Talent Sourcing: A Strategic Means to Find the Right Candidates

Posted by IntroMagic Team on February 15th, 2022

“Time is the most valuable asset you don’t own” and this is precisely why talent sourcing has become more crucial today than ever before. 

A good employee can not only save money for the company but also time, and most recruiters struggle to find quality candidates who fit the requirements perfectly. Not to mention the time wasted during the hiring process. 

In the recruitment process starting from identifying the hiring needs, preparing the JD, talent search, screening, shortlisting, interviewing, evaluating, until handing the appointment letter, you can save invaluable time by embracing talent or candidate sourcing strategies. 

So if you’re wondering what is talent sourcing, how can you deploy it yourself, stick around until the end of the article where everything from the definition to hiring the right candidate is explained in detail.

What is Talent Sourcing?

Talent sourcing or applicant sourcing is the process of searching and identifying a potential candidate for a particular job description. 

In a process where candidates are moved from a broader pool into a narrower pipeline, talent sourcing is the ideal way to hire candidates for available positions. 

Note: A talent pipeline is vetted & shortlisted names from a pool of candidates who have applied or sourced by the recruiter. 

In due process, recruiters communicate with the potential candidate in a series of rigorous evaluations, and in turn, the candidates receive the benefit of understanding the company’s nuances.

Talent sourcing is drastically different from evaluating outside candidate applications as statistics clearly show that 1 in 72 candidates sourced via this process is hired as opposed to 1 in 152 candidates who applied for the job voluntarily. More than 50% percent efficiency is noticed when recruiters take the route of talent sourcing. 

With that said, let us take a step-by-step look into the talent sourcing process.

Talent Sourcing Steps

When you dig deeper into the trenches, talent sourcing can be further divided into 5 steps.

  • Identification: this is when you utilize tools like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and others to identify the potential candidates on the surface to create a talent pool.
  • Generation: also known as generating leads is a process where the recruiter creates events or content that are useful & interesting for the potential candidates. 
  • Locating: is identifying where the potential candidates are located, if they can relocate, or can be availed of the freedom of remote working.
  • Researching: is all about collecting actionable data of the candidate that helps the brand in formulating a detailed hiring strategy.
  • Networking: is utilizing all the means of socializing at the recruiter’s disposal to reach a potential candidate. Be it social media, hiring portals, personally, or otherwise, networking is a process that doesn’t have an end.

Note: Based on the industry, the mentioned steps are undertaken actively or passively by the recruiter. While some industries get lucky with traditional means of job fairs, others resort to reaching out to passive candidates who may or may not be looking for a job or a job change. These passive recruiters often seek the help of professional recruitment services. 

Upon undergoing all the mentioned steps can a recruiter zero in on potential candidates, and allow them to undergo the next steps in the hiring process. 

Talent sourcing is generally done via traditional sources like advertising, networking a particular community, referral programs, and holding other events. As mentioned in the note earlier, talent sourcing mainly depends on the industry your brand hails from. 

Talent Sourcing as a Recruiting Strategy

It may come to you as a surprise but over 80% of the companies are currently sourcing talent proactively. Talent sourcing must be a key recruiting strategy because according to LinkedIn; out of 90% of candidates open to new job opportunities, 36% of them are actually actively searching for a new job. These statistics clearly indicate that sourcing makes obvious sense. 

“Engaging passive candidates gives you an advantage. In my opinion, the best folks are never looking. If folks are not actively looking, there’s a higher likelihood they won’t be interviewing elsewhere.” avers Camille Conrotto, an HR at Niantic. 

Every experienced recruiter believes that as long as they’re regularly reaching out to candidates, potential or not, they’re able to gauge the industry and maintain a solid talent pipeline for the company. 

With that said, one must never assume that people applying for the jobs are the representation of the available talent out there but take up the mantle to seek out the diamonds in the rough and diversify.

Now that we know the fundamentals of talent sourcing, let us take a look into the whole process of it. 

The Process for Sourcing Talent

Divided into three steps, the process of sourcing talent becomes much easier when followed step-by-step. Once mastered, the sourcing process helps you keep up to date on requests and avoid last-minute mishaps, so let us understand the three steps process for sourcing talent. 

1. The JD (Job Description)

Start off the process of sourcing talent by creating a perfect job description. Even if it is not perfect, creating a standard description for every position available & filled in the company makes life easier in the short term and the long run. 

If information is accessible readily for each position, the first step becomes as simple as plug and play, making it easier for the steps that follow. 

Include the following in the JD:

  • Soft skills
  • Skills required
  • Expectations
  • And work with the manager or team lead to derive other requirements for each position. 

2. Personality of the Candidate

The next step is understanding the personality of the candidate. It is not sufficient for the candidate to qualify on paper to do a good job, she must have the right attitude towards her work, the employer, and share the brand culture when she’s part of the company. 

Identifying what a candidate can bring to the table is another trait a recruiter must inculcate and this goes beyond blindly looking past experiences. 

A candidate may have 5 years of experience but sometimes, someone with just 2 years of experience can outperform someone more experienced, and recruiters can grasp this using the tools mentioned later in the article. 

Furthermore, brands need to pay attention to their own personality and optics. A brand that shares a genuinely positive outlook with the public attracts talent easier than brands that are known to ill-treat their employees.

3. Candidates Sourcing

The last step is candidate sourcing. Upon completing the steps above, recruiters have the description of the candidate, expectations, and other details from which they can dive into their candidate pipeline, or advertise for the position that is open. 

At this step, it makes complete sense to utilize various tools available in the market to streamline the approach and make the recruitment process easier. 

Tools like CRM (Customer Relationship Management), LinkedIn, Application Tracking Systems (ATS) come in handy and allow the recruiter to organize and maintain a detailed database for potential candidates. Explained further down the article are various tools that make your life easier. 

Talent Sourcing Tools to Try

Now that we know the crucial three steps of the talent sourcing process, let us look at some of the important tools that can be used for the same. 

1. LinkedIn

The go-to platform for many recruiters, LinkedIn works better than many other recruitment tools for any industry. For most recruiters, LinkedIn could suffice their talent sourcing needs as it has some of the best search tools bar none. Adjusting job title, location, experience, and many other nuances, LinkedIn Recruiter is more than just ideal to zero in on the perfect candidate. 

2. CRM Tools

The abbreviation of Candidate Relationship Management Tools, CRM helps you maintain a detailed log of all the applicants and sourced candidates. Allowing you to open a new dialogue with past candidates seamlessly, CRM manages the pipeline better than most tools available in the industry.

3. Email Outreach

A tried & tested traditional method, email outreach is always in the center of any other tool you may use. Be it LinkedIn, CRM, referrals, or even AI. Experimenting with email lengths, writing patterns, send times, graphic or text content, subject lines, and various other aspects can surely increase the chances of finding the ideal candidate for the pipeline, if not for the role directly. 

4. Referrals

An age-old technique that still works like a charm, employee referral is a great tool for recruitment as well. If you have done due diligence in hiring a great employee, chances are they know someone as good as themselves, if not a better fit for a similar position. 

With that said, freshers seldom bring in a potential candidate for the pipeline as they often lack the connections of an experienced employee, so make sure to vet them thoroughly. 

5. Social Media

When you say social media, it is not the usual suspect’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter we are talking about but Slack, Quora, GitHub, and Medium. 

Enabling the employer or the recruiter to directly engage with a potential candidate, can also function as a platform for sharing talent content which can go a long way. It may seem like a slow & tedious way to go about talent sourcing but it is effective nonetheless. 

6. Deploying AI/ML

A term that is thrown around in the corporate world, utilizing Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning tools to find the right candidate can work like a miracle. 

Machine learning algorithms can easily automate the first few steps of talent sourcing by identifying prospective candidates who fit your present hiring requirement or sorting candidates with particular skills you are looking for. 

The downside of using an ML algorithm is the loss of human instinct to verify candidate strengths that may transcend beyond their experience, skill, or other aspects. With that said, talent sourcing pool can definitely make the most of ML and can always be rewritten and enhanced to accommodate your requirements 

7. Candidate Assessment Tools

In the process of moving candidates from the talent pool to the talent pipeline, recruiters can utilize tools like Berke, Vervoe, Codility, and many more to assess if the candidate can do what she claims she can. 

The tools also come with customizability, a database of previous assessments undertaken by other companies in the same sector, and many other advantages. 

Upon rendering the results of the assessment, recruiters may take a call or pass on the candidate to the next round of the interview with ease or retain them in the pipeline. 

8. Application Tracking Software (ATS)

As the name suggests, ATS is another tool to make HR’s life easy. Utilized by many recruiters already, there are quite a few ATS tools to choose from if you’re yet to take advantage of one. Just like CRM, ATS has lately become one of the unparalleled tools to track applications that would have otherwise become a near-impossible task. As much as one can debate about the pros and cons of an ATS system, the efficiency of newer generation software are getting robust by the year, so much so that even Google has an ATS product offering called “Google Hire”

Challenges with Talent Sourcing

Even with all the processes and the tools that make talent sourcing a breeze, challenges still persist. Lately, recruitment has been observed as a critical function for business objectives and is no longer considered a support system like it used to be.

As they say, “with great power comes great challenges”, and here are some of the general challenges faced while hiring the right candidate:

  • Quality of Sourcing: It is needless to say but often overseen, recruitment is a ruthless business as private consultants, and HR’s from competitive brands are practically poaching the same talent pool you are. The challenge is not only in sourcing the best quality candidates but doing it amidst ever-mounting competition who often outbid the competition by paying employees more. 
  • The Mismatch of Jobs & Applicants: More often than not, recruiters are faced with time constraints of the candidates who are otherwise a perfect fit for the role. Similarly, process complexities and other in-house clutter may be detrimental during the hiring process as well. 
  • Hiring Costs: The consequence of unstreamlined and ill-maintained hiring systems and methods can cost the company. Other than offering a CTC to a candidate, there are budgets set for hiring purposes and it is a constant challenge for the recruiter to keep up with industry standards, utilize the best tools, and save time to maintain the given budget. 
  • Talent Shortage: You may have heard about shortages in jobs but according to research done by Korn Ferry Institute, job shortages are a clear & present danger that may cost companies billions. The research found that by 2030, the global talent shortage is bound to grow to a staggering 85.2 million people even with the mind boggling advances in AI & ML technologies.
  • Poor Communication: A HR may not be well-versed with the role and it is the duty of the hiring manager to bring the HR up to speed, and it is the HR’s responsibility to keep clear grounds for communication during the hiring process. Oftentimes, a simple communication difference can cost the company a valuable candidate and this could also compromise the employer brand. 
  • Poor Job Descriptions: A great JD cristal clearly communicates the company direction, work culture, expectations from the candidate, offered salary, role description, and others. On the hind side, a recruiter who doesn’t understand the JD may communicate the description poorly by conveying underlined biases towards gender, language, and ethnicities, which could cost more than just a good candidate to the company. 
  • Inability to Utilize Technology: As mentioned earlier in the article, utilizing technology is the fundamental ability an HR must possess. But according to a CIPD study, out of 150,000 HR professionals, only 7% of them were capable of utilizing people analytics optimally. 
  • Poor Candidate Experience: A metric that is often overseen, every candidate who interviews with a company, regardless of being hired or not, must walk away with a good interview experience, through & through. An oversight in this regard will not only result in a bad remark on Glassdoor but the brand is sure to lose quality talent, along with wastage of time & resources. 

Best Candidate Sourcing Strategies

With the definition, the process of talent sourcing, tools, and challenges explained, let us finally pay attention to the most prolific strategies that can be used in candidate sourcing. 

Maintain a Healthy Relationship with the Hiring Manager: It goes without saying that HR must maintain a healthy professional relationship with the hiring manager which is sure to enable both parties to engage in the hiring process seamlessly. 

If you’re new at a job as HR, establish a cordial professional relationship with the hiring manager as early as possible and nourish it from time to time. As a result, you can showcase a collective front to the candidates and it is sure to immediately increase the brand value. Asking your hiring manager to help you source the channels where your candidates are most active will often work. 

Running searches together, deliberating & reviewing the talent pool, shortlisting candidates from the talent pool to the pipeline together, are all the exercises that not only helps you during the hiring process but also build camaraderie.

Source Candidates from ATS: Make the most of your Application Tracking Software where candidates from your talent pool or pipeline have already interviewed with you. 

What could be your invaluable, personal database, you could not only save time & energy but also money for your company by dipping into your ATS. Most brands prefer to source talent fresh each time they begin the hiring process but believing in the candidates’ professional growth will come in handy for sure. 

Track the candidates who slipped out, almost made it to the final round, engage with them, find out if they’re working elsewhere, circle back, and put forth an offer. These are the steps that can be taken to source promising talent from your ATS. 

Diversify your Sourcing Channels: Other than the aforementioned channels such as Medium and Quora, recruiters can utilize lesser heard of channels that are attracting millennials and gen z alike. Hired, Underdog, Entelo, Aevy, Xing, and even Twitter can be great channels to source talent. 

About 52% of recruiters source talent from their own professional network, and around 28% turn to LinkedIn. You could source talent from the remainder of the percentage which could work wonders. 

Don’t Underestimate Offline Methods: Let’s face it, a millennial spends hours on social media platforms chatting with friends but the socialization they’re bound to remember are the ones they’ve had personally. 

As strong as online means of sourcing talent are, meeting people personally is still oodles more efficient and memorable. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that leveraging this means makes common sense. 

Recruiters could hold meetings at cafes, host events, congregate with people at events held by others, and many other personal/offline means. There are industry-specific conferences taking place almost every day in metro cities, you will find far less competition and built professional relationships in the process. 

Employee Referrals & Outreach Messages: For many years now, incentivized referral programs have worked wonders for companies of all sizes and industries. With the ability to expand the company talent pipeline by 10 folds, recruiting via the current employee network is still considered the most efficient way to human resources. 

Making your outreach messages more candidate-focused always works, and formatting the message like a customer service program will increase engagement immediately. Customize the email, add more color, graphics, and personalize it, and you will sure to notice replies flooding in, No more waiting for outreach emails. 

Conclusion

Ergo, it is quite evident why talent sourcing is much more efficient and hiring candidates who apply for job openings. Diversifying your channels, robustifying your outreach emails & JD, maintaining a camaraderie with your professional counterparts, and optimally utilizing technology & tools are the best practices you can do as a recruiter.

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