Talent Sourcing Strategies to Find Job Candidates


A strong talent sourcing strategy is critical to driving growth and strengthening a company’s culture. However, acquiring the right talent can be challenging. As most organizations focus on creating a fully remote or hybrid work setting, the talent pool has gone from local to, in some cases, global in just a few short years.

While it’s fantastic to have access to multinational employees, you’re at risk of wasting your time and training resources if you’re not attracting and hiring suitable candidates. A well-thought-out recruitment strategy can help companies of all sizes and work environments (in-office, remote, hybrid) hire employees with mindsets and work ethics that align with company values.

What is candidate sourcing?

As a bottom line, sourcing talent is all about finding qualified candidates. Your company needs qualified, potential candidates that fit the specific requirements for open positions you’re trying to fill. A great talent sourcing strategy should fuel interest in job openings and accumulate a strong set of applicants to sit down with the hiring manager.

Candidate sourcing is different from posting a job on platforms like Indeed or LinkedIn and relying on people to find it and then apply. Instead, talent sourcing is a bit more like a targeted marketing strategy.

For example, a sourcing recruiter takes on the role of attracting qualified job candidates to a company and then convinces them (often through professional sales copy) to apply for that job. Catching the attention of eligible job candidates is very similar to marketing products to a particular demographic, and in both instances, the goal is to get them on the hook.

How to create a talent sourcing strategy?

Since we touched a bit on how building strategies for recruitment are a bit like hashing out a marketing plan, it’s imperative to schedule time with your marketing department (in-house or outsourced) as soon as possible. Human resources and marketing should work together for desirable outcomes in many aspects of a company workflow, from employee newsletters to talent sourcing. When marketing departments and recruitment sourcing teams join forces, the impact on a business can be dynamic, entirely changing how you recruit.

When determining how to create a talent sourcing strategy, you want to focus on what your specific company can do to attract and ultimately hire the best of the best. Your recruitment plan should include:

  • Building your talent pipeline;
  • Promoting your brand;
  • Writing catchy, convincing, and authentic job ads;
  • Creating an exceptional experience for candidates;
  • Encouraging job seekers to apply.

Of course, all of this is easier said than done, and recruiting sourcing strategies don’t unfold overnight. One of the best ways to become an expert in talent acquisition, primarily if you’re a startup looking to hire, is to create brand awareness from as early on as possible. When you pique interest in your company, you can gather a pool of loyal followers and potential candidates.

Technology allows us to be proactive in our recruiting sourcing strategy. Grow your reputation by making your brand fun, going out and meeting your audience, and focusing on building a reputation via word of mouth. Prepare to change your tactics frequently to meet the needs of job seekers.

Talent sourcing tips

Before you build your strategy, there are a few tips to keep in mind that will help you stay on track throughout the process. So much goes into sourcing talent strategies, from great advertising to correctly defining your candidate profile. Keep the following in mind when you read through our suggested strategies below.

  • Stay aligned with your hiring manager to get a solid start on your talent sourcing. It’s crucial to be on the same page regarding what an exceptional candidate looks like for each open position. Take the time to identify attributes, qualifications, and must-have skills.
  • Don’t overlook past candidates. There’s a chance that you might have a perfectly suitable prospect that didn’t make it through previously due to a lack of openings. If they meet the skill requirements and fit your company culture, you should consider adding them to your sourcing pipeline. After all, you took the time to screen and interview them, so why not get more out of that time investment?
  • Diversify your online talent sourcing options. Yes, LinkedIn is a fantastic way to find talent, and it makes for an excellent start. However, adding platforms tailored to specific professions and fields can narrow your search results regarding the particular skill set you’re looking for in a candidate.
  • Most professional and work-related interactions have gone online, but don’t miss out on real-world opportunities concerning where to source candidates, such as conferences and events. Not only can you find potential prospects, but you can assess what they’re like face-to-face. What you see on paper isn’t always enough to determine if a prospective candidate is a fit for your company.
  • You can rely on your employees to help you extend your talent sourcing reach. Your employees likely have hundreds of social media connections, and they will happily assist you in the hunt for outstanding candidates with the right interests, skills, and values. Referral rewards will incentivize employees to share job openings on their social accounts, and you can ask them to forward you strong prospects as well!
  • Continuously consult with hiring managers to get an idea of future openings and the requirements. This process can help you understand any team gaps and allows you to begin the search for talent in advance. The earlier you can initiate contact with sourced candidates, the better!
  • Improving candidate outreach is essential, and your first impression matters! Take the time to invest in bringing your social media accounts current, enhancing your presence, and becoming a thought leader on your network, regardless of size. Post frequently about your brand values and company culture.
  • Brand your content, releasing works such as whitepapers, blogs, eBooks, and webinars. Branded content generates broad interest in your social media activity, setting the stage for candidates to show interest in future job openings.
  • Focus on building your talent pipeline. This is one of the main goals of a sourcing strategy in recruitment and will provide you with a roster of ready candidates. When a job opening goes live, you will lose less time waiting for applications or partaking in screening processes. A solid pipeline allows you to source candidates right away, including past applicants and employee referrals.
  • Finally, emphasize building relationships with your prospects. Your exchanges do not have to stop at the job opening notification. Engage in conversation with your contacts directly or through social media comments and interactions.

Building a talent sourcing strategy takes dedication, brainstorming, teamwork, and consideration regarding which sourcing paths to take and the right tools to utilize. No successful strategy looks the same, as many companies tend to take components of specific plans and implement them in a way that exclusively performs well for that particular company. Let’s look at what sourcing strategies examples look like and how you can make them work for you.

Define your candidate profile

To begin sourcing for talent, you’ll want to determine your candidate profile just as you would with your target marketing audience (or buyer persona). In short, a candidate profile is a semi-fictional depiction of what your ideal job applicant looks like for a specific position. You’ll want to create a persona for every individual job you advertise.

Candidate profiles help you add to your pipeline recruitment as they implement industry research, anecdotal evidence, and hiring trends to help recruiters “get inside the minds” of potential applicants. Standard candidate profiles come from the available data on a resume, including skills, qualifications, work history, and education. However, a well-executed candidate persona will include career goals, employment preferences, personality traits, and soft skills.

Professional recruiters who are used to sourcing and talent acquisition, will often create a specific persona in their head, but when working as a team, it’s a good practice to write it out on paper. A targeted candidate profile leads to informed recruiting and helps employers create and place job descriptions. In the long run, using an ideal candidate profile or persona in your hiring practice can improve the quality of hired talent and lower the rate of employee turnover.

Creating the perfect candidate profile begins with analytics.

Gather your data

Include demographic information, background, personal attributes, qualifications, goals, weaknesses, objections, fears, strengths, and interests. Use your best judgment here and pay attention to characteristics shared by successful candidates in and outside of your company.

Identify trends

Once you’ve collected data, you can organize and analyze it to identify shared traits and trends. In this step, your candidate profile will begin to take shape as you list the qualities and characteristics you desire in your applicants. To avoid being overwhelmed, focus on the skill and qualities your candidate absolutely must-have.

Finalize personas

After collecting and analyzing the data, you can finalize and assemble your personas and profiles. Utilize the insights you’ve discovered to create a somewhat fictional profile for your hypothetical candidate. Remember, your end goal here is not a job description, it’s to establish a persona representative of an actual human job applicant. Don’t be afraid to get creative!

Whenever your company has a new job position to fill, creating a brand-new candidate profile will help. Over time, you’ll accumulate a library of personas to choose from, making your recruitment process streamlined and efficient. Your candidate persona can affect each component of the talent sourcing process, from job description language to interview questions.

Source talent through employee networks

An excellent sourcing strategy in recruitment, which we briefly touched on earlier in the article, is to source talent through employee networks. Employee networks are a powerful tool for sourcing potential job candidates, and tapping into that pool can lead your organization or startup to the best future hires available.

Blatantly, it’s easy for good talent to recognize good talent. In other words, your strongest performers are likely to attract others with the same goals, aspirations, mindset, and work ethic. People tend to associate themselves with others in the same profession, especially on platforms like LinkedIn. Leveraging your employee connections can provide you with access to specialized talent and a solid source for future applicants.

The first employees you hire will prove themselves critical to the success of sourcing future talent through them. Look for first-hires who are excited about your startup’s work and direction but well-respected and connected in their industry. Ensure that they will help you retain and attract exceptional employees as you grow.

If your sourcing strategy / talent acquisition goal is to build a pipeline of potential candidates through employee networks, you’ll want to focus on the following steps.

  1. Speak openly and individually with your employees regarding their network members that might be a good fit for your organization.
  2. Check employee business profiles for professional contacts, staying away from personal profiles like Facebook.
  3. Create a campaign to promote your company to individuals you’ve targeted (this is a marketing tactic) and engage your employees in this endeavor.
  4. Please pay attention to your top talent because they’re likely connected with similar job performers.
  5. Advertise and give out generous referral bonuses.
  6. Rinse and repeat!

Leveraging your employee network isn’t always as easy as you’d like it to be. While the steps above are necessary for success, sometimes you need to put in additional effort to ensure a successful outcome.

  1. Get a detailed assessment from referring employees, including if they would be proud to have the referral as a co-worker.
  2. Conduct quality control by having a member of your team, or your recruiter, check the candidates.
  3. Involve the referring employees by asking for a warm introduction, greeting the candidates, giving them a quick tour, and providing feedback on the process.
  4. Include knowledge and behavioral-based questions in the interview to determine if the applicant has the intelligence and hard skills needed and the ability to handle stressful deadlines and work through unpleasant situations. Identify other critical competencies required to succeed at your startup or organization.
  5. Mine employee networks continuously, even when you’re not actively hiring. Hold brainstorming sessions with your top talent, and track that information for use in the future.

Use a candidate sourcing tool

It’s become nearly impossible to rely on filtering through applications alone to find ideal job candidates. Almost every industry is saturated with applicants searching for greener pastures, but employers have to ensure that those applicants are the right fit for what they’re offering.

Recruiters, hiring managers, and startup owners have to find and engage with candidates to fill their open roles. Luckily, tools and technologies support the growing need for candidate connections.

While sourcing tools can work for any company or recruiter, they’re essential for startups. For most startups, it’s not sustainable to spend thousands on a recruiter, and it’s just not in the budget.

As a result, most pre-seed and seed-stage business owners are looking for a fast and affordable way to obtain a list of potential candidates for the jobs they’d like to fill. It would help if you had the necessary tools to make the right hire quickly by attracting top, relevant talent.

With sourcing tools like HireBeat, you can send direct invitations to ideally sourced qualified candidates to encourage them to apply for your job. This convenience considerably reduces the time spent on back-and-forth communication with sourced candidates. Utilizing one sourcing tool means you’ll only have one system to log into to manage your sourcing process.

Job candidate sourcing tools work well all around, and they can be life-saving for small businesses and startups that need to hire quickly but are unsure where to begin. Identifying top talent without resources like a professional recruiter or an employee network is challenging. Sourcing tools act as passive sourcing and leverage artificial intelligence and your desired candidate persona (education, required skills) to find potential applicants.

Utilizing HireBeat as an example, all you have to do is post your job, enter your search criteria, and review your sourced candidates. It’s quick, easy, and effective.

Talent Sourcing vs. Job Posting vs. Job Advertising

Before you begin your sourcing journey, it’s essential to realize that simply posting an open job on various platforms is not a form of talent sourcing. Instead, talent sourcing is an active strategy, while job posting is a more passive method of attracting talent instead of utilizing the tools to find it.

When you post a job without trying to source candidates, you’re setting a trap and waiting for your ideal potential employee to apply. On the other hand, when you create and execute searches that identify potential candidates, you’re actively looking for the talent that suits your requirements with the expertise you need, regardless of their current job status.

Talent sourcing provides significant control over candidate qualifications, while simply posting a job results in receiving interest from hopefuls that may not have the right skills. You cannot post an available position and expect only those who perfectly match your requirements to apply.

Job advertising falls somewhere in the middle of talent sourcing and job posting, depending on the execution and platform of the advertisement. Job advertising can work well as a functional component of talent sourcing when you construct an ad specifically meant to target your desired applicants. You can do this easily with the help of an experienced marketing team and the right keywords.

Of course, if you write up a job advertisement with boring language and links that don’t work, it’s as useless for attracting the talent you want as a neglected job post. You can probably make any of these methods work, but talent sourcing will get you the applicants you need.

Refine your message for sourced candidates

When you finally have your list of sourced candidates, you’ll begin contacting them. It’s essential to refine your message to cut through the clutter of other company messages and catch the candidates’ attention that you’ve worked so hard to source.

It’s not only about perfecting what you want to convey to them and how you want to convey it but also means realizing that meaningful interactions in the early stages of your hiring process are essential to meet your desired goals. Standing out is crucial due to the high volume of candidate messages paired with the (occasionally invasive) virtual recruitment environment.

Optimizing sourcing strategies is key and will help you get to your desired applicants early on while applying practices that contribute to your goals. However, you’re wasting your time if you’re not sending the right message. Here are a couple of message tips.

  1. Don’t message the same candidates repeatedly. Instead, send reminders and follow-ups to those who have already applied or to interested candidates to keep them engaged. Messaging candidates many times regarding a role they don’t want can hurt your brand and word-of-mouth reputation.
  2. Keep your messages short but informative, including a personalized introduction and an engaging description of the open job. Give them a link to the application with a well-thought-out CTA.
  3. Create custom messages, as candidates can identify when messages are automated or generalized. Make your messages specific to the role and the experience of the candidate.
  4. Practice writing messages that grab the candidate’s attention from the start. Subject lines are the message version of a headline, so keep it exciting but not too sales-oriented.

Refining your message means you’ll see an uptick in your engagement and applicants. It might take time to hone in on the message you want to convey, but it’s worth the investment of time.

Strategies to help you source smarter

Talent sourcing can happen in various ways. Depending on the role you’re aiming to fill, specific strategies may work better than others. For example, if you’ve already compiled a list of vetted candidates, a job posting sent to them could get you the applications you want. Talent sourcing from scratch is a more suitable strategy if you don’t have any ideal prospects.

Regardless of the path you choose, you have to leverage available opportunities to employ in-depth candidate outreach. Sourcing is more important now than ever, and HireBeat can help you make the process fast and efficient, so you can get more by doing less.

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