On the Hunt for Job Candidates

Over the years, sourcing has evolved from a function within recruiting to its own discipline. Today, many large organizations have entire departments dedicated to candidate sourcing.

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Why have companies taken this approach?
Because sourcing takes a different approach to talent acquisition. Unlike talent attraction strategies aimed at driving candidates to a company, sourcing strategies focus on searching for candidates.

Who Sourcers Seek

Sourcing professionals, however, don’t search for just any candidates. Sourcers seek an exact match between job requirements and candidates. And sourcers, like undercover agents, leave no resource untapped in an attempt to find the ideal fit.
The hunt often leads to candidates who otherwise wouldn’t have been found.
Occasionally, albeit rare, the process turns up a candidate who is absolutely perfect for the job. Such a candidate, dubbed a purple squirrel, is the stuff of sourcing legend.

Resources for Sourcers

Today’s sourcers have far more places where they can hunt for candidates, including proverbial purple squirrels. Nevertheless, resume databases, a favorite of longtime sourcers, remain highly popular.
At the same time, business network LinkedIn, which boasts more than 500 million members, has become a sourcing world unto itself. Social media sites, given their user populations, have also inspired sourcers to find new ways to uncover candidates.
Websites that allow job seekers to upload portfolios are popular with sourcers looking for creative professionals. Similarly, sites where information technology professionals talk about projects speak to skills and abilities in ways that a resume or static profile does not.
To tap these and other resources, sourcers rely on various techniques. Some of these “tricks” are homegrown, but many are learned by attending training and certification programs.
Professional training for sourcers is not new. AIRS, an ADP company, has been training and certifying sourcers since 1997. As the company points out, AIRS is older than Google and predates two of today’s most popular sites for sourcing candidates: LinkedIn and Facebook.
Recruiting Toolbox is another provider of sourcing training and workshops with deep roots in the discipline. The company’s principals all previously served as recruiting leaders at top companies – indeed, their resumes read like a Who’s Who of some of the world’s largest and best-known organizations – and they have firsthand experience in sourcing top talent.

Role of Sourcing

At a time when it is increasingly difficult to fill open positions, sourcing provides a way to uncover potential candidates—many of whom are employed and might not otherwise consider changing jobs.
But sourcing can be highly effective in an entirely different job market, one where a company is inundated with resumes. Because sourcers hone in on specific skills and requirements, and search from larger talent pools, the likelihood of finding a candidate who is a fit increases.
Small and midsize companies sometimes view sourcing as something only large companies do. While it’s true that large companies often have full-time sourcers on staff, the techniques and tricks these professionals use work for anyone on the hunt for job candidates.
Recruiters and human resource professionals from small and midsize companies can become adept at sourcing. They may even find a few purple squirrels.
Note: RecruitCon Road Trip East, which takes place in Boston, October 19, and RecruitCon Road Trip West, which arrives in San Francisco, November 29, include the session, “Happy Hour Hack: Mix, Mingle, and Tackle Your Most Pressing Technical Recruiting Challenges with Top Sourcing Pros.”
RecruitCon Road Trip also features, “How to Make Recruiting Technology Your Ally in the War for Talent.” Carmen Hudson, principal consultant at Recruiting Toolbox, will lead the session in San Francisco.

Paula Paula Santonocito, Contributing Editor for Recruiting Daily Advisor, is a business journalist specializing in employment issues. She is the author of more than 1,000 articles on a wide range of human resource and career topics, with an emphasis on recruiting and hiring. Her articles have been featured in many global and domestic publications and information outlets, referenced in academic and legal publications as well as books, and translated into several languages.