Candidate Sourcing:

A How-To Guide For Recruitment

Sourcing remains a crucial talent acquisition channel: according to Lever, sourced candidates account for 24-33% of all hires, the second most common origin of hire after direct applicants.

24-23% of all hires are from candidate sourcing

Candidate sourcing is also one of the most effective ways to hire. On average, one in every 72 sourced candidates is hired compared to one in every 152 applicants.

The improving economy has created a candidate-driven market. In 2009, the ratio was 6.6 unemployed persons per job opening and today it’s 1.1 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

LinkedIn reports 90% of people are open to learning more about new opportunities, but only 36% of candidates actively search for a new job. That means a typical job posting will only attract about a third of the potential talent pool who might be interested in your open role.

Recruiting teams that master candidate sourcing are clearly going to have an advantage in today’s competitive talent marketplace.

To help you achieve this important hiring advantage, we created this how-to guide on optimizing your sourcing process to find and attract qualified talent.

Section 1

What is candidate sourcing?

Sourcing is finding and qualifying candidates – both passive and active – who have not applied directly to an open role.

The information you’re trying to find for sourced candidates include their names, evidence of their qualifications, and contact information.

The metrics for sourced candidates are captured a bit differently than candidates who apply directly.

1. Time to hire

Because sourced candidates often need to be nurtured, their time to hire should be measured separately from direct applicants.

Instead of tracking from the first point of contact, measure time to hire from the first interview to when the sourced candidate accepts the offer.

Beamery also suggests keeping track of how many messages it takes to get an initial response from a candidate, how long it takes to nurture a candidate and convince them to apply for a role, and whether candidates that you’ve sourced move through the screening and interview process faster than general applicants.

2. Source-to-interview conversion rate

Because accurately sourced candidates are “pre-screened”, they should have higher source-to-interview conversion rates.

On the other hand, sourced candidates are often passive and may take a lot more persuading to move onto the next stage of the recruiting process.

In any case, the important thing is to keep track of this metric and re-assess your sourcing process if it starts decreasing.

3. Source-to-hire conversion rate

A high source-to-offer conversion rate is indicative of a strong pipeline of sourced candidates.

Track where hired candidates were sourced from to assess the ROI of your sourcing channels and candidate acquisition budget.

Section 2

An overview of sourcing stats

Although every sourcing situation will have its unique circumstances, it’s always helpful to see where you stand compared to industry statistics.

Average # of requisitions

According to SourceCon’s latest State Of Sourcing Survey:

  • 6-10: average # of open requisitions at any given time
  • 121+: average # of positions filled annually

Average # hours spent sourcing

  • 6-12: hours spent sourcing a week

Average response rate

  • 35%

Most important sourcing trend to learn and understand

According to the latest SilkRoad Sources of Hire report:

Top search engine sources of hire

  • 65% Indeed
  • 11% CareerBuilder
  • 8% LinkedIn
  • 7% Unspecified job board
  • 4% Craigslist
  • 2% Monster
  • 2% Glassdoor

Section 3

How to source candidates

Sourcing expert Glen Cathey recommends you should spend 10 to 20 minutes thinking about your search strategy, experimenting with search strings, and reviewing your results before you start conducting your outreach.

Here are 6 steps to keep in mind when sourcing candidates.

Step 1: Learn the qualifications needed for the role

This might involve a kickoff meeting with the hiring manager to ensure alignment about candidates’ skills, experience, and other qualifications.

If possible, review a few resumes together to discuss what good candidates look like.

Step 2: Use a variety of sourcing channels

Sourcing channels can be both push and pull.

Online channels include job boards, social and professional networks, online communities, and resume databases. Other common sourcing channels are in-person events such as meetups and conferences as well as referrals. 

New methods include advertising by re-targeting candidates (e.g., advertising your role to people who’ve visited your company website before) and through geocaching (e.g., advertising your role to people physically nearby).

Step 3: Take time to personalize your messaging

Jonathan Campbell, CEO of Social Talent, recommends including a minimum of two details unique to the candidate in the first sentence.

Whether that detail is a mention of a particular skill or something you have in common, personalized messaging takes longer to craft but should earn you a higher response rate.

Step 4: Follow a cadence with your outreach

There’s no agreed upon cadence for candidate outreach so it’s best to follow a pattern and then tweak it as necessary.

For example, your outreach cadence could look like:

  • Day 1: Personalized email
  • Day 3: Phone call
  • Day 7: Second email
  • Day 14: Text message
  • (Etc.)

Step 5: Nurture candidates for future positions

Although 99% of companies believe re-engaging candidates will help them build their talent community, fewer than 50% of employers re-engage declined candidates.

Bullhorn suggests nurturing declined candidates with a quarterly outreach. First, make sure you’re keeping track of why a candidate wasn’t hired (e.g., lacked a qualification) in your ATS or CRM.

For agency recruiters, Bullhorn suggests staying in contact with placed candidates and keep tracking of how they’re doing at their companies.

Step 6: Audit your process by assessing costs and conversion rates

Keep track of metrics such as time to hire, interview-to-offer conversion rates, and cost per hire based on source to understand where you can further improve your process.

Section 4

Innovations in candidate sourcing tools

Innovation #1: Sourcing from databases using artificial intelligence

There are countless sourcing tools. The most exciting technologies currently involve artificial intelligence.

AI offers two main benefits for sourcing: automation and accuracy.

Automated sourcing uses technology that finds candidates online that fit the requirements of your role. This can involve general searches for candidates by scraping the web or specific searches within resume databases such as CareerBuilder.

Adding automation to sourcing candidates should improve efficiency metrics such as time to fill and cost to hire.

The other true benefit of AI for sourcing lies with the potential for increasing the accuracy of candidate matching.

Instead of limited and error-prone keyword and Boolean searches, AI can find patterns in resumes and other sources of data to find candidates that are better matches for a job’s requirements.

As a bonus, AI technology has the potential to reduce bias at the sourcing stage by ignoring candidate demographics (e.g., race, gender, age) in its decision making.

Innovation #2: Rediscovering previous candidates in your ATS

Rediscovering prior candidates is one of the most cost-effective and quickest ways to source for new roles.

Candidates who’ve previously applied to a position at your company are 4 times more likely to respond to a recruiter’s outreach.

Although the ability to re-engage prior candidates has long been a recruiting priority, the typical ATS’s search functionality makes it difficult or even impossible to match previous applicants to an open req even if those applicants were matched to a similar role previously.

Candidate rediscovery is different because it uses artificial intelligence to find candidates.

You enter the job description of a current req and the AI tool will automatically screen every resume in your ATS to find the most qualified candidates. It then screens, shortlists, and ranks candidates to your open roles from A to D.

Innovation #3: Refreshing old resumes

Related to both 1 and 2, AI software can also conduct a public search of candidates and refresh their resumes with updated information as necessary.

Section 5

A summary of how to source candidates

1. Candidate sourcing is finding and qualifying candidates – both passive and active – who have not applied directly to an open role.

2. Industry stats on sourcing include:

Average # of requisitions:

  • 6-10: # of open requisitions at any given time
  • 121+: # of positions filled annually

Average # hours spent sourcing: 6-12

Average response rate: 35%

Top search engine sources of hire:

  • 65% Indeed
  • 11% CareerBuilder
  • 8% LinkedIn
  • 7% Unspecified job board
  • 4% Craigslist
  • 2% Monster
  • 2% Glassdoor

3. Sourcing candidates involves at least 6 steps:

  • Step 1: Learn the qualifications needed for the role
  • Step 2: Use a variety of sourcing channels
  • Step 3: Take time to personalize your messaging
  • Step 4: Follow a cadence with your outreach
  • Step 5: Nurture sourced candidates for future positions
  • Step 6: Audit your process by assessing costs and conversion rates

4. Innovations in candidate sourcing tools include:

  • #1: Sourcing from databases using artificial intelligence
  • #2: Rediscovering previous candidates in your ATS
  • #3: Refreshing old resumes

Candidate Sourcing:

A How-To Guide For Recruitment

Remember to bookmark this post and keep it as a resource to answer all of your sourcing questions!

Looking for an AI sourcing solution? Try our candidate sourcing software!

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