In an ideal world, we have as much time as we need to find the perfect candidate for each role; someone who will hit the ground running and bring the exact set of skills and experience needed to help drive the company forward. In reality, we often need to fill roles as fast as possible, whether that means hiring enough customer service representatives to handle call volumes, or even filling a critical executive position.
What’s the difference between sourcing and recruiting?
On a surface level, 'sourcing' and 'recruiting' candidates might sound like the same process, but there are some important differences between the two.
Sourcing is a distinct aspect of the wider recruitment function that involves searching for suitable candidates to fill current or future roles within your organization.
On the other hand, recruitment is a broader term that encompasses various tasks and activities, from initial candidate sourcing to the practicalities of evaluating and hiring applicants, such as conducting interviews and checking references.
Where recruitment is often reactive - when you have unexpected staff shortages and you need to hire at short notice, for example - sourcing tends to be proactive. It enables you to focus on your talent pipeline and make sure you have the right people and skills in your workforce to grow and develop as a business.
How sourcing aids good recruitment
Candidate sourcing is one of the most important elements of the overall hiring process. When it's done well, it sets you off on the right foot to hire people who are compatible with the role, the team they’ll be joining and the company as a whole.
With a carefully planned, reliable sourcing function in place, you can feel confident that every applicant who progresses to the latter stages of the hiring cycle is worthy of your consideration.
Furthermore, effective sourcing minimizes the risk of you experiencing every HR professional's worst nightmare: making a bad hire. This can have serious financial consequences for the business, but it can also cause disruption and operational challenges that impact the entire workforce.
9 best practices for sourcing candidates
Follow these best practices to find your ideal candidates while reducing disruption to the business:
1. Understand what the right candidate looks like
The first critical part of the process is to develop a clear understanding of what the right candidate looks like in terms of their skills, experience and personality.
It’s essential to have a good understanding of key characteristics a candidate needs in order to be successful in the role, including the traits that will make them a good culture fit. Spend some time talking to the hiring manager and ask them about any current employees in the same role that are performing well. This can help you gain an understanding of any perceived benefits and challenges that come with the role, so you’re able to source candidates that will be a good fit.
2. Create clear job descriptions
An inaccurate or unclear job description is a common issue that can delay your sourcing process.
Ambiguity can create a need for additional communication, if applicants need clarification from you on the role’s requirements or details. Additionally, this may cause unqualified candidates to apply due to the lack of clarity in the job description. Evaluating candidates that don’t match the role’s requirements can take additional time out of your work week.
3. Strengthen your employer brand
A strong employer brand is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal when you need to source high-quality candidates to improve your organization.
Effective branding enables you to present applicants with a compelling picture of your company, encapsulating:
- The values and principles that define the business
- How these concepts relate to the workforce and how you treat your employees
- Why people should want to work for you
- The opinions and experiences of current staff
Take a look at your company’s Glassdoor reviews, because these often influence whether a potential candidate would be interested in working for your company. If you have several negative reviews, you should evaluate the reasons for low scores and action on ways to improve the employee experience.
Use exit interview feedback to understand how employees feel about the company, and provide insight to the teams that can benefit from this information.
If you're able to do this successfully, you'll find that sourcing the right talent is easier because people will be more likely to come to you looking for exciting opportunities. You'll be in a better position to engage with the 70% of the global workforce who are passive candidates, meaning they're not actively looking for a job, but could be open to a career change if the right role opened up.
4. Use innovative recruiting technology
Many time-consuming tasks of the sourcing process can now be automated using software programs.
For example, instead of manually performing the lengthy selection process, applications will rank candidates in order depending on how many of the key skills and other keywords match your criteria for that role. This is particularly helpful if you receive a high volume of applications for a role.
Additionally, using an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) will enable you to keep good candidates on record. This will allow you to quickly find and approach them in the future regarding other open roles you need to fill.
5. Leverage employee networks for sourcing candidates
Don't forget that your existing workforce is a valuable source of potential contacts and connections that can make the candidate sourcing process quicker, more efficient and more productive. With more than 774 million active professionals on LinkedIn, companies can expand their talent pool 10 times.
Engage with your employees and encourage them to recommend people they think would be a good fit for the company. You can add an extra incentive in the form of referral bonuses, which also have the benefit of strengthening your employer brand and creating a more rewarding company culture.
In the long term, you could find that employee referral programs transform your candidate sourcing for the better. For example, ERIN, an employee referral platform, reported that employers save over $7,500 per hire and 45% of employees typically stay in their role for 4 years or more.
6. Use video interviews
The full process of arranging times for interviews, candidates booking time off work and scheduling the interview can be a major challenge.
One solution is to incorporate video into the interview process. Whether live or recorded, using video can cut down the amount of time it takes to complete the interview process.
- With recorded videos, the applicant can complete the interview at a time convenient for them, and their answers can be shared with relevant stakeholders to help select the best candidate for the role
- With live video interviews, this allows for greater scheduling flexibility and can help move the hiring process along
7. Build a strong sourcing pipeline
For areas with a high employee turnover, you should establish a sourcing pipeline so that you already have potential candidates lined up when a position becomes vacant.
Make sure that you use a mix of different channels to source candidates so you have a better chance of finding the right person for the role.
Alternatively, consider recruiting internally. There may be candidates ready to move into the role, and it can be much quicker to transition an internal employee’s position than go through the external recruiting process.
8. Use more than one sourcing channel
Instead of only using generic job sites for specialist roles, try using sourcing channels that target the types of roles you’re looking to fill. Use social channels to ask your connections if they know anybody suitable for your vacant role. Referred candidates usually tend to be a better fit and you can trust your connections to suggest quality candidates they have worked with in the past.
9. Use advanced search techniques
To find the most qualified candidates for your roles, it’s important to have an effective search strategy. Instead of searching role titles, try using terms that describe skills the job requires.
You can use semantic search technology that will provide better search results by looking for the different ways that people describe their skills on their resume. For example, a search for a copywriter might only find a small selection of candidates - compared to a search that includes variations of the role and its responsibilities: content writing, blogging, content marketing, etc.
With more passive candidates already in employment and not actively looking for new opportunities, adopting these candidate sourcing techniques will help you reach the right people for your open roles and make great hires faster.