Small and mid-sized businesses have varying reasons to keep hiring efforts in-house rather than turning to a search firm to recruit new employees. For some companies, the cost of a search firm is prohibitive. The average recruitment fee is 15-25% of the new hire’s annual salary, which translates to thousands of dollars per candidate, even for entry-level workers.candidate sourcing blog.png

Other small and mid-sized businesses handle candidate sourcing in-house so they can have complete control over the process. They can start developing relationships with potential team members from start to finish and directly communicate the company’s values at every step of the process.

Regardless of the reason, a competitive job market requires businesses to be proactive in their talent searches. According to The Society of Human Resource Management, it takes an average of 42 days to make a new hire after a position opens up. However, your business can’t go on pause for 6 weeks every time you need to hire.

That’s where candidate sourcing comes in.

Candidate sourcing describes the process of reaching out to prospective hires--sometimes even before positions become available.

Reasons for Proactive Candidate Sourcing

Find Passive Candidates: Often, the highest-performing individuals are not on an active job hunt, but they might be open to new opportunities and benefits.

Find Quality Candidates: General job postings might occasionally bear fruit, but they will generate quantity without necessarily drilling down to quality. Proactive methods target people with the skills you need.

Build Your Brand: When that top-tier candidate does their homework on your company, they should be motivated to apply. This requires having an active web and social media presence. Doing this as part of a proactive candidate sourcing strategy keeps your company visible to attractive candidates, even when you’re not actively hiring, and can have secondary marketing benefits too.

Profiling Your Ideal Candidate

Before choosing one or more tactical approaches for finding your perfect new hire, you need to create a crystal-clear picture of your ideal candidate. Your hiring team can build a candidate profile, which could include any number of qualities.

  • Hard skills
  • Soft skills
  • Experience
  • Education
  • Certifications
  • Communication style
  • Cultural fit
  • Salary history
  • Career ambitions

Candidate Sourcing Pools

Now that you know what your ideal candidate will bring to the table, it’s time to seek them out in the most likely places.

LinkedIn: Detailed search filters help you find talent to match your candidate profile.

Industry Forums and Communities: Share insights, answer questions, and build relationships with talented individuals in online forums and niche communities before, during, and after your search period. Establishing your company as a thought-leader can attract top talent.

Industry Events and Conferences: Network with potential candidates at industry conferences, career fairs, and workshops. Sponsoring events can increase brand awareness and attract high performers.

Professional Associations: Get sourcing tips and insights from like-minded business owners and leaders. Many associations even promote industry-specific job opportunities.

Employee Referrals: Incentivize current employees to attract qualified applicants from their own networks.

Alumni Networks: College alumni networks are a great source for entry-level employees or for employees requiring a specific degree.

Freelance Platforms: Project-based contractors can help fill the gaps during the hiring process, and you might even build relationships that transition to full-time employment or a quality referral.

Candidate Sourcing Best Practices

Diving into any or all of these candidate pools requires a thoughtful approach that reflects the care you will take in building a long-term relationship with your future team members. You need to:

Personalize Communication: Avoid form letters and tailor messages to your candidate, speaking specifically to their qualifications or experiences.

Focus on Value: You need to be a top company to attract the top talent. The job description is just the beginning of letting a candidate know why this is a great place to work.

Be Authentic: Avoid blatant sales pitches and focus on building rapport.

Be Responsive: Respond promptly to candidate inquiries.

Be Transparent: Give candidates clear expectations, and then follow through. If something shifts, like a timeline or a job description, let them know.

Track and Analyze: You’re going to be collecting a lot of information in this process, and that data needs to be stored, organized, and analyzed. One way to stop drowning and paperwork and cobbled-together programs is with Future Systems Advanced HR. This software has two levels of applicant tracking, basic and premier). It is used to organize every step of the candidate sourcing process, and more importantly, it retains all the vital candidate information to streamline the eventual onboarding process.

Whether you invest in working with a search firm or invest time in conducting your own recruiting process, candidate sourcing works best when it is grounded in a purposeful, trackable, and repeatable process.

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