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Candidate Sourcing Techniques: What Works and What Doesn’t

Candidate sourcing is the approach taken by talent acquisition teams to search for qualified candidates to fill potential roles within an organisation. There are many different components that go into candidate sourcing. Some techniques require great skill, time and manpower to complete. Which usually are all labour intensive and create heavy administrative tasks for the recruiter.

This is because recruiters face pressure to source the ‘perfect’ candidate. With 47% of companies reporting difficulty in finding the right qualified applicants for a position. Different factors can contribute to this. Obstacles such as a skills shortage, a competitive job market and a demand for specific professions.

Therefore, in order to create a successful candidate sourcing strategy, we need to look towards the most effective techniques going forward.

Candidate sourcing techniques – what works:

Silver medallists

The candidates who did not get placed for their initial intended role. They were unsuccessful in their initial application and were told they would be ‘kept on file‘ for any future relevant positions. It means reconsidering these applicants and bringing real value to their original application.

Hiring teams need to take value from the fact that the candidate has already bought into the brand (hence their initial application) and have expressed an interest in working for the organisation. Extend their candidate journey and automatically match their application with new vacancies that align with their skills and experience.

Recruitment technology

Recruitment automation is relied on by talent acquisition teams to automatically undertake sourcing techniques, such as:

Searching a candidate database – find those silver medallist candidates and reengage with historic candidates. Automatically search an ATS database to match candidates against existing vacancies.

Pre-screen – hiring managers can optimise their time by automating a candidate pre-screen. Screen candidates based on the same criteria to determine applicants of best fit, then decide who will progress further.

Social search – Using an ATS with integrated social media posting makes it much easier to post jobs, search for candidates and collect candidate information faster than manual social posting. With 2.96 billion people worldwide using social media last year it makes the social channel a valuable hiring strategy asset, with an extensive reach.

Data production – Automation produces valuable data that can be used to improve future candidate sourcing techniques. Hiring managers can look at which methods were the most effective, which took the longest and where changes need to be made.

Powerful employer branding

Strong employer branding means candidates will come to you regardless of whether you’re hiring or not. Attract the right candidates and create a workplace culture that will interest people and catch the attention of even passive candidates.

Enable job seekers to find out more about a company with just a few clicks onto social media or a company website and careers page. To get a full insight into the type of work environment the company has to offer. According to research, 9 out of 10 candidates would apply for a job if the employer brand is actively maintained.

Candidate sourcing techniques no longer as effective as they once were:

Sole focus on passive candidates

Prioritising passive candidates is time-consuming and expensive. Often it requires additional labour to source the candidates and then additional costs to meet their expectations. Which may not always work out. Because later down the line they decide to remain in their current position (after potentially receiving a counter offer.) It requires skill in persuasion and a long time building a relationship further down the line. Therefore, it is important to be cautious when leading alone with this sourcing method.

However, many employers favour sourcing passive candidates because they possess the desired skill set for a new position. In addition to this, from the recruiter’s perspective, they make an ideal candidate because they are content and presumably happy (hence not looking for a new job) within their role, both of which are desirable employee qualities.

Tunnel vision

An exclusive viewpoint will cause limitations that affect the overall sourcing goal. For example, a sourcing technique may have worked extremely well 5 years ago but is it still as effective today?

In order to evolve and acquire new talent, a comprehensive review of previous methods needs to be undertaken. Analyse each process and question its ability to complete tasks in a fast and inclusive manner.

Offline techniques

Traditional sourcing techniques no longer suffice in a successful candidate sourcing campaign. Paper-based job adverts, word of mouth, internal hiring and employment offices are limited in terms of their audience. Online approaches have a greater probability to reach a wider pool of candidates, attracting applicants from the click of a button.

Although this is not to say all offline methods are ineffective. Career fairs and industry events create valuable networking opportunities that allow hiring teams to meet face to face with potential candidates. Referral programmes are also extremely effective in reducing cost and time to hire – whilst also improving employee satisfaction (with financial incentives) and potentially the quality of hire.

What’s important in a digital age, is to find offline techniques that support not lead the overall sourcing aim.


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