As a Talent Acquisition Specialist, I firmly believe talent sourcing is a crucial component of recruitment. It involves proactively reaching out to good-fit candidates to broaden your talent pool and make key connections well in advance, rather than just waiting for the perfect person to find and apply to job postings once they go live.
Talent sourcing helps us at Gorgias cut through application noise and get the highest quality candidates possible. Our outreach emails for Engineering positions, one of the most challenging roles to fill, see 26%-46% response rates. And in this deeply competitive labor market, getting in contact with those gem candidates is especially important.
In this article, we’ll discuss the merits of talent sourcing as a hiring strategy, as well as the tools and tactics we use for talent sourcing at Gorgias.
The state of the hiring market in Q1 2022 (post-pandemic)
The state of the hiring market in 2022 is worrisome, to say the least. It seems like every single company has at least 10 open roles, and they’re all competing over the same pool of top-notch candidates.
Let’s take a step back and look at the last couple of years. Compared to Q1 2020, iCIMS reports job openings in Q1 2021 are up by 86%, hires are up by 45%, and job applications are down by 11%.
Meanwhile, 78% of companies report being unable to find enough talented candidates in the market to fill their open roles. Why? As we mentioned above, the labor market has tightened. This means that naturally, there are more jobs open than people to fill them, which consequently makes hiring even harder.
2022 continues these trends. There are now a record 5 million more job openings than unemployed people in the US, according to this article published by CNBC (which contains many top takeaways from the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey.)
Also, like always, certain roles are particularly difficult to fill right now. Full-stack engineers are most in-demand right now, meaning they’re especially difficult to find and hire. Fortunately, a shift toward hiring remote talent in smaller regions is taking place. Software engineers who are open to remote work receive 20% more interview requests.
Part of appealing to this pool of in-demand talent is understanding software engineers’ top priorities. Here’s below the full list of the biggest motivators for software engineers, according to the 2022 State of Software Engineers Report:
These motivators are valuable insights because they can help you market your open roles (and, to get back to the topic, talent sourcing outreach) more sharply.
What exactly is talent sourcing?
There are differing opinions about the exact definition of talent sourcing. But the basic definition of talent sourcing is engaging candidates who are not active applicants. We call the targets of talent sourcing “passive talent,” which excludes candidates who apply traditionally, through a job posting.
For us, the goal of talent sourcing is to build a pipeline of talent that operates throughout the year as a proactive approach to the company’s hiring needs. Sourcing allows us to connect with potential fits long before a need develops. Considering that hiring a new employee can take anywhere from a week to several months, getting a head start on promising candidates is a great long-term strategy.
Why do we believe talent sourcing is an essential best practice?
In Q1 2022, it took our team an average of 53 days to extend an offer. In Q2, we were able to send out offers in 39 days thanks in part to talent sourcing. Therefore, we managed to speed up the process of extending an offer by 26% thanks to talent sourcing.
We looked at some statistics outside of Gorgias and here’s what we found: 70% of the world's workforce are passive candidates, and 86% of the most qualified candidates for your open positions are already employed, hence not actively looking for a job. That said, LinkedIn has found that 90% of the professionals active on their platform would like to hear about career opportunities.
Talent sourcing helps bridge the gap between the companies hiring and passive candidates (which, again, make up 70% of the workforce). We can build relationships with promising talent well before we’re urgently looking to make a hire.
Gem found that talent sourcing is the second most important recruiting trend (after diversity recruiting), according to their 2022 Recruiting Trends: Data-Driven Recruiting.
The impact of talent sourcing on key hiring metrics
Why exactly is talent sourcing such a prominent trend? Because it’s a strategic approach to improve many of the most important metrics a recruiting team pays attention to.
Time to hire
Talent sourcing can improve your time to hire because you can start refining a pool of candidates well before you have a live job ad. For us, one of the best tactics was to use outreach to identify a pool of talent that uses our tech stack. That way, when you post an engineering, product management, or non-tech role, you don’t have to source from scratch and filter out candidates because of basic misalignments.
Once a job posting goes live, our team has a huge headstart (and can therefore crush previous time-to-hire metrics). Instead of going to LinkedIn and starting a search from scratch, I would go to our refined pool of (currently, but forever growing) 111K candidates that match our company’s needs, tech stack, or overall preferences and start my search there.
Talent sourcing helps us create a pool of pre-vetted candidates, so we’re never in a situation of having to accept a mediocre candidate because of a time crunch and lack of inbound interest.
Also, when a high-potential candidate doesn’t end up receiving (or accepting) an offer, they go back into our talent pool so we can potentially find another opportunity to work with that high-quality candidate.
We use Gem for robust top-of-funnel diversity reporting. The tool lets us deep dive into our natural sourcing tendencies and analyze passthrough rates across demographics like gender. This helps us point out some of the unconscious biases we each might have, so we can keep diversity and inclusivity in mind, implement action items, and source a diverse and strong team.
Our approach to building a Talent Pool
Explore our ATS for candidates we want to re-engage
As you likely know, a candidate’s potential (and journey with your company) doesn’t necessarily come to an end after a rejection. To make the most of high-quality candidates who have already gone through our screening once, we check out junior candidates we talked to 2+ years ago and marked as under-qualified. We do the same with candidates who have kept warm after rejection and candidates who withdrew from the process because they took another offer.
These candidates have already expressed an interest in our company and therefore get consideration to introduce into our ongoing talent pool.
Optimize our recruiting tech stack for searchability
One of our most helpful tools is HireSweet. The tool enables us to explore all of the 4,000 candidates who live in our ATS much easier than just searching the database. One of the best features is that HireSweet allows us to find candidates that may have switched careers completely but live in our ATS under an old position.
But the question still stands: how do we expand our talent pool to 111K people?
Source, scrape, and upload a massive number of leads
We don’t reach out to leads by hand: we contact them in bulk by sourcing and scraping. Before we explain our process, the important thing to keep in mind is that your search and bulk leads import should always resonate with the company’s hiring strategy. Simply put, we don’t do volume sourcing for the sake of doing high volume.
Bulk imports can help you in a few ways:
- While searching for candidates, you want to keep profiles that are not an exact fit so you can find them when a better-fit role comes along
- You want to reach out to a higher volume of leads
- You want to anticipate and pre-source for the future
Here’s an example of how we might pre-source our industry to collect a high volume of good-fit names:
- Find a list of start-ups (related to your industry if you want to be more precise)
- Break it down per country
- Find the companies’ LinkedIn pages (with automation, if possible)
- Scrape the “people” section of said pages
- Clean the data, and import it into your 3rd party tool to enrich it
- All employees that mentioned working for the companies you’re targeting are now in your talent pool
We use the following four tools to execute the process described above:
LinkedIn will limit the number of profiles you can scrape each day. If that’s the case, you can set up bot automation to run multiple times a day. With fewer profiles scrapped more frequently, you can stay under the radar.
Additional ways to improve your talent sourcing and recruitment marketing
Did you know that 66% of people who changed jobs were aware of the company they joined before they applied? That’s why we encourage you to do everything you can (with the resources and buy-in you have) to take a proactive approach to your talent strategy. Some more tactics include:
Create clear, engaging outbound messaging
A well-written message tailored to each candidate (or at least each role) is a terrific approach to draw top talent in, keep them interested, and persuade them to discover more about the company.
At Gorgias, we do our best to include the relevant information without plopping an entire job ad in the first message. We typically try and highlight a couple of unique features (including compensation, which we share with our SaaS calculator).
Encourage your non-recruiting team to source talent
Talent sourcing doesn’t just need to be a recruiter activity. We encourage employee ambassadorship, wherein the entire company is invited to source talent for live and upcoming roles. (They aren’t scraping LinkedIn, but can refer candidates our way and spread the word.)
When employees establish a direct relationship with candidates, they can provide a meaningful testimonial and sneak peek into the company’s culture.
Engaging passive candidates involves more effort than engaging active candidates because you have to persuade someone to be interested. But the effort is worthwhile: at the very least, you spread the word about the company.
Speaking of engaging your team, check out our article of five tips to engage a hybrid or distributed team.
Let us know your take on talent sourcing
At Gorgias, we managed to reach a 26%-46% response rate for our outreach emails for Engineering positions.
Even though recruiting and sourcing tactics constantly evolve, the mindset is still the same:
- Grab candidates’ attention
- Engage with them in a clear, helpful way
- Build relationships that make great placements easier in the longterm
Top talent is in high demand, and competition for their attention is severe. That’s why we need to establish a presence wherever potential candidates are — starting with their Inbox.
We’re hungry for lifelong learning and growth, so we want to hear from all the recruiters and sourcers out there. What’s your take on talent sourcing? How are you approaching it in your company? What can we learn from your practice?