Published in Talent Sourcing

Published in Talent Sourcing

Published in Talent Sourcing

Debra Teo

Debra Teo

Debra Teo

November 1, 2022

November 1, 2022

November 1, 2022

Talent sourcing 101: A beginner's guide

Talent sourcing 101: A beginner's guide

Talent sourcing 101: A beginner's guide

Building a sustainable talent pipeline to fuel business growth starts with proactively forecasting talent needs and defining a process to source those assets (a.k.a. talent sourcing)

Building a sustainable talent pipeline to fuel business growth starts with proactively forecasting talent needs and defining a process to source those assets (a.k.a. talent sourcing)

Building a sustainable talent pipeline to fuel business growth starts with proactively forecasting talent needs and defining a process to source those assets (a.k.a. talent sourcing)

Organizations are usually good at setting goals for growth but often miss the key to unlocking those goals; talent sourcing. That may sound like an oversimplification, but the reality is an organization’s goals are only attainable through the talent it retains. 

Think of talent sourcing as budgeting; the most successful organizations budget for their future financial needs and implement concrete acquisition processes to sustain them. Similarly, building a sustainable talent pipeline to fuel business growth starts with proactively forecasting talent needs and defining a process to source those assets (a.k.a. talent sourcing).

What is talent sourcing?

Talent sourcing is the process of finding passive candidates for a role and converting them into job applicants. Passive candidates are professionals who fit your Ideal Candidate Profile (ICP) but are not actively looking for a new position or have yet to apply with your organization. 

Talent sourcing vs. recruiting

You might think that sourcing sounds a lot like recruiting, but each serves a distinct purpose. There are two major distinctions between  sourcing and recruiting specialists:

  1. 🤷 Passive vs. 🏃Active Candidates
    The biggest difference between sourcing vs. recruiting is that a sourcer focuses on passive talent and recruiters focus on active talent. Passive talent are candidates not yet in your pipeline, while active talent are candidates who are proactively seeking a new role and applying to your organization.


  2. 🥶 Cold vs. 🥰 Warm Outreach
    Sourcing passive talent requires cold outreach tactics to uncover hidden talent and build relationships from scratch. On the other hand, a recruiting strategy maps out how you'll active candidates through the hiring process, from applying to onboarding.

What are the benefits of talent sourcing?

Having a talent sourcing strategy adds depth and breadth to your talent pipeline and reduces the resources needed to gain top-tier talent. Here are a few reasons why a talent sourcing strategy is foundational to talent acquisition.

Access to a larger pool of talent

According to LinkedIn Talent Solutions, “70% of the global workforce is made up of passive talent.” Sourcing gives you access to these passive candidates, increasing your overall talent pool.

More highly qualified candidates

This large pool of passive candidates often includes the most qualified candidates. Because outstanding talent is always in high demand, the best are usually receiving unsolicited job offers on a continual basis. So why would they actively seek a new role when all they have to do is check the latest DM in their InMail on LinkedIn? Because they’re the least likely to ever want or need to actively apply, you must use sourcing to have an opportunity to work with them. 

Lower cost of talent acquisition

It's no secret that the longer it takes to source for a role, the more expensive it is. The average time to hire is between 95-130 days in the tech space, according to OpenView, and LinkedIn reports that the median time-to-hire is 41 days, across industries and professions, even outside the tech space. It's no wonder that the average cost of recruiting a single candidate is $97,500

So, where does talent sourcing come in? Talent sourcing helps reduce the cost-per-hire by:

  • ⏱️Reducing the time-to-hire by curating a vetted list of quality candidates before the need arises 


  • 🎟️ Building relationships with top-tier talent over time so they’re a warm lead when there is a need


  • 🔍Vetting early in the hiring process so you don’t waste time and resources on under-qualified candidates

6 Tactics for effective talent sourcing

Talent sourcing requires intentionality and consistency. After all, you’re going after elite talent who are either uninterested or unaware of your organization. It is up to you to:

  • Identify what your organization needs

  • Research what candidates fit that need

  • Build a relationship with the candidates

  • Discover what their needs are 

  • Persuade them to join your team when the time is right for your company and them

If you’re new to sourcing, this may feel overwhelming. Don’t stress— defining a process to accomplish these tasks will make sourcing manageable, sustainable, and focused.

Create a talent map 

Imagine the process an interior designer would go through to find a rare piece of marble for a home build. They wouldn't just roll up to the local hardware store on the day of installation and hope they'd find what they want. They would draw up their design plan months in advance, so they can take their time sourcing the perfect piece to complete their design. 

Talent sourcing is no different. Before you go too far down the sourcing rabbit hole to build your talent pipeline, you first need to know what’s coming down the pipe. A talent map is a tool organizations use to forecast what their talent needs will be to meet their goals, so they can begin sourcing before there is an immediate need. 

Access to the best talent takes time, so you must plan ahead.

A good place to start mapping your talent needs is to interview department heads, survey cross-functional teams, and analyze production in your organization to find answers to:

  • What attributes or skills each team member has that either help or hinder their contribution to the organization?


  • What gaps do you want or need to fill in the existing team to reach your goals?


  • What do current workloads look like, and what level of capacity do they have to build toward new initiatives?


  • What changes would require additional support in the next five years, and in what areas?


  • Who is up for a promotion?


  • Who is likely to retire?


  • Is there an organizational restructuring that will be happening?


  • Are there new products or service initiatives that will be added?


  • Are there volatile changes in your industry that may require rapid R&D?


  • What type of candidate would complement your current team’s strengths?


  • What hiring trends are you seeing in your Applicant Tracking System (ATS)?

Once you’ve answered these questions, it’s time to map succession planning and future talent needs, so you know what to look for while you source.

Research

You've identified what roles you need to fill based on your talent mapping. Now it's time to figure out what top-tier talent looks like for the positions you need to fill. This phase of the process is about uncovering commonalities among top-tier talent in your industry or the role you’re seeking to fill. 

Scour job boards, professional networking groups, your competitors, and even your internal team to identify the common denominators of top talent. Take detailed notes of your findings as you go in a talent acquisition tool and save professional profiles of interest you find during research to further analyze later.

💡Pro Tip: “Top talent” can mean vastly different things depending on where your organization wants to go, so stay open-minded during this phase of the sourcing process.

One way you can approach this research is by finding your competitor's page(s) on LinkedIn, then toggle to the "people" tab on their profile. Here, you can find the number of employees that share commonalities, such as:

  • Education

  • Area of study

  • Specific skills 

  • Role at the organization

  • Distribution of talent across roles

  • Key job titles

This will give you a general sense of what kind of talent your competitor has across their organization. From there, you can further refine your search by the specific role you are looking to fill (i.e., an engineer) to learn what role-specific skills and education they have (i.e., JavaScript, Python, etc.).

Take your search even deeper by clicking on specific employee profiles. There, you can learn details like how many years of experience they have and a general sense of their ethos.

Once you have a good understanding of the top talent in the space, find what the industry average is for salary using tools like Glassdoor or Payscale. By understanding what fair compensation is, you learn what tier of talent you can obtain for your budget and set expectations accordingly.


Define your Ideal Candidate Profile (ICP)

Now that you’ve done your internal and external research, it’s time to develop your ICP for each role you need to fill. Your ICP should be a summary of your the desired qualifications for your open positions, based on your industry research and organizational needs

Start by outlining the results of your research and sharing them with your hiring managers. This is an essential first step in creating your ICP, so your team can collectively develop your ICP based on the same understanding of the industry and organizational needs.  

As you develop your ICP, set expectations for the following:

  • What level of talent can the organization realistically attract with the level of salary investment provided


  • What are "must-haves" vs. "nice-to-haves" for roles

Then, outline specific requirements of the role  you’re hiring for based on these factors. For example, how many years of experience, what level of education or training, required certifications, etc.

Build a Network 

Now that you know what your ideal candidate looks like for each role, build a network in the spaces that your ideal candidate occupies. For example:

  • 🎓 Alumni Associations and alumni networking platforms like Hivebrite are an easy way to connect with talent from reputable schools and tap into recent grads looking for opportunities.


  • 🧑‍💼 Social Media Industry Groups like LinkedIn Groups, PeopleGrove, and Stack Overflow are a great way to build your employer brand and relationships with talent who are engaged in the industry. You can also use these groups learn more about what problems they're excited about solving.


  • 🤝 Industry events offer some of the same opportunities that online social networks do, but with the added benefit of often more personal connections with talent. Both attending and hosting industry events is a great way to establish yourself as a desirable employer and get a stronger sense of a candidate's soft skills.


  • 🧑‍🤝‍🧑 Your current employees can be one of the best ways to find great candidates. Building an employee referral program gives you a warm entry to a conversation with prospective talent that already has some affiliation with your current company culture. 


  • 💡 PRO TIP: Custom boolean searches are a great way to uncover hidden gems that fit your ICP. Boolean searches are especially powerful in finding professionals that work in allied fields since you likely wouldn’t come in contact with them otherwise. 


Learn why candidates are not actively applying

Before you dig into the recruiting process, understand why passive candidates are not applying for a role (either with your organization specifically or in general, depending on the case).

The reasons why a someone may be a passive candidate include:

  • 🤑 Compensation

  • 😎 Notoriety of current employer

  • 🤐 Non-compete agreement

  • 📈 Job Stability

  • 🫥 Unaware of your organization or opportunity 

  • 🤩 In such high demand, recruiters usually come to them (so they have no need to apply)

  • 😓 Don’t have the time to apply

  • 🧐 Haven’t recognized their skills are transferable to your industry

  • 🥸 Don’t realize their own potential (hello, imposter syndrome!)

Break down barriers to applying

Once you understand why your ideal candidates are not actively applying, work to break down those barriers by:

  • 🤸 Making it easy to apply - Make sure your application process is ADA-compliant. And (for the love of all that is good) don’t be one of those organizations that make people upload their resume and then re-enter it manually in the application fields.


  • 🧑‍🤝‍🧑 Curating familiarity - Proactively reach out to candidates and build a relationship before you have an immediate need for a role.


  • 🗣️ Advocating for passive candidates’ needs in the hiring process (compensation, benefits, opportunity)


  • 🏆 Championing their skill set - Sometimes, all people need is someone believing in them.


  • 🥰 Personalizing communication - take notes on candidates’ personal details, so you can reference them later to build a connection with the candidate. Does the candidate have an orange-striped cat named Tiger that is “literally the cutest thing ever”😻? Make sure you ask about them when you follow up about a new job opportunity.


  • 👷 Building your employer brand - Showcase your company’s value as an employer to prospects. Is it compensation, diversity, exposure, room to grow, mentorship?

⚠️ Disclaimer: Don’t be *that* employer who approaches brand building with a “we’re not a regular company, we’re a cool company” narrative (because no one is buying that). Be sincere, acknowledge applicant concerns, and address them with compassion and transparency.

  • 💲Cultivate wage transparency - At the end of the day, candidates have practical needs—like their compensation. To help candidates feel confident in the compensation package you offer, openly share salaries and get Fair Pay certified

Accelerate talent sourcing with Covey

The ultimate talent sourcing life hack? Using a comprehensive talent sourcing tool like Covey to reduce time-to-close by as much as 400%. We’ve got you covered - from custom augmented sourcing and referral networking to one-click outreach, automated drip campaigns, and talent database building.

Book a demo to see how you can connect everyone in your hiring process to hire better talent faster.

Organizations are usually good at setting goals for growth but often miss the key to unlocking those goals; talent sourcing. That may sound like an oversimplification, but the reality is an organization’s goals are only attainable through the talent it retains. 

Think of talent sourcing as budgeting; the most successful organizations budget for their future financial needs and implement concrete acquisition processes to sustain them. Similarly, building a sustainable talent pipeline to fuel business growth starts with proactively forecasting talent needs and defining a process to source those assets (a.k.a. talent sourcing).

What is talent sourcing?

Talent sourcing is the process of finding passive candidates for a role and converting them into job applicants. Passive candidates are professionals who fit your Ideal Candidate Profile (ICP) but are not actively looking for a new position or have yet to apply with your organization. 

Talent sourcing vs. recruiting

You might think that sourcing sounds a lot like recruiting, but each serves a distinct purpose. There are two major distinctions between  sourcing and recruiting specialists:

  1. 🤷 Passive vs. 🏃Active Candidates
    The biggest difference between sourcing vs. recruiting is that a sourcer focuses on passive talent and recruiters focus on active talent. Passive talent are candidates not yet in your pipeline, while active talent are candidates who are proactively seeking a new role and applying to your organization.


  2. 🥶 Cold vs. 🥰 Warm Outreach
    Sourcing passive talent requires cold outreach tactics to uncover hidden talent and build relationships from scratch. On the other hand, a recruiting strategy maps out how you'll active candidates through the hiring process, from applying to onboarding.

What are the benefits of talent sourcing?

Having a talent sourcing strategy adds depth and breadth to your talent pipeline and reduces the resources needed to gain top-tier talent. Here are a few reasons why a talent sourcing strategy is foundational to talent acquisition.

Access to a larger pool of talent

According to LinkedIn Talent Solutions, “70% of the global workforce is made up of passive talent.” Sourcing gives you access to these passive candidates, increasing your overall talent pool.

More highly qualified candidates

This large pool of passive candidates often includes the most qualified candidates. Because outstanding talent is always in high demand, the best are usually receiving unsolicited job offers on a continual basis. So why would they actively seek a new role when all they have to do is check the latest DM in their InMail on LinkedIn? Because they’re the least likely to ever want or need to actively apply, you must use sourcing to have an opportunity to work with them. 

Lower cost of talent acquisition

It's no secret that the longer it takes to source for a role, the more expensive it is. The average time to hire is between 95-130 days in the tech space, according to OpenView, and LinkedIn reports that the median time-to-hire is 41 days, across industries and professions, even outside the tech space. It's no wonder that the average cost of recruiting a single candidate is $97,500

So, where does talent sourcing come in? Talent sourcing helps reduce the cost-per-hire by:

  • ⏱️Reducing the time-to-hire by curating a vetted list of quality candidates before the need arises 


  • 🎟️ Building relationships with top-tier talent over time so they’re a warm lead when there is a need


  • 🔍Vetting early in the hiring process so you don’t waste time and resources on under-qualified candidates

6 Tactics for effective talent sourcing

Talent sourcing requires intentionality and consistency. After all, you’re going after elite talent who are either uninterested or unaware of your organization. It is up to you to:

  • Identify what your organization needs

  • Research what candidates fit that need

  • Build a relationship with the candidates

  • Discover what their needs are 

  • Persuade them to join your team when the time is right for your company and them

If you’re new to sourcing, this may feel overwhelming. Don’t stress— defining a process to accomplish these tasks will make sourcing manageable, sustainable, and focused.

Create a talent map 

Imagine the process an interior designer would go through to find a rare piece of marble for a home build. They wouldn't just roll up to the local hardware store on the day of installation and hope they'd find what they want. They would draw up their design plan months in advance, so they can take their time sourcing the perfect piece to complete their design. 

Talent sourcing is no different. Before you go too far down the sourcing rabbit hole to build your talent pipeline, you first need to know what’s coming down the pipe. A talent map is a tool organizations use to forecast what their talent needs will be to meet their goals, so they can begin sourcing before there is an immediate need. 

Access to the best talent takes time, so you must plan ahead.

A good place to start mapping your talent needs is to interview department heads, survey cross-functional teams, and analyze production in your organization to find answers to:

  • What attributes or skills each team member has that either help or hinder their contribution to the organization?


  • What gaps do you want or need to fill in the existing team to reach your goals?


  • What do current workloads look like, and what level of capacity do they have to build toward new initiatives?


  • What changes would require additional support in the next five years, and in what areas?


  • Who is up for a promotion?


  • Who is likely to retire?


  • Is there an organizational restructuring that will be happening?


  • Are there new products or service initiatives that will be added?


  • Are there volatile changes in your industry that may require rapid R&D?


  • What type of candidate would complement your current team’s strengths?


  • What hiring trends are you seeing in your Applicant Tracking System (ATS)?

Once you’ve answered these questions, it’s time to map succession planning and future talent needs, so you know what to look for while you source.

Research

You've identified what roles you need to fill based on your talent mapping. Now it's time to figure out what top-tier talent looks like for the positions you need to fill. This phase of the process is about uncovering commonalities among top-tier talent in your industry or the role you’re seeking to fill. 

Scour job boards, professional networking groups, your competitors, and even your internal team to identify the common denominators of top talent. Take detailed notes of your findings as you go in a talent acquisition tool and save professional profiles of interest you find during research to further analyze later.

💡Pro Tip: “Top talent” can mean vastly different things depending on where your organization wants to go, so stay open-minded during this phase of the sourcing process.

One way you can approach this research is by finding your competitor's page(s) on LinkedIn, then toggle to the "people" tab on their profile. Here, you can find the number of employees that share commonalities, such as:

  • Education

  • Area of study

  • Specific skills 

  • Role at the organization

  • Distribution of talent across roles

  • Key job titles

This will give you a general sense of what kind of talent your competitor has across their organization. From there, you can further refine your search by the specific role you are looking to fill (i.e., an engineer) to learn what role-specific skills and education they have (i.e., JavaScript, Python, etc.).

Take your search even deeper by clicking on specific employee profiles. There, you can learn details like how many years of experience they have and a general sense of their ethos.

Once you have a good understanding of the top talent in the space, find what the industry average is for salary using tools like Glassdoor or Payscale. By understanding what fair compensation is, you learn what tier of talent you can obtain for your budget and set expectations accordingly.


Define your Ideal Candidate Profile (ICP)

Now that you’ve done your internal and external research, it’s time to develop your ICP for each role you need to fill. Your ICP should be a summary of your the desired qualifications for your open positions, based on your industry research and organizational needs

Start by outlining the results of your research and sharing them with your hiring managers. This is an essential first step in creating your ICP, so your team can collectively develop your ICP based on the same understanding of the industry and organizational needs.  

As you develop your ICP, set expectations for the following:

  • What level of talent can the organization realistically attract with the level of salary investment provided


  • What are "must-haves" vs. "nice-to-haves" for roles

Then, outline specific requirements of the role  you’re hiring for based on these factors. For example, how many years of experience, what level of education or training, required certifications, etc.

Build a Network 

Now that you know what your ideal candidate looks like for each role, build a network in the spaces that your ideal candidate occupies. For example:

  • 🎓 Alumni Associations and alumni networking platforms like Hivebrite are an easy way to connect with talent from reputable schools and tap into recent grads looking for opportunities.


  • 🧑‍💼 Social Media Industry Groups like LinkedIn Groups, PeopleGrove, and Stack Overflow are a great way to build your employer brand and relationships with talent who are engaged in the industry. You can also use these groups learn more about what problems they're excited about solving.


  • 🤝 Industry events offer some of the same opportunities that online social networks do, but with the added benefit of often more personal connections with talent. Both attending and hosting industry events is a great way to establish yourself as a desirable employer and get a stronger sense of a candidate's soft skills.


  • 🧑‍🤝‍🧑 Your current employees can be one of the best ways to find great candidates. Building an employee referral program gives you a warm entry to a conversation with prospective talent that already has some affiliation with your current company culture. 


  • 💡 PRO TIP: Custom boolean searches are a great way to uncover hidden gems that fit your ICP. Boolean searches are especially powerful in finding professionals that work in allied fields since you likely wouldn’t come in contact with them otherwise. 


Learn why candidates are not actively applying

Before you dig into the recruiting process, understand why passive candidates are not applying for a role (either with your organization specifically or in general, depending on the case).

The reasons why a someone may be a passive candidate include:

  • 🤑 Compensation

  • 😎 Notoriety of current employer

  • 🤐 Non-compete agreement

  • 📈 Job Stability

  • 🫥 Unaware of your organization or opportunity 

  • 🤩 In such high demand, recruiters usually come to them (so they have no need to apply)

  • 😓 Don’t have the time to apply

  • 🧐 Haven’t recognized their skills are transferable to your industry

  • 🥸 Don’t realize their own potential (hello, imposter syndrome!)

Break down barriers to applying

Once you understand why your ideal candidates are not actively applying, work to break down those barriers by:

  • 🤸 Making it easy to apply - Make sure your application process is ADA-compliant. And (for the love of all that is good) don’t be one of those organizations that make people upload their resume and then re-enter it manually in the application fields.


  • 🧑‍🤝‍🧑 Curating familiarity - Proactively reach out to candidates and build a relationship before you have an immediate need for a role.


  • 🗣️ Advocating for passive candidates’ needs in the hiring process (compensation, benefits, opportunity)


  • 🏆 Championing their skill set - Sometimes, all people need is someone believing in them.


  • 🥰 Personalizing communication - take notes on candidates’ personal details, so you can reference them later to build a connection with the candidate. Does the candidate have an orange-striped cat named Tiger that is “literally the cutest thing ever”😻? Make sure you ask about them when you follow up about a new job opportunity.


  • 👷 Building your employer brand - Showcase your company’s value as an employer to prospects. Is it compensation, diversity, exposure, room to grow, mentorship?

⚠️ Disclaimer: Don’t be *that* employer who approaches brand building with a “we’re not a regular company, we’re a cool company” narrative (because no one is buying that). Be sincere, acknowledge applicant concerns, and address them with compassion and transparency.

  • 💲Cultivate wage transparency - At the end of the day, candidates have practical needs—like their compensation. To help candidates feel confident in the compensation package you offer, openly share salaries and get Fair Pay certified

Accelerate talent sourcing with Covey

The ultimate talent sourcing life hack? Using a comprehensive talent sourcing tool like Covey to reduce time-to-close by as much as 400%. We’ve got you covered - from custom augmented sourcing and referral networking to one-click outreach, automated drip campaigns, and talent database building.

Book a demo to see how you can connect everyone in your hiring process to hire better talent faster.

Organizations are usually good at setting goals for growth but often miss the key to unlocking those goals; talent sourcing. That may sound like an oversimplification, but the reality is an organization’s goals are only attainable through the talent it retains. 

Think of talent sourcing as budgeting; the most successful organizations budget for their future financial needs and implement concrete acquisition processes to sustain them. Similarly, building a sustainable talent pipeline to fuel business growth starts with proactively forecasting talent needs and defining a process to source those assets (a.k.a. talent sourcing).

What is talent sourcing?

Talent sourcing is the process of finding passive candidates for a role and converting them into job applicants. Passive candidates are professionals who fit your Ideal Candidate Profile (ICP) but are not actively looking for a new position or have yet to apply with your organization. 

Talent sourcing vs. recruiting

You might think that sourcing sounds a lot like recruiting, but each serves a distinct purpose. There are two major distinctions between  sourcing and recruiting specialists:

  1. 🤷 Passive vs. 🏃Active Candidates
    The biggest difference between sourcing vs. recruiting is that a sourcer focuses on passive talent and recruiters focus on active talent. Passive talent are candidates not yet in your pipeline, while active talent are candidates who are proactively seeking a new role and applying to your organization.


  2. 🥶 Cold vs. 🥰 Warm Outreach
    Sourcing passive talent requires cold outreach tactics to uncover hidden talent and build relationships from scratch. On the other hand, a recruiting strategy maps out how you'll active candidates through the hiring process, from applying to onboarding.

What are the benefits of talent sourcing?

Having a talent sourcing strategy adds depth and breadth to your talent pipeline and reduces the resources needed to gain top-tier talent. Here are a few reasons why a talent sourcing strategy is foundational to talent acquisition.

Access to a larger pool of talent

According to LinkedIn Talent Solutions, “70% of the global workforce is made up of passive talent.” Sourcing gives you access to these passive candidates, increasing your overall talent pool.

More highly qualified candidates

This large pool of passive candidates often includes the most qualified candidates. Because outstanding talent is always in high demand, the best are usually receiving unsolicited job offers on a continual basis. So why would they actively seek a new role when all they have to do is check the latest DM in their InMail on LinkedIn? Because they’re the least likely to ever want or need to actively apply, you must use sourcing to have an opportunity to work with them. 

Lower cost of talent acquisition

It's no secret that the longer it takes to source for a role, the more expensive it is. The average time to hire is between 95-130 days in the tech space, according to OpenView, and LinkedIn reports that the median time-to-hire is 41 days, across industries and professions, even outside the tech space. It's no wonder that the average cost of recruiting a single candidate is $97,500

So, where does talent sourcing come in? Talent sourcing helps reduce the cost-per-hire by:

  • ⏱️Reducing the time-to-hire by curating a vetted list of quality candidates before the need arises 


  • 🎟️ Building relationships with top-tier talent over time so they’re a warm lead when there is a need


  • 🔍Vetting early in the hiring process so you don’t waste time and resources on under-qualified candidates

6 Tactics for effective talent sourcing

Talent sourcing requires intentionality and consistency. After all, you’re going after elite talent who are either uninterested or unaware of your organization. It is up to you to:

  • Identify what your organization needs

  • Research what candidates fit that need

  • Build a relationship with the candidates

  • Discover what their needs are 

  • Persuade them to join your team when the time is right for your company and them

If you’re new to sourcing, this may feel overwhelming. Don’t stress— defining a process to accomplish these tasks will make sourcing manageable, sustainable, and focused.

Create a talent map 

Imagine the process an interior designer would go through to find a rare piece of marble for a home build. They wouldn't just roll up to the local hardware store on the day of installation and hope they'd find what they want. They would draw up their design plan months in advance, so they can take their time sourcing the perfect piece to complete their design. 

Talent sourcing is no different. Before you go too far down the sourcing rabbit hole to build your talent pipeline, you first need to know what’s coming down the pipe. A talent map is a tool organizations use to forecast what their talent needs will be to meet their goals, so they can begin sourcing before there is an immediate need. 

Access to the best talent takes time, so you must plan ahead.

A good place to start mapping your talent needs is to interview department heads, survey cross-functional teams, and analyze production in your organization to find answers to:

  • What attributes or skills each team member has that either help or hinder their contribution to the organization?


  • What gaps do you want or need to fill in the existing team to reach your goals?


  • What do current workloads look like, and what level of capacity do they have to build toward new initiatives?


  • What changes would require additional support in the next five years, and in what areas?


  • Who is up for a promotion?


  • Who is likely to retire?


  • Is there an organizational restructuring that will be happening?


  • Are there new products or service initiatives that will be added?


  • Are there volatile changes in your industry that may require rapid R&D?


  • What type of candidate would complement your current team’s strengths?


  • What hiring trends are you seeing in your Applicant Tracking System (ATS)?

Once you’ve answered these questions, it’s time to map succession planning and future talent needs, so you know what to look for while you source.

Research

You've identified what roles you need to fill based on your talent mapping. Now it's time to figure out what top-tier talent looks like for the positions you need to fill. This phase of the process is about uncovering commonalities among top-tier talent in your industry or the role you’re seeking to fill. 

Scour job boards, professional networking groups, your competitors, and even your internal team to identify the common denominators of top talent. Take detailed notes of your findings as you go in a talent acquisition tool and save professional profiles of interest you find during research to further analyze later.

💡Pro Tip: “Top talent” can mean vastly different things depending on where your organization wants to go, so stay open-minded during this phase of the sourcing process.

One way you can approach this research is by finding your competitor's page(s) on LinkedIn, then toggle to the "people" tab on their profile. Here, you can find the number of employees that share commonalities, such as:

  • Education

  • Area of study

  • Specific skills 

  • Role at the organization

  • Distribution of talent across roles

  • Key job titles

This will give you a general sense of what kind of talent your competitor has across their organization. From there, you can further refine your search by the specific role you are looking to fill (i.e., an engineer) to learn what role-specific skills and education they have (i.e., JavaScript, Python, etc.).

Take your search even deeper by clicking on specific employee profiles. There, you can learn details like how many years of experience they have and a general sense of their ethos.

Once you have a good understanding of the top talent in the space, find what the industry average is for salary using tools like Glassdoor or Payscale. By understanding what fair compensation is, you learn what tier of talent you can obtain for your budget and set expectations accordingly.


Define your Ideal Candidate Profile (ICP)

Now that you’ve done your internal and external research, it’s time to develop your ICP for each role you need to fill. Your ICP should be a summary of your the desired qualifications for your open positions, based on your industry research and organizational needs

Start by outlining the results of your research and sharing them with your hiring managers. This is an essential first step in creating your ICP, so your team can collectively develop your ICP based on the same understanding of the industry and organizational needs.  

As you develop your ICP, set expectations for the following:

  • What level of talent can the organization realistically attract with the level of salary investment provided


  • What are "must-haves" vs. "nice-to-haves" for roles

Then, outline specific requirements of the role  you’re hiring for based on these factors. For example, how many years of experience, what level of education or training, required certifications, etc.

Build a Network 

Now that you know what your ideal candidate looks like for each role, build a network in the spaces that your ideal candidate occupies. For example:

  • 🎓 Alumni Associations and alumni networking platforms like Hivebrite are an easy way to connect with talent from reputable schools and tap into recent grads looking for opportunities.


  • 🧑‍💼 Social Media Industry Groups like LinkedIn Groups, PeopleGrove, and Stack Overflow are a great way to build your employer brand and relationships with talent who are engaged in the industry. You can also use these groups learn more about what problems they're excited about solving.


  • 🤝 Industry events offer some of the same opportunities that online social networks do, but with the added benefit of often more personal connections with talent. Both attending and hosting industry events is a great way to establish yourself as a desirable employer and get a stronger sense of a candidate's soft skills.


  • 🧑‍🤝‍🧑 Your current employees can be one of the best ways to find great candidates. Building an employee referral program gives you a warm entry to a conversation with prospective talent that already has some affiliation with your current company culture. 


  • 💡 PRO TIP: Custom boolean searches are a great way to uncover hidden gems that fit your ICP. Boolean searches are especially powerful in finding professionals that work in allied fields since you likely wouldn’t come in contact with them otherwise. 


Learn why candidates are not actively applying

Before you dig into the recruiting process, understand why passive candidates are not applying for a role (either with your organization specifically or in general, depending on the case).

The reasons why a someone may be a passive candidate include:

  • 🤑 Compensation

  • 😎 Notoriety of current employer

  • 🤐 Non-compete agreement

  • 📈 Job Stability

  • 🫥 Unaware of your organization or opportunity 

  • 🤩 In such high demand, recruiters usually come to them (so they have no need to apply)

  • 😓 Don’t have the time to apply

  • 🧐 Haven’t recognized their skills are transferable to your industry

  • 🥸 Don’t realize their own potential (hello, imposter syndrome!)

Break down barriers to applying

Once you understand why your ideal candidates are not actively applying, work to break down those barriers by:

  • 🤸 Making it easy to apply - Make sure your application process is ADA-compliant. And (for the love of all that is good) don’t be one of those organizations that make people upload their resume and then re-enter it manually in the application fields.


  • 🧑‍🤝‍🧑 Curating familiarity - Proactively reach out to candidates and build a relationship before you have an immediate need for a role.


  • 🗣️ Advocating for passive candidates’ needs in the hiring process (compensation, benefits, opportunity)


  • 🏆 Championing their skill set - Sometimes, all people need is someone believing in them.


  • 🥰 Personalizing communication - take notes on candidates’ personal details, so you can reference them later to build a connection with the candidate. Does the candidate have an orange-striped cat named Tiger that is “literally the cutest thing ever”😻? Make sure you ask about them when you follow up about a new job opportunity.


  • 👷 Building your employer brand - Showcase your company’s value as an employer to prospects. Is it compensation, diversity, exposure, room to grow, mentorship?

⚠️ Disclaimer: Don’t be *that* employer who approaches brand building with a “we’re not a regular company, we’re a cool company” narrative (because no one is buying that). Be sincere, acknowledge applicant concerns, and address them with compassion and transparency.

  • 💲Cultivate wage transparency - At the end of the day, candidates have practical needs—like their compensation. To help candidates feel confident in the compensation package you offer, openly share salaries and get Fair Pay certified

Accelerate talent sourcing with Covey

The ultimate talent sourcing life hack? Using a comprehensive talent sourcing tool like Covey to reduce time-to-close by as much as 400%. We’ve got you covered - from custom augmented sourcing and referral networking to one-click outreach, automated drip campaigns, and talent database building.

Book a demo to see how you can connect everyone in your hiring process to hire better talent faster.