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5 candidate sourcing tactics that’ll put your company a step ahead

September 30, 2022 - 14 min read
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    The hiring process is a process that requires patience, intention, and engagement. 

    For many organizations, sourcing the best candidates comes with time, effort, and dollars. In today’s world of work, finding top candidates that will meaningfully add to your culture isn’t as simple as posting on a job board. 

    Even in the past few years, candidate sourcing strategies have shifted. And when looking ahead to the future, sourcing candidates is going to become more difficult. A report by Korn Ferry estimates that 85 million jobs could go unfilled by 2030 because there aren’t enough skilled people to take them. Left unchecked, that’s $8.5 trillion in unrealized annual revenues that organizations could stand to lose. 

    We know our current macroeconomic situation is an uncertain one. But we also know that hiring simply isn’t going to go away. Yes, companies need positions filled. But arguably, it’s more important than ever that each job opening is filled with the ideal candidate. This means that keen attention to your candidate sourcing process (as well as the candidate experience) is critical. 

    A diversified candidate sourcing tactic will give your organization a competitive advantage. In this post, we’ll talk about what it means to source candidates. We’ll also discuss different sourcing strategies — and how to best diversify your workforce for optimal success. 

    What is candidate sourcing? 

    First, let’s define what we mean by candidate sourcing.

    While candidate sourcing is a function of talent acquisition, the hiring manager is generally involved, too. If you ask any hiring manager, looking for qualified candidates is baked into their jobs. 

    For example, many of our leaders at BetterUp always have an eye on the talent pool. From perusing LinkedIn or networking with past colleagues, candidate sourcing is ever-present. 

    There are plenty of ways to find top candidates for open positions. Let’s get into the sourcing methods to find the best talent. 

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    5 candidate sourcing strategies 

    There are plenty of sourcing techniques to use. But when it comes to talent sourcing, it’s important to keep in mind how you’re diversifying your workforce. 

    It should probably come as no surprise that if you source talent from homogenous talent pools, you’re not going to end up with diverse talent. For organizations, this means you’re missing out on talent pipelines that could improve your organization. Your sourcing pools matter more than you think. And it requires effort and intention to make sure you’re finding top talent in places you might not have looked before. 

    Employee referral programs 

    As a sourcing strategy, employee referral programs are often at the top of any recruiter’s list. 

    Employee referral programs are wildly popular, partly because they’re so successful. We’ve all heard the phrase: “great people know great people.” The science behind it actually holds some truth. Research shows that employee referrals are more likely to stay with the organization longer. Studies also show that employee referrals are higher-quality candidates and more likely to perform better.

    As a recruiting strategy, an employee referral program is well worth the investment. But it’s also important to be cognizant of the diversity of your current workforce.

    If your workforce is largely homogenous, you might risk bringing in candidates who aren’t that different. An employee referral program will likely produce great results for your organization. But at the end of the day, referrals alone can’t be your sole sourcing strategy. 


    Social media 

    Social sourcing. It’s something that wasn’t around that long ago. 

    But in today’s world, we live and breathe social media. Every time I log into LinkedIn, I scroll through open postings, job descriptions, and recruiters looking for the ideal candidate for a role. 

    Organizations have adapted to include social media as part of their talent acquisition and employer branding efforts. Tools like LinkedIn have made it easier than ever to simply connect with a hiring manager. Overall, it’s a fairly democratized way of accessing talent and opportunity (albeit, biases do come into play). 

    It’s also a great way to connect and get an idea of a candidate’s profile before the interview process. For hiring managers, tools like Linked are great ways to capture passive candidates. These candidates might not be actively looking for a job. But if a recruiter or hiring manager stumbles across their candidate profile, outreach is easier than ever.  

    But one thing to keep in mind with social media platforms like LinkedIn: social capital. Job candidates have connections and networks. Some networks are more expansive than others, largely because your network depends on your experiences. Those job postings might only be reaching a portion of the population that lives on social networking sites like LinkedIn. While social media and social sourcing can be a viable way of talent sourcing, it comes with their own set of biases. 

    Job boards 

    The good, ‘ole job board. For some organizations, this might be your company’s careers page on your website. Others might post on sites like Indeed, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, or other job boards. It’s a fairly traditional method of sourcing candidates. According to Statista, job boards accounted for a fifth of job hires worldwide.

    Oftentimes, these job boards are managed by recruiting teams. They post an open position with the job description. And when candidates apply, their applications are filtered through an applicant tracking system. On the flip side, candidates can also post their resumes on a job board. Interested employers or hiring managers also have the opportunity to reach out to a candidate based on their resume, too. 

    Colleges and universities 

    If your organization hires entry-level talent, your recruiting team probably partners with colleges.  

    I have a friend who recruits for a large consulting firm. As a university recruiter, most of the positions she works on are entry-level roles. She spends the majority of her job traveling from college to college. She and her team meet students on campus, host job fairs, schedule interviews, and ultimately, extend offers. 

    Workforce development organizations 

    We know that talented people are everywhere but opportunity isn’t. Many talented workers may not have had the opportunity to get a traditional four-year degree at a university. Others might have pivoted their careers after serving in the military or spending time as a caregiver. 

    The right candidate doesn’t always come in a picture, perfect box with a bow tied on top. Sometimes, the right candidate is looking for new opportunities but experiencing barriers to be able to get their foot in the door. 

    Workforce development organizations are a great way to source quality candidates and close the skills gap. Many organizations, like Year Up, train their students on a specific track. For example, students can enter into an IT track to be able to graduate from the program prepared to land a full-time job in IT. Other workforce development organizations host coding boot camps, IT courses, and project management programs. 

    Some companies have embedded workforce development strategies in-house to help develop people, too. Think about ways you can create a talent pipeline with workforce development organizations. 

    3 common challenges (and how to overcome them) 

    Sourcing candidates comes with its fair share of challenges. Let’s talk about some of the most common challenges to finding top talent — and how to overcome them. 

    Lack of diversity 

    This is a big one. If you reflect on some of the sourcing strategies listed above, there’s a common challenge that covers all of them: diversity. 

    Even if diverse candidates are applying to open job titles, cognitive biases could pop up as barriers to the hiring process. Or it’s also possible that your talent pools simply aren’t diverse enough. As a result, your applicants aren’t diverse, either. 

    If your workforce is largely homogenous, there’s a good chance that your employees’ referrals won’t help move the diversity need. To be able to find top, diverse talent, it requires some intentionality, awareness, and addressing our biases. 

    Ways to overcome: Conduct unconscious bias training for your recruiters and hiring managers alike. If you’re hiring for entry-level roles, your sourcers should partner with diverse talent pools. For example, are your recruiters visiting historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs)? Are open job postings shared with workforce development organizations? 

    Commit to diversity hiring and diversity recruiting but not for the sake of hitting a quota.  Some organizations have made company-wide commitments to not just hire diverse talent. For example, how is your organization committed to developing diverse talent? 


    Candidate and employer ghosting 

    A 2021 Indeed survey reported that 46% of job seekers admitted to simply not showing up for a scheduled interview. Let’s pause at that stat. That’s almost half of the candidates who have ghosted an interview. But it’s a two-way street. In fact, the same survey reported that 77% of job seekers say they’ve been ghosted by an employer.

    Ghosting is an issue but it goes hand-in-hand with engaging quality candidates. While the pandemic may be an easy scapegoat for this phenomenon, it’s not necessarily the only reason.  

    Ways to overcome: Examine your candidate experience. What does it feel like for a candidate to go through the application process? What does the communication look like from the start to the finish? How are you encouraging your recruiting team to build relationships with candidates? On the flip side, how are you coaching your recruiters to adopt transparency with candidates? In what ways can you help your sourcers build trust with prospective employees? 


    Hiring takes time — and some hiring processes are longer than others. The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports the average time to fill a position is 42 days. For employers, that’s a good chunk of time where your team is operating with a bridge to the gap. For job seekers, that’s a substantial time period to find a new job. 

    Every recruiter has a story of “the one that got away.” Just as you think you can extend a job offer to a top candidate, the dreaded email comes through your inbox. They’ve accepted an offer elsewhere — and now your recruiting team is back to square one. 

    On some levels, it’s inevitable that time will work against you. But there are some things you can do to help curb the impact of the clock. 

    Ways to overcome: Be transparent about the interview process from the very beginning. Tell your candidates the estimated length of the interview process — and keep communication open if it is subject to change. Sharpen your communication skills to make sure your candidates (and your hiring managers) are well-informed.

    When I was interviewing with BetterUp, one of the very first conversations I had was about the time-to-hire. It set expectations from the start on the anticipated time associated with the hiring process.

    Investing in the relationship with the candidate can also help. While it’s likely that the candidate might be interviewing elsewhere, your company’s candidate experience might be the winning factor. Keep that relationship strong and invest in building that trust. 


    Starting sourcing top talent 

    Whether you’re sourcing candidates in-person or remotely, it’s not an easy job. There are many nuances that go into candidate sourcing. From diversity and belonging to trust and communication, your workforce needs to be equipped with the right skills to stay a step ahead. 

    It’s critical that your employees are flexing their skills at every step of the hiring process to be able to turn prospective candidates into full-time employees. 

    But in order to do so, they need support. Think about how BetterUp can help you tap into the full potential of your workforce. With the right sourcing tools, support systems, and guidance, you can be sure you’ll find the best people for the job. Together, we can build a workforce that’s prepared for what the future holds.

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    Published September 30, 2022

    Madeline Miles

    Madeline is a writer, communicator, and storyteller who is passionate about using words to help drive positive change. She holds a bachelor's in English Creative Writing and Communication Studies and lives in Denver, Colorado. In her spare time, she's usually somewhere outside (preferably in the mountains) — and enjoys poetry and fiction.

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