Candidate Sourcing Strategies to Build Your Talent Pipeline

Candidate Sourcing Strategies to Build Your Talent Pipeline

Attracting top talent is essential to the future of your organization. If you want to come out ahead of your competition, you need to hire the best talent in the market to help you get there. The problem is, 52 percent of people who apply to a job are underqualified, and 47 percent of companies report few or no qualified applicants for the positions they are trying to fill. In today’s competitive job market, top talent won’t be falling into your lap any time soon.


Rather than waiting for candidates to come to you, direct your efforts toward strategically sourcing the best talent.

What is candidate sourcing?

Candidate sourcing involves proactively searching for and engaging qualified talent to fill your company’s current or future positions, and it’s more important than ever. Only 36 percent of the workforce is actively looking for a new opportunity at any given time, but an incredible 90 percent is willing to talk and learn more. Sourcing opens you up to huge swaths of the talent pool you didn’t have access to before – among both passive candidates, and active candidates who otherwise wouldn't apply because they don’t know about your company or open opportunities. Sourcing allows you to take control of your pipeline and initiate conversations with the talent you really want. 

What’s more, our recruiting benchmarks research found that sourced candidates are more than two times as efficient as candidates who apply. One in every 72 sourced candidates, on average, is hired, compared to one in every 152 for applicants. That figure is even more impressive when you consider that applicants are actively interested, while sourced candidates may not be.

Only 36 percent of the workforce is actively looking for a new opportunity at any given time, but an entire 90 percent is willing to talk and learn more.

Source: LinkedIn 2016 Talent Trends

10 candidate sourcing strategies

How do you find top talent? The following candidate sourcing strategies will help you fill your funnel with qualified talent.

1. Stay in lockstep with the hiring manager during the candidate sourcing process

Align with your hiring managers early and often to ensure that you’re on the same page about what a strong candidate looks like this is one of the best ways to source candidates. Here are some ways to increase the quality of your communication and get on the same page.

  • Hold a kickoff meeting as soon as you receive a requisition to learn about the role and align on must-have and nice-to-have qualifications.
  • Ask your hiring manager to help you build a list of sourcing channels where your ideal candidates may have a presence, and a list of role-specific keywords to search.
  • Run a few searches together to discuss why specific candidates may or may not be a good fit for the role.
  • Review the overall talent pool and determine if the requirements need to be tightened up or relaxed in order to find the right number of candidates.

Don’t stop at the kickoff meeting. Keep in constant contact with your hiring manager throughout the recruitment process to check on the quality and quantity of candidates, and fine-tune your search with their feedback.

Additional resources
Lever - Candidate Sourcing Strategies

Candidate Sourcing Intake Form

26 questions to review with your hiring manager before you kick off any candidate search.


6 Things You MUST Do in a Kickoff Meeting with Your Hiring Manager

Make the most of both of your time with these tips for an efficient kickoff meeting.

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2. Sourcing candidates from your ATS is the best first step

Source from your ATS first.png

candidate sourcing lightbulb  Even though nearly all – 99 percent – of companies believe re-engaging candidates will help them build their talent community and protect their employer brand, fewer than half of employers re-engage declined candidates.

Source: WorkplaceTrends, Candidate Experience Study

If you devote time to sourcing quality candidates, you won't just end up with a hire – you'll also have candidates who are qualified to recruit for future roles. But for many companies, re-engaging candidates is a missed opportunity. Even though nearly all – 99 percent – of companies believe re-engaging candidates will help them build their talent community and protect their employer brand, fewer than half of employers re-engage declined candidates.

Instead, you should leverage your team's past efforts by beginning every search with the candidates your team has already invested time in and deemed qualified to work at your organization. To pull this off, you'll need to provide a great candidate experience (so candidates want to re-engage) and archive candidates appropriately (so you can easily find them again). Here are three simple steps you can take to ensure that you leverage past recruiting work to generate future candidates:

  • Track why candidates aren’t hired.
    You can only re-engage candidates if you’re keeping tabs on why they don’t make it to ‘hired’. Were they a good fit for a role you don’t have yet? Did the role get filled? Are they underqualified now, but show potential for the future? It can help to use an applicant tracking system, like Lever, to record all of this information.
  • Give feedback.
    Talent is four times more likely to consider your company for a future opportunity when you offer them constructive feedback, yet only 41 percent of candidates have received interview feedback before.
  • Circle back.
    80 percent of job seekers say they would be discouraged from considering other relevant job openings at a company that failed to notify them of their application status. Yet, they would be three and a half times more likely to re-apply to a company if they were notified.
Additional resources
Lever - Candidate Sourcing Strategies

7 Ways to Overhaul Your Candidate Experience

See what recruiting expert Ed Nathanson has to say about handling feedback.

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How to Build a World-Class Candidate Experience

Learn how companies like Lyft and Eventbrite have built great candidate experiences, and get a step-by-step guide on how you can, too.


3. Diversify your online candidate sourcing channels

Most recruiters and sourcers have their go-to channels to find candidates. Fifty-two percent say they first turn to their professional network, and another 28 percent say they first turn to LinkedIn. But why stop there? The most common methods for candidate sourcing are common for a reason – they're good! – but consider adding some other, less frequently fished sources into the mix. Candidates may be more receptive to outreach messages on less conventional websites, and profiles on such sites can yield unique information that provides good fodder for personalized outreach.  

Where should you look? The internet abounds with possibilities. They key is to understand your target candidates so you can better predict where to find them online. For instance, GitHub is a great place to find developers, while Dribbble is ideal to find design candidates. If you're new to sourcing for a job, rely on your team members to find out where to go, and ask them questions like:

  • From the perspective of someone who’s been deep in this domain for a while, where might you start a
    search for this?
  • Where might this community congregate?
  • What companies are focused on similar tech/products/services?
  • Do people in this role go by multiple job titles? What are they?

Other, more general, but worthwhile online sourcing channels include Aevy, AngelList (for tech talent), Entelo, Facebook, Hired,, Twitter, and Xing.

P.S. All of these sourcing channels integrate with Lever’s best-in-class Chrome Extension to make sourcing faster and easier.

Additional resources
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15 Fresh Ideas for Sourcing Candidates

Download our tip sheet for 15 find creative sourcing strategies.


4. Include offline candidate sourcing processes

Going offline and meeting people face-to-face at events is a great way to source new candidates. Attend job or industry-specific conferences and events, or host your own meetups to bring together groups of people you’d like to meet. There will be less competition to stand out as an employer, and candidates will be more likely to respond to your follow-up messages after they’ve had a conversation with you in person. If other people in your organization attend events, ask them to stay on the lookout for great candidates too – sourcing should be a team sport!

Additional resources
Lever - Candidate Sourcing Strategies

Next-Level Candidate Sourcing: How to Leverage Events to Fill Your Recruiting Pipeline

Learn how recruiter at Lost my Name, Jess Hayes, successfully leverages events to fill her recruiting pipeline.

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5. Utilize your employees’ networks for sourcing candidates

Utilize employee networks.png

  Organizations can expand their talent pool by 10 times by recruiting through their employees' networks.

 Source: LinkedIn, Top hiring statistics and benchmarks for 2016

Organizations can expand their talent pool 10 times by recruiting through their employees’ networks. Run candidate sourcing sessions with your team to see if anyone in your employees’ networks would be a good fit for one of your open roles. Your employees can help you reach untapped talent, and improve response rates from candidates they know. Facebook, for instance, will show your employees different candidate search results based on their own social graph, so you can uncover candidates you wouldn’t have otherwise found. allows your employees to connect their LinkedIn, Twitter, and GitHub accounts so you can see who is already connected to your team. You can also systemize this process with a candidate sourcing tool like Teamable or Simppler, which automatically recommend candidates to you based on your employee’s social networks. When you find a qualified candidate, you should request a warm introduction from your employee, rather than sending a cold email, to increase your candidate response rate.

Additional resources
Lever - Candidate Sourcing Strategies

9 Tricks to Put your Employee Referral Program into Overdrive

Read our post to learn how to build a successful employee referral program.

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6. Source candidates for roles you don’t have open yet

Most candidate sourcing goes like this: “I have X job to fill, so I’m going to source people for X job.” But the most advanced sourcers get even more proactive with their sourcing efforts, and get ahead on roles they’ll need to hire for in the future. As Sedef Buyukataman, Talent Brand Strategist at Proactive Talent Strategies, explained in a webinar with Lever, a proactive approach starts by building personas.

How? First, take a look at your business growth plans. Then, build a corresponding workforce hiring strategy that gives you insight into when hires need to be made across the year to sustain your company's vision and cost model. Once you have a picture of which teams need to grow, you can work with your leaders and partners in Finance and HR to identify the level and skill sets required. Aggregate those skills and what you know about company and team culture so you can begin to source for specific profiles (personas) in a focused but on ongoing way.    

Then, when your hiring manager asks for a junior-level Java developer who also happens to be a master of automated testing, you'll already have candidates in your ATS ready to review. You may even hire some of them! To hear more from Sedef on building talent personas for future-focused sourcing, listen to the webinar featured in the additional resources below, and fast-forward to minute 13.

Additional resources
Lever - Candidate Sourcing Strategies

Data-Driven Tips for Your 2017 Recruiting Plan

Take your sourcing to the next-level with tips on building a future-focused pipeline from Sedef Buyukataman of Proactive Talent Strategies.

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7. Perfect your outreach messages for sourcing candidates

You’ve worked hard to source the right candidates, but that doesn’t matter if they won’t engage with you. A few rules of thumb: Lead with a subject line that will stand out and make the candidate want to open and read your message; always personalize your message with relevant information you found about them; paint a brief picture of the role and your organization; and explain how you think they could contribute to the team.

Knowing your audience is also crucial to writing a strong outreach message. While 78 percent of sales professionals said they would accept less money to work at a company selling something compelling, 66 percent of healthcare professionals are likely to accept less money to work at a company with a great culture. Improve your response rates by focusing on the things that matter to each type of candidate. Your goal is to give them just enough information to pique their interest and respond, but you want to be careful about overloading them with information. Ask your recent hires for feedback on your outreach messages, and use that feedback to test different messaging and improve your response rates.

Additional resources
Lever - Candidate Sourcing Strategies

Three REAL Candidate Sourcing Email Examples

Not sure where to start? Download our tip sheet for actual sourcing email examples from three seasoned professionals.


8. Build a strong employer brand

Your employer brand could be the difference between a candidate responding to your outreach, or ignoring it. Candidates aren’t likley to respond to your outreach if they perceive your employer brand negatively, and an unknown employer brand can stymie your efforts as well. In contrast, a strong employer brand is an incredibly effective recruiting tool: Ninety-two percent of candidates say they would consider leaving their current jobs if a company with an excellent corporate reputation offered them another role.

To increase your sourcing (and overall recruiting) success, here are some tips on both repairing and building your employer brand:

  • Respond to reviews 

    Sixty one percent of candidates check company reviews and ratings before they determine their interest in a job. Regularly check review sites like Glassdoor and InHerSight, and respond to the feedback to let people know you appreciate their input and will take action where it’s necessary. This will generate goodwill, and help your employees feel engaged and heard.

  • Tell your story
    Engaging your employees in storytelling, encouraging them to personalize their LinkedIn profiles, starting a company blog, being active in the press, and speaking at conferences are just a few of the ways employers can spread awareness about their brand. At Lever, for example, employees regularly contribute to our company blog, where they share authentic stories about their professional experiences, topics they’re passionate about, and their journey to Lever. If you’re a small company and candidates want to know more about your brand, having these proof points can be the factor that sparks conversation.
61 percent of job seekers read reviews.png

  Sixty-one percent of candidates check company reviews and ratings before they determine their interest in a job.

Source: Glassdoor, Top HR Statistics

  • Partner with marketing
    Many of the strategies needed to help spread your employer brand are the same ones you’ll find marketing using to promote your corporate brand. See if you can partner closely with them on both content creation and distribution.  
Additional resources
Lever - Candidate Sourcing Strategies

How to Unlock Sales and Marketing Secrets for Recruiting Success

Learn how to think like your sales and marketing counterparts who use marketing automation, along with strategic messaging, nurturing, and engagement tactics to get more targeted, efficient, and effective with your sourcing and recruiting strategy.

watch webinar

9. Follow up with candidates who don’t respond

You might get a few candidates to bite at the first cold outreach email you send, but you spent too much time doing research and building lists to stop at one email. Imagine if a salesperson reached out to leads once and then called it quits; they’d never close any deals!

In fact, follow ups can actually be more effective than the first email you send and one of the best ways to source candidates. In a recent Lever webinar, Founder and CEO of Social Talent Johnny Campbell said he has consistently seen follow-up recruiting emails generate more responses than initial reach-outs. He postulated that follow ups are effective because persistent outreach triggers obligation. Whatever the reason (maybe the candidate was busy the first day you emailed them, timing was off, they respect perseverance, etc.), repetition works.

Once you do your first round of outreach and follow ups, you’ll also want to keep in touch with the candidates who weren’t ready to make a move when you first approached them, and strong candidates who you sourced, but didn’t hire, for other roles. With the snooze functionality in Lever, you can stay on top of these follow ups with ease – just snooze a candidate for your desired time period and leave yourself any notes for context (like “Wants to stay in their current role at least a year”). When it’s time to follow up with the candidate, you’ll get an email from Lever reminding you that the snooze is up, and the candidate will be placed back into your active pipeline.

   Pro personalization tip:     

Set a Google Alert to immediately hear when your highest-priority candidates appear in the news.

Waiting six months is a good rule of thumb for when to reach out to a candidate, but there are also other occasions where it makes sense to re-engage. You can send candidates company news, congratulate them on work milestones, wish them a happy birthday, ask them how big projects went, and even congratulate them on new jobs. Even if these check ins don’t yield immediate results, you want to stay top of mind with your best candidates so you’re the first to know when they’re ready to make a move. Plus, even if they’re not interested, they may refer someone who would be a great fit.

Additional resources
Lever - Candidate Sourcing Strategies

8 Quick Tricks to Level Up Your Cold Recruiting Emails

Read more tips from Johnny on how to get a response on your sourcing emails.

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10. Use the right tool

Anyone who’s sourcing has a million balls up in the air at once. Managing all of that activity in docs and spreadsheets can get out of hand quickly, but that’s what most recruiters and sourcers have had to do – until now.

At Lever, we think sourcers and recruiters deserve better. That’s why we built Lever Nurture, to help you minimize the copious manual work involved in effective sourcing, and streamline your hundreds of touchpoints into one powerful automated workflow. With your newfound efficiency, you’ll have way more time to focus on the work that truly matters, like highly targeted outreach and relationship-building with your highest-quality candidates.

Additional resources
Lever - Candidate Sourcing Strategies

The Definitive, No Frills Guide to Sourcing and Nurturing Candidates

Download this ebook to see how Lever Nurture works and get tip after tip on how to execute your own sourcing campaigns like a pro.



The best candidates are in such high demand that it’s necessary to be more strategic if you want to win them for your team. When the competition for top-tier talent is high, you have to go out and find the caliber of candidates you need for your organization to succeed. These candidate sourcing strategies can help you fill your pipeline with qualified talent so you can choose the best hire for your team.

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