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Candidate sourcing is hard. Just look at the stats: In 2018, employers had a record number of job openings to fill, but 45 percent of companies were struggling to find the skilled candidates they needed for those positions.

In this climate, companies need all the help they can get filling open roles, and many are turning to multiple sources — be it word of mouth, their own websites, or third-party sites — to locate candidates. The good news is employers are finding some success: According to research we conducted at Breezy HR, the No. 1 site for hires today is Indeed, accounting for 15 percent of new hires.

But while third-party job boards can help you fill your open roles, you need some careful planning and execution to really win in the current talent market.

How can you step your game up and actively source better talent? Here are six tips to help:

1. Connect Sourcers and Hiring Managers

The first thing you need to do is get sourcers and hiring managers on the same page when it comes to recruiting. This can really enhance your recruiting efforts, prevent confusion, and encourage communication in the long run.

Make sure both sides share a clear understanding of what a strong candidate looks like. Sourcers and hiring managers should kick off the process by discussing must-haves and nice-to-haves. Knowing this information can help sourcers prioritize the needs of the company when they get out into the market.

When the candidate applications start flowing in, sourcers and hiring managers should try to do a joint walkthrough of profiles to keep everyone in sync. Don’t be afraid to adjust job criteria as needed after evaluating your current talent pool.

2. Build a List of Possible Sourcing Channels

Work with your team to analyze and rank your online and offline channels. The goal here is to identify and define the best channels for your organization’s and role’s specific needs.

When building your list, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Standard sources like LinkedIn or Indeed are good, but less commonly used sites like Facebook and Stack Overflow can also be valuable sources of talent, depending on the kinds of candidates you’re looking for. You might be amazed at the people you can find when you take a different approach to recruiting.

3. Be Deliberate About Employee Referrals

Employee referrals are great sources of talent, but you need to be intentional and transparent about what your organization is looking for. Specify what you want and need in a new hire so your employees will have an easier time deciding which of their connections might be a fit.

In the interests of diversity and inclusion, it’s also important to ensure you are not consistently taking referrals from the same people. It is a good idea to prioritize referrals from employees in underrepresented departments to broaden your talent pool.

For more expert recruiting advice, check out the latest issue of Recruiter.com Magazine:

4. Optimize Your Own Online Sources

According to our Breezy HR study, your company’s career site is one of the top three overall sources for new hires, ranking second only to Indeed. Put in the effort to make sure your career site is appealing and up to candidates’ standards.

Also be sure to take advantage of your company’s and employees’ social channels to push job posts. Word of mouth — or social media posts — can reach more people than you might expect. By some estimates, as many as 70 percent of professionals are “passive talent,” meaning they aren’t actively looking for jobs but might be open to the right role. In other words, the best candidate for your company might not be actively looking for a job, but seeing a post about your open role on Instagram might trigger their desire to learn more.

You can also improve the effectiveness of your sourcing — and diversify your reach — by carrying out targeted online marketing campaigns. Keep track of how these campaigns pan out to determine which channels give you the best leads. This information will help you optimize future sourcing efforts and even eliminate channels that aren’t worth the investment.

5. Follow Up — and Keep It Personal

Once you have sourced a selection of top candidates, what’s next? If you want to convert them into new hires, you need to maintain consistent outreach. Automated nurture campaigns to let the candidate know where they stand can be a stress-free way to keep people engaged throughout the entire hiring process.

For best results, be relaxed and friendly instead of coming across like a robot. If a candidate doesn’t accept your offer, wish them the best and congratulate them on their other job offers, if applicable. This kind of consistently genuine attentiveness can go a long way. When another role opens up at your company down the line, you’ll still have the relationships in place.

6. Survey Your Candidates

A great way to get feedback on your sourcing and hiring practices is to send every candidate an anonymous survey. The people going through your hiring process can offer firsthand feedback about what is working and what isn’t. Use the data you gather from these surveys to refine your efforts, map trends, and identify new opportunities. It can help to set data-driven recruitment goals for your organization based on these surveys, as this will give you concrete targets to strive for.

The talent market may be tough, but there are many options for sourcing great candidates. Try these tips to get ahead of your competitors and capture the attention of the best potential hires on the market.

Nina Cofer is product marketing manager at Breezy HR.

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