Sourcing in Recruitment

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Sourcing in Recruitment & HR: Definition and Complete Guide

Marko Pavicevic

Marko Pavicevic

In today’s competitive job market, finding the right talent for your organization can be a challenging task. That’s where sourcing comes in.

Sourcing plays a crucial role in recruitment and HR by identifying and attracting top candidates for open positions.

This article will provide a comprehensive guide to sourcing, covering its definition, process, strategies, tools, skills, challenges, and future trends.

Understanding Sourcing

What is sourcing?

Sourcing refers to the process of proactively identifying, attracting, and engaging potential candidates for employment opportunities.

It involves searching for qualified individuals who match specific job requirements and encouraging them to apply or consider joining an organization.

Sourcing is an essential component of the recruitment process as it focuses on identifying talent before they actively seek new opportunities.

It helps organizations build a pipeline of potential candidates, reducing the time and effort required to fill vacancies.

The Process of Sourcing

The process of sourcing involves several key steps to ensure effective candidate identification and engagement.

  1. Identifying sourcing needs: The first step is to determine the specific talent requirements of the organization. This includes understanding the job roles, skills, and qualifications needed for each position.
  2. Defining target candidate profiles: Once the sourcing needs are identified, it is essential to create detailed candidate profiles outlining the desired qualifications, experience, and attributes. This helps in focusing the sourcing efforts on finding candidates who closely match the requirements.
  3. Utilizing different sourcing channels: Sourcing can be conducted through various channels, including online job boards, social media platforms, professional networking sites, and industry-specific forums. Each channel offers unique opportunities to connect with potential candidates.
  4. Leveraging technology in sourcing: Technology plays a crucial role in sourcing. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software can streamline the sourcing process, automate candidate sourcing and engagement, and track the progress of potential candidates.

Effective Sourcing Strategies

Developing a solid sourcing strategy is essential for successful talent acquisition. Here are some key strategies to consider:

  1. Developing a sourcing strategy: A well-defined sourcing strategy aligns with the organization’s goals and objectives. It outlines the target talent pool, sourcing channels, and the approach to engage with potential candidates.
  2. Proactive vs. reactive sourcing: Proactive sourcing involves actively seeking out potential candidates even when there are no immediate job openings. This approach helps organizations build a talent pipeline and ensures a constant pool of qualified candidates. Reactive sourcing, on the other hand, focuses on filling immediate vacancies.
  3. Best practices for sourcing candidates: Effective sourcing involves using best practices such as personalizing outreach messages, leveraging employee referrals, utilizing data-driven sourcing techniques, and maintaining relationships with passive candidates.
  4. Building and maintaining talent pipelines: A talent pipeline consists of a pool of potential candidates who have expressed interest in joining the organization. Building and nurturing these relationships over time can provide a valuable resource when new positions become available.

Check out our article on killer sourcing strategies to help you find top talent.

Tools and Techniques for Sourcing

Sourcing professionals have a wide range of tools and techniques at their disposal to identify and engage with potential candidates. Some common tools and techniques include:

  1. Online job boards and career websites: Job boards such as LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor are popular platforms for advertising job openings and sourcing candidates.
  2. Social media platforms for sourcing: Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram offer opportunities to reach a vast audience and engage with potential candidates. LinkedIn, in particular, is a powerful tool for sourcing professionals.
  3. Professional networking sites and forums: Platforms like LinkedIn Groups and industry-specific forums enable sourcers to connect with professionals in specific fields and communities.
  4. Boolean search operators and advanced search techniques: Using Boolean search operators, sourcers can create complex search queries to refine their candidate searches. Advanced search techniques involve using filters, keywords, and specific parameters to narrow down the candidate pool.

Sourcing in HR

In addition to external sourcing for job openings, sourcing also plays a crucial role within HR departments for various internal purposes:

  1. Sourcing for internal talent needs: Internal sourcing focuses on identifying and developing existing employees for new opportunities within the organization. It involves assessing current employees’ skills, qualifications, and aspirations to match them with internal job openings.
  2. Talent mapping and succession planning: HR teams use sourcing techniques to map talent within the organization, identifying potential future leaders and creating succession plans. This ensures a smooth transition when key positions become vacant.
  3. Engaging passive candidates: Passive candidates are individuals who are currently employed but may be open to new opportunities. Engaging and attracting these candidates requires a targeted approach, highlighting the benefits of joining the organization.
  4. Sourcing metrics and measurement: HR teams measure the effectiveness of their sourcing efforts using metrics such as time-to-fill, quality of candidates, and cost per hire. These measurements help optimize the sourcing process and track the return on investment (ROI).

Key Skills and Competencies for Sourcers

Sourcers require a unique set of skills and competencies to excel in their roles:

  1. Research and analytical skills: Sourcers must be adept at conducting thorough research, utilizing various tools and techniques to identify potential candidates and gather relevant information.
  2. Communication and relationship-building skills: Effective communication is essential in sourcing. Sourcers need to engage with potential candidates, build relationships, and effectively communicate the organization’s value proposition.
  3. Knowledge of industry trends and talent markets: Sourcers should stay updated on industry trends, talent market dynamics, and emerging sourcing techniques to remain competitive and identify top talent.
  4. Familiarity with recruitment technology and tools: Sourcers must be proficient in using applicant tracking systems, CRM software, social media platforms, and other technology tools to streamline their sourcing efforts.

Sourcing Challenges and Solutions

Sourcing professionals often face challenges that can hinder their effectiveness. Here are some common challenges and possible solutions:

  1. Overcoming sourcing difficulties: Sourcing can be challenging, especially in competitive job markets or niche industries. Sourcers need to employ creative sourcing techniques and explore untapped talent pools.
  2. Dealing with talent shortage: Talent shortages in certain industries or specialized roles can make sourcing more challenging. Building strong employer brands, offering competitive compensation packages, and providing growth opportunities can help attract top talent.
  3. Enhancing diversity and inclusion in sourcing: Sourcing should focus on promoting diversity and inclusion. This can be achieved by targeting diverse talent pools, using inclusive language in job postings, and partnering with organizations that support underrepresented groups.
  4. Continuous improvement in sourcing practices: Sourcing is an ever-evolving field, and sourcers should continuously update their skills, adopt new techniques, and embrace emerging technologies to stay ahead.

Ethics and legal compliance are essential aspects of sourcing. Sourcers should adhere to the following considerations:

  1. Privacy and data protection: Sourcers must handle candidate data responsibly, ensuring compliance with relevant privacy and data protection laws.
  2. Fair hiring practices: Sourcing professionals should promote fairness and equal opportunities throughout the sourcing process, avoiding any form of discrimination.
  3. Compliance with relevant laws and regulations: Sourcers need to stay updated on employment laws and regulations governing the recruitment and hiring process, ensuring compliance in their sourcing activities.
  4. Ethical sourcing approaches: Ethical sourcing involves maintaining transparency, honesty, and integrity throughout the candidate engagement process.

Read more about GDPR compliance in our other article.

Training and Development for Sourcers

Continuous learning and development are crucial for sourcers to enhance their skills and stay updated with industry trends. Some training opportunities include:

  1. Professional development opportunities: Sourcers can attend industry conferences, webinars, workshops, and seminars to expand their knowledge and network with other sourcing professionals.
  2. Training programs for sourcers: Many organizations offer internal training programs or certifications specifically designed for sourcers to develop their skills and stay updated on sourcing best practices.
  3. Continuous learning in sourcing: Sourcers should actively seek out resources such as books, online courses, podcasts, and blogs to keep themselves informed about the latest trends and techniques in sourcing.

Measuring Sourcing Success

To assess the effectiveness of sourcing efforts, key performance indicators (KPIs) can be utilized. These may include:

  1. Time-to-fill: The average time taken to fill a position from the initial sourcing stage to the candidate’s acceptance.
  2. Quality of candidates: The number and percentage of candidates sourced who meet the desired qualifications and skills.
  3. Cost per hire: The total cost incurred in the sourcing process per successful hire, including advertising expenses, sourcing tools, and manpower.
  4. Retention rate: The percentage of candidates sourced who remain with the organization after a specified period.

By tracking these metrics, organizations can evaluate the efficiency of their sourcing strategies and make data-driven decisions to optimize the process.

Collaboration between Sourcing and Hiring Teams

Effective collaboration between the sourcing and hiring teams is essential for successful recruitment outcomes. Key elements of collaboration include:

  1. Alignment of sourcing and hiring goals: Sourcing and hiring teams should have a shared understanding of the organization’s talent requirements and recruitment objectives.
  2. Effective communication and feedback: Regular communication between sourcing and hiring teams ensures a smooth flow of information and feedback throughout the recruitment process.
  3. Collaborative recruitment strategies: Sourcing professionals and hiring managers should work together to develop effective recruitment strategies, including sourcing channels, candidate evaluation methods, and interview processes.

Sourcing practices continue to evolve with advancements in technology and changing candidate expectations. Some emerging trends in sourcing include:

  1. AI and automation in sourcing: Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation tools can streamline candidate sourcing by automating repetitive tasks, improving candidate matching, and enhancing the efficiency of the sourcing process.
  2. Predictive analytics for talent sourcing: Predictive analytics can help sourcers anticipate future talent needs, identify the most effective sourcing channels, and predict candidate success within the organization.
  3. Candidate relationship management (CRM) systems: CRM systems specifically designed for talent acquisition enable sourcers to build and nurture relationships with potential candidates, ensuring a positive candidate experience.
  4. Evolving role of sourcing professionals: As technology continues to shape the recruitment landscape, sourcers are expected to evolve into strategic talent advisors, leveraging data and insights to drive recruitment decisions and support organizational growth.


Sourcing plays a vital role in recruitment and HR by identifying and attracting top talent to organizations. By understanding the sourcing process, utilizing effective strategies and tools, and staying updated on emerging trends, sourcers can contribute to successful talent acquisition outcomes.

Ethical considerations, collaboration with hiring teams, and continuous learning are also crucial elements of effective sourcing practices.

As the sourcing field evolves, embracing new technologies and adopting a proactive approach will be key to staying ahead in talent acquisition.

Interested in boosting your talent acquisition efforts and staying ahead in sourcing? Give us a call!


  1. What is sourcing in recruitment and HR? Sourcing in recruitment and HR refers to the process of proactively identifying, attracting, and engaging potential candidates for employment opportunities.
  2. Why is sourcing important in recruitment? Sourcing is important in recruitment as it helps organizations build a pipeline of potential candidates, reduces time-to-fill vacancies, and ensures access to qualified talent.
  3. What are some effective sourcing strategies? Effective sourcing strategies include developing a sourcing plan, proactive candidate sourcing, utilizing multiple sourcing channels, and building talent pipelines.
  4. What skills are required for successful sourcing professionals? Successful sourcers require research and analytical skills, communication and relationship-building abilities, knowledge of industry trends, and familiarity with recruitment technology.
  5. How can organizations measure sourcing success? Sourcing success can be measured through metrics such as time-to-fill, quality of candidates, cost per hire, and retention rate.

Marko Pavicevic

Marko Pavicevic

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