When I host Q&A sessions with Recruiters on the topic of Candidate Sourcing, there are invariably three key issues that people want me to address. Broadly speaking, these are: 1) How to successfully plan a candidate sourcing project and determine the resources required to deliver this; 2) How to conduct a candidate search as effectively as possible in terms of the search criteria you use; and last but not least, 3) What are the best and latest tools recruiters should be using to effectively overcome their candidate sourcing challenges.

Successfully planning a candidate sourcing project

Successfully planning a candidate sourcing project often comes down to having realistic expectations about both the time and resource needed to fulfil the assignment. No two assignments are the same and there are major differences in the difficulty of completing candidate sourcing projects on time and to budget. Correctly quantifying these parameters from the outset ensures that you leave yourself with the time window and the resources needed to deliver results. Unfortunately, it is all too often the case that internal recruiters feel pressured to get more and more done in less time. This leaves them feeling pushed into devoting less time to the task than is realistically needed to produce a successful outcome. In my experience, this is one of the major causes of candidate sourcing shortfalls.

So start by realistically assessing your project. Some projects are targeting the types of candidates that can be reached in significant numbers via InMails and emails alone. For these types of assignments, a shorter time window – and a reliance on online approaches – will often produce the desired results. However, many other projects involve searching for candidates who have a rare skillset. This means that we will have to search harder to find enough of them – and will also have to go the extra mile when trying to woo them. Putting in calls to initiate a conversation increases results. Being persistent increases results. Both take additional time – but these are the types of things you have to do to maximise your shortlist of candidates, which becomes increasingly important the harder the candidate brief is to fill.

Using the right search criteria

The challenges don’t stop there though. Recruiters frequently ask me for input on the criteria they should use when actually undertaking their searches. This obviously involves understanding both the platform on which you’re searching and the limitations of searching on that particular site. In terms of the big picture, though, the single biggest mistake I see recruiters making is narrowing down their search too much. We must recognise that many of our target hires have not done a great job of keyword optimising their profiles – or indeed have cut down the information on their profiles to make it harder for recruiters to find them! Consequently, the more detailed the searches we undertake, the more valid shortlist candidates we exclude from our search results and therefore from consideration for the role.

Indeed there are two key reasons to avoid being too laser-targeted when conducting your searches. Firstly, if all recruiters target their searches in a very narrow manner, everyone ends up fighting over the exact same small pool of candidates. That’s not good news for maximising the likelihood of candidates being receptive to your advances, or indeed to you ultimately hiring them. But also for the purposes of generating the strongest possible shortlist, we need to be looking at a broader set of candidates and then using our own judgement and further research to determine whether those candidates are right for the role or not. Try using broader search criteria on your next candidate sourcing engagement and you will undoubtedly find you increase the time needed to deliver your ultimate shortlist, but you will also produce a shortlist that is far more comprehensive and therefore likely to produce a successful outcome.

Uncovering the best candidate sourcing tools

Last but not least, there is the small matter of the latest tools and techniques for undertaking candidate sourcing projects. This is a fast-moving area, with new tools – and new functionality for existing sites – being introduced all the time. Some services unfortunately close down too, which means it’s always important to have a variety of tools at your disposal. Essentially, no-one wants to be trying to deliver on assignments with technology that is inferior to their peers.

We are often asked for recommendations of tools to use – and insights into the latest things recruiters should be trying out – when we run our Q&A sessions. There are so many tools out there, many of which are sector specific, so it’s not a topic we can do justice to here. However, two key tools in your arsenal must be a tool for identifying candidates’ email addresses and a tool for pulling together information about them from multiple sources.

Once you’ve identified a candidate on LinkedIn or elsewhere, don’t leave yourself dependent on InMails being read. Instead, try uncovering what that candidate’s email is with a tool like ContactOut. These browser extensions have come on a long way in the last years. ContactOut claims to have more than 600 million emails in their database, with each being triple verified and the service having an accuracy rate of 97%. Given we all know that emails are more likely to be read than InMails – and likely to be responded to much faster – this is a surefire way of increasing your candidate sourcing results.

Alongside an email research tool, you also want one or more extensions to help you to quickly learn more about a candidate you’ve found. Often, you’ll only get a complete picture of a candidate when you combine information from several different profiles. For this, try a tool like Riffle. Find any candidate you’re interested in on Twitter – and up will pop information such as their LinkedIn profile page, Facebook page, Klout score and most popular topics. This is helpful both in streamlining the time you need to research candidates and in increasing the richness of information on which you base your shortlisting decisions.

In my experience, though, it is usually the first two topics we have covered in this blog that produce the most significant improvements in candidate sourcing results. Knowing about the latest tools and extensions only gives you a short-term advantage over others in the market, whereas knowing how to effectively plan and execute a candidate search is an advantage that you will have for life. My recommendation is therefore always to focus on getting these other elements right, rather than fixating on whether you know about the very latest tools out there. Hope this helps – and look forward to fielding your questions if you’re able to attend a Q&A session in the coming weeks.