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Everything You Need to Know About Candidate Sourcing

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In the vast arena that is talent acquisition and recruiting, there are some things that remain constant. 1- competition for top talent never seems to dwindle. And 2 – the need to be a literal sourcing-super-ninja to beat your competitors to the punch.

In this guide, we’ll be doing a deep dive into all things-candidate sourcing – the challenges when you don’t have a powerful sourcing strategy, the dos and don’ts, and how to transform your sourcing game where it matters the most. But first, let’s start with the basics.

What is candidate sourcing and why is it important in recruiting?

What it IS – isn’t complicated. More complex is how to master it. But in a nutshell, candidate sourcing is the process used by recruiters and talent acquisition professionals to identify, engage and evaluate qualified candidates for job openings. It’s an essential part of the recruitment process that helps recruiters source the right talent quickly and cost-effectively.

It bears mentioning that it’s definitely more complex than just identifying candidates who match job descriptions. The goal of candidate sourcing is to find high quality talent who will also fit in well with an organization’s culture and add value to the team. That means simply locating a mass of resume-matched candidates isn’t the only piece of the puzzle. Which makes how you source an important factor, and also what type of candidates you’re sourcing. There are two main categories: active and passive candidates.

How are active and passive candidates different?

In the simplest terms, active candidates are just that – candidates who are actively looking for a job. Passive candidates are already employed and not actively searching for a job and relies more on the employer’s ability to market the position to gain the attention of passive candidates. It may sound like a pretty big challenge to source out of a pool of already-employed candidates. But 73% of potential candidates are passive candidates, and a whopping 87% of those passive candidates say they are open to a new job.

And while there is some overlap in how you should source active and passive candidates, there are some things you should be doing differently depending on which one you’re sourcing. More on that later. Which brings us to our next candidate sourcing topic – direct sourcing vs indirect sourcing.

Direct sourcing vs indirect sourcing

The main difference between direct and indirect sourcing is that indirect sourcing primarily focuses on finding full-time employees to fill long-term positions and often involves external recruiters or staffing agencies. Direct sourcing is historically focused on contingent workforce but has become more of a mainstream solution for many enterprise organizations and is the process of sourcing talent directly by strategically leveraging an employer brand and tapping into your own network of candidate resources, (silver medalists, former employees, freelancers, retirees, interns, referral programs) to create a centralized pool of highly curated, on-demand talent.

Which would you use to source active and/or passive candidates? The answer is, it depends on the type of roles you’re trying to fill, and a number of other factors. Some employers might utilize a combination of direct and indirect sourcing techniques. But before we examine the different ways to source active and passive candidates, let’s take a look at some of the sourcing challenges faced by today’s recruiters.

Candidate sourcing challenges

  1. Attracting talent: While there’s a sea of resumes out there to wade through, there’s also a sea of recruiters. Attracting talent before the competition is extremely competitive. Recruiters need to be creative and proactive in order to find, engage and capture the best talent before someone else does.
  2. Ensuring quality and compatibility: Another challenge for recruiters is ensuring the quality of the candidates they source. 72% of recruiters are struggling to find compatible talent.
  3. Time-consuming manual review and shortlisting: The sea of resumes we mentioned is more like a tsunami of resumes at times. That can make the candidate review and shortlisting process tedious and time-consuming. So time consuming that recruiters on average, spend a third of their work week on sourcing alone.
  4. Talent shortages: Sometimes there just aren’t enough candidates. In fact, new research shows that 87% of U.S. retail leaders name talent shortages as a major challenge in 2023.
  5. Lack of efficiency from lack of data: An important element for maximizing recruiting efficiency is having the right data up front. Recruiters who do not have access to critical market intelligence around key data points such as location, potential skill set distribution, salary projection, company mapping, and education, are at a disadvantage compared to recruiters who are able to leverage data to establish more effective search parameters.
  6. Sourcing for niche roles: There are some roles that are just plain hard to fill. In sectors such as engineering, IT, and healthcare, not only is there a shortage of qualified talent in these areas, but also a higher demand for the talent there is.
  7. Meeting DEI goals: Diversity in the workplace is more important than ever and will only get more important as the most diverse generation of workers in history (Gen Z) enters the workforce. Manually sourcing diverse candidates is a tall order and add in the cost of specialized diversity job boards, and it can be a difficult challenge to overcome.

Overcoming candidate sourcing challenges

There’s no question that recruiters have their work cut out for them when it comes to keeping their sourcing game strong. That’s why a comprehensive sourcing strategy is essential. A strategy that factors in where to look for candidates, how to identify the relevant ones, and tactics for effective talent engagement. Let’s break it down.

Key components to an effective sourcing strategy

  1. Clearly define your sourcing goals: Establishing and clearly defining what your actual sourcing goals are is step one and is essential to ensuring your team is aligned on the right objectives and working towards getting the results you’re after.
  2. Leverage data: A good sourcing strategy should leverage both internal and external data to inform its decisions. Internal data can help you to understand the effectiveness of different channels while external data can help you to discover new candidates and target the right audience. The question is, how do you get the right data? This is where AI-powered talent intelligence can be the most powerful tool in your recruiting arsenal. It’s also the key to increasing recruiting efficiency. A cutting edge sourcing tool such as Arya, allows you to leverage data to quickly design and execute more effective talent searches by providing insights around those key data points. (Location, potential skill set distribution, salary projection, company mapping, and education, etc.)
  3. Automate processes: Automating certain processes such as job posting, resume screening, and candidate outreach can help to make your sourcing more efficient and save your team time. But in order to do that, the right sourcing technology is imperative. Arya uses predictive analytics, 7 multidimensional data points and 300+ attributes to score and rank talent for compatibility, reducing candidate screening and shortlisting time by 50%.
  4. Source multiple channels: Never put your eggs all in one basket. (Unless that basket has a multitude of sourcing channels.) Utilizing a variety of sourcing channels such as job boards, social media platforms, employee referral programs, and niche websites can help you to reach a larger number of potential candidates and increase your chances of finding the best fit for your role. But an even better solution is to integrate a sourcing tool that encompasses all of the above in a single platform. The Arya platform does exactly that and provides immediate access to the largest talent database in the industry of more than 850M+ candidates sourced from 70+ channels.
  5. Create an exceptional candidate experience: Establishing a positive candidate experience from start to finish is an important component of any sourcing strategy. Building relationships through engaging content, personalized messages, and providing timely responses will show candidates that you value them and help you create a positive hiring experience. But that can also be a time-consuming task. Implementing a sourcing tool that has a built-in candidate communication dashboard that allows you to automate candidate engagement via text, talk, email and chatbot is going to help you optimize the candidate experience, saving time in the process.
  6. Invest in the right sourcing technology: It’s no secret that equipping yourself with the right tools is critical to achieving your goals in any industry. But having a sourcing tool that automates recruiting processes, while simultaneously addressing every sourcing challenge is the single most important thing you can do to take your sourcing to the next level. Let’s explore some of the things you should be looking for in an AI-sourcing tool.

Choosing the right AI sourcing tools

When it comes to selecting the right AI sourcing tool for your organization, there are several things to consider:

  • User-friendly with automation options: Choose a tool that is intuitive, easy to navigate, with options for customizing candidate communication and engagement.
  • Talent intelligence: Make sure the tool has the ability to provide those critical market insights that can help you establish more effective search parameters to execute more powerful searches.
  • Access to more candidates: A sourcing tool that offers access to candidates who would otherwise remain inaccessible can be a game changer for recruiters. With massive talent shortages and hard to fill niche roles, a platform such as Arya, that provides immediate access to 850M+ candidate profiles from 70+ channels is going to deliver tangible benefits.
  • Scoring and ranking capability: Select a tool that offers quick results, so you don’t waste valuable time sourcing candidates. Does the platform have talent scoring and ranking? Being able to quickly surface the most compatible talent will save you valuable sourcing time and make you a more efficient recruiter.
  • Seamless integration: Consider a tool that easily integrates with your existing ATS or CRM with 2-way integration, and quality customer service and technical support in case you run into any issues.
  • Advanced search capability: The best sourcing tools are easy for recruiters of all levels to use. Consider a tool such as Arya, that features both Boolean search capability and AI-assisted search for recruiters with less experience.
  • Diversity is built-in: Arya delivers a list of candidates, scored and ranked for compatibility, highlighting the candidates who match the diversity indicator, but doesn’t select only candidates in the selected underrepresented class. The result – an unbiased and diverse list of qualified candidates, giving the recruiter the power to choose the appropriate candidate for the organization.

Final Thoughts

Candidate sourcing is an integral part of the recruitment process and getting it right can have a major impact on talent acquisition outcomes. An effective sourcing strategy that includes the right AI-sourcing tool can help you quickly identify and connect with the most compatible candidates, maximize recruiting efficiency, and save you valuable time and money. Tap into your super-sourcing-ninja powers with Arya. The most powerful single-platform solution for all your sourcing needs.

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