They understand that it’s the best way to consistently hire outstanding talent.
They ask themselves: “who is the best possible person for this potential future role?” instead of “who can I hire now for this existing opening?”
They know that even if only 36% of professionals globally are actively looking for a job, 90% of them are still willing to talk. By engaging with that pool, they are more likely to identify candidates who will have an oversized impact on their company, engage with them, and eventually bring them onboard.
Why proactive sourcing had to happen
Competing for the best talent pushes companies to look for it proactively instead of waiting for it to apply when a job goes live, and building relationships is the best way to make it happen. For one, passive candidates are unlikely to jump ship the minute you present them with a new opportunity, and so they need to be engaged well in advance.
It’s not just about timing, though. The experience that candidates are looking for with your company is fundamentally different in this Customer-centric age. Their habits as customers have bled into their expectations of how a prospective employer should interact with them.
When buying a product or considering a new service, they talk with companies on their Facebook pages and Twitter feeds, they read product reviews and rankings, and they get custom recommendations or service follow-ups in their inboxes. It’s natural that they would expect the same level of interaction and personalisation from someone hoping to hire them.
Engaging with candidates helps sourcers on two levels. First, by exposing candidates early and often to your employer brand, you increase the chance that they will like you better than the competition. It’s the same behavioural principle as the one used in movie product placements, or highway billboards.Exposure means familiarity, and familiarity breeds liking. #HiringBehaviorals Click To Tweet
The second, and probably the more important reason, is that a relationship gives you the time and space to convince the best talent that your company is the right fit for them. Remember all those reviews, rankings, and custom recommendations we mentioned before? They can also help you get your perfect candidate to apply.
Proactive sourcing creates a relationship where a candidate learns about the kind of employer you are: what opportunities you can give them, what values you stand for, what behaviours you reward, or how your employees talk about you.
Modern sourcing and the new Talent team
To adapt to this shift and create the kind of experience where candidates can engage with prospective employers well before applying, sourcing had to change. At first, it was about being at the front lines and identifying new prospects, but now, it also means creating and nurturing relationships, and getting candidates started on a great experience with the company. Those interactions are more about interpersonal skills and communication than about technical search.
Not that the technical aspects of the job haven’t evolved too: a modern sourcer has to manage talent pools and build customised nurture campaigns at a large scale. That means everything from drip emails, to marketing automation, to social listening and community management tools.
In many cases, this has led to a change in the way recruiting teams work. They focus more on Marketing and Branding, for example: Engaging with candidates is only effective when sourcers and recruiters are armed with a clear, well thought-out Employer Brand, and know their Employer Value Proposition inside out.
Not waiting until a job goes live to source also means being able to forecast better, so some recruiting teams invest in building up their analytics. As a result, they know their conversion rates at every step of the talent pipeline, and how many hires they can expect to make months in advance.
And to keep all of these different pieces moving in sync, the team needs smooth processes and the right tools in place, and many organisations have dedicating Recruiting Operations team members for that.
In other words, the shift toward proactive sourcing has changed hiring. Talent teams are treating candidates like customers, and in the process, thinking more like marketers and sales teams. For sourcers in particular, it means investing in developing new strengths and learning from new best practices. But it also means having a way to consistently target and hire the best possible person for every role.
Candidate Engagement: the complete guide
If you’re looking for more advice on the best way to communicate with talent, the guide we put together on candidate engagement is going to be right up your street.
It covers every aspect of communication, from sourcing, to nurture, to re-engaging past applicants.