Talent Sourcing: What It Is and 6 Ways to Do It

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Employees are the lifeblood of any company. Your entire business may thrive or crumble depending on how qualified, motivated and hardworking your workforce is. They also need to share the company’s values and understand the bigger goals that you’re working to achieve.

But finding the right employees is no easy task.

With employee retention becoming as difficult as ever, companies have to get creative if they want to find the next generation of people that will lead it to new heights. But how do you do that?

Well, to answer this question, first we need to understand the very basics:

What Is Talent?

While the word “talent” has become a sort of umbrella term for the entire workforce, in the world of HR, talent is more commonly known as the qualities of potential employees that the business is looking for. In other words, in order to find the right talent, you first have to understand what kind of talent would best represent your company and help propel it forward.

And in order to do that, you need to do some talent sourcing.

What is Talent Sourcing?

With the competition for talent as fierce as it is, only companies with a clear and effective strategy can expect to succeed. And a good strategy begins with understanding where to find, or “source,” the best candidates.

The process of identifying the talent that best suits your company begins before a position even opens up. This is the case because once one opens up, you already have a list of people to target instead of having to scramble in the moment.

Talent sourcing is part of the larger talent acquisition process, the main goal of which is attracting top quality talent. But in order to attract it, you must first source and identify the people that you want to target.

So sourcing, in other words, is the process of proactively looking for the right job candidates for positions that are currently open or are planned to be open in the future. The main purpose of sourcing is to be proactive instead of reactive when a position suddenly opens up, which is often the case in companies.

This way, instead of being forced to skim through countless resumes trying to find someone that even remotely meets the requirements on short notice, your company can be ready for any expected or unexpected vacancies, greatly reducing the time it takes to find the right candidate.

According to the Society of Human Resource Management, this proactive search of talent, which focuses on finding as much relevant qualified candidate data as possible, including names, titles and job responsibilities. This is the very definition of what talent sourcing is all about.

Just a few decades ago, talent sourcing was mainly done by recruiters, because communications were limited to the telephone and classified ads. But with today’s technology and the globalization of the job market, companies have much more exposure, and thus have to handle a much larger amount of resumes.

So in order to find the top talents in a given industry, companies had to find a way to automate at least part of the process. This is where systems and software can help sort through and pick up the keywords that matter to the company.

But at the same time, businesses need to actively search for top talents themselves, or they risk never getting a chance to hire them in the first place.

And that’s where talent sourcing can be very helpful. But what are the best ways to find talent?

1. Social Networks

Social media can be a great tool for finding the right candidates. In fact, according to a report by the SHRM, a staggering 84% of organizations are using social media for talent sourcing, with another 9% planning to use it in the near future.

The reason why social media is so effective as a talent sourcing tool is the fact that many potential employees are quite passive in the job search on their own, but might be very responsive if the right opportunity would present itself.

Another reason why it works well is that it’s relatively easy to advertise and reach the desired talent, especially compared to some of the other methods.

2. Jobs Boards

Job boards are popular for a reason; they help connect millions of people with the right workplace each year. But in order to make good use of them today, it’s no longer enough to simply post a job description. If you want to get the attention of the real talent in your industry, you’ll have to use more proactive techniques such as the others on this list.

You can still use job boards since posting a creative job description isn’t very difficult, but don’t expect it to be enough if it’s the only strategy your company is using.

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3. Referrals

One talent sourcing method that has been consistently effective throughout the decades is word of mouth.

Referrals lead to quality hires much more often than almost any other source of talent, but in order to get referrals for the positions you’re looking to fill, you must utilize your most powerful tool for this sourcing strategy, which is your own employees.

After all, who else could be a better advocate for working for your company than the employees already there? What’s more, chances are that the friends of your current employees share the same values, and are much more likely to be a good fit for the company. These potential candidates might even be much more open to working for you when they consider the prospect of working together with their friends.

That’s why you should make a strong effort to work on your employer branding in order to make the referrals come naturally. If people are happy working for you, you can be sure that they’ll share their positive experiences at work with others.

A very effective strategy for making a referral program work is incentivizing it. Companies with referral programs that reward the employees that make good recommendations for new hires have been effective for a long time, and will remain one of the best ways to find new talent for the foreseeable future.

4. Software

Talent sourcing, just as almost any part of business today, has been made much more efficient with the help of technology.

Using recruitment & staffing software can help businesses streamline a lot of the processes that used to require manual labor. You can use it to make scheduled automatic posts and automatically sort through various metrics such as skills, abilities and even passions in seconds rather than sorting manually, which could take a very long time.

The tools can even help source contact information on candidates, which used to be a time-consuming task. Another cool feature that’s available in some software platforms is the ability to quickly sort through candidates according to numerous specified metrics.

Some of the more advanced software solutions can even go as far as identifying candidates that are similar to those that were already hired or marked as promising.

5. Industry-Specific Meetups

Job fairs have gotten a bad rep for attracting mostly mediocre talent, but they can still be very useful if you utilize them correctly. A good way to attract top-level talent is to find events that aren’t primarily recruiting related. Think in terms of gathering for experts in a specific field.

There are numerous communities of industry experts that have regular meetups. These can be a great place to make connections with some of the brightest minds in a field.

And even if you can’t attend the event yourself, getting the attendance roster is a way that could help you track down at least a few potential candidates for the position.

6. Blogosphere

These days, most people are producing some sort of content online. And that includes some of the most sought-after industry professionals out there.

So a great way to find candidates for your company is to search the blogosphere and websites for content created by professionals in the field in which you’re looking for candidates. Whether it’s portfolio sites or blogs sharing expertise, these websites can be a great way to recognize the thought leaders that could be a great addition to your company.

While talent sourcing can be somewhat time-consuming, the rewards are huge as well. The amount of passive potential candidates is huge, and if you can get in front of them with the right position, you might be able to grab top-shelf talent that you otherwise simply wouldn’t be able to reach.

Get our Talent Management Systems Comparison Matrix.

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