3 Tips to Improve Candidate Sourcing in a Competitive Job Market

    Quick show of hands. How many of you have reached out to at least five candidates this week for an open position at your organization? Ten candidates? Twenty? How many of those candidates have actually responded or showed any sort of interest whatsoever? One? Two? Zero?
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    Despite an unprecedented number of job seekers and more job openings than ever before in our history—recruiters are having a difficult time sourcing the right candidates. If candidate sourcing is feeling like an increasingly challenging task, you’re not alone.

    According to PricewaterhouseCoopers’s HR Tech Survey, nearly six in 10 HR and HR IT leaders agree that the biggest issue that’s driving HR technology decisions in their organization is finding, attracting, and retaining talent.

    The problem might be easy to fix if it was just a matter of increasing the number of people you approach. Or tweaking your template. Or waiting until the next turnover cycle. Unfortunately, the problem is more systemic, and a result of a broken recruiting process.

    Traditional strategies and processes for sourcing candidates must be overhauled in order to make progress.

    What is Candidate Sourcing?

    Candidate sourcing is the process of finding individuals who possess the skills, experiences, and overall ability to succeed in the role you’re seeking to fill. If you’re following a skills-based hiring process, your candidate sourcing protocol will focus on verifiable skills, rather than outdated proxies such as a degree from a four-year college or university.

    Because candidate sourcing happens towards the beginning of the overall hiring process, getting your search started with the right criteria can greatly impact the quality of candidates you then need to screen, evaluate, and narrow down to the best fit.

    While there are creative ways to source candidates, relying on verifiable skills and credentials is the most accurate and scalable way to find and target the best applicant for the job. Third party validated digital credentials allow you to go beyond the self-reported skill set on professional networking sites and resumes, and use a more reliable, data-backed approach to sourcing qualified candidates.

    If you need someone who can code in Python, for example, a targeted search for the proper credentials issued by a university or credentialed coding school is much more effective than taking candidates and their resumes at their word.

    3 Tips to Improve Your Candidate Sourcing Strategy

    In order to streamline your hiring process, it’s critical that you put a focus on sourcing candidates who are legitimately qualified to succeed in your open role. Following a skills-based approach eliminates the need to rely on gut feel or assumptions based on self-reported, unverified information on a candidate’s resume.

    Here are three tips for improving your candidate sourcing strategy so you can quickly and efficiently find the right person for the position you’re looking to fill:

    3 Tips to Improve Your Candidate Sourcing Strategy

    1. Build a new and improved target candidate profile

    Each position you post has its own unique set of skills, whether it’s a new role or one built off an existing job description. The latter can introduce a frustrating issue for recruiters and talent acquisition teams when the job description is not reevaluated each time the position is posted.

    Instead of being able to narrow down a profile of the ideal candidate, hiring professionals are left with a long list of requirements that feels more like a broad collection of “nice to have” skills. What they need is a curated list of “must have” skills candidates should have in order to succeed in the role.

    These long lists can also deter qualified candidates (particularly women) from applying when they don’t feel they meet every single bullet point. In addition, it can make it difficult to source passive candidates who match these descriptions.

    If you’re facing this common issue, collaborate with stakeholders to write a skills-based job description. You can use their insights to narrow down the required skills a candidate needs to succeed in the role, and then search for candidates based on those top skills.

    To take your targeting one step further, try curating a shortlist of potential candidates based on the top skills or certifications you’re looking for. There are tools available that can give you access to a network of qualified candidates with the exact skills you’re seeking.

    Approaching your warm and cold recruiting outreach with a more targeted strategy can increase your response rates, candidate interest, and overall hiring success.

    2. Warm up your cold outreach with a personal touch

    Templates are a busy recruiter’s best friend. However, you can really create an effective cold recruiting email by going a step beyond addressing potential candidates by name and pulling a keyword or two from their resume.

    Seize opportunities to personalize your communication with passive talent by drilling down into the qualifications that led you to believe they’re the right fit for the role. Bring up the relevant skills they have listed on their professional networking profile or resume, and use that information to explain why they should be excited about taking their career to the next level with your organization.

    If a candidate has digital credentials they’ve added to their profile or resume, you can learn more by clicking through to the badge metadata. This description will help you understand the relative value of the achievement, the skills and competencies represented, the requirements involved with passing the certification, and all assessment methods used.

    This third party validated information not only gives you the confidence the candidate has the skills you’re looking for, but it can also provide additional details you can use in your outreach to them on why you think they’d be a good fit for the role.

    3. Document your data and continuously optimize

    The simplest, most efficient way to know if a strategy is working is to track it. Is the work you’re putting into personalization getting you the results you need? What’s been working? What could you tweak in order to improve?

    As you track your outreach, trends will begin to emerge that will show you where you should be investing more of your time during the recruiting process. Comparing data points like the difference in response rate between bulk messaging passive candidates and calling out something specific from their profile can show you what makes a candidate more likely to respond to cold outreach.

    Some other metrics to consider are:

    • the number of candidates you were able to place
    • the length of time the positions were open
    • the success of those candidates in their roles

    These metrics can show you and stakeholders the progress you’re making toward sourcing qualified candidates.

    Take a Data-Driven Approach to Candidate Sourcing

    It’s an unusual job market right now. But with the right strategy, you can still be successful in your talent acquisition goals. 

    Targeting potential candidates based on unverifiable information sourced from their resumes can result in unqualified leads who show little interest in follow-up. Instead, HR teams should take a skills-based approach to sourcing candidates based on verifiable credentials that are relevant, put into the right context, and trackable.

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