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Everything you need to know about candidate sourcing

Table of contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. What is candidate sourcing?
  3. How does candidate sourcing differentiate from recruitment?
  4. What are the benefits of candidate sourcing?
    1. Reach out to passive candidates
    2. Improve the quality of your hires
    3. Spend less time and resources on hiring with candidate pipelines
    4. Increase the diversity of your hires
  5. How to source candidates - 6 different ways
    1. Use online platforms aside from LinkedIn
    2. Join offline events
    3. Reconnect with old candidates from your ATS
    4. Create an employer branding strategy
    5. Utilize boolean search strings
    6. Benefit from smart tools



With the current war for talent, every recruiter may have to source candidates at some point. A well-executed sourcing strategy can help you find the best talent even before having to fill in an open position.

But what goes into the search for relevant candidates?

In this blog post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about candidate sourcing: what it is, why it's important to actively search for candidates, and how you can identify relevant talent outside LinkedIn.


What is candidate sourcing?

Candidate sourcing, also known as candidate search, is the active process of searching for potential relevant candidates for current and future positions.

This is done by identifying passive and active candidates with experience and skills that match your company's requirements through various sourcing methods.

Only around 30% of all candidates are actively looking for a job. That means 70% of the job market consists of passive candidates who aren't necessarily looking to change careers. However, given the right opportunity, roughly 90% of the passive candidates are open to learning more about the role.


How does candidate sourcing differentiate from recruitment?

Candidate sourcing refers to the initial stage of recruitment. It involves identifying and reaching out to candidates which you have pre-screened and deemed relevant for a role.

After that, it is time to move on to the recruitment process, which entails assessing the candidate's experience and how well they fit with your organisation. You can do this through various methods, such as screening questions and videos, in-person or online interviews, and other necessary tests and case studies.

In most larger enterprises, the responsibility of sourcing candidates falls on a talent sourcer, a head hunter, or a recruiter with a focus on candidate search. However, in smaller companies, the recruiters and/or HR take on the task as part of the overall employment process.


What are the benefits of candidate sourcing?

1. Reach out to passive candidates

As passive candidates predominate the job market, you can already source from a larger pool of experienced talent, meaning that you don't need to reduce your hiring process to active applicants only.

Moreover, you can expand your hiring efforts amongst passive candidates who may not be familiar with your company or the open positions.

2. Improve the quality of your hires

By actively searching through candidate profiles, you’ll get a better understanding of whether your company’s requirements are attainable, which contributes to better quality hires.

Sourcing candidates ahead of time will make the recruitment process more efficient. You will have a general idea of which candidates are a good match for the role, saving time in the long run.

3. Spend less time and resources on hiring with candidate pipelines

Thanks to candidate sourcing, you've already built up a pipeline of relevant candidates before the application process has even started.

By building a talent pipeline, you position your company to source the best people as needs arise, saving time and money by not starting from scratch or relying on last-minute hiring.

Creating a talent pipeline is also an effective way to increase the number of applicants you receive for job postings. It can also help you identify top talent who might not have applied to your organisation previously.

4. Increase the diversity of your hires

There is nothing wrong with following traditional hiring methods and using popular platforms to find potential candidates. They are popular for a reason. However, if your company's objective is to foster diversity in the workplace, you won't ultimately gain much from using the same methods.

Candidate sourcing focuses on identifying the relevant experience and skill set needed to succeed in a role, which increases people's chances of being selected for their achievements rather than just their network.


How to source candidates - 6 different ways

1. Use online platforms aside from LinkedIn

One of the most common ways of searching for relevant candidates is through social media, with LinkedIn being the top solution for both candidates and recruiters. However, when conducting interviews with recruiters in Sweden, many raised an overall concern surrounding the LinkedIn candidate monopoly. "We depend on LinkedIn" and "We are in its' clutches" were some of the recruiters' observations when asked about the social network.

Although LinkedIn is a reliable source for many recruiters, some would like to explore other possible alternatives.

To combat the war for talent, many have tried new ways of searching for candidates:

  • they've used Google as a candidate search engine;
  • for developer roles, they've switched to platforms candidates are using, such as GitHub and StackOverFlow;
  • for design roles, they've reached out to platforms like Dribble and Behance;
  • and they've even used Twitter, Instagram, Facebook groups, and forums like Reddit to promote their job ads and find new candidates.

2. Join offline events

Job fairs and in-person events are still fantastic ways to network with potential employees, engage with them, and collect a variety of applications and portfolios. You can already build strong relationships with potential talent, learn more about their skills and experiences right away, and promote open positions.

Because these events typically have a more relaxed setting, you can easily conduct nurturing conversations with candidates and find out more about their interests and values, while also demonstrating how your company's culture aligns with their objectives.

After the event, it will be easier to get in touch with the candidates you consider relevant for a position. They are more inclined to respond now that you have already established a relationship with them.

3. Reconnect with old candidates from your ATS

Before reaching out to new candidates, take a moment to review previous applications. A candidate's resume can still be relevant for future openings even if they weren't hired for a particular position in the past.

Reconnecting with old candidates gives you a great advantage in the market. Research shows that less than half of employers reengage refused prospects, despite the fact that nearly all businesses believe re-engaging previous candidates can improve their employer brand and talent community. 

Make sure you write a comment on why a candidate didn't go further in the recruitment process. In some cases, the applicant may have found another opportunity. In other cases, you have decided to go with a candidate that simply fits the role better.

Reconnecting with previous job applicants shows that you nurture the relationship you previously created and encourage them to continue showing interest in your company.

Before getting in touch with previous talent, make sure that every step of the recruitment process was a positive experience for them. Candidates who didn't receive a job offer are 80% most likely to apply again if they had a positive experience during the recruitment process.

4. Create an employer branding strategy

Employer branding is an essential step in the hiring process, even though it isn't a direct sourcing technique. Instead of always identifying and reaching out to candidates, make them want to apply to your company through employer branding.

Lever reports that 92% of candidates said they would consider quitting their current position if a company with an excellent corporate reputation offered them another role.

Showcase what it's like working at your company, encourage your co-workers to post about their work life, and share behind-the-scenes and other content that gives a backstory on your organisation.

Make sure that your content emphasizes the values of the company and the benefits candidates would get if they joined your team. It's important to highlight their interests rather than just those of your business.

If you don't have an employer branding strategy or are unsure where to start, you can work with the marketing department or get help from an external firm to develop a plan.

5. Utilise boolean search strings

Sourcing candidates means searching,  identifying and reaching out to candidates relevant to the open position you are hiring for. But how do you know what to look for in a candidate?

Some recruiters identify several key terms related to the job title and skills. Then, they usually insert these keywords in various search engines and evaluate the results. Others identify these key terms and create boolean search strings to use in advanced searches on social media, online platforms, or search engines.

A boolean search string is a search logic that enables your results to be more precise. With boolean search strings, you can make your search process more efficient. If you want to learn more about boolean search strings, we have prepared an article to help you get started.

Boolean search strings help you expand your searches outside one platform and increase the chances of finding relevant candidates. You can use them directly on search engines such as Google or Bing, in the advanced search function on LinkedIn or Twitter, or directly in your ATS, as long as it supports boolean search strings.

6. Benefit from smart tools

In today's market, a job title has more than one related term. A Key Account Manager can also be a Sales Manager or Business Development Manager. Although the responsibilities may slightly differ, the main role focuses on the same requirements. Moreover, you can even write a job title in different ways. Is it a "backend developer", "back-end developer", or "back end developer"? We don't know! And neither do the advanced searches.

A recruiter can't know all the possible synonyms for a job title. It can also be challenging to determine all the qualifications needed for the position. If you wrote a term differently than the candidate did in their profile, it is possible to miss some qualified prospects.

To make sure you don’t miss relevant talent, you can use a smart candidate search tool like Layke Search. We developed Layke Search to bridge the communication between recruiters and candidates.

Start by filling in the role(s) and/or the skill(s) you are looking for, and Layke automatically identifies relevant terms and synonyms. You can also create a boolean search string to make your searches more accurate and make sure that no qualified candidate is overlooked.



Candidate sourcing is the process of actively finding qualified candidates for a current or future role.

There are several methods you can use to conduct a successful candidate search process. You can:

  • Use online platforms to easily identify relevant talent.
  • Join offline events to meet and engage with new prospects.
  • Reconnect with old applicants from your ATS.
  • Create an employer strategy and allow people to find you.
  • Use automation and search for talent through boolean search strings and smart tools.

As a recruiter, you can benefit from candidate sourcing in various ways. Some of the advantages we named in this article are:

  • Reaching out to passive candidates, which consist of roughly 70% of the whole market.
  • Improving the quality of your hires by learning about their roles and responsibilities.
  • Spending less time and resources on hiring by creating candidate pipelines.
  • Increasing the diversity of your hires by focusing on skills rather than personal attributes.