Talent Acquisition

How to Source Candidates: 5 Sourcing Strategies

By Mike Baumgarten

Last updated: Mar 8, 2023

You can’t always wait for the best talent to come to you. Sometimes, you have to come to them — and that’s where candidate sourcing strategies come in handy. Candidate sourcing can help your org reduce your time-to-fill and meet your long-term recruiting goals with the right people on board.

In this article, we’ll help you get started with your candidate sourcing efforts.

We’ll cover:

  • What is candidate sourcing?
  • How to source candidates: 5 candidate sourcing strategies

Note: If you haven’t read our 10-step recruitment guide you can get a complete overview of the entire recruitment process here.

Let’s get into it.

What is candidate sourcing?

Candidate sourcing is the process of proactively searching for potential candidates to fill current and future job openings. The process includes searching for, identifying, and contacting potential candidates.

To source candidates, recruiters:

  • Collect important information on candidates, such as resumes and work samples
  • Pre-screen candidates whose skills match the role they’re looking to fill
  • Contact candidates and inform them about job openings
  • Build and maintain relationships with potential hires

Sourcing enables you to reduce your time-to-fill, i.e. the number of days between when you publish your job posting and when your job offer is accepted. It also allows you to build a database of engaged candidates — also referred to as a talent pipeline — to cover your current and future hiring needs.

These benefits can help you position your org to meet your long-term recruiting goals with the best talent on board.

How to source candidates: 5 candidate sourcing strategies

Ready to get started sourcing candidates? We’ve compiled a list of five candidate sourcing strategies to help you source the best talent for your team:

  1. Use your talent pipeline
  2. Diversify your online sourcing channels
  3. Take your candidate sourcing offline
  4. Source candidates through employee networks
  5. Perfect your outreach efforts

1. Use your talent pipeline

If you’ve yet to build a talent pipeline, this is your sign to do so. If you have a talent pipeline, you already have a selection of qualified candidates you can re-engage to fill current and future job openings.

To successfully work with “archived” candidates, you need to ensure that you provide a positive and professional candidate experience.

This includes:

  • Tracking why candidates aren’t hired. Did the role get filled? Was the candidate a good fit for a role you don’t have yet? Are they underqualified now, but show potential to be a great match in the future? Track these reasons in an Excel spreadsheet, or use an applicant tracking system (ATS) or a similar tool for this purpose.
  • Giving candidates constructive feedback after their interview. If a candidate didn’t make the cut, make sure they know that they were highly qualified for the position and that it was a close call. Listen to their feedback, too — this will help you provide an even better candidate experience in future interviews.
  • Notifying candidates of their application status. Candidates are far more likely to re-apply if they’re kept in the loop. Let them know that you’ve saved their application and will reach out to them when the right opportunity presents itself.

This candidate sourcing strategy will help you leverage past recruitment efforts to generate future candidates. They also help you build an employer brand that makes you more enticing to potential hires — and that’s exactly what you want.

2. Diversify your online sourcing channels

In the previous step of our 10-step guide — how to write a compelling job posting — we talked about where to post your job openings. To source candidates, however, it’s not enough to post your job ad and wait for candidates to come to you: you need to come to them.

We mentioned some of the most popular platforms for posting job ads: online job boards and social media. These platforms can also be used for sourcing candidates.

For example, Indeed — one of the world’s largest online job boards — hosts a database of more than 90 million resumes that you can scan using their advanced search option. LinkedIn, of course, is another popular option. A LinkedIn Recruiter license allows you to engage candidates via personal messages (InMails), and to organize candidates in your talent pipeline.

These options are popular for a reason — but they’re not the only options out there. In fact, diversifying your sourcing channels can boost your chances of finding the best talent. You may also find that candidates are more receptive to your outreach efforts on less conventional channels.

So how do you find alternative channels? A great way to start is by looking for domain specific job boards.

Domain specific job boards include:

As part of this candidate sourcing strategy, ask your team members what platforms they would use in their domain. They may also be able to give you further information, such as whether candidates in the role you want to fill might go by multiple job titles.

3. Take your candidate sourcing offline

For candidates and orgs alike, online sourcing can feel a bit like online dating: before you’ve met them in person, you don’t know what you’re getting into. Taking your efforts offline allows you to show candidates exactly who you are and why your org is the best place to work.

Offline candidate sourcing also allows you to get creative with your candidate sourcing strategy in ways that you simply can’t online.

Some great ways to engage candidates offline include:

  • Attending job fairs or industry-specific events.
  • Hosting your own meetups to bring together people you’d like to meet — and to help them meet each other.
  • Encouraging your team members to stay on the lookout for potential candidates when attending events.

An offline candidate sourcing strategy gives you the chance to leave candidates with a great first impression that online sourcing simply can’t replicate. Meeting you face to face makes candidates much more likely to remember who you are and what your org is like — and that, in turn, increases your chances of getting them interested in working for you.

Note: You don’t have to wait for the opportunity to host a meetup to show candidates who you are. With The Org, candidates can put faces to the names of your team long before they meet them. Set up your company page and let The Org help you source the best candidates.

4. Source candidates through employee networks

Above, we mentioned that you can encourage your team members to be on the lookout for potential candidates. This is important — in fact, utilizing employee networks to find talent is a great candidate sourcing strategy.

In “How to Write a Compelling Job Posting,” we mentioned employee referral programs as an offline option for talent acquisition. Employee networks, however, don’t have to be offline. There are plenty of ways to use employee networks in combination with online tools to effectively source the best candidates for your org.

Take, for example, Teamable. This tool automatically recommends you candidates based on your employees’ social networks, allowing you to source candidates much faster. It also establishes a social connection between you that makes candidates much more likely to respond to your outreach efforts.

Tip: A warm introduction is always more effective than a cold email. When you find a qualified candidate via a tool such as Teamable, ask your employee to introduce you to that candidate to increase your candidate response rate.

5. Perfect your outreach efforts

Sourcing candidates is one thing — getting them to engage with you is another. For that reason, you need to perfect your outreach efforts to increase your chances of getting a positive response from your sourced candidates.

When it comes to outreach, the most important thing to note is that your efforts need to be personalized. Candidates can tell if you’ve simply followed an outreach template without considering the individual candidate’s interests. Keep in mind that you’re coming to them — not the other way around.

To ensure that your outreach efforts target the candidate’s goals, needs, and wants, you should:

  • Lead with a strong subject line that stands out and makes the candidate want to read your message.
  • Personalize your message and reference relevant information about the candidate to show them that you’ve done your research and that you take them and their work seriously.
  • Paint a picture of your org and briefly describe the role you’re hiring for. You can do that by simply linking your org chart on The Org
  • Tell the candidate why you chose to reach out to them. Explain how you think they could contribute to your team and what about them might make them a great match for the role.

Your goal is to give the candidate enough information to pique their interest. But remember — keep your message short and concise. You don’t want to overload them with information that isn’t relevant at this stage in the recruitment process.

Tip: If you’ve used outreach as a candidate sourcing strategy before, ask your hires for feedback on your outreach messages. This can help you test different approaches to perfect your outreach efforts.

Key takeaways

Candidate sourcing is a proactive approach to your recruitment process that includes searching for, identifying, and contacting potential candidates to cover your current and future hiring needs.

The key takeaways from our five candidate sourcing strategies are:

  • Keep track of past applicants and use your talent pipeline to re-engage “archived” candidates. Make sure to provide a great candidate experience to increase your chances of candidates re-applying.
  • Use both traditional and domain specific job boards to source diverse candidates. Ask your team members to help you find the right online sourcing channels for the role you want to fill.
  • Include offline efforts in your candidate sourcing. Seek out and create opportunities for candidates to get to know you in person and put faces to the names of your team.
  • Use employee networks and online tools to bridge the gap between yourself and your potential hires.
  • Personalize your outreach efforts to show candidates that you take their goals, needs, and wants seriously.

Ready to set your candidate sourcing strategies in motion? Great! Let’s move on to the next topic in our 10-step guide: how to screen applicants.

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