Quick Guide to Effective Candidate Sourcing and Research

Quick Guide to Effective Candidate Sourcing and Research

Having the right people, with the right skills and attitude for the job, is essential for success. However, in today’s fast-paced business world, hiring managers don’t always have the luxury of sifting through a large pool of resumes to find the best candidates. 

This is where recruiters with effective candidate sourcing and research tactics can help. By proactively seeking out qualified candidates, they can save time, reduce recruitment costs and improve the overall quality of your hires. Whether you’re a recruiter or a hiring manager, you should seriously consider any strategies or tactics that will help you improve your candidate sourcing and research processes. 

By implementing the following 10 tried and tested tips, you can improve your recruitment outcomes and ultimately build a stronger, more productive team.

Define your ideal candidate

Before you can start sourcing candidates, you need to know exactly who you’re looking for. While it’s good to be flexible, it’s no good thinking that you’ll somehow magically know the right person when you see them. Rather, having a clear understanding of what makes a good candidate allows you to focus your efforts more effectively.

Start by thinking about the specific job requirements. What skills, experience and education are essential for success in the role? Think about how the new hire will fit in with the existing team. What qualities are already represented on the team and what gaps need to be filled?

It’s also good to look at the big picture, including industry trends and your company’s future goals. What skills and experience are in high demand within your industry, and what skills might be less relevant or outdated? What competencies will be important for the company’s growth and success in the long term? 

With all these factors in mind, make a list of the must-have and nice-to-have skills for the position. It might seem like a lot to consider, but this will give you the strongest foundation for your recruiting efforts. 

Make smart use of job boards and recruitment agencies

If you’re a hiring manager searching for your next dream candidate, job boards and recruitment agencies are two of the most popular methods. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, and choosing the right method depends on your specific recruitment needs. 

Job boards tend to have a large audience and can attract a large number of job seekers, giving you access to a wider pool of candidates. They’re also typically more affordable than using a recruitment agency and make it easy to take full control of the process. 

On the other hand, recruitment agencies have plenty of expertise and experience, making them a valuable resource that can provide valuable insight and advice on hiring and candidate selection. As they handle the whole process, it also saves you time (and potentially a few headaches too!).

In summary, job boards are a good option if you have a limited budget and want more control over the recruitment process, while recruitment agencies can be a good option if you want expert advice and pre-screened candidates and are willing to pay for a more personalized service.

Bonus tip: Look beyond the traditional job posting sites. While sites like Indeed and LinkedIn can be effective for candidate sourcing, they’re also highly competitive. Consider using less traditional job posting sites or forums that are specific to your industry or niche. For example, if you’re looking for a software developer, you may find more success posting a job opening on Dice or Crunchboard.

Use social media to your advantage

If you’re not using social media to look for candidates, you’re missing out. Obviously, the big name here is LinkedIn, a social network designed to bring professionals together. However, depending on the role you’re recruiting for, your dream candidate might be hanging out on Facebook, posting on TikTok or sharing their pics on Instagram. Use the information you’ve got on your ideal candidate (see tip 1) to ensure you’re looking in the right place. 

Social media isn’t just about posting job openings and promoting your brand though. Once you have a potential candidate lined up, you might want to use social media to get a better understanding of candidates’ personalities, interests and values. This can give you a more complete picture of the candidate and help you make better hiring decisions. 

However, if you decide to go down this route, do so with caution. Any social media searches need to be compliant with discrimination and privacy laws. Make sure candidates are made aware that you may search their social media profiles as part of the process and have clear guidelines in place for how those searches will be conducted.

Put your network to work

Networking events and meetups can be a great way to meet potential candidates face-to-face. You can get a better sense of their personality and communication style, as well as learn about their interests and experience in a more informal setting. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation and ask for their contact information if you think they could be a good fit for your team. 

Networking doesn’t have to mean attending big events though. Sometimes, the best candidates aren’t actively looking for a job — they may be happy in their current role, but open to new opportunities if the right one comes along. Tap into your professional and personal network to find these hidden gems.

Similarly, your existing employees are a great resource for finding new candidates. Employees who refer a candidate often have a good understanding of the skills and experience required for the job, as well as the company culture. As a result, they are more likely to refer candidates who are a good fit for the role and who will thrive within the company culture.

Get creative with your sourcing efforts

If you’ve tried everything else and still can’t find the right kind of candidate, it’s time to think outside the box and try something new. 

This might mean introducing an element of gamification into the process, using games and challenges to assess a candidate’s skills and abilities. For example, a company might use a coding challenge or a simulation game to evaluate a candidate’s problem-solving skills or ability to work in a team. You could even host an external “hackathon” style event to attract talent and identify potential candidates.

Some companies have started to use employee auditions, where candidates are given a chance to work on real-world projects or tasks to demonstrate their skills and abilities. When traditional interviews weren’t working out, Matt Mullenweg (CEO of Automattic) turned to paid tryouts: “The goal is not to have them finish a product or do a set amount of work; it’s to allow us to quickly and efficiently assess whether this would be a mutually beneficial relationship. They can size up Automattic while we evaluate them.”

Rather than repeating the same recruitment process again and again, trying something new might be exactly what your company needs to find next-level talent. 

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Conduct thorough background and reference checks

It’s a good idea to cover your back and ensure that your perfect candidate is actually as good as they appear. While it might seem like a lot of extra work, it can save a lot of problems down the line. Skipping background and reference checks can result in hiring candidates with a history of poor performance or misconduct.

Create a checklist of the information you absolutely need, such as employment history, education and criminal record. Where possible you should consider using a reputable background check service that can provide accurate and up-to-date information and ensure compliance with all relevant laws and regulations. Either way, it’s a good idea to also check the candidate’s references and verify their work history and qualifications.

Keep on the right side of the law by informing the candidate of the process and obtaining their consent before carrying out any checks. After you’ve carried out the checks, document all of your findings and keep them on file. This can help you defend against any legal challenges and ensure that you’re making the best hiring decision.

Use behavioral interviews

A top-class education and sought-after skills may look good on a resume, but it’s also vital to consider how the candidate acts. By enabling you to assess the candidate’s soft skills and how they’ve handled challenges in the past, a behavioral interview grants you insight into how they may handle similar situations in the future.

Start by determining the key competencies required for the job and prepare questions that address those competencies. For example, if the job requires strong communication skills, you might ask the candidate to describe a time when they had to communicate complex information to a non-technical audience.

When carrying out the interview, be sure to ask open-ended questions that encourage the candidate to provide detailed responses. One popular framework is the STAR technique —  ask the candidate to describe a specific Situation they were in, the Task they had to complete, the Actions they took and the Results they achieved.

Listen carefully to the candidate’s responses and don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions. Don’t just pay attention to the actual answer itself, but also their tone and body language, and you’re more likely to find a candidate that’s the right fit for your business.

Bonus: If you’re looking to hire an SDR, make sure you check out our guide to the 12 common SDR interview questions and answers.

Treat candidates with respect

There’s a small number of hiring managers that seem to believe the best way to recruit a candidate is by treating them like a suspect. The candidate isn’t shown any courtesy until they’re able to prove they’re worthy of the job and the whole process plays out like an interrogation.

While I’m sure your recruiting process isn’t anything like that, it’s still good to evaluate the recruiting process from the candidate’s perspective. This can be simple as communicating openly with the candidate; keeping them informed about the status of their application and responding to any queries in a timely and professional manner. 

Be honest about what the job entails, the challenges it presents and any potential limitations or constraints. Provide constructive feedback after interviews to help candidates learn and grow, even if they’re not selected for the position.

When candidates feel respected and valued, it can enhance their overall experience with your organization, create a positive image of your company, and improve your employer brand. This can result in more high-quality referrals and better retention of new hires.

Prioritize diversity and inclusivity 

Increased diversity and inclusion in the workplace are good for everyone. According to one study, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile. Similarly, companies in the top quartile for ethnic and cultural diversity outperformed the bottom quartile by a massive 36%. 

To increase diversity in your hiring process, there are some practical steps to take. Something as simple as using gender-neutral language in your job descriptions can encourage more people to apply. You can also remove any unintentional biases on the hiring team by adopting standardized hiring processes and hiring criteria. Likewise, consider using blind evaluations, where identifying information such as name, gender, age and educational background are removed from the resume.  

Companies that actively prioritize diversity and inclusivity are seen as more socially responsible and attractive to job seekers, which can lead to a positive brand image and increased interest from candidates.

Keep detailed records of the process

Let’s skip forward a bit and imagine you’ve just hired your next superstar. You take a well-deserved break and congratulate yourself on a job well done. Great, but what comes next? How do you ensure your next hire is just as good? Similarly, if your latest hire turns out to be a dud, what can you do to stop that from happening again?

Keeping detailed records of the sourcing and interviewing process makes it easy to see what went right (or wrong), enabling you to make smarter decisions next time. From knowing which job descriptions attracted the best candidates to tracking the questions you asked in the interview, all of these details can be used to improve the overall hiring process. 

Just as importantly, having records of your hiring process can also help protect your business from any legal issues that may arise in the future, proving that you acted properly and in line with all relevant legislation.

Final thoughts

In recent years we’ve seen the start of the “Great Resignation”, while at least half of the U.S. workforce is “Quiet Quitting”. If you don’t take these changes and trends into account, you could find yourself with a severe shortage of talent and no way to replace it.

Pay close attention to your existing recruitment and sourcing practices. Are you relying on the same job boards and interview format you’ve always used, or are you adapting to what actually works? By following these tips, you can revisit your process and design it to get the very best candidates for your business.

Want to improve the way you reach out to potential candidates? Reply enables recruiters and hiring managers to find and engage with your perfect candidates at scale. Try it out for yourself with a 14-day free trial.


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