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Glossary: HR & Recruiting Definitions

Candidate Sourcing

Candidate sourcing is the active search for potential candidates to fill current and future job vacancies. It falls under the scope of talent acquisition, focusing on bringing qualified candidates into the recruiting and hiring funnel. Most Small to Medium-Sized businesses don’t have a “sourcer” or dedicated team member specialized in sourcing but rather integrate sourcing responsibilities into their overall recruiting strategy. 

Generally, candidate sourcing comprises:

  • Creating interest around your brand and job openings via outreach campaigns
  • Collecting candidate information like resumes, work samples, and portfolios
  • Pre-screening candidates with the skills and qualifications that match jobs that are recruiting applicants
  • Contacting potential talent to build relationships and inform them about job vacancies

What is the difference between sourcing and recruiting? 

Although the activities of each might often overlap, sourcing and recruiting are different. One of the main differences is that sourcing entails searching and finding passive candidates, those who would otherwise not apply to your job vacancy. Sourcing occurs in the early phase of the recruitment process and emphasizes outreach activities that create interest and drive talent acquisition. The focus is on engaging and building relationships with qualified candidates to build a talent pool for current and future job openings. Recruiting, on the other hand, follows the full funnel until a hire is made and sometimes extends to the onboarding process. 

Many Small to Medium-sized businesses use recruiting software to combine sourcing and recruiting efforts for more cost-effective and efficient hiring. For example, JOIN software streamlines candidate screening and shortlisting, provides useful data insights, and facilitates team collaboration. 

Why is sourcing important for Small to Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs)?

Businesses need to hire the most qualified talent for every role to stay competitive and grow. Here are some of the benefits of candidate sourcing:

  • Build a robust talent pool: By proactively sourcing, SMEs can build a strong talent pool by identifying and engaging active job seekers and passive candidates who might be open to a new opportunity.
  • Save money: Creating a talent pool through sourcing can help reduce time-to-hire and cost-to-hire as you already have a pre-screened candidate pipeline.
  • Strengthen your employer brand: Outreach activities familiarize more talent with your organization, thus creating more interest and trust around your brand.
  • Gain referrals: In addition, sourcing increases organic brand awareness as your talent community spreads the word about your organization through referrals and recommendations. 

Should sourcing be used to fill every job vacancy?

If you know a job post will attract a high volume of qualified applications, there is probably no need to spend time and effort to source candidates. Sourcing is often best employed when looking to hire for a highly-specialized job that requires a less common skill set. In this case, sourcing efforts help save time and money as you’ll avoid attracting unqualified candidates. 

What are the best methods for sourcing candidates?

Traditional sourcing combines a number of online and offline activities. For Small to Medium-sized businesses, sourcing candidates digitally is often a more popular method. Here is a quick overview of some best practices for sourcing:

  • Use social media platforms to attract and engage talent
  • Identify more relevant candidates with Boolean search techniques, using operators like “and”, “or” and “not” to narrow, broaden, or exclude terms from searches.
  • Browse job boards and portfolio sites
  • Build a talent pool with digital tools like Application Tracking System or Talent Acquisition Software
  • Ask for referrals and consider starting an employee referral program 
  • Outreach via recruitment events and meetups
  • Work to improve your employer brand

It’s also important to consider different sourcing methods when searching for entry-level vs. executive-level candidates. For example, when sourcing entry-level candidates, it’s best to focus on skill sets rather than years of experience. Social media recruiting is also useful in attracting and engaging entry-level applicants. If sourcing executive-level candidates, identify and reach out to talent who demonstrate expert knowledge and leadership skills. As many high-level candidates are likely already employed, referrals and social sourcing methods might be most effective. 

What is social sourcing?

Social sourcing is the practice of using social networks to identify, attract, engage, and contact potential candidates to build your talent pool. The most popular social networks that SMEs use to source talent are LinkedIn, Indeed, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

How can SMEs evaluate their sourcing efforts?

SMEs should establish sourcing KPIs that are different than those used to evaluate the recruiting process. Some sourcing metrics are:

  • Number of candidates sourced
  • Number of applications
  • Applicant conversion rate
  • Applicant to interview conversion rate
  • Source of channel effectiveness
  • Number of sourced hires
  • Quality of sourced hire

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