Is Strategic Candidate Sourcing Dead?

candidate sourcingNew technology affects the way every industry operates – and recruiting is no different. Over the last decade, the role of the recruiter has changed drastically thanks to advancements on the web. While evolution is always a good thing, many in the recruiting world have wondered: is the act of strategic candidate sourcing dead?

This debate picked up steam in 2013 when recruiting expert John Sullivan declared sourcing a dying practice. His reasoning? “Finding top talent will always be important, but eventually it will become so easy that, except in specialized cases, there will be no reason to have it done by highly paid recruiters.” (source)

While there is some truth to this claim, others argue that sourcing has not died – rather, it has changed. Today’s post looks at candidate sourcing, how it has changed, and the best sourcing practices to consider in today’s world.

What is candidate sourcing?

Sourcing means proactively searching for and qualifying candidates for a job, rather than using incoming resumes and applications to find candidates. When sourcing, recruiters seek out both active candidates (ones who are searching for jobs) and passive candidates (those who aren’t actively seeking employment).

Research shows that 31% of all hires are proactively sourced, and that sourced candidates are more than 2 times as efficient to hire (source).

How has sourcing changed?

The short answer: Everyone is online. As the web continues to improve the speed and efficiency of human communication, the connection between recruiter and candidate is streamlined. Let’s look at the three primary developments that have changed the way recruiters’ source candidates:

Social media sourcing:

Social media platforms have only been around since the early 2000s, but they’ve only recently transformed the way recruiters find candidates. Check out these statistics (source):

  • 4 million job seekers have used social networks to find a job.
  • 73% of companies successfully hired a candidate with social media.
  • 93% of companies use LinkedIn for recruiting, while 66% use Facebook and 54% use Twitter.

Job boards sourcing:

Online job boards have become the go-to tool for job seekers. But remember: sourcing is proactive, not reactive – you’re not sourcing candidates if you’re waiting for candidates to come to you. However, job boards are as much a tool for recruiters as they are for candidates.

 Candidates upload their resumes to job boards even if they aren’t actively searching. These databases of resumes are a great resource for recruiters and head hunters.

Automated sourcing technology:

As more and more candidates build a strong presence on the web, new technologies have emerged that can streamline the sourcing process.

Using job descriptions and information from previously successful hires, companies can now use artificial intelligence to automatically search for and collect candidate data. This software can then reach out to qualified candidates to gauge their interest. In short, recruiters can automate the entire sourcing process if they wish to.

Fully-automated sourcing has its pitfalls, however. The information that automated services use to collect data – resumes, job descriptions, etc. – don’t paint the full picture of a candidate. There are details that make certain candidates special, details that only a human recruiter can pick up on.

How to recruit top talent despite industry changes

If you’re like us and believe that candidate sourcing is far from dead, keep reading! We compiled a few tips that can help you stand out in today’s crowded recruiting landscape.

1.     Emphasize referral programs

That’s right – despite all the new platforms available to recruiters, the old-school strategy of using referrals to source candidates is still alive and well. If you haven’t already, establish a program in which employees are paid a referral bonus for referring a candidate that gets hired. It may be an older, less tech-dependent method of sourcing, but it’s also one of the most effective: 78% recruiters say they find their best candidates through referrals (source).

Even if you already have a referral program in place, put some extra emphasis behind it. Studies show that referred candidates are not only more likely to take the job, they’re also more likely to perform well in the role (source):

  • Referred hires accept offers 15% more often than non-referred candidates.
  • Referred hires perform up to 15% better than non-referred candidates.

2.     Prioritize social sourcing

Recruiters cite social networking as the second-most effective way to source quality candidates, after referrals (source). Use social media to build diverse talent pipelines and engage passive candidates.

LinkedIn specifically is the most effective platform to source candidates through. Because it is a professional network, users’ profiles are more likely to contain the job titles and keywords that recruiters often search for.

On other platforms like Facebook and Twitter, recruiters must think outside the box. For example, Twitter’s advanced search option allows you to search for keywords and phrases within a given location.

Example: Say you’re looking to fill a mid-level marketing position. By searching for specific keywords near your company’s location, you find a Marketing Coordinator who has tweeted out links to their company’s content.

This is a sign that they may be a quality candidate, and you can reach out to them directly on Twitter. Even if they aren’t seeking a change in position, you can add them to your talent database for future reference.

3.     Don’t neglect passive candidates

As we mentioned, there are two types of candidates. These include those who are actively looking for jobs and those who are not. Surprisingly, passive candidates often end up being the best employees.

Ready for more good news? They aren’t as difficult to recruit as you may think. 85% of employed people say they are open to switching jobs, but only 18% of businesses are increasing their focus on passive candidates (source).

Gain a competitive advantage by targeting more passive candidates.  You’ll likely find the perfect hire. In fact, studies show passive candidates are 120% more likely to make a positive impact on your business (source).

Remember: passive candidates aren’t necessarily looking for a new role, so don’t strictly advertise job postings. Instead, share engaging content that may spark their interest without being overly promotional. Your company’s reputation makes a big difference when it comes to attracting passive candidates (source):

  • 66% of people who changed jobs were aware of the company they joined before they applied.
  • 92% of candidates would consider switching jobs if a company with an excellent reputation offered them a job.
  • 45% of people aged 35 to 44 would leave their job for less than a 10% pay increase to join a company with an excellent reputation. Only 12% would leave for a company with a bad reputation.

For more information about recruiting passive candidates, read our blog post: 5 Ways to Convince Passive Candidates to Switch Jobs.

Key Takeaways About Candidate Sourcing

Candidate sourcing will continue to evolve. But these changes don’t mean that strategic candidate sourcing is dying any time soon.

The best recruiters know how to automate the tedious parts of sourcing while still using human intuition and manual efforts to find top talent. After all, sourcing is about making connections with candidates. And in that regard, even the most sophisticated technology can’t replace a great recruiter.