Recruitment 101

What is Talent Sourcing?

Nov 03, 2021 - Cat DiStasio

Definition of Talent Sourcing

Talent sourcing (noun) is the proactive, strategic process of identifying, searching for, and networking with quality job candidates for current or future open positions.

Talent sourcing is all about the top of the funnel in your candidate pipeline. The big picture goal of talent sourcing—also known as candidate sourcing—is having a consistent flow of skilled candidates entering your talent pools. When used more narrowly, talent sourcing strategies can help you find candidates for a specific role. Learning about the best approaches for the talent sourcing process can help you compete more effectively for top talent, a crucial differentiator in today’s labor market.

Talent Sourcing vs. Talent Acquisition

Of course, talent acquisition is the process of finding qualified candidates but that’s the broad umbrella under which all the recruiting levers exist. Talent sourcing is one of those levers. It’s the specific act of identifying and screening quality candidates during a recruiting process. Sourcing starts with your job descriptions and job postings, which outline the criteria by which you evaluate each potential candidate. The next step is creating ideal candidate personas based on those criteria, and then developing unique strategies to identify and attract talented candidates who possess those qualities and/or basic skill requirements into your talent pipeline.

Sourcing can be broad or specific—with strategies built on basic skill sets—or focused on a narrow profile, such as certain diversity candidates.

Talent Sourcing Strategies

Effective candidate sourcing relies on smart recruiting strategies. Here are some examples of the different components of a strong talent sourcing plan:

Job boards: Placing job postings on multiple job boards can help you find your ideal active candidate(s), especially when you tailor the types of job boards you choose based on the talent you need. General job sites like Indeed or LinkedIn are great, but you can broaden your pool of talent by leveraging niche job sites, like Dice.com for tech talent or RetirementJobs.com for workers age 50 and over.

Social media: Applying the same niche approach to social media can help you connect with hard-to-find talent, expand your reach, and target diversity talent. Using your ideal candidate persona(s) as a guide, you can identify the social channels your ideal candidates frequent, and meet them where to offer a positive candidate experience from the start.

Referral Programs: You already know your current employees are a great source of candidate referrals but you may not think much about how you can make the most of this untapped talent resource. Lean on this great source of qualified talent by communicating new openings with your employees regularly. Have your talent acquisition team let them know what kind of people you’re looking for, and if you’re not already offering referral bonuses, now might be the time to consider it, especially for hard-to-fill positions.

Virtual recruiting events: Hosting virtual hiring events or career fairs is a proven method for attracting qualified talent and branching into new talent pools. Virtual events boost candidate engagement and can help you execute your talent sourcing strategies by giving candidates an easy and convenient way to learn about your organization’s history, company culture, values, and career advancement opportunities.

How to Host a Virtual Career Fair eBook CTA


Passive talent: Don’t overlook or underestimate the importance of sourcing strategies for passive candidates. Passive talent should be a key consideration as you build your strategies for all the avenues listed above. But, for many experienced or hard-to-fill roles, you also want to create a plan or talent sourcing process for searching resume databases or partnering with headhunters to reach out to prospective candidates and passive leads rather than waiting for them to come to you. Being more proactive in your hiring process pays off in the short and long run!

Best Practices for Talent Sourcing

For as long as we’re in a candidate-driven talent market, talent sourcing will continue to be a crucial component in every recruiting team's talent acquisition strategy.

The number one best practice for effective talent sourcing is to create a strategy. Having a detailed plan to follow will save you time and produce the best results in the overarching process of talent acquisition. Another key consideration is about your team structure. Great recruiters don’t always do the best sourcing, so you may want to consider dividing the responsibilities between different roles. Many large employers have dedicated talent sourcing specialists, who work closely with hiring managers and recruiters to help fill the recruiting funnel with viable candidates. Another essential best practice is to start your sourcing searches with your existing talent database, community, or networks. After all, you may have already engaged with your ideal candidate and leveraging your talent community is why you invested so much time and energy building it in the first place.

Talent Sourcing Throughout the Year

While some talent sourcing tools and strategies can be helpful right away in a recruitment process, it’s best for a recruiter to think of sourcing as a long game. Creating and implementing a strong talent sourcing plan helps employers and talent sourcers build a diverse talent community filled with highly skilled candidates. In short, investing in talent sourcing (such as with Brazen's Sourcing Marketplace) better prepares you to fill your open positions now, next month, and well into next year.

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