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    Candidate Sourcing 101 – What We Teach Our Sourcing Specialists

    Proactive sourcing is one of the most efficient practices to hire candidates. If you wait around for candidates to come to you after you’ve posted requirements on job boards, then you’ll end up in dire straits.

    If you want to succeed in today’s talent market, you must be strategic and proactive in your sourcing efforts.

    This step-by-step candidate sourcing guide is ideal for your team to understand the nitty-gritty of the process and excel at building a highly effective talent pipeline.

    What more you’ll learn through this 2020 candidate sourcing guide:

    • Candidate Sourcing Techniques: Ideal techniques?
    • Candidate Sourcing Tools: Are there any benefits?
    • Talent Acquisition Platforms: How to leverage?
    • Passive Candidate Sourcing: Ideal strategies?

    After all, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to discern that recruitment team that masters candidate sourcing tactics will rule this space.

    This image defines the recruitment priorities set by companies in 2018
    Sourcing Candidates directly is the top recruitment priority for companies in 2018 according to the whitepaper published by CV Library

    But before we dive into sourcing tactics and best practices, let’s understand what candidate sourcing entails.

    Understanding Candidate Sourcing

    Regardless of what you may have heard, sourcing is not the same as recruiting. Candidate sourcing forms an initial phase of a company’s recruitment cycle that encompasses a pro-active search and engagement with potential candidates to fulfil current and future job openings.

    Recruiting process consists of sourcing, screening, interviewing, assessing and finally, hiring.

    While sourcers (aka sourcing specialists) focus only on finding job seekers and building a talent pool, recruiters focus on the processes that follow the sourcing right up to hire.

    Important Note:
    Some companies have HR teams in which the recruiters wear many hats and take on the responsibility of the sourcers as well. In such cases, agencies prefer to work with end to end RPO service providers who aid them with specialist sourcing and recruitment teams. This dedicated working model is on the rise as offshore recruitment support from countries such as India helps staffing companies in the UK and the US save time, money and speeds up hiring process.


    Gone are the days when sourcers used to connect with talent only through persistent cold calls or bulk emails. An impassive sourcing call does not work anymore.

    Talent Acquisition experts need to be proactive in their approach, show empathy and build relationships to connect with candidates. This practice is crucial to appeal to passive candidates, who form 70% of the workforce in the global market.

    Candidate experience is one of the most critical keys in candidate sourcing, but more on that later. The entire recruitment methodology has experienced a revamp since the onset of digital technology and increased focus on customer experience.

    If you need to find the right talent; sourcers and recruiters, who are the masters of candidate sourcing, will be at the frontline in the battlefield, that is, talent marketplace.

    And this battlefield comes with its own challenges!

    Candidate Sourcing Challenges

    The common challenges recruitment and sourcing experts face are as follows:

    • Lack of adequate job information
    • Disconnect with the hiring manager
    • Lack of candidates in the talent pool
    • Hard-to-fill roles
    • Severe lack of quality in applicants
    • Poor recruitment budget
    • Unable to engage with the right candidates
    • Competition from rival businesses
    • Lack of knowledge of diverse online sourcing channels
    • Severe lack of time to find the right talent
    • Prolonged time to hire
    • Inability to measure performance and results
    • Failure to provide helpful candidate experience
    • Inefficient recruitment structure and process

    So, how to overcome these challenges? How do you win this battle? This guide is prepared to tell you everything we teach our sourcing specialists about sourcing and prepare them for action.

    First and foremost,

    1. Prioritise Candidate Experience

    Providing a positive candidate experience was a bonus add-on in the past, but that is no longer the case. It has become one of the most fundamental requirements in the recruitment industry. If you are making a call, don’t sound like a robot. Listen to what they say, understand their expectations and identify if they match what you are offering.

    Positive candidate experience can go a long way in building trust and garnering company advocacy. How would this help you, you ask?

    • According to an IBM report, the probability of accepting a job offer is 38% more for applicants satisfied with the candidate experience.
    • The same report states that even if applicants don’t get an offer, they are more than twice as likely to endorse the recruitment agency in their network.
    • Candidates who don’t get a job offer would be 80% more open to the idea of applying again in future if they had a good experience.
    • According to Deloitte, 87% of candidates changed their mind about the company they had doubts about after an excellent recruitment experience.

    It isn’t that hard. Just be humane in your approach, and you’re good to go! 

    1. Make sure you are on the same page as your hiring manager

    We ask our recruiters to take the following steps to ensure there is no disconnect with the hiring manager:

    • Set up a kick-off meeting with the relevant hiring manager as soon as you receive the job requirements. Make sure you understand the nitty-gritty of the role which includes candidates’ experience, skills, education and any other ‘must-have’ or ‘good-to-have’ qualifications.
    • Take the hiring manager’s insights while building sourcing channels as they may have an idea about where the ideal hire may have a presence. For example, a perfect designer can be found on Behance.
    • Review a couple of resumes together to identify that purple squirrel.
    • Dive into the talent pool together to gauge the number of job seekers in the market that match the client requirement. Ascertain if the conditions need to be relaxed or tightened based on the number of available talent in the market. For example, the manager might consider applicants who may not be working at the required position but possess the skills and experience to perform at that level.
    • Adopt a deft and agile approach in your recruitment practice to keep the hiring manager in the loop throughout the process. Stay aligned on the quantity and quality of the applicants and tweak your search based on their feedback. 
    1. Prioritising Passive Candidates

    Passive candidates are the ones who are not actively looking for a new job opportunity. However, they may be willing to hear about the position you have to offer. These professionals take a lot of persuading to move onto the next stage of the recruitment process. Standard recruitment tactics won’t apply to them. You cannot call them and straight up ask for their resume; nor do we recommend this practice, passive or not.

    Here, your strength to communicate with talent and commitment to delivering excellent candidate experience will come into play. It’s what we tell our talent acquisition team as well! 

    Take due diligence and keep a check on the time you spend on these candidates. You don’t need to commit too much time on them unless you have to fill in hard-to-fill positions.

    Passive Candidate Sourcing Best Practices

    Do you think engaging with passive candidates is too much of a hassle and it’s not for you? Think again! As we mentioned earlier, the global workforce comprises of 70% passive candidates and only 30% active candidates. 

    1. Make use of various sourcing channels
    • Online Sourcing Channels/Tools

    Take stock of your go-to channels for the talent search. Some of the most common online channels recruiters use are:

    • Third-party ATS (Applicant Tracking System)
    • Candidate database websites and Job boards such as Monster, Adzuna, Indeed and CareerBuilder
    • Social Media Platforms such as Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, Quora and Reddit
    • Industry-specific forums
    • Industry-specific platforms such as Medium for Writers, Github for Developers and Behance for designers

    Do not restrict yourself to a limited number of sourcing channels. The key is to understand your candidate behaviour and identify where you might find them in this ocean of the internet. You need to discover the right fishing spots.

    • Offline Sourcing Channels/Techniques

    In this digital era, going offline to source candidates is still a good idea. Conferences and industry-specific events are a great place to meet and talk to new people. They will be more open to responding to your messages if they’ve met you in person. Another offline channel that is most effective is referrals. Referrals from employees and passive candidates can get you access to talent that may not be present on any online channel.

    1. Utilise the talent pool in the ATS

    When a recruitment team dedicates itself to sourcing candidates, apart from fulfilling requisitions, they are creating a talent pool for themselves that can be utilised to fill in future requirements. This talent pool is full of applicants that have been hired, rejected or kept for future positions. Engaging the previously contacted candidates for the new roles is one of the quickest and cost-effective ways of sourcing. Start your search with the resources that are already stored in your ATS. If these candidates had a decent recruitment experience earlier, regardless of the outcome, they will respond to your approach and work with you again.

    Important Note:
    As you start sourcing, you come across passive candidates. Add them on your Applicant Tracking System (ATS) for future use. They may not be ready to make a move just yet, but that may change in future. You must add the data of the unsuccessful applicants on your ATS. You have already done the leg work by engaging with them. It may not have worked out for them now, but they could be a perfect match for another role. This activity is key to building a talent pool and will make your life easier in the long run.


    1. Expand your Search

    Along with the recruiting channels, keep your search terms diverse as well. Play with altered job titles, keywords, industry-specific key-skills and tools, and use synonyms. Another company may use a different designation for the role you are hiring. We train our sourcers to use Boolean and X-Ray search as part of our expansive candidate sourcing techniques.

    • Boolean Search

    This search tactic makes use of a combination of keywords and Boolean operators/modifiers to give us the desired results. Through Boolean logic, you can uncover some of the most niche professionals on the internet.

    Here is how you can use Boolean Operators:

    This table shows how you can use Boolean operators such as AND, OR and NOT commands for candidate sourcing.

    Here is how you can use Boolean Modifiers:

    This table shows how you can use boolean modifiers such as quotations, wildcard and parentheses for candidate sourcing

    X-Ray Search

    If you already know where your candidates are, why go through the strenuous efforts of preparing a strategic Boolean search for the entire Google? If your target hires are on LinkedIn, Github and Monster, then prep your hunt around these platforms and uncover new talents. The technique that gets this done is call X-Raying. The commands you must use to perform x-ray are:

    This table shows how you can use x-ray search, through commands like site:, intitle: and inurl:, for candidate sourcing

    Check out the examples mentioned above and play around with them.

    Pair Boolean search with the X-Ray search to get more precise results in your sourcing efforts. Do this right, and you will find your purple squirrel.

    1. Use Social Media Platforms

    There is a massive presence of users on social media platforms. These platforms serve as ideal podiums for sourcing and company branding. Let’s look at a few social media platforms:

    • Linkedin: A social heaven for recruiters to build their professional network and engage with talent in the market.
    • Facebook: Though not a professional networking site, it boasts a considerable number of users and can be utilised for branding as well as sourcing.
    • Slack: A communication tool for professionals. A great platform to strike up a conversation with passive candidates.
    • Reddit: Engage with users on this platform which serves as an online forum where members carry out discussions on varying topics.
    • Quora: Another online discussion forum which can be utilised for branding and tracing potential hires.
    • Meetup: It enables you to organise events and form a group of people with similar interests. You can also find numerous candidate profiles on this tool.
    • Glassdoor: A fast-growing job site crucial to employer branding.

    Social media carries much weight in the current market. Some agencies rely heavily on these platforms to connect with passive candidates and fill their hard-to-fill positions.

    1. Plan your Candidate Outreach

    So you’ve given it all to find the right candidates and prepared an impressive talent pipeline. All these efforts will result in nothing if you fail to engage with them appropriately. You need to plan and decide the best way to engage with them. Whether it is a phone call, email or text, you must know your audience to identify the right medium for communication.

    Customise your outreach message and add a few fine points unique to the candidate. Focus on details that pique their interest and make them more responsive. Don’t limit yourself to providing information about the job description and company name; elaborate on the company culture and the skills the candidate possesses that can help the client. Incorporate and exchange non-transactional values rather than sticking to flat transactional communication. Your approach to reach out to the candidates is crucial to their recruitment experience. This aspect is quite underrated, but it can make or break your sourcing efforts.

    Important Note:
    It would help if you made a habit of following up with candidates who don’t respond. Follow-ups can have more impact than the first cold call or email. The candidate you approached the first time may have been busy or committed to something else at that time, whatever the reason, persistence could bear fruits. However, make sure you don’t come off as too pushy, and candidates don’t feel that you are invading their privacy.


    1. Leverage Candidate Sourcing Tools

    Sourcing is a task that will keep your hands full at all times. Managing a multitude of activities that involves calling, emailing, texting, gauging interest, screening quality, following-up on leads, keeping stock of data in docs and spreadsheet; we can go on and on. Managing these tasks can be strenuous and time-consuming. Sourcers deserve better! There are techs available in the market that could make your life easier. Some of them are as follows:

    • Robot Vera: Recruit 10x faster with this Artificial Intelligence (AI) service
    • Ideal: Smart Screening and Automation tech
    • ai: Smart scheduler for the recruitment funnel
    • HackerRank: Candidate Assessment tech
    • Self Management Group: Pre-employment screening and assessment tool
    • ATS systems such as Jobvite, Taleo and Greenhouse
    Final Thoughts

    With the unemployment rate at 3.8% as of Aug 2019 in the UK, the best talent is not easy to find and hire. Recruitment agencies need to be strategic in their approach towards sourcing and go out of their way to succeed in a competitive market. While social media recruitment works for some businesses, others find direct calls and emails more effective. You have to identify the strategy that works for your business and the industry for which you are filling the requisition.

    At QX RPO UK Services, we train our sourcing experts to apply different strategies based on the job profile and the hiring manager’s needs.

    Visit RPO UK Sourcing Services page for more information about our relevant and profitable sourcing practice.