How to improve your talent sourcing strategy in 2021

Last updated:
July 30, 2021
November 10, 2021
min read
Tania Miranda
Table of contents

It can be a living nightmare when you’re trying to find the perfect candidate for a new job opening at your company. The pressure to find someone quickly to keep your time-to-hire metric low, alongside the necessity of a strong hire to keep your quality-of-hire metric high can drive a hiring manager insane.

And, let’s be honest, sometimes the person you want simply doesn’t exist. We can’t do anything about that (and we’re sorry - we wish we could).

But, we can give you the next best thing.

We can explain where you’re going wrong with your talent sourcing right now, stronger knowledge for talent sourcing tomorrow, and, ultimately, a more confident approach to talent sourcing for every day in the future.

So, let’s start with your current talent sourcing strategy. Here are a few potential reasons it may not be working.

7 reasons you’re failing at talent sourcing

If you can’t fill roles, or you do hire only to have them fall out after a few months, the problem lies with your sourcing techniques.

Yes, the global talent shortage is on the rise, and the war for talent rages on, but be wary of using these realities as excuses.

Often making excuses is more comfortable than doing some subjective analysis. Shifting blame to external conditions takes the pressure off in the short term, but your organization will pay the price pretty soon.

A manager is only as strong as his or her team. Similarly, a company is only as good as its employees.

If staff retention looks like a revolving door with skills gaps and empty workstations dotted all over, you’re in trouble.

Don’t panic, though. We’re going to go through how you can make your talent sourcing strategy better. But, as with anything you’re trying to improve, you must first identify where you’ve gone wrong.

1. You don’t really know what your business needs.

Everyone knows what their team or department needs, but few people bother to find out what other divisions need.

Recruiters, on the other hand, are expected to source talent throughout, often based on scraps of information.

If you don’t know what your business needs as a whole, you’ll be hiring based on a fraction of the objectives.

We’re not saying you need to take every quality that every team requires into account, but you need to know the direction the company wants to travel in. And this needs to be factored into your talent sourcing strategy.

2. You haven’t clearly defined your recruitment objectives.

Unless you know what your objectives are, how can you possibly measure whether you have been successful or not?

Defined objectives allow you to set specific goals that can be measured in terms of success or failure.

This will enable you to optimize processes, make changes and re-evaluate systems. Well-defined objectives allow you to create sourcing strategies in recruitment for specific skills, teams, and departments.

Without these well-defined recruitment objectives, however, you’re taking a shot in the dark. And you don’t even know what you’re shooting at. It’s a dangerous game that often ends in failure.

3. You haven’t built real partnerships with recruiters

Hiring managers must build partnerships with recruiters. Relationships between hiring managers and recruiters can become tense, but that’s unnecessary and counter-productive.

It’s usually because hiring managers put pressure on recruiters to fill roles quickly based on scant info. Recruiters, in turn, feel that they’re treated unfairly and need more input from hiring managers.

Both sides have a point, but they must cooperate to find the best solution.

Hiring managers need to spend time with recruiters immediately when they identify a new opening. Early collaboration helps define the role, confirm the job description and identify the ideal candidate persona through an intake meeting.

Recruiters can give hiring managers a realistic time to fill from available data.

4. You haven’t identified the best online platforms for resume and talent sourcing

There’s no shortage of online resources to find potential candidates. If you’ve simply picked one at random without giving it much thought, you’re missing out on a massive opportunity for talent sourcing growth.

Knowing where to find the right type of people is essential.

Invariably each vacancy will need a different level of skill, experience, and persona.

Understanding this will help talent sourcers make the right choices.

Online communities are made up of people with similar interests. If you understand the job description, job requirements, and ideal persona, you’ll know where to start looking.

Job boards aren’t any different. There are general job boards where you can source average talent, but if you need specialized or executive skills, you must find out where they hang out.

Job posting software can make the process easier, saving you time and money.

5. Your communication skills are lacking

How we communicate anything in business has an impact. If your communication isn’t your strong suit, you may be delivering the wrong tone, message, and ‘vibe’ of your organization.

When we’re creating job ads, it’s crucial to consider who will be reading them and how they’ll be perceived. If you want to attract creatives, your wording must be casual and exciting. A senior finance executive, on the other hand, probably won’t take that style seriously and so won’t apply or respond.

Creative sourcing isn’t just what we say; it’s how we say it.

The same applies to social media content. You need to craft your content to suit your readers.

If you belong to several groups on social media, don’t use precisely the same material for all of them. Adapt content and be selective to catch their attention and then engage with them in the same tone.

Most importantly, make sure that none of your communication comes across as biased.

Bias in hiring is still an international scourge. If your employer brand is perceived to be biased in any way you will be called out on it.

Luckily, tech comes to the rescue bringing AI tools to eliminate bias from your writing.

6. You’re using social media as a job board rather than what it was created for

Social media’s goal is for people to find and engage with like-minded people.

A mistake that many sourcers and recruiters make is to use social media sourcing as a job board. That’s a sure way to have people drop you. No one wants to see post after post that has no value to them.

You must run social media accounts as an extension of your employer brand, not a job board.

Write and share consistent content that will appeal to your followers. Interact with them daily, reply to their comments, and show that you’re interested in them.

Instead of vacancies, post impromptu video clips of employees, new hires, events, and management. Speak about existing and upcoming projects. Let people get to know your company as it is.

That way, they can decide if they want to be a part of your organization. That way, when you do post a vacancy, you’ve already shown your followers how great it is to work at your company. It’s about nurturing those who show an interest in the company.

Connections on social media are also an extension of your talent pool.

If you have a suitable vacancy, you can reach out to individuals when you’re sourcing talent.

Because they know you and your employer brand, they’ll be more likely to respond and if they’re not interested you can ask for referrals.

Managed properly, social media allows you to develop online connections based on mutual trust and respect.

7. You don’t nurture your leads into your talent pool

Think about the last time you went on vacation or went to the beach. More often than not, you want to lay in the sun before diving into the ocean, right? We want to heat our bodies before cooling down in the sea.

We ease ourselves into it.

And that’s exactly what you need to do with your leads when placing them into your talent pool. You can’t just pick someone out of a crowd and throw them into your talent pool. Talent sourcing doesn’t work that way.

No talent sourcing strategy can exclude developing a talent pool (which should be written into your recruitment policy).

The most common way to grow a talent pool is by adding applicants and candidates who are not suitable for current vacancies but could be for future roles.

But there are other ways to get leads too. You can include a lead capturing form on your careers site to get the details of visitors who don’t apply. This will also work well if you have a blog where you share valuable content. Social media can be another source of leads for your talent pool.

Nurturing leads is much more than just getting details, though.

Communicate with your talent pool through general content sharing and also through direct contact.

A latent talent pool quickly loses its value and becomes a list of names only. If you do eventually contact someone you’re unlikely to get a response because they’ve either forgotten who you are, or they’ve lost interest.

Now that we’ve explored some reasons why you may be failing at talent sourcing, let’s jump into how you can improve your talent sourcing strategy moving forward.

How to improve your talent sourcing strategy

There are a number of strategic checkpoints which you can constantly work on, and they can help ensure that you have a quality talent pool at your fingertips as soon as you’re ready to hire.

1. Start Talent Sourcing Before You’re Ready

Hiring takes a long time, and that’s unlikely to change. In fact, it’s a safe bet to assume that the waiting period is going to increase as technology enables hiring managers to become pickier.

In June of 2015, DHI Hiring Indicators found that the average time to hire a new employee takes more than 27 days. However, this is across many industries, and more specific roles often take significantly longer.

One of the best ways to avoid this delay is to anticipate growth. That way, you’ll have some candidates ready when you get the investment or make the change. You may not be able to have them turning up for their first day and working on the specific date you want, but the gap will be much shorter.

But, don’t take our word for it. Listen to this advice from the team at Impraise:

“Start talent sourcing even if you don’t have open spots! It can take a great deal of time to find the right candidates once you need them, so make sure you start looking for new talent way ahead.”

2.Keep a watch list

Even if you don’t need to hire someone right now, start keeping a list of potential employees. This is especially useful for very specific, niched roles.

For example, if you come into contact with a talented mobile developer but don’t yet need an app, save their contact information for when you do.

Keeping this list will save time when you actually do need to hire. Instead of starting from scratch, you already have a shortlist of candidates, and you can start moving forward with them.You don’t have to contact these people when you find them, but sometimes that can save time. If you have an informational interview, you will now be on the candidate’s radar, and they might already have an internal desire to work for your company by the time there’s an opening.

Glassdoor did some research, and they found that phone interviews lengthen the hiring process by about 8 days, one-on-one interviews by about 5 days, and presentations by about 3 days. So, pre-screening a watch list can well and truly work to speed things up.

3. Understand that your most valuable recruiters are your current employees

Studies routinely find that referrals have the highest interview-to-hire ratio of any hiring strategy.

You’d be crazy to miss out on this opportunity by failing to implement a referral scheme into your talent sourcing strategy.

Don’t ever forget to empower your most valuable recruiters: your employees.

After all, with the exception of your HR department, it’s unlikely that the new hire will be working closely with the recruiter. So, isn’t it logical that the people who will actually be interacting every day have a say?

Friends of current employees are often a natural fit for the company culture, and they might even already have good relationships with their future co-workers.

Also, if you make an effort to work on your employer branding, potential hires get the impression that you care.

Glassdoor found that 94% of people are likely to apply to a job if the company regularly updates their online image, such as responding to reviews or creating videos about employee life.

But, before you let your employees loose, set some clear boundaries and ground rules.

Tell them what they are (and aren’t) allow to say to potential hires. Plus, be very clear about any incentives they’re going to receive for recommending friends.

There can be some risks involved with employee referrals. For example, if you don’t hire a friend of one of your loyal workers, this person could resent you or the new hire.

Or, while trying to prevent this scenario, you may feel obligated to hire the candidate who isn’t your first choice.

Don’t let this deter you from a referral scheme, but bear it in mind when implementing it into your talent sourcing strategy.

4. Make proper use of your website and gear it up for talent sourcing

Your website is one of the strongest talent sourcing tools you have. When used properly, you have an extraordinary opportunity to collect qualified leads and implement them into your talent pool.

So, how do you leverage your website to be a talent sourcing expert?

How can you turn your website into a successful sourcing platform? Here are three tips to get more job applicants submitting directly to your site:

  • Add a ‘now hiring’ widget

You can put a convenient little widget on your site that will let your audience know immediately that you’re hiring.

It won’t block their view or disrupt their experience in any way, but it will be noticeable enough that they may realize you’re a company that is looking to hire.

This can turn customers (people who already like your brand) into employees.

Just be cautious about being too aggressive with this tactic. If it’s too flashy or disruptive, it might scare away some of your applicants and customers. Classy and minimal can still be noticeable.

  • Have a ‘careers’ site (or a ‘careers’ page, at the very least)

Having a career site on your company website is an extremely valuable hiring tool.

This dedicated page for jobs can give you the opportunity to educate visitors about what its like to work for your company, and lets potential applicants view open positions.

Whether you have one or are looking to build one, there are a few guidelines that are always helpful to follow to ensure the best results.

This is a great (and simple) way to show potential employees how much you care about the people who work for you.

  • Link back to your careers site as often as you can

Once you have a career site, make sure people can find it.

Whenever you post your jobs on LinkedIn, CareerBuilder, or any other job site, make sure to give a link back to your career page.

A link across platforms will help applicants get to know your company and employer brand, and view other roles that they might be suitable for.You can still advertise the openings on your own site without sacrificing diversity.

You can spread links across job boards, internet ads, and social media, but make sure they have the opportunity to get back to your site.

4. Don’t be afraid of talent sourcing in uncommon areas

Like all other areas of running your business, don’t be afraid to do some innovative thinking about talent sourcing.

Willem Wijnans (Sourcing Monk / Improbable) has highlighted some groundbreaking methods that companies have used to attract talent.

One company advertised inside online video games, another put a hiring notice on a billboard (in ASCII code) next to a competitor’s office, and it’s not unheard of to advertise hiring on the name of a WiFi network.

While most of these ideas are pretty specific (and tech-related), using creativity can really put you ahead of your competitors.

It shows high levels of creativity and innovation, alongside ensuring - if nothing else - you’ll be remembered. In a way, that’s even more beneficial, because brands that are remembered are spoken about.

If the person who didn’t tick your boxes remembers your company, you can bet that someone they know will tick those boxes.

Shaping your talent sourcing strategy is crucial for the development of your company. Let’s take a look at some final hacks you can use to make sure you’re a talent sourcing pro.

4 talent sourcing hacks to implement

It’s very common to source like-minded people, and these can turn into ideal candidates.

They are likely to be a cultural fit and are willing to stick with your company through thick and thin. As we’ve stated, the earlier you start keeping an eye out for them, the better. Here are four bonus hacks to help improve your talent sourcing efforts.

1. Tell all your leads across all your active platforms about the job openings

The message you send out is important. Everybody can see and share it. It can reach the right candidates, or convert a bystander into one. Make it straightforward, everywhere. Use the power of word of mouth.

  • Put the “We’re hiring” message in your company’s email signatures and newsletters.
  • Add a “We’re hiring” message to your company’s social media profiles, pages, and descriptions. Don’t shy away from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Medium, or any other platforms. Because, hey, you’ll never know.
  • Answer relevant questions on Quora with a “We’re hiring” message at the end. Make it less of a pitch and more of thought leadership. Potential candidates can see your vision and decide to find out more.
  • Go offline. Go old-school. The message done right will find its way back online and spread like wildfire.

2. Reach out to passive candidates

Passive candidates are everywhere. Reach out to them. They’ll take your hand as the moment comes. Here’s how you do it:

  • Google x-ray sites for relevant resumes. Willem Wijnans shared this awesome string. Just edit (Location), (Study), and (Keywords) as you want. Then the right resumes come to you in no time.
  • Build a Google Custom Search Engine to x-ray any sites effortlessly. This comes in handy for sites with a user base, from LinkedIn, to About. me, to even TripAdvisor.
  • lf the above is too complicated, you can use Recruitin to x-ray 6 major social sites immediately.
  • Collect information like emails, phone numbers, and social media pages of sourced candidates with Connectifier.
  • GitHub’s open API let you find anyone’s email address: https://api.github.com/users/XYZ/events/public. Just replace “XYZ” with the username of the potential candidate. Ctrl + F or Cmd + F for “email” and it’s there.

3. Invest your efforts into collaborative talent sourcing

Who knows what your company is doing the most? Who knows the prominent players of a specific field the most? Your employees.

They’re the best of both worlds. We can’t stress enough how critical this is.

Let them be your ambassadors. Brief them regularly about the opportunities. Then let them run wild with “the search for colleagues” in their own niche groups.

4. Stay organized using Recruitee’s Google Chrome extension

You and your team have now discovered a handful of potential candidates – opened across 50-ish tabs. Your laptop is freezing every time you move your cursor and, out of nowhere, you’ve lost everything.

Now what?

We have a solution.

Import your candidates via Recruitee's sourcing extension. Once imported, everything is in one place, ready for you to make the next move.

Talent sourcing - the bottom line

As you can tell from all of the ideas listed above, talent sourcing isn’t something you do when you have an open position and then stop.

It’s an ongoing and constantly evolving practice, but it can save your company significant time and money if done right.

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