Talent sourcing: the science of searching and finding … but also the art of converting passive candidates into active ones

In the field of talent acquisition, it is well known that sourcing is an indispensable component of talent attraction strategies. Moreover, in a context of labor shortage and the urgent need to fill strategic positions, it is indeed relevant to use talent sourcing as a solution, instead of the traditional posting strategy.

But what is the art of sourcing? What are the specifics and best practices of such an approach? Let’s find out together in this article.


What is talent sourcing?

Talent sourcing is a recruitment strategy based on the targeting of specific profiles, using a social media, a candidate database or any other platform. It is the action of searching for talents that meet defined sets of criteria for a specific position. The search and identification are done based on the job description. Next, it is also important to note that sourcing involves adopting a proactive strategy. The latter entails directly approaching potential candidates. It is indeed a strategy that goes against the passive aspect of the traditional recruitment process – in which we wait for the candidates to come to us.


The particularities of such a strategy

You’ll have guessed it. Sourcing is not a necessary strategy for everyone, because you have to know how to tune in with your context and your stakes. To give you an idea, here are a few specific features of sourcing:

    • Allows you to solicit passive, but competent talent;
    • Allows you to create a database of potential candidates who are useful in the long term;
    • Method adapted to industries where the market is competitive;
    • Strategy with a personalized approach;
    • Time consuming (research, direct approaches, follow-up conversations, courting, etc.);
    • Expensive if delegated to external professionals.


The best practices

Is talent sourcing a strategy that interests you? Great! Now you need to master its best practices in order to give yourself the best odds in your recruitment. So what are these best practices? Here are 3 of them:

    1. Define your search methodology: you need to know how, where and when to search for potential candidates. Boolean search is a good first step for any recruiter.
    2. Develop your candidate search pipeline: you need to strategically develop your pipeline, by evaluating the key positions and the type of strategy that is appropriate for each.
    3. Know how to engage in conversation: There is an art and science to knowing how to approach potential candidates. They need to be seduced, not rushed or spammed with generic communications.


Once again, sourcing is a very interesting aspect to consider in the practices of the seasoned recruiter. Indeed, when relevant, sourcing is a must for recruiters who have not given up on the fishing, but who also adopt certain hunting methods to give themselves a head start on the ever-fierce competitors.


By Noellie Dias, CRHA,
Human Ressources Consultant, 
HR Blog Editor – Iceberg Management