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Top 10 Candidate Sourcing Strategies for Recruiters


The search for top talent never ends and always remains a top priority for organizations, regardless of their size or industry. 

However, finding this top talent is not as easy as it sounds. Candidates not only must have the right skills, qualifications and experience, but must also be the right “fit”!

Furthermore, talent as such is slowly diminishing! 

Research from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms that available talent will reduce to 1.2 million by 2026 in the United States alone. 

Alarming to say the least!

What aggravates this already alarming situation is that, as per a recent study, many recruiters cite sourcing quality candidates as one of their top three pain points

It all boils down to how you choose to navigate this complicated maze called candidate sourcing and how you do it right!

And we’re here to help! Let’s explore the tried and tested strategies to ace one of the crucial steps that guide organizational success.

Let’s get started then!

What is candidate sourcing?

Candidate sourcing is a crucial early step in the recruitment process that involves actively searching for and identifying the right candidates for current or future job roles through various mediums.

These mediums could include – 

  • Job boards
  • Social media channels
  • Career pages
  • Employee referral programs 
  • Networking events

The aim is to build a robust talent pool to fulfill future talent requirements.

With the right strategies in place, candidate sourcing (or talent sourcing) ultimately results in great hires with minimal resources spent on the recruiting process.

In fact, 62% of talent teams find more high-quality candidates through sourcing than inbound applications. That says it all!

But you’re probably wondering – 

What’s the difference between candidate sourcing and recruitment?

To put it in simple terms, candidate sourcing is different from recruiting because it focuses on the initial step of finding potential candidates

Meanwhile, recruiting, refers to the subsequent steps that follow candidate sourcing, including steps such as  pre-screening, screening, interviewing, and onboarding.

Candidate sourcing is quite similar to laying the foundation for a building. Without a strong foundation (i.e. finding the right candidates), the subsequent steps (recruitment) cannot be effectively executed.

Candidate sourcing actively searches for potential candidates using numerous channels such as job boards, social media, and networking events.

Meanwhile, recruitment involves processes like pre-screening and screening to filter the right candidates from the potentials among the ones sourced.

Different types of candidate sourcing

Recruiters sourcing candidates

Candidate sourcing isn’t as straightforward as it seems. It’s not just about randomly picking candidates who might seem like they have potential. 

Candidate sourcing identifies these individuals with potential through two primary methods: active candidate sourcing and passive candidate sourcing.

Active candidate sourcing:

Active candidate sourcing means reaching out to people who are actively seeking jobs. These individuals are readily available to start work and require no persuasion whatsoever from recruiters. 

In fact, they themselves often post their resumes on job boards, respond to job advertisements, and participate in job fairs and events.

Passive candidate sourcing:

On the other hand, passive candidates are individuals who are not actively seeking employment but are open to new opportunities. 

These individuals are currently employed, probably content with their employment situation, and are not actively searching for another job. 

However, they may consider an opportunity if presented with a compelling offer!

To put it into perspective, 70% of the global workforce is made up of passive talent who aren’t actively job searching, while the remaining 30% are active job seekers. 

That’s a HUGE number to ignore, making passive candidates crucial for effective candidate sourcing. 

By employing both active and passive sourcing strategies, organizations can significantly expand their candidate pool and improve the quality of their hires.

Challenges associated with candidate sourcing

Challenges associated with candidate sourcing

Like most things, even candidate sourcing comes with its own share of roadblocks, ranging from limitations on time to the cutthroat competition for top talent that prevails in the industry.

If you don’t have effective strategies in place, these challenges can become significant obstacles. Here’s a closer look at them:

1. Time constraints

Time and top talent wait for none! Recruiters often face tight deadlines to fill positions, limiting the time available to thoroughly search for potential candidates resulting in hasty decisions and subpar hires.

2. Budget constraints

Ah, every recruiter’s enemy – budget constraints. Financial limitations restrict the available resources for successful candidate sourcing, such as access to premium job boards, recruitment tools, and marketing efforts.

This therefore makes it quite difficult for recruiters to access and attract top talent.

3. Lack of clarity on what metrics to measure

Without clear and well-defined metrics, it is very difficult to evaluate and understand the effectiveness of your current sourcing strategies.

This thereby makes it difficult to take data-driven decisions to improve the candidate sourcing process, leading to inefficient use of resources and missed opportunities.

4. Limited talent pool

The problem of plenty isn’t always necessarily a problem, especially when it comes to candidate sourcing. 

It’s hard when you don’t have options to begin with, making the sourcing of top talent harder than it already is. 

In some industries or for particular roles, the pool of qualified candidates may be considerably small, increasing the time and effort required to fill positions, which is far from ideal.

5. High competition

The demand for top talent is cutthroat, with multiple organizations eyeing the same skilled candidates, ready to swoop down on them when the opportunity presents itself.

Without effective strategies in place, it can be quite difficult to stand out and bag the best candidates.

This ultimately results in lost opportunities to competitors, especially when top candidates are available only for an average of around a week.

Better take note as understanding these challenges is imperative for organizations to develop more effective strategies to overcome them and enhance their candidate sourcing efforts. 

We’ll get to that in a second!

Top 10 candidate sourcing strategies for recruiters

Top 10 candidate sourcing strategies for recruiters

Candidate sourcing is all about casting the net right. 

But you can’t just throw it and hope for the best. You need technique, strategy, and patience!

Additionally, all the aforementioned challenges aren’t just limited to candidate sourcing. 

They have a domino effect and directly & significantly impact the overall recruitment process. What you need are strategies!

Ranging from tapping into your networks to making use of analytics, there’s a LOT you can do to ensure your organization only gets the best of the best at the very beginning of the recruitment cycle! 

Let’s jump right in!

1. Tap into the recruiters’/employees’ network

This is a hidden market that shouldn’t be ignored!

At least 80% of all jobs are filled through a professional network connection!

That’s one sure-shot way to expand your talent pool significantly with minimal effort. 

Not only does it save you precious time and other important resources, and improve the quality of hires, but it also actively engages your existing employees.

This fosters a sense of belonging and improves employee engagement and satisfaction

When you tap into yours and your employees’ circles and networks, you expand your talent pool significantly. 

Implement employee referral programs and offer incentives for the same in order to encourage employees to actively contribute. 

Pro tip – if you have a limited network yourself, consider attending events such as conferences, webinars, roundtables, connect with alumni, etc.

2. Leverage social media

In this day and age, social media is your best buddy. Ignoring it means ignoring a massive pool of potential candidates!

Platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and X (formerly Twitter) are where the top talent you’re seeking are at! 

Social recruiting, or the process of recruiting individuals via these social media channels, allows you to build rapport, expand connections, and thereby build a robust candidate pool. 

Fact – A whopping 86% of job seekers use social media in their job search. That’s too significant a number to ignore!

Some ways to use social media channels to aid you in your candidate sourcing efforts-

  • You can boost your employer brand by promoting a positive company culture on your socials.
  • You can use these platforms to run specific ads pertaining to the job role in question.
  • Platforms like Quora and Reddit allow you to participate in discussions involving the candidates you’re aiming to source. 
  • Identify platforms where your target audience is most active on and post jobs on these platforms. 
  • Utilize the platform to post engaging, relevant and educational content in order to attract potential candidates.

For more on social recruiting and how to implement it, check out our eBook Social Recruiting Playbook for 2023”.

3. Use candidate sourcing tools

What better way to expand and improve your candidate sourcing efforts than to use tools specifically designed for the purpose? 

Candidate sourcing tools help build a candidate pool efficiently and accurately. They promote data-driven decisions, save time, and reduce manual effort

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) like Zappyhire come with candidate sourcing capabilities that allow you to post to numerous job boards with a single click, track candidate applications, and manage communications seamlessly. 

These tools streamline the process, ensuring you reach a wider audience quickly and efficiently
Other candidate sourcing tools include LinkedIn and LinkedIn Recruiter, Recruit’em, Indeed Resume, etc.

4. Boost employer brand

Let’s say your initial efforts to attract candidates worked – congrats! But will you pass the employer brand test? 

Your employer brand acts as a magnet, and how you position and build it determines whether it attracts or repels top talent. 

It’s no wonder that 69% of job seekers would straight up  reject a job offer from a company with a bad employer reputation. 

Potential candidates are more likely to respond to an offer if your employer brand is appealing.

You can boost your employer brand by:

  • Knowing your target audience
  • Gauging your current employer brand
  • Creating an attractive Employee Value Proposition (EVP)
  • Personalizing and humanizing your brand
  • Communicating with individuals who reach out across all platforms

For more on employer brand and how to boost yours, make sure to get your hands on our recent blogEmployer Branding Strategy | What it is and How to Build One”.

Employer branding strategy blog

5. Don’t ignore sourcing passive candidates

As mentioned earlier, a treasure trove of top candidates awaits you in the land of passive candidates! 

With 3/4 of the global workforce falling under the passive candidate bracket, you know where to divert your attention while sourcing candidates. 

Focusing on passive candidates helps attract high-quality talent with specialized skills and experience, thereby expanding the candidate pool.

Here are a few passive candidates sourcing techniques:

  • Personalize outreach and communication
  • Formulate a comprehensive candidate persona before venturing into passive recruitment
  • Attract using appealing Employee Value Proposition and a solid employer brand

6. Ensure clear and targeted job advertisements

This is the first major touchpoint between an organization and the candidate you are seeking. Your job ads must be attractive! 

In order to source the candidates you seek, your job ads and job descriptions must be clear, concise, and unambiguous

Craft job ads that resonate with your target audience, highlight company values, and include visual elements

Clear job ads attract the right candidates and reduce the time spent on filtering unqualified applicants.

7. Source candidates for future hiring needs

It is crucial for recruiters to always be ahead of the game! This means continuously building a talent pool for future requirements. 

For this, it is crucial for them to keep track of potential candidates who may not be the right fit for current openings but could be ideal for future roles. 

Maintaining a record of these candidates ensures you have a ready pool to tap into when new positions open up. 

This proactive approach involves understanding the business growth plans inside out, building a workforce hiring strategy, anticipating potential job openings, building out candidate personas, and always being on the lookout. 

This head start ensures you stay ahead in the game!

8. Source candidates via campus recruitment

Freshers often miss out on opportunities owing to their lack of industry experience, but they bring creativity, fresh perspectives, and a lot of energy to the workplace. 

They are almost always available to take up a job immediately (which also helps decrease the overall time-to-hire), making them valuable investments who can contribute significantly to the organization’s growth. 

Tapping into campus recruitment programs allows you to engage with potential candidates through partnerships with universities and colleges

Additionally, attending career fairs, hosting workshops, and offering mentorship and internships, helps you connect with young talent early.

This helps build a pipeline of future professionals who can grow with your organization.

9. Include offline recruitment methods

Not all old-school recruitment methods go out of style! 

While exploiting all the online channels at your disposal, the effectiveness of offline candidate sourcing methods shouldn’t be overlooked. 

Participate in job fairs, industry-specific conferences, and networking meetups where you get a chance to interact with potential candidates face-to-face. 

These events provide opportunities to build personal connections, showcase your company culture and values, and attract candidates who might not be active online.

10. Utilize recruitment analytics

Strategizing is one thing and implementation is another.

But tracking and measuring the effectiveness of these candidate sourcing techniques through analytics is a different ball game altogether – and an important one too! 

Tracking key metrics such as time-to-hire, cost-per-hire, source of hire, and quality of hire helps you understand what works and what doesn’t. 

Keeping track of these analytics and data can help identify trends, improve resource allocation, and enhance the overall efficiency of your recruitment process.

Therefore, by implementing these strategies, you and your hiring team can navigate candidate sourcing more effectively.

This ultimately ensures that your organization attracts and hires the best of the best talent from the very beginning of the recruitment process!

To summarize…

To win the never-ending and challenging game of hunting for top talent against tough competition, it’s crucial to have your priorities right and strategies in place! 

Start right by beginning your candidate sourcing on the right foot and in the right way.

Often, organizations pay more attention to the later stages of recruitment, but many don’t grasp that high-quality sourced candidates streamline the entire process and increase the chances of finding your dream candidate faster! 

Therefore, it is imperative to implement the above mentioned strategies such as prioritizing passive recruitment and investing in the right candidate sourcing software, etc., to drive organizational success!  

Speaking of investing in the right candidate sourcing software, how about a glimpse into one of the top-tier options, i.e. Zappyhire

Book a demo now and experience its disruptive tech firsthand!

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Aparna Hari

Aparna Hari, a Content Marketer at Zappyhire, crafts content on HR tech, recruitment automation, and everything in between. With a background in English literature, theatre studies, and psychology, she brings a diverse perspective to her writing. Outside of work, she finds joy in a good book and exploring her love for cinema.

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