17 Candidate Sourcing Strategies to Help You Find Top Talent

A person using a laptop with holographic images of resumes and candidate profiles floating above the keyboard, representing the process of sourcing candidates online.

Proactive recruiting strategies are essential if you want to stay agile and competitive in a dynamic market. Candidate sourcing can help you quickly identify talent, build relationships, and recruit skilled applicants. 

Learn the benefits of candidate sourcing and get 17 ideas to find and hire top talent. 

What is Candidate Sourcing?

Candidate sourcing is a recruitment strategy that involves actively seeking out prospective candidates and building relationships with them before they apply for your jobs, even if they’re not actively job searching. Sourcing empowers recruiters to fill open positions faster, at a lower cost, and with better applicants than passively waiting for candidates to apply independently. 

Benefits of Using Candidate Sourcing Strategies

Establish a talent pipeline

A talent pipeline is a group of candidates with whom a company has built relationships that can be used to fill open positions. A talent pipeline eliminates the need to attract new candidates for every job opening, allowing companies to hire more efficiently. 

Reach a wider audience 

Candidate sourcing helps you reach people who might not see your job advertisements or other forms of recruitment marketing. Casting a wider net can give you access to higher-quality applicants, including passive candidates who aren’t actively looking for job opportunities. 

Access niche skills 

Candidate sourcing can accelerate the process when you need to hire for a hard-to-fill role. It gives recruiters greater control over the type of candidates being considered and can lead to more accurate hires. 

Reduce hiring costs

Because candidate sourcing takes place continuously, it can reduce the costs of urgent, last-minute hires and offset other recruiting expenses like advertising. 

Keep rising costs from getting you down with our ‘Reducing Labor Costs’ eBook.

Learn from our experts on how to streamline your hiring process.

17 Candidate Sourcing Strategies to Help You Find Top Talent

1. Focus on your employer brand

Your employer brand encapsulates your reputation as a workplace. With a strong positive reputation, it’s easier to get candidates to apply and accept offers. 

It’s not enough to strategize an employer brand; every role that impacts hiring needs to be aware of your employer brand strategy and use it consistently. This includes not only recruiters and hiring managers but also marketing, PR, and social media teams, as well as company leaders. 

Related: How to Elevate Your Employer Brand to Attract Top Candidates

2. Examine internal talent

Your first sourcing efforts should take place within your own company walls. Hiring from within boosts employee engagement, strengthens your workforce’s skills, and uses fewer resources than conducting an external search. 

3. Use candidate personas

A candidate persona is a profile that defines your ideal candidate’s skills, background, and characteristics. Candidate personas help you write stronger job descriptions–key to attracting the right applicants–and create more effective recruiting messaging since you know exactly who you’re speaking to. 

4. Maintain strong candidate relationships

Are you using your ATS to its full potential? It’s a powerful tool for establishing connections and nurturing strong, long-lasting relationships with candidates. Create a messaging strategy and use it to maintain a consistent level of engagement with candidates. 

You shouldn’t just be reaching out to your contacts when you need to hire. Instead, it would be best to communicate with them continuously with messages that emphasize your employer brand and value proposition. 

5. Segment candidates by skill

Categorizing candidates by their skills rather than just the jobs they’ve applied for is another useful way to leverage your ATS. Skills that are relevant for, say, a customer service position may also be relevant for a sales position. This lets you quickly search and filter when you need to hire for specific capabilities.

6. Build an online community

The careers page of your website is a valuable place for would-be applicants to browse openings and learn more about working for your company, but why stop there? Create an online community like a LinkedIn group or Facebook page that’s dedicated solely to resources for job seekers. This allows you to have two-way conversations with interested individuals rather than just blasting out information. You can strike while the iron is hot and capture more completed applications by engaging with candidates and answering their questions in real-time. 

7. Be a resource

Position yourself as a helpful candidate resource by sharing more than just your open positions. Offer thought leadership like market insights, industry trends, advice for job seekers, and behind-the-scenes details of what you’re looking for when you hire.

8. Interact with job seekers

Online channels like town Facebook pages and community forums regularly see posts from locals looking for leads on work. Likewise, Reddit has a ton of threads posted by people wanting to learn about different career options. These users are prime candidates to be introduced to your employer brand. Answer their questions with tailored advice and share openings that may fit their needs. 

9. Tap into LinkedIn Recruiter tools

Are you using LinkedIn Recruiter to find and connect with candidates? If not, you’re missing out on many tools that make sourcing fast and straightforward. Recruiter’s many tools give you the ability to:

  • Find qualified candidates using AI-powered search capabilities
  • Simplify candidate outreach with automated, personalized messaging
  • Work together more seamlessly with collaborative tools for recruiting teams
  • Gain visibility into your recruiting results with custom reporting

And more. It’s a paid solution, but you can consult with a platform expert first to find the service tier that fits your hiring needs and team size. 

10. Target passive candidates

Passive candidates aren’t actively looking for new opportunities but may be open to the right one if it lands in their lap. Use channels like social media, industry events, and webinars to connect with passive candidates who can add immediate value to your team. 

11. Leverage your analytics

Your recruiting analytics are a powerful source of insight to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your sourcing efforts. Use your data to determine your most effective sourcing channels, monitor which communications resonate most with candidates, and refine the content of your candidate outreach. 

12. Focus on what’s working

All too often, recruiters are looking for that shiny new tool or creative approach to change the game and make hiring a breeze. First of all, there is no magic solution. And second of all, a much more effective strategy is to zero in on what works. 

The oft-cited Pareto principle, which states that 80% of our results come from 20% of our efforts, usually holds true. So, find out what your 20% is. It might be employee referrals that produce great hires or a testimonial video that brings applications rolling in. Whatever it is, do more of what’s working rather than chasing the latest and greatest recruiting shortcut. 

13. Turn employees into advocates

Your current employees are an army of part-time recruiters waiting to be deployed. They understand the company culture and can communicate your values in real, relatable language. Provide training and resources to help employees support your hiring efforts by sharing your posts on social media and acting as a spokesperson at in-person events. 

Also–and this is a big one–prioritize employee referrals. Send regular communications to inform employees about your job openings, remind them of your referral incentives, and give instructions on submitting a qualified candidate. 

Related: How to Make Your Employee Referral Program a Powerful Recruitment Tool

14. Forge beneficial partnerships

Building strategic partnerships within your industry and community can broaden your reach and talent pool. Collaborate with universities and technical colleges to build awareness among new grads. Engage with industry groups to network with passive candidates and partner with specialized recruiting agencies with access to niche markets and skills.  

15. Revisit past finalists

If you had three finalists for an opening, that means two great candidates weren’t hired. Keep those candidates in your talent pool by maintaining their relationships and encouraging them to consider other positions that suit their skills. 

16. Stay in touch with former employees

Former employees–namely, those who left on a positive note–can be great advocates for your organization. Keep past workers in your network with a special nurturing strategy specifically for them. You can also create and maintain an ‘alumni network’ of former employees on a platform like Facebook or Slack to keep in touch. 

17. Anticipate future hiring needs

Proactively anticipating your future needs is key to building a useful talent pipeline. Get ahead of the game by staying in close contact with department heads and company leaders about staffing gaps and growth plans. Use succession planning to identify internal candidates for advancement and develop their skills accordingly. 

Implementing these candidate sourcing strategies can help you build a robust, resilient talent pool. By taking a proactive approach to hiring, you can ensure your organization attracts and retains the best possible talent and maintains a competitive edge in the market. 

Pete Newsome

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the President of 4 Corner Resources, the staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. 4 Corner is a member of the American Staffing Association and TechServe Alliance, and the top-rated staffing company in Central Florida. Recent awards and recognition include being named to Forbes’ Best Recruiting Firms in America, The Seminole 100, and The Golden 100. Pete also founded zengig, to offer comprehensive career advice, tools, and resources for students and professionals. He hosts two podcasts, Hire Calling and Finding Career Zen, and is blazing new trails in recruitment marketing with the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Connect with Pete on LinkedIn