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8 talent sourcing tactics to improve your candidate response rate

talent sourcing tactics to improve your candidate response rate

Nowadays, talent sourcing feels impersonal. Generic. Rushed. Yet in a crowded labour market where the best candidates get snapped up in ten days, it's only more vital to get candidate sourcing right. Because let's face it: if you can't get candidates interested in your role from the start, you will have a hard time getting them through your talent pipeline. In this guide featuring special insights from sourcing expert and HR tech founder of PipeLabs, Per Tjernberg, learn how to master talent sourcing once and for all. 

What talent sourcing isn't 

Let's talk about what sourcing isn't. Mass sendouts. InMail bombardments. Impersonalised, copy-paste-messages. 

Sourcing is not about jamming your job ads with buzzwords that sound enticing without doing your due diligence first. And talent sourcing most definitely isn't about sending hundreds of generic, robotic-sounding messages to try and get as many candidates to reply as possible. 

It's almost guaranteed that you will only get a few responses (if you're lucky).

Because you're not:

❌Engaging with the right candidate persona
❌Tailoring your messaging 
❌Doing your homework on the candidate or the market first

What talent sourcing is

At most, talent sourcing boils down to how you treat talent pipelines. It's about how you proactively identify candidates who may be a good fit for your role/business and then use a variety of strategic tactics to engage candidates. 

Candidate sourcing is a combination of: 

✅Understanding the market and talent pool inside out
✅Being curious and proactive about research
✅Learning and refining your approach continuously based on market signals and data

According to Per, proper sourcing is a constant learning process. You have to be curious and ask engaging questions. 

  "You can tell a candidate, "you seem to have done really interesting stuff. Can you tell me about your biggest accomplishment? What makes you tick at work? Most people are going to respond to that, rather than saying "you have three years of JavaScript experience, awesome, will you come and be a JavaScript experience person over here?"

In other words, it all goes back to doing your homework and personalising your outreach.

Eight candidate sourcing tactics to attract top talent 

Below we share eight candidate sourcing tactics, partly curated from our conversation with Per on the How We Hire podcast.

#1 Take the time to get curious about candidates

Do research to see what makes the candidate interesting. Perhaps they have a podcast, run a blog, have completed some interesting courses, or received glowing testimonials from former colleagues. Comb their LinkedIn, google their name and see what crops up.

Next, leverage your research when doing outreach.

For example, say you're looking for a UX designer. Instead of saying to the candidate that they stuck out because they have a background in UX design, spend some time getting to know their past achievements and highlighting that in the conversation. "I can see you volunteered at an animal shelter and helped them with their site design. That's so interesting; what would you say was the most rewarding part of that experience?

  "Having that curiosity, that proper curiosity, really willing and interested in learning the market, the people, the players that are in place. That's really, really few and far between."

#2 Practice empathy

You don't need to be a psychologist to practice empathy. You just need to be human. If you actively listen, engage, practice presence, and remain curious, you'll always be able to find that one little spark that makes a candidate interesting. 

Alva's Head of People, Linnea Bywall, shares her view on this:

  "You have to look for what's interesting in that person because you will find something to that extent. Tap into that when reaching out to candidates."

#3 Research the market before you start candidate outreach

Many recruiters hop onto LinkedIn right away before doing their homework. They start typing in keywords to find candidates. However, it's recommended to look into the market first to understand the talent pool you're targeting.

If you want to collect a list of candidates to contact, first compile a list of companies they'd be working at/have worked at.

Ask yourself:
- What are the drivers in the market my candidate is operating in?
- Who are the big players/companies
- What brands seem to produce high performers?

#4 Move beyond just LinkedIn and focus on content and community

Many recruiters heavily rely on the LinkedIn recruiter platform, which has undoubtedly delivered tremendous success over the years. However, response rates have been declining. Ultimately, the sourcing world is changing, requiring recruiters to constantly innovate and think outside the box. 

For starters, go where the online communities are. Look into where people post valuable content and what platforms they engage with. Next, engage with the people you could envision working for your company. 

This requires looking at community more holistically instead of just relying on LinkedIn InMail. Ultimately, it calls for joining the communities where your prospects are. 

Per and his team at PipeLabs do a lot of their sourcing on Discord and Slack.

"While LinkedIn is awesome, not everybody is on it. So ask yourself where else is your talent hanging out? It can be a forum, it can be a meta group, it can be Slack or something else. Next, you will probably need to speak to others and engage. It's about being where the candidates are at."

#5 Consider being your own personal brand ambassador

While not everybody has the bandwidth or resources to do this, consider beefing up your own brand. What does this mean in practice? Consider engaging in and distributing valuable content.

Whatever social media platform you choose, focus on building and assembling your own community. This will enable you to give a personal, relatable candidate experience to everybody you engage with. If candidates need more time to be ready to jump onboard with you and the company you're profiling, at least you'll be front of mind in case they are ready in the future.

Some questions to ask yourself before creating content:

➡️ How do I dive deeper, peel back the curtains, and provide value to a job seeker or client?
➡️ How am I using content for lead development?
➡️ How can I amplify my voice and provide a unique value proposition?
➡️ How do I use my perspective to drive engagement and start meaningful conversations with my community?

#6 Build your talent pipeline long before you start recruiting 

Ideally, you should build your candidate pipeline six to twelve months before actively recruiting for a role. This will save you a headache when management approaches you and says they want a new hire in a month because by then, you'll have an active, healthy pipeline of candidates to reach out to. 

Why it's important: Think of recruitment as a long-term game. You need to not only put the right candidates through the recruiting lifecycle but also warm up prospects well before they're ready to leap. One of the most effective ways to do this is to treat your recruiters and TA professionals as your "boots on the ground". In other words, consider them as the evangelists of the talent brand, piquing candidates' interest, and keeping your brand front and centre in people's minds, whether they are ready to apply or not yet. 

How to do this: Start early, get your TA team to post regularly on LinkedIn or other communities, and ensure your team actively engages with job seekers, providing value whenever they can through engaging content. 

Need help with setting up your employer brand? Check out this helpful guide on building a strong employer brand here.

#7 Treat candidate engagement as a two-way street

Say you have a really great candidate you're in contact with, but quickly realise they don't meet one of the must-have requirements for the role. Instead of never replying to their message again and going on to the next candidate, adopt a more holistic mindset. Rather than treating candidate engagement as transactional in nature, think about it more as an exchange of ideas and information, as well as building trust and credibility. 

How can you also be a resource to them? Perhaps they would be a better fit for another role in your organisation, or you know a great company that's looking for exactly this type of candidate. 

#8 Don't discard the candidates who didn't get the job or enter the funnel 

An easy mistake is to assume that candidates who didn't get the job or enter the funnel to begin with are automatically disqualified from future roles. In reality, nine out of ten people you speak to and source for roles won't land the job.

However, leaving a positive impression on them, adding them to you network and potentially getting referrals and information later down the line is worthwhile. You never know when a referral for a really great candidate might drop into your lap. At the end of the day, the magic of recruitment lies in relationship-building.

Final takeaway

In the end, talent sourcing is about remaining curious and proactive about how you approach candidates and keep them engaged from start to finish. It's about doing your homework on the market you're serving, and understanding who you are talking to.

As Per says:

  "The only thing that is certain is change. So if you don't have that innate curiosity going like, what is this? Can I play with it? What is it? Look at it. Figure out what it is and how it works. I just think you're going to be left behind."