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What is Candidate Sourcing?

Candidate sourcing refers to the process of looking for, identifying, and engaging with potential job candidates who have not applied for positions at an organization. When recruiters do this, they establish and nurture relationships with those who may or may not be actively searching for a job. Over time, this allows companies to build a pipeline of talent for future positions that need to be filled. This makes candidate sourcing a significant strategy to add to a recruiting toolbox.

Candidate Sourcing Diagram
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What is the Difference Between Sourcing and Recruiting?

Recruiters may use the terms sourcing and recruiting interchangeably, but these practices are actually quite different, though closely related. So what is the difference between sourcing and recruiting? 

Sourcing occurs when recruiters go out and look for candidates for a current, or even future, role, and oftentimes the potential applicants they consider are passive candidates. This process—which includes doing research to find suitable candidates and evaluating their credentials—is a long-term strategy that requires recruiters to nurture relationships with talent. That way, when a job becomes available that matches their qualifications, recruiters can contact them directly and ask them to apply. 

On the other hand, recruiting is considered all of the activities that go into attracting and hiring candidates. Although sourcing can be a piece of this puzzle, recruiting entails everything from writing job descriptions to attending events to conducting background checks to interviewing candidates. Generally, recruiting activities are related to jobs currently being filled, so there may not be enough flexibility to do extensive sourcing when hiring time is of the essence. As a result, recruiting tends to focus on the qualifications for a specific position, while sourcing focuses on how a specific potential candidate may fit into the organization. 

How Does Sourcing Affect Recruiting?

Since it can be so time consuming, companies may wonder how does sourcing affect recruiting and whether it is worth the effort. Although sourcing does require a lot of work, it has a positive effect on recruiting because it means hiring managers have already-vetted candidates at their fingertips when it's time to fill a position. As a result, recruiters will spend less time filling each opening because they've already done the heavy lifting. Also, since sourcing allows recruiters to evaluate whether or not potential candidates will be a good fit within their organization, they’re able to boost acceptance and retention rates. 

Talent Pool vs. Talent Pipeline

Making the distinction between a talent pool vs. talent pipeline will help recruiters hone in on the best potential candidates as they’re sourcing. Early in the process, recruiters will create a talent pool, which is a broad list of people they initially think may be a good fit. A talent pipeline is the culmination of recruiters digging deeper into candidate qualifications to determine who would be a viable applicant. This is a smaller group of people that recruiters will spend time nurturing, sometimes for extended amounts of time, to ensure that the relationships being built lead to a new hire.

How Much Time Should I Spend on Sourcing?

Before embarking on any of the work, recruiters may ask themselves, “How much time should I spend on sourcing?” Although it depends on the needs of the company, hiring managers should expect to spend a significant amount of time on sourcing to get good results. For example, according to SourceCon, when recruiters spend 35 minutes a day on sourcing, they can expect to receive a 35 percent response rate when reaching out to prospective candidates.

Sourcing Specialists — What Do They Do?

A sourcing specialist is a human resources professional who works to fill current and future positions by finding and communicating with talent. To do this, these professionals begin by identifying candidates from different places like social media platforms, communities for specific industry professionals, and portfolio networks. Other job duties include working with hiring managers to identify the ideal candidate, messaging and calling sourced talent, and putting information into an applicant tracking system.

Why Your Candidate Sourcing Strategy Should Involve Passive Candidates

A passive candidate is someone a recruiter is considering who hasn’t applied for a job at a company. In fact, passive candidates aren’t looking for a job at all. Although recruiters may feel reluctant to invest time in researching passive candidates, it's important to remember that active candidates are only active as long as they’re job hunting. As soon as they find a job, they become passive candidates.

Even though passive candidates have a job and aren't actively looking for new opportunities, that doesn't mean they're not receptive to them. According to LinkedIn, even when they're not job seeking, 90 percent of people are still open to hearing about what’s out there. This means that sourcing for passive candidates is well worth the time because there’s no telling who will jump at the chance to make a move when presented with the right one.

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How Does Social Sourcing Work?

From LinkedIn to Twitter to Facebook, social sourcing is the use of social media platforms, as well as personal websites and blogs, to find candidates. When recruiters use social sourcing, they look through postings to find out what kind of expertise potential candidates have, what their background is, and whether or not they’d be a good fit for the company. Generally, social sourcing results in finding passive candidates, however, some people may use their social media to make it known they’re actively looking for work.

Diversifying Your Online Candidate Sourcing Channels

While recruiters flock to LinkedIn when looking for talent, it's important to diversify online candidate sourcing channels to boost their chances of success. LinkedIn is not the only game in town, and there are other online sources recruiters can turn to for quality hires. Alternative social media sites can be good places to find potential candidates, since many professionals spread out their efforts when building a brand and looking for work. Also, blogs can be a gold mine of potential talent since people use their platforms to show off expertise in their field—giving companies a glimpse of the knowledge and skills they bring to the table. Additionally, job and message boards that cater to a specific industry help recruiters connect with a wealth of passive or active candidates.

Key Candidate Sourcing Metrics

Sourcing is by nature a proactive pursuit, and part of being proactive is keeping an eye on the return on investment. In order to do this, recruiters should track and analyze key candidate sourcing metrics so they’re aware of how successful their efforts have been. The following are examples of data to pay attention to.

Sourcing Productivity 

Sourcing productivity refers to how efficient recruiters have been during different stages of the process. To measure this metric, they need to collect data on how many candidates have been identified, screened, and contacted by phone, email, or social media. Tracking this information allows recruiters to understand how efficient their process is and what areas need to be improved.

Candidates Reviewed 

Once recruiters find candidates, they need to do something with them. This metric represents how many candidates they have investigated, and after they've been reviewed, how many of those candidates were tagged as viable applicants for job openings.

Candidates Invited To Apply

Tracking the number of candidates invited to apply for a position helps recruiters figure out if their assessments have been on target. If they're spending time researching candidates, but ultimately not considering them for a job, recruiters know the way they're evaluating talent needs to be revisited.

Response Rate

Measuring the response rate to outreach lets recruiters know how effective their messaging is. A low response rate can be an indication that the subject line of messages needs to be changed, more personalization needs to be included in the body, or messages should be sent at different times.

Source To Interview Rate

Theoretically, because recruiters are spending time vetting candidates before contacting them, they should have a high source to interview rate. However, if a lot of sourced candidates aren't interested in being interviewed for openings, it's time to reevaluate different steps of the process. Maybe recruiters aren't looking for candidates in the right locations. Maybe their criteria for choosing them should be revised. Whatever the problem is, a low source to interview rate is an indicator that something needs to be tweaked.

Source to hire rate

Since hiring candidates is a recruiter’s ultimate goal, this is the most important metric to track. The source to hire rate will reveal just how successful the process has been along the way, and how strong the candidate pipeline that’s been created is. If this rate is low, hiring managers must look at every part of the sourcing process to find out what isn't working.

Quality Of Sourced Hire

While hiring is the goal when it comes to sourcing candidates, it isn’t the end of the story. Paying attention to the quality of sourced hires can also help fine-tune the process. When sourced candidates are hired, how long do they stay? How well do they perform on the job? Recruiters should define what a quality hire is and analyze data to find out how their sourced talent measures up.

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