Talent Sourcing Process: Overview and the 6 Talent Sourcing Methods

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A Payscale study reveals that 88% of human resources leaders say recruiting is their biggest challenge. The most pressing recruitment concern is sourcing the right talent that would be a good fit for a company even before there are open positions.

Enter talent sourcing: a recruitment strategy that helps recruiters find talent to fill current openings and grow the talent pipeline. Although talent sourcing strategies vary based on industry, geographical region, and level of the role, it’s still good to have a framework you can use to craft a strategy that works for your brand.

That’s what we’re offering in this guide. We’ll help you move from being frustrated by your sourcing strategy to being confident that you have the best candidates in your pipeline.

What is talent sourcing?

Talent sourcing is the proactive process of researching and networking to find a wide pool of prospective candidates. The goal is to have viable job candidates to choose from when it’s time to fill vacant positions. This proactive approach to sourcing candidates makes it easier to tap into the 37.3% of passive job seekers who are highly-skilled candidates but may not be actively applying for jobs.

The talent sourcing process, step by step 

To source top talent, you need a solid talent acquisition process. It might seem pretty straightforward: You post a job online and wait for the applications to roll in, right?


We’ve outlined nine steps below that will help you connect with strong candidates and develop a company culture that makes your brand more appealing to the highly-skilled employees you want to attract.   

1) Build your employer brand

Simply put, your employer brand is your company’s reputation as an employer. The best talent will want to work at your company if your employer brand is strong and positive. Here are some ways that you can develop your employer brand:

  • Sharing testimonials from employees on social media
  • Providing an exceptional candidate experience during the application and selection processes and beyond
  • Paying attention to the feedback employees provide about your company on employer review sites like Glassdoor

2) Create a job description

A job description shouldn’t be an exact copy of one that already exists within your company, or even a similar job description from a competitor. If you want to attract strong candidates, the job description must accurately reflect the job qualifications and what’s needed from a new hire in your business’s present context: The job description you had six months ago may no longer apply to what you need today.

Before crafting a job description, speak with people within the organization who will work with the person filling the role. Ask them about their own roles and how this position supports them. Get their feedback on the job description you crafted to determine if anything is missing or if any gaps need filling. Sometimes, these discussions reveal that a new position isn’t even needed—instead, the team just needs to be restructured so that everyone is more efficient in their roles.

Remember to include benefits and salary information in your job descriptions. It’s now mandated by law in New York City that employers with four or more employees must include the salary range in job descriptions. This is information that today’s talent wants and expects to see, and this strategy will also help you attract talent and increase your bargaining power during salary negotiations.

3) Build your ideal candidate persona

Once you determine what’s required and the qualifications needed to get the job done, the next step is figuring out the ideal candidate’s characteristics. These are the things that signal whether or not a candidate would thrive in the position. Three factors contribute to developing this list of characteristics:

  • The gaps the hiring manager is trying to fill within the team. Beyond roles and responsibilities, you want to get a clear sense of the soft skills the candidate needs to have to successfully complete tasks and work well with other members of the team.
  • Experiences of people within the company who have filled the role before (or filled a similar role). Look back at your notes from exit interviews you’ve done with people who previously filled the role and ask yourself these questions:
  • What challenges did the employee have to deal with in that role? Your new hire should be someone who can meet similar challenges.
  • What other responsibilities did the employee regularly undertake outside of the job’s core roles? You may either need to add these regularly occurring responsibilities to the job description or consider whether another position needs to be created. Sometimes, these additional tasks overburden employees and lead to job dissatisfaction.
  • What a stellar employee in your company looks like. You want new hires to model the same characteristics your best employees display. Look carefully at the brand champions within your company and list the qualities that make them worthy of the title.

4) Grow a talent pipeline

Keeping your talent pipeline filled with viable candidates is key to strengthening your sourcing efforts. It’s not sufficient to have a list of names in a spreadsheet and call that your talent pipeline. Instead, you need what Alicia O’Brien, VP of Innovation at WilsonHCG, calls “talent communities.”

These communities help you nurture authentic relationships with the talent in your pipeline. Think of it as content marketing for potential employees. You can do this with a regular stream of content relevant to each person’s interests, or perhaps a series of mixers where recruiters from specific companies can mingle with interested tech professionals. A combination of relevant content and events will help you build a thriving talent community that keeps your pipeline engaged.

The trick here is to create content that educates talent and keeps them engaged. Your aim is to keep your company top-of-mind so that when an opportunity does arise, these highly-skilled people would be more willing to say yes to your request for an interview.

You should also explore what recruitment tools exist that can help you find the best candidates, even if they are not ready to move roles at the moment you find them. High-volume recruiters know that you always need to be pulling in new talent to keep up with turnover and labor shortages.

5) Assess your list of potential candidates

Now that you’ve engaged candidates in your pipeline, you need to look through your talent pool and focus on those who fit your criteria. Here are some questions you can ask:

  • Will this candidate fit into our company culture?
  • Will this candidate be able to deal with the challenges associated with this job?
  • Will the company be able to meet the candidate’s professional goals?
  • Is diversity evident in this talent pool?

But, you’ll want to ask these questions alongside feedback from hiring managers. The answers to these questions will help you revise your sourcing strategy so that you consistently fill your pipeline with the best possible candidates.

6) Start reaching out to your best candidates

You’ve narrowed down your list to the top candidates who truly fit what you’re looking for in an employee—now it’s time to contact them. Bear in mind that it may be worthwhile to combine two outreach touch points (such as an email plus a phone call). This makes it less likely that your communication will slip through the cracks and increases your chances of scheduling an interview.

7) Conduct interviews and evaluate candidates

Recruiters are typically not involved in the interview and evaluation processes. But the company you represent may ask you to be a part of this stage of the process since you’ve had first-hand contact with the candidates. Remember to be conscious of any biases you may have so that your recommendations aren’t influenced by those biases.

8) Start your hiring and onboarding process for new hires

The deal is set: Your hiring manager is happy with the successful candidate, and the candidate is excited to start a new role. Now it’s time to support your HR manager in delivering the contract and onboarding the new hire successfully. The key word here is support—you’re helping seal the deal.  

9) Gather feedback from hiring team and new candidates 

Feedback is a key component of a recruiting strategy. You can use your observations, assumptions, and data to determine what worked and what didn’t. But the best way to evaluate whether your talent sourcing process is working is to hear what your hiring team and new candidates think.

You could send out a feedback survey or speak with the relevant parties individually and consider asking the following questions:

  • What was the best part of the recruitment process for you, and why?
  • What was the worst part of the recruitment process for you, and why?
  • What more could the recruiter have done to be helpful throughout the process?
  • What changes do you think we can make to improve the hiring process?

The 6 main talent sourcing methods

The sourcing method you choose depends on several factors: the level of the position you’re trying to fill, whether you want to hire someone to work remotely or in the office, etc. We’ve curated a list of six of the most popular talent sourcing methods to help you choose the options that meet your company’s needs. 

1. Social networks

One of the most popular talent sourcing methods is social recruiting (also called social sourcing): the process of using social media to find highly qualified candidates for jobs. More than ever, hourly job seekers are turning to branded social profiles like Facebook. In fact, 41% of younger workers are likely to search for jobs using social media. 

(But there are also tools like Emi that help streamline the recruiting process across all your social media platforms.) 


  • You have a wide candidate reach, which is optimal for high-volume hourly recruiting. Your vacancies are likely to be seen by more people since social media networks are used by millions of people.
  • If you’ve spent time building your employer brand on social networks, you’re more likely to reach passive job seekers.
  • You have more control. Rather than waiting for passive job seekers to apply, you control how often you post, which can lead to faster sourcing.
  • It’s inexpensive compared to alternative methods like subscription-based (or post-based) job boards. It’s free to post your job opening on Facebook, and even if you chose to run a paid ad, the average cost per click is only about $.44.


  • Biases (whether known or unknown) can arise. For instance, an employer may be more likely to choose a prospect with an active social media presence over one that doesn’t—even if that person isn’t the best fit for the role.
  • You’re at the mercy of social media algorithms, which change often. These algorithms may affect your job post’s visibility if you’re relying on organic reach instead of paid ads to help you find the right candidates.
  • If you don’t have a strong employer brand, potential candidates are either uninterested or unaware of what you have to offer. Therefore, they gloss over your job posts on social media.   

2. Job boards

Online job boards and employer career sites are the top two places candidates use to submit job applications. It’s best to use job boards along with other talent sourcing methods that help you build relationships with potential candidates, as some of the best candidates for a job won’t be actively looking for new positions on a job board.


  • There’s access to a wide audience of active candidates.
  • Some job boards use artificial intelligence to match applicants to jobs. In theory, this should result in the most suitable candidates applying for the job.
  • There are dashboards that provide you with data about your job posts’ performance. You can use that data to inform future talent sourcing strategies.


  • Job boards can become quite costly. Some platforms charge per click while others either charge per post or have a flat fee per year or month. There are even some platforms that use a combination of these approaches. For example, Indeed has a paid Sponsored Post feature that employers can pay to push their post out to a greater number of people. However, they also have a charge-per-application setup, with pricing that varies by account.
  • There’s no candidate screening process. Anyone can create an account and apply for a job, which results in many unqualified candidate applications and plenty of wasted time for your recruiters.

The best candidates for top-level positions are less likely to use job boards—you’re most likely to find them using other talent sourcing methods.   

3. Employee referrals

Research by Career Builders shows that 88% of employers rated employee referrals above all other talent sources for providing quality new hires. This is a talent sourcing method that’s worth your time and investment.


  • Employees understand your employer brand and how your organization operates. Their first-hand experience helps them recommend people who are most likely to fit in well at the company.
  • It takes less time to fill vacant positions.
  • If you have a referral program where there’s a reward attached, employee engagement is likely to improve since more employees would be willing to actively provide referrals.


  • Bias is likely. An employee may suggest a friend or loved one, not because the person is necessarily the best fit for the job, but because the employee wants to help this person get a role at your company.
  • The employee may show favoritism to the referral, which can be particularly problematic if the employee is in a supervisory or senior position.
  • There are instances where the referral leaves the company if the referee also leaves.

4. Job fairs

Job fairs bring multiple organizations and job seekers together in one place. Although job fairs make it easier to assess job candidates in person before they even apply, there are also some drawbacks.   


  • Brand awareness increases.
  • Niche-specific job fairs help you reach a diverse pool of relevant candidates.
  • You can learn about other organizations in your niche.


  • Job fairs become costly quickly. You have to pay for booth space, marketing material, travel and accommodations for your staff, and other expenses.
  • Preparing for—and being present at—job fairs takes up a lot of time.

5. Recruiting software

These days, sophisticated applicant tracking systems (ATS) function as all-in-one talent management tools, giving recruiters access to talent databases, organizing application workflows, and managing new candidate onboarding.


  • The best recruiting software provides access to recruiting databases with highly engaged job candidates.
  • Save time by automating parts of your workflow. For instance, Emi helped 7-Eleven automatically pre-screen candidates, coordinate interview scheduling, and capture detailed post-interview feedback.
  • Improve hire quality by standardizing the match between each candidate’s skills, knowledge, and experience and the job requirements.


  • As with any software, recruiting software has the potential to introduce technical difficulties. It’s recommended to choose proven, reliable software from companies with great reputations to avoid this. 
  • Some software’s keyword filtering leaves a lot to be desired and candidates with cleverly placed resume keywords may float to the top—even if they’re unqualified. Get around this by opting for software that screens using powerful machine learning.  
  • Automated messages to candidates may come across as robotic and lack personalization. You can combat this by opting for software like Emi that prioritizes personalization at scale. 

Recruiting software has evolved from the days of it just being technology that sorted resumes using keywords and semantics to being an all-in-one suite where recruiters can improve their workflows, tap into the social media profiles of candidates, seamlessly schedule interviews, present offers to successful candidates, and manage new candidate onboarding. This sourcing tool can be your secret weapon.


  • The best recruiting software integrates with recruiting databases that are filled with highly engaged job candidates.
  • Save time by automating parts of your workflow. For instance, Emi Labs helped 7-Eleven automatically pre-screen candidates, coordinate interview scheduling, and capture detailed post-interview feedback.
  • Improve quality of hire by standardizing the match between each candidate’s skills, knowledge, and experience and the requirements of the job.

6. Curated lists of passive candidates

Your list of passive candidates are those on your shortlist who aren’t actively looking for a job. You may have run across their LinkedIn profiles, seen their resumes through your recruiting software, or perhaps even met them via networking. These people have skill sets that are a great match for your position(s), but unlike active candidates, they haven’t actually applied for the open role. 

 These are excellent resources to keep at your fingertips, because you never know when someone may be looking for a rewarding new job opportunity.


  • You get a list of people who fit your role’s criteria, reducing the need for you to build your talent pipeline from scratch.
  • Passive candidates are sometimes more closely aligned with the skills or experiences that you’re seeking than active candidates. 


  • It isn’t as straightforward to engage these job candidates. Some are comfortable in their current roles and might not be ready for a new job when you’re ready to hire. 
  • It requires more effort to grab a passive candidate’s attention.

Streamline and automate your talent sourcing process with Emi

Talent sourcing isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy. We’ve described a nine-step process you can use as a guide for building a sourcing strategy that works for your brand. The key is to do what works for you and leads to attracting and retaining top talent.

Emi Labs is here to help you automate and streamline your talent sourcing process. Schedule a demo to discover how we can help you.

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