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Candidate Sourcing: A Complete How-To Guide

"Learn how to proactively source candidates in a competitive talent marketplace with our complete guide to candidate sourcing. Discover effective methods, leveraging technology, and tracking success. Our comprehensive resource explores a range of strategies, including referrals, social media, recruitment agencies, and more. Don't miss out on this valuable resource."

By James Yorke

12 Apr 2023 · 7 min read

Candidate Sourcing: A Complete How-To Guide

The lifeblood of every small or medium-sized business (SMB) is its workforce. 

As the war for talent intensifies, it is crucial for SMB owners and hiring managers to adopt a proactive approach to finding and engaging the right candidates.

This comprehensive guide delves into the world of candidate sourcing, providing you with the latest strategies, backed by data and stats, to ensure your business stays ahead in the talent marketplace.

From exploring various candidate sourcing methods to understanding the importance of candidate experience, this guide will be an invaluable resource for your SMB.

Here’s an overview of what to expect in this guide:

  1. Understanding Candidate Sourcing
  2. Candidate Sourcing Strategies
  3. Employer Branding and Company Culture
  4. Leveraging Technology for Candidate Sourcing
  5. Developing a Holistic Candidate Sourcing Strategy
  6. The Importance of Candidate Experience
  7. Legal and Ethical Considerations
  8. Tracking Success and ROI

1. Understanding Candidate Sourcing

Candidate sourcing is the proactive process of identifying, engaging, and attracting potential employees to your organisation. 

This approach goes beyond merely posting job advertisements and waiting for applicants; it involves actively searching for talent that meets your organisation’s specific needs.

According to LinkedIn’s Global Recruiting Trends report, 61% of recruiters feel that candidate sourcing is essential for success, and 46% of employers are increasing their investment in candidate sourcing.

As the war for talent intensifies, adopting effective candidate sourcing strategies is critical for SMB owners and hiring managers.

Candidate sourcing is the proactive process of identifying, engaging, and attracting potential candidates for current or future job openings.

It is an essential part of an organisation's recruitment strategy and helps ensure a continuous pipeline of talent to meet current and future needs.

According to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 63% of organisations consider talent shortage to be their biggest challenge.

Candidate sourcing helps to address this challenge by expanding the pool of potential candidates beyond those who apply directly to job postings.

Some notable statistics that emphasise the importance of candidate sourcing include:

  • 52% of talent acquisition leaders believe the hardest part of recruitment is identifying the right candidates from a large applicant pool.
  • 69% of companies say that their recruitment process is too long, which can result in losing quality candidates.
  • A proactive approach to candidate sourcing can reduce the time-to-hire by 50% and the cost-per-hire by 70%.
  • Passive candidates, who are not actively looking for a job, make up 70% of the global workforce. Targeting these individuals can help companies tap into a larger talent pool.
  • It is estimated that 80% of the job market is hidden or unadvertised. Effective candidate sourcing helps you access this hidden talent.

2. Candidate Sourcing Strategies

Employee Referrals

Employee referrals are a highly effective candidate sourcing method, with referred candidates often being faster to hire, more likely to stay with the company and better cultural fits. 

According to a recent study, employee referrals account for 40% of all hires, and referred candidates have a 45% retention rate after two years.

Job Boards and Aggregators

Job boards and aggregators are essential tools for candidate sourcing, allowing you to post job advertisements and attract applicants. 

According to a study by SilkRoad, 58% of all external hires come from job boards. 

Consider using general and niche job boards tailored to your industry or specific roles to maximise your reach.

Social Media

Social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, offer a wealth of opportunities for candidate sourcing.

A study by SHRM found that 84% of organisations use social media for recruitment, and 43% of organisations report an increase in candidate quality through social media sourcing.

Networking Events

Networking events, such as industry conferences, job fairs, and meetups, provide opportunities to connect with potential candidates in person. 

Face-to-face interactions can help you gauge a candidate’s fit and interest in your organisation and promote your employer brand.

Recruitment Agencies

Working with specialised recruitment agencies can help you tap into their extensive networks and industry expertise to source high-quality candidates. 

While using recruitment agencies may be more costly than other methods, their ability to identify hard-to-find talent can make the investment worthwhile.

University and Alumni Networks

Collaborating with universities and tapping into alumni networks can help you access a pool of young, highly skilled talent. Establishing partnerships with educational institutions and attending career fairs allow you to showcase your organisation and connect with potential candidates before they enter the job market.

Talent Pools and Succession Planning

Creating talent pools and developing succession plans are essential for effective candidate sourcing.

By identifying high-potential employees and mapping their career paths within your organisation, you can ensure a steady pipeline of talent ready to step into key positions. 

Talent pools also help you maintain relationships with promising candidates who may not have been the right fit for a previous role but could be suitable for future opportunities.

Passive Candidate Outreach

Engaging passive candidates—those not actively looking for a job but may be open to new opportunities—is a crucial aspect of candidate sourcing. 

According to LinkedIn, 70% of the global workforce comprises passive talent.

By identifying and nurturing relationships with these individuals, you can access a wider pool of talent that may not be reachable through traditional recruitment channels.

Collaborating with Industry Associations

Partnering with industry associations and professional groups can help you access a network of experienced professionals who share your organisation’s values and goals. 

You can connect with potential candidates by participating in association events, offering workshops or presentations, and advertising job openings and showcase your commitment to the industry.

3. Employer Branding and Company Culture

A strong employer brand and positive company culture play a significant role in attracting and retaining top talent during the candidate sourcing process.

According to a Glassdoor study, 84% of job seekers consider an organisation's employer brand before applying for a job.

Additionally, the same study found that companies with a strong employer brand receive 50% more qualified applicants and see a 28% reduction in employee turnover.

Other important data points related to employer branding and company culture include:

  • 75% of job seekers are likely to apply for a job if the employer actively manages its employer brand.
  • A positive company culture can increase employee productivity by up to 20%.
  • Companies with a strong employer brand and company culture can save up to 50% on recruitment costs.

To enhance your employer branding and company culture, consider the following:

  • Develop a clear and authentic employer value proposition (EVP) that showcases your organisation's mission, values, and benefits.
  • Use social media platforms to share company updates, employee stories, and behind-the-scenes glimpses into your workplace.
  • Encourage current employees to leave reviews on platforms like Glassdoor to provide an authentic picture of your organisation from an insider's perspective.
  • Highlight diversity and inclusion initiatives to appeal to a broader range of potential candidates.
  • Invest in employee well-being programs to promote a healthy work environment and reduce turnover.

By promoting your organisation’s values, culture, and benefits through your website, social media, and job advertisements, you can create a compelling employer brand that appeals to potential candidates.

4. Leveraging Technology for Candidate Sourcing

Technology plays a significant role in streamlining and enhancing the candidate sourcing process. 

Applicant tracking systems (ATS), artificial intelligence (AI), and data analytics tools can help you automate tasks, improve candidate engagement, and make more informed hiring decisions. 

  • According to Capterra, 75% of recruiters and talent managers use an ATS or other recruiting software to improve the hiring process.
  • AI-powered tools can help reduce bias in candidate sourcing by anonymising applications and focusing on skills and experience instead of personal characteristics.
  • Data-driven candidate sourcing can lead to a 56% reduction in time-to-hire and a 39% reduction in cost-per-hire.
  • 81% of talent professionals agree that virtual recruiting will continue even after the pandemic, and 70% of them believe it will become the new standard.

By embracing digital transformation, you can increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your candidate sourcing efforts.

5. Developing a Holistic Candidate Sourcing Strategy

To ensure success in candidate sourcing, developing a holistic strategy that combines various methods and techniques is essential. 

Here are some steps to help you create an effective candidate sourcing strategy:

Assess your needs

Identify the skills, experience, and qualifications required for each position within your organisation to target the right candidates during your candidate sourcing process.

Set clear goals

Establish specific, measurable, and attainable candidate sourcing goals, such as reducing time-to-hire or improving the quality of candidates.

Select appropriate sourcing methods

Choose the candidate sourcing strategies that best align with your organisation’s needs, goals, and resources.

Allocate resources

Determine the budget, personnel, and time needed to execute your candidate sourcing strategy effectively.

Measure success

Regularly track your KPIs to evaluate the success of your candidate sourcing efforts and adjust your strategy as needed.

Continuously refine your approach

Stay informed about the latest trends, tools, and best practices in candidate sourcing to ensure your strategy remains relevant and effective.

6. The Importance of Candidate Experience

Candidate experience plays a significant role in attracting and retaining talent during the candidate sourcing process. 

A positive candidate experience can enhance your employer brand, increase the likelihood of candidates accepting job offers, and encourage referrals. 

To improve candidate experience, consider the following:

  1. Create clear and engaging job descriptions.
  2. Streamline your application process and minimise barriers to entry.
  3. Communicate promptly and respectfully with candidates throughout the recruitment process.
  4. Offer personalised feedback to unsuccessful candidates when possible.
  5. Collect feedback from candidates to identify areas for improvement.

7. Embracing Diversity and Inclusion in Candidate Sourcing

Promoting diversity and inclusion in your candidate sourcing efforts is essential for fostering a diverse workforce, improving creativity and innovation, and enhancing your employer brand. 

To achieve this, consider the following:

  1. Review job descriptions and requirements to ensure they’re inclusive and unbiased.
  2. Implement blind recruitment practices to minimise unconscious bias in the selection process.
  3. Partner with diversity-focused organisations and attend events that attract diverse talent.
  4. Train hiring managers on diversity and inclusion best practices.
  5. Set diversity targets and track progress to ensure your candidate sourcing efforts reflect your commitment to diversity and inclusion.

8. Building and Maintaining Talent Pipelines

Developing and nurturing a talent pipeline can significantly improve your candidate sourcing efforts, reduce time-to-hire, and ensure a continuous supply of qualified candidates for your organisation. 

Here are some strategies for building and maintaining talent pipelines:

  • Identify key roles and skill sets critical for your organisation’s success.
  • Create candidate profiles based on the desired skills, experience, and qualifications for each key role.
  • Engage with potential candidates through social media, networking events, and industry forums.
  • Continuously update your talent pipeline with new candidates and maintain regular communication with those in the pipeline to keep them engaged and interested in your organisation.
  • Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of your talent pipeline to ensure it continues to meet your organisation’s needs.

9. Collaborating with Internal Teams

Effective candidate sourcing relies on close collaboration between various internal teams, including hiring managers, HR professionals, and senior leadership.

To facilitate seamless collaboration:

  • Establish clear roles and responsibilities for each team member involved in the candidate sourcing process.
  • Encourage open communication and information sharing between teams.
  • Implement feedback loops to ensure continuous improvement and learning.
  • Leverage technology, such as shared calendars, project management tools, and video conferencing platforms, to streamline collaboration and improve efficiency.

10. Adapting to Remote Work and the Gig Economy

The rise of remote work and the gig economy presents new challenges and opportunities for candidate sourcing. To stay competitive in this evolving landscape:

  • Consider offering flexible work arrangements, such as remote work, part-time roles, or freelance opportunities, to attract a wider range of candidates.
  • Use remote-friendly candidate sourcing strategies, such as virtual job fairs, online networking events, and remote-specific job boards.
  • Develop processes and tools to effectively manage remote workers and freelancers.
  • Prioritise soft skills, such as adaptability, communication, and self-management, when sourcing candidates for remote or gig roles.

11. Tracking Success and ROI

Monitoring the success of your candidate sourcing efforts is essential for making data-driven decisions and optimising your recruitment strategy. 

Key performance indicators (KPIs) such as time-to-hire, cost-per-hire, and quality of hire can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of your sourcing methods. 

Regularly review your KPIs and adjusting your approach as needed will help you maximise the return on investment (ROI) of your candidate sourcing efforts.

12. Legal and Ethical Considerations

During the candidate sourcing process, adhering to legal and ethical guidelines, including data privacy regulations and anti-discrimination laws is crucial. 

Ensuring a fair and transparent recruitment process helps you avoid potential legal issues, enhances your employer brand, and fosters a diverse and inclusive workforce.

Let’s wrap up the complete guide to candidate sourcing

In today’s highly competitive talent market, effective candidate sourcing is crucial for SMBs to attract and retain the best talent

By employing diverse strategies, leveraging technology, and focusing on candidate experience, SMB owners and hiring managers can successfully navigate the complex landscape of candidate sourcing. 

As you continue to refine your approach and adapt to the ever-evolving world of recruitment, your organisation will be well-positioned to secure the talent needed to drive growth and success.

By James Yorke

12 Apr 2023 · 7 min read

As the Digital Marketing Manager at GoHire, I steer the company's online presence, constantly trying to push the company forward and exploring the latest trends in digital marketing. When I'm not working on GoHire's marketing campaigns, I embrace the challenge of running in the rain, take my loyal Doberman dog out for walks, and passionately support Tottenham Hotspur F.C. through the many highs and lows!


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