February 25, 2019

As Candidate Sourcing Evolves, We Need to Hold Onto the Human Touch

Want help with your hiring? It's easy. Enter your information below, and we'll quickly reach out to discuss your hiring needs.


Over the years, candidate sourcing tactics have evolved dramatically. We’ve transitioned from the old-school brute-force methods of manually identifying candidates to smarter, more technologically driven processes.

However, while artificial intelligence (AI) and automation can speed up many of the tasks on a recruiter’s to-do list, sourcing seems to remain as taxing as ever. This is due in part to an over-reliance on the information candidates present in their LinkedIn profiles, resumes, and other social media profiles.

Our talent pools feel smaller and tighter, but only because recruiters are unrealistically expecting candidates to list every relevant qualification they have in their profiles. If an AI-enabled sourcing platform can’t find a relevant qualification on a candidate’s LinkedIn profile, for example, recruiters assume that’s because the candidate doesn’t have the qualification. In fact, the candidate may have simply neglected to mention it.

Recruiters are making sourcing harder than it has to be by forgetting about the bigger picture of candidate engagement.

At its best, candidate engagement means starting conversations with candidates to get to know the person behind the LinkedIn profile or resume. It’s about knowing the candidate’s full skill set and work history — not just the highlights that get listed on a resume.

It’s fine to start your candidate searches with a narrow focus on specific keywords, but you can’t assume the results of those searches will turn up every candidate who meets your criteria. You have to supplement those keyword searches with, dare I say it, actual conversations to uncover qualified candidates your narrow searches may needlessly overlook.

Simply looking candidates up on social media and disqualifying them based on the information you find — or the lack thereof — only serves to shrink your talent pools. It’s important to focus your candidate engagement efforts on uncovering what isn’t on a candidate’s profile. That’s the information that could make all the difference.

Maintaining the Human Touch in a New Age of Sourcing

Some of you might remember when you had to find job ads in a newspaper and mail your resumes and cover letters to prospective employers through the post office rather than Gmail. If you’ve been a recruiter for long enough, you may also remember working extensively with local employment offices and temp agencies to source new candidates and fill pressing roles.

All of these older recruiting and sourcing methods have one thing in common: They were built around the idea of direct human connection. However, they also lacked visibility into the overall candidate experience. Once a connection was made, a candidate was passed to the hiring manager, and the recruiter’s job was done. Recruiters had no high-level insight into how candidates progressed through the hiring process.

Modern methods founded on technological innovation have changed all that, allowing recruiters to amass larger talent pools and track the candidate experience more closely. However, this technology has often come at the expense of that direct human connection which characterized earlier recruiting methods.

What recruiters need today is a balance between human interaction and technology. Technology can increase efficiency, which is a great thing, but only human connection can uncover the full story of a candidate’s value.

In an age of rapid technological progress, recruiters must still prioritize candidate engagement. They must be accessible, and they must reach out to candidates in relevant, personalized, engaging ways.

In other words: Recruiters have to meet job seekers where they are. There is fierce competition for talent in today’s market, and recruiters cannot expect to get a “yes” to a job offer — much less a response to their emails — if they are not putting candidate engagement first. Furthermore, recruiters are only hurting themselves when they assume their AI-enabled tech tools are surfacing every possible candidate without manual intervention.

Sourcing has come a long way since the days of newspaper ads. Heck, it’s even come a long way since the advent of web browsers and Boolean search strings.

There’s nothing wrong with integrating cutting-edge technology into your sourcing methods. In fact, you need to do so if you are to compete with today’s top employers.

However, it’s equally necessary to hold onto some of the lessons of the past. Human-to-human connections and candidate engagement still matter. They may matter even more than ever today. If you prioritize engagement, you might just uncover whole new talent pools that your competitors are overlooking because they rely too much on technology.

A version of this article originally appeared on the IQTalent Partners blog.

Chris Murdock is the cofounder and senior partner of IQTalent Partners.

Read more in Sourcing

Chris Murdock is the cofounder and senior partner of IQTalent Partners. Chris has more than 12 years of executive recruiting experience and leads search execution and client relationships while supporting searches across the firm. Prior to founding IQTalent Partners, Chris was a sourcer with Yahoo!’s internal executive recruiting team in the corporate offices in Sunnyvale, California. Previous to Yahoo!, Chris was an associate in the Menlo Park, California, office of Heidrick & Struggles, where he recruited for software, hardware, professional services, and semiconductor clients. Before Heidrick & Struggles, Chris worked in the retail practice of TMP Worldwide in Atlanta, Georgia. While with TMP Worldwide, he worked on CEO, general merchandise manager, and various VP- and buyer-level searches. Chris earned a bachelor's degree from Vanderbilt University.