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How to proactively source the best passive candidates

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Finding great candidates can be a struggle. Job postings, conferences, job fairs, meet-ups, networking events, or referrals are all effective talent acquisition tools, but they are all reactive, meaning you are reliant on the right person coming to you. You can take proactive steps to fill your current openings faster, build a talent pipeline for the future, improve your quality of hires and make valuable connections for hard-to-fill roles. To take the initiative to identify the best talent in your hands, you will need a sourcing strategy.

Sourcing strategy techniques

A sourcing strategy is a proactive search for qualified candidates, where organisations with a hiring need, or executive recruiters working on their behalf, use multiple techniques to proactively source the best candidates.

Boolean Searches

Boolean sourcing will allow you to find resumes and cover letters from all over the web - from job boards to personal websites and social media platforms. Boolean search is a type of search which allows you to combine keywords with operators such as AND, NOT and OR to produce relevant results.

For example, a Boolean search could be 'nurse' AND 'graduate'. This would limit the search results to only those the two keywords.

Boolean search

Use these commands to prompt more elaborate search strings and effectively find candidates through Google.

Job board and career site database sourcing

You can use most online job boards and career sites to source your candidates proactively. Search their resume databases by using common keywords your prospects might use. Job boards and career sites, like Indeed or Monster, are a goldmine for recruiters, as they contain millions of resumes spanning different skillsets, industries, and geographical locations.

Searches can reveal jobseekers actively looking for a new opportunity and enable you to tap into passive talent. Users often upload their resume into their database and let recruiters approach them with the right opening if they are not in a hurry to find a new job.

Social Sourcing

Leverage the social platforms where your potential candidates spend a lot of their time. Options include Facebook graph search or Twitter and LinkedIn. However, LinkedIn is the most effective and popular method of sourcing candidates on social media. It lets you to find qualified candidates who would be otherwise impossible to find, as they aren't actively looking for jobs.

Be creative and use industry-specific networks such as Behance and Dribble for sourcing creatives or GitHub for developers.

You can also use Boolean search for social media, for e.g.: site: 'graphic designer' 'location * London'.

Run multiple searches across numerous sources

If you think you've exhausted a source of candidates, believing that you've found all available matches and cannot find anymore - you're wrong. Make sure you run multiple searches across various sources.

Whichever method you are using - make sure to refine your search:

  1. Take time to analyse and fully understand requirements of the job opening.

  2. Select search criteria based on the understanding of the position, e.g job title, responsibilities, skills, using Boolean operators, query modifiers, and semantic search techniques.

  3. Review the results of your initial searches and modify to include additional relevant titles, terms and search phrases.

  4. Run the query again.

  5. Repeat step 3 until you are satisfied with the volume and quality of results.

Sourcing qualified candidates is the most critical part of the recruitment process, but it can also be the most difficult. Try to understand how your ideal prospects describe themselves, to know which terms and keywords resonate with them. Then be proactive in your approach and use the various online tools and techniques available to you.