Active sourcing in recruiting: an indispensable success factor

by Steven Allard
Application Scenario-Active-Sourcing-HR-Manager-With-Tablet-in-Hand-Applicant

The shortage of skilled diverse early-in-career talent is on every hiring manager’s lips as the rapid pace of automation continues to exacerbate the need for skilled workers. This challenge continues to grow as for a myriad of reasons more experienced individuals leave the workforce and new talent takes time to ramp up and develop skills. The resulting talent war is increasing the pressure on companies. CompTIA estimated a 2% increase – nearly 178,000 new jobs – in 2022. It is no longer enough for companies to draw attention to themselves through traditional recruiting measures such as job postings and the like. In today’s labor market, talent must be actively sought!

Active sourcing: what is that?

The term active sourcing describes a direct approach to identifying, interesting, and inspiring candidates to act. Sourcing is not a new trend, but one that has evolved from the offline emails, calls, and job postings to online platform communication. One speaks of successful active sourcing when one succeeds in attracting passive talent to such a level that they are willing to explore your company’s opportunity. The aim of this is to raise awareness of your company among suitable candidates and even, or primarily, to attract the employees of competing companies. Most candidates are not actively looking for a job, they already have one and are at best open to listening. Your job is to create a sourcing message and sourcing avenues which inspires passive candidates to become active candidate (but only for your job)! Make it specific to your company’s opportunity and not every other company similar to yours.

Active sourcing is becoming more and more popular as a recruiting measure. Back in 2017, a study by the job board Monster showed that of more than 3,400 jobseekers and people interested in careers surveyed, over half would rather be approached than take the initiative themselves.

Actively approaching „passive“ candidates requires a great deal of expertise and also more time than the traditional approach. However, this method pays off for employers due to its popularity with candidates. Check out our post on how to recruit P.A.S.S.I.V.E. candidates.

The most important methods of active sourcing

  • Talent Pool Screening
    Screening a pool of recently graduated candidate such as interns, bachelor students, master students or applicants with interesting qualification profile.
  • Profile Mining
    Search for talent in career networks (for example LinkedIn, etc.)
  • Hotlist/ Database Search
    Who have you spoken to in the past for similar roles? Are their existing candidate relationships you can approach first? Did you review existing resumes in your database or job platforms (e.g. Linkedin, Indeed, etc.)
  • Referral sourcing
    Use of employee contacts for employee-recruit-employee campaigns, for example.

Online, people actively search via social networks, career networks and resume databases. Online recruiting sites bundle millions of potential candidates in one place, who only need to be filtered, found and approached. Remember everyone post jobs (almost identical to yours) on every passive recruiting site they can find. Candidates active on these sites will respond to your post and almost any other post similar to yours. You are part of the general cattle call for these candidates. Don’t you want to be seen as different?

According to a wide variety of surveys of recruiting managers, XING is the most widely used platform for active sourcing – and the trend in usage is rising. The business network Linkedin also usually does not do badly and shares the following places with the social network Facebook.

The pros and cons of active sourcing

Active sourcing is significantly more efficient than simply placing job posting. By pre-selecting candidates, there are less unqualified candidates to filter though. The initial effort of creating a story-boarded message campaign, then identifying potential candidates, then finally outreaching and nurturing those relationships is more effort. Recruiting teams may have to be restructured to include a separate sourcing team. In addition, recruiters often need targeted training to be able to source and message passive candidates effectively. It does require more effort, but the process is more efficient and the return on that investment is also higher. Active sourcing offers a modern way of finding more of the right qualified personnel.

Helpful tips for active sourcing

When it comes to the quality of the active approach, there is still some catching up to do. Many companies only slightly adapt the messages to the candidates. Quality of message should be the focus here. Almost a third of the candidates surveyed felt annoyed by impersonal treatment. So before candidates are approached, recruiters should definitely acquire all the necessary skills in the process of active sourcing. Passive candidates need to be recruited and interacted with much differently than active candidate who just apply to job postings. Only then can this method lead to success. To do this, one should not only know and become familiar with the most important platforms, but also be well networked and active on them. Also, remember to give before you ask. Add value before you ask for something in return.

When making outreach, the important information should not be at the end of your message. What is relevant and interesting for the candidates? Lead with what is important to the message receiver! Your email should create interest and intrigue and not look to answer any potential question that may arise. Emails that are far too long and detailed are not well received by potential candidates. Relevant information should not be forgotten.

Furthermore, it is not advisable to simply send job postings. This approach looks very impersonal and in most cases will result in the message being ignored altogether.

Close up smartphone in hand with message bubble

Our recommendation for companies

Every recruiter should master active sourcing. Waiting for applicants no longer works in the current job market. Companies must become active themselves in order to attract talented candidates and at least keep up in the war of talent. Everyone in the company is a recruiter. Either directly recruiting or being a positive ambassador for the company.

In doing so, the focus should not be on attracting the same top talent over and over again. Every company naturally tries to recruit the most qualified candidates. Remember other companies are actively looking to attract the same talent you are. What makes your outreach stand out? If you don’t know, you have already lost them to someone else. As recruiting and qualification specialists, we know: It is also important to focus on candidate who possess the right traits (intellectually curious/solid problem solvers/self starters) and then to be able to close any particular skill gaps with subsequent training. This makes the search easier and also strengthens loyalty.

We turn talent into experts.

Photo credits for this post:
477083292© itchaznong –
280779870© EUDPic –
418722030© Song_about_summer –

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