaller, less frequently used sources can help you expand your talent pool and reach untapped talent you would have otherwise overlooked. Plus,, candidates may be more receptive to outreach messages on less conventional websites. 


Recruiters should understand their target candidate’s needs to predict where to find them online and how to attract them. For instance, GitHub is a great place to find talented developers. Other sourcing software like Hiretual and Entelo help you find, engage, and pipeline talent while streamlining the process with automation and AI tools.


Utilize Employee Networks

Organizations can expand their talent pool significantly 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.


Perfect Your Outreach Messages

You’ve worked hard to source the best 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 draws attention – make it about the candidate, not you.
  • Keep the message open and focused on the candidate – for example, use something like, “Tell me about what you're looking for to make a move.”
  • Personalize your message — use relevant information you found about the candidate
  • Paint a brief picture of the role and your organization — what can the candidate expect to experience in the workday?
  • Showcase how they can add value — what can they do to help the organization reach its goals? What value would they bring 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 ‘empty’ 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 much 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 a position. Additionally, good employer branding can reduce turnover by 28%. In other words, what candidates say about you can have a direct impact on your quality of hires and how well you retain employees. The reviews you get on Glassdoor matter more than you may think when it comes to sourcing top talent.


Follow Up With Candidates Who Don’t Respond

Did you know follow-ups can 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 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. Rather than spamming the candidate, you’re working to build a healthy connection for possible future opportunities.


Tip: Even if they’re not interested, candidates may refer someone who would be a great fit. This “polite persistence” is an effective way to keep candidates in the loop while also building a strong relationship with them.


Optimize The Application Experience

Companies should consider two things: how long it takes a candidate to apply to any given position and how many clicks it takes to fill out an application. Overall, recruiters should put themselves in the candidate’s shoes to ensure best practices are in play to simplify the application process. 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 robust social sourcing program, recruiters should invite employees to share company news and job openings across their social accounts. When organizations tap into their employee networks, they increase brand awareness and expand candidate reach.


Embrace 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. 82% of employers rate employee referrals as the best ROI for quality hires. Employee referrals tend to fulfill job requirements quicker, stay longer, and refer other strong candidates. By building an employee referral program, recruiters can hire top talent and avoid backfilling roles.


Don’t Overanalyze Resumes

Resumes are by nature imperfect and an inadequate representation of a person’s experience and capabilities. Don’t spend too much time reading resumes – scan them. If you can’t 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 do have the skills and experience you need.


Bonus Material: Download our Candidate Sourcing Strategies Checklist


View Resumes As More Than Just A Potential Match

Many recruiters fail to understand 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, remember not to make assumptions about candidates based on their resumes. Additionally, understand that people who are too junior or too senior for your current needs might fit future roles.


Run Multiple Searches Across Multiple Sources


No matter how strong your sourcing skills are, you should always run multiple searches. One Boolean search can’t find all qualified candidates. It is also critical to leverage every resource you have available. You may be in love with LinkedIn, but it may hide the best candidates for the position. It is easy to lose yourself down the rabbit hole searching across multiple platforms — you need to stay adaptable. Keep a list of what stands out to you across your searches to help keep yourself organized.

@IQTalent breaks down #CandidateSourcing strategies in their latest blog. Which strategy works best for your organization? Find out more:Click to Tweet

Don’t Be A Sourcing Snob

Despite popular opinion, 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. Suppose you’re the type who believes that the job board resume databases are filled with “active” candidates. In that case, 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 even 2-4+ years old.


Update Your Online Presence

Placing your job ad on the right board makes a difference for the number of candidates you can source. The top 5 most commonly used hiring channels are:


  1. Indeed
  2. LinkedIn
  3. ZipRecruiter
  4. Glassdoor
  5. CareerBuilder

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


Learn About The Role From Co-Workers

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


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 securing high-quality talent. Are you interested in learning more about techniques to source a higher quality and quantity of talent? Contact IQTalent Partners today!


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