Active Sourcing explained – Exclusive behind-the-scenes

Selma Mohr 20, Aug 2020 7 min
Active Sourcing explained

What is active sourcing?

Active Sourcing is well known within HR, as a “proactive” recruiting method. This term covers all measures to identify suitable candidates within the labour market, establishing personal contact, up to expanding the talentpool, hiring and building long-term relationships

In many companies, there is still little “know-how” available. However, Active Sourcing is gaining relevance and demand, as a successful recruiting method.

“Sourcing is the proactive search for qualified job candidates for current or planned open positions” – SHRM society for human resource management

Some reasons why active sourcing is used: 

  • A company requires fast scaling and can simply not rely on incoming applications.
  • There are not enough qualified applications, so companies need to reach out to suitable candidates.
  • A growing skills gap, meaning companies need to hire talents (if training existing employees is not enough).
  • A shortage of skilled labour: Nowadays, companies cannot wait until qualified candidates apply to them. The lack of top talent means they are: harder to find, might already be employed and require more “selling” of the opportunity.
  • Active sourcing for candidates is therefore a fundamental reaction to the changing job market.

What advantages does Active Sourcing bring?

  • Due to the initial screening or so-called identification for top talents, the candidates that are being contacted have already passed the first check and are specifically addressed. This not only increases the chances of qualified applicants but also minimizes the time spent processing unsuitable applications.
  • A huge opportunity is the hidden talent market, the so-called passive candidates. Those are candidates who are not actively seeking/applying to a new job. However, they are contacted within the active sourcing method, increasing the potential talent pool.
  • Active applicants most likely apply to more than one company, which means increased competition and lower chances of offer acceptance. Passive candidates however, are not actively seeking/applying to a new job, leading to higher chances of recruiting success.
  • Since active sourcing is a pro-active recruitment method, the candidate feels an engagement right from the start, intended to bind the talent to the company from the beginning until they are recruited. This can prevent the talent from considering any competition (other jobs/employers) and also increases the probability that the desired talent might accept the offer.

Identifying suitable candidates

Candidates can be identified through digital footprints they leave behind online. On various social networks such as LinkedIn, XING, Facebook, Github, Google, Blogs or even on team pages in the “about us” section, with their current job title. Any public information that can be found linking a talent profile with certain skills or professional experience can help identify suitable candidates that might match to the company/job. 

Important in this process is knowing who you are looking for before you start looking. This means identifying a so-called candidate persona or talent profile. 

What technical- and soft-skills are relevant? What industry knowledge can be of help? What is a typical career progression within this role? What interests would the candidate have? What is important to them in considering a new position? And so much more. Answering these questions can help you understand where and how to search for.

Contacting suitable candidates

Contacting suitable candidates is a complex process that can make or break the opportunity to reach the talents previously identified. The stakes are high because:

  • The first impression is being made
  • The candidate will associate the contact approach with the employer brand (so whether it’s an internal recruiter or agency/service, like Lionstep, this process can be perceived of being representative of the company
  • This experience ultimately shapes the perception a candidate has of the job/company – influencing their decision to go forward or not

A great advantage of active sourcing is that the entire talent market is included. There might be talents who are skilled but didn’t see the job description. Or even some who did but chose not to apply (might be that the description was not engaging enough). 

With active sourcing you can not only improve your job description by tailoring it to the candidates you identified, but also capture these talented people through your personal contact/approach. This will involve selling the “discussion” and not having the call to action be “apply now”. Through good research, the response rates can be improved, by personalized messaging and an amazing job description.

It is crucial to keep the barriers to entry reasonable. This in active sourcing means, not asking talents to fill out an application right away. Instead, the initial contact should invite the talent for an exploratory discussion. Emphasizing the significance from the start, such as job relevance, benefits and the EVP – employee value proposition (basically what’s in it for the candidate). Ideally, the first contact should be positively remembered and form a good basis for professional cooperation.

Filling the talent pool: qualified and interested candidates

The interviewing process helps assess candidates more clearly, understanding their individual interests to establish a sustainable talent pool. Active sourcing enables recruiters to ask more specific questions, to understand the candidates motivations and objectives more clearly. Asking a candidate “why do you want to work for us?” would not be a suitable question. 

Crucial in the active sourcing process is the feedback. Feedback is always important in the recruiting process, but in active sourcing you are in contact with candidates, who might not have applied to any other job. Therefore you need to make decisions quickly, to not lose the talents interest in the final phase and lower the risk of them applying elsewhere.

In addition, the way you provide feedback affects the employer brand and can even affect the public presentation of the company image if candidates are not happy and share bad reviews online.

Active sourcing can enable companies to identify and procure the best talents. It is important to keep in mind the candidate-centric approach that active sourcing involves. Is the process designed with the candidate in mind?

At Lionstep, we support companies on finding the best candidates through active sourcing. While we have designed processes that help us find and identify suitable candidates faster, the candidate experience is at the core of each touchpoint. Our NPS score shows a 96% happiness, which is something we have worked on continuously, gathering feedback from candidates to design the best experience (and we are always looking for improvement).

The future of active sourcing:

Active Sourcing is here to stay. While it is not completely “new”, the ones who manage the best implementation will win over the competitive talent market.

This means:

  • Optimized/automated processes where possible: Using technology to advance the recruiting, collecting relevant data (within the legal scope) and applying agile strategies depending on the results. For example: Multi-channel sourcing, A/B testing headlines, automated email reminders, easy scheduling of interviews, etc.
  • Enhanced candidate experience: Keeping processes candidate-centric, and thinking about the complete journey in terms of what’s best for the candidate (not just what helps the company be effective). 

If you are interested to find out how Lionstep can support your recruiting processes and source the best candidates, please do not hesitate to get in touch. We look forward to supporting you!

Read about the experience our scale-up customer Radicant had with Lionstep.

If you’re a candidate looking for a job change, take a look at our job board with a variety of job offers.

Extra resource: Check out our active sourcing resource guide for more tips and insights into sourcing the best talents.