DEI tech stack graphic

10 Candidate Sourcing Strategies to Find Top Talent

Candidate Sourcing Strategies to Build Your Talent Pipeline

Attracting top talent is essential to the future of your organization. In your talent sourcing activities, developing a talent pipeline increases your chances of hiring the best candidates for your future growth. The right candidate will mean lower employee turnover and great productivity. On the other side of the equation, hiring the wrong candidate can mean harming your company culture and wasting resources in training an employee who will prove temporary.

This is a complicated problem. Your recruitment team needs to know how to engage candidates, but they also need to streamline the process to target the right professionals for the position.

In building your talent pipeline, it’s imperative you develop a full strategy that targets the right candidates. This can include online recruitment initiatives, such as building out your career page on the website and positioning your company as an exciting place to work through online channels. Don’t forget to include offline recruitment methods, such as encouraging employee referrals and attending events to meet candidates in person.

Talent Pool vs Talent Pipeline

What is the difference between a talent pipeline and a talent pool? A talent pool is not vetted. A talent pipeline includes all of the candidates who are vetted and have the qualities you need to be considered for a position immediately.

Your talent pool includes the contact information you have from every avenue. This might include people who’ve submitted resumes for previous positions, those who met your company at job fairs, and any candidates you might have found from a variety of sources.

Once you vet these candidates and eliminate those who are unqualified, they would be moved to your talent pipeline for consideration. You can see the importance of a talent pipeline because it helps you target ideal candidates in a more efficient way. Your pipeline management process should include measures to help you engage with candidates and build productive relationships.

Supercharge your Recruiting ebook cover

Supercharge your recruiting practices using LeverTRM so you’re positioned to attract the talent you will need to remain competitive with today’s workforce.

What is candidate sourcing?

Talent sourcing is the process of actively searching for qualified candidates. Through this process, your team engages with prospective candidates that can be moved to your talent pipeline to fill current and future positions. These types of outreach recruiting examples include building an employer brand, so candidates understand the benefits of working with your company.

Only 36% of the workforce is actively looking for a new opportunity at any given time, but an overwhelming 90% is willing to talk and learn more. Talent recruiting attracts a large number of applicants. This talent pool includes passive and active candidates who wouldn’t know about your company or open opportunities without your candidate sourcing initiatives, like recruitment marketing. This is part of your talent pipeline management strategy to find the right candidates.

Our recruiting benchmark 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. In comparison, one in every 152 outside applicants is hired. That figure is even more impressive when you consider that applicants are actively interested, while sourced candidates may not be.

Layer 1 Layer 1
of the workforce is actively looking for a new opportunity at any given time

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.

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

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%) 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.

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. In order to successfully work with archived candidates, you’ll need a plan in place for engagement.

How to engage candidates

Engaging candidates during the hiring process is a solid approach to talent recruitment. It builds your employment brand to make you more enticing to future prospects. It also keeps the door open to candidates who were not hired but could be a fit in the future.

If you’re not actively building an engagement strategy, you run the risk of alienating candidates who have shown interest in your company in the past. This can be a wealth of talent for your pipeline. Keeping those lines of communication open is a benefit.

You need to provide a great candidate experience so candidates want to re-engage in the future. Archive candidates appropriately so you can 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% of candidates have received interview feedback before.

Circle back

Most (80%) 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.

3. Diversify your online candidate sourcing channels

Most recruiters have their go-to channels to find candidates. More than half, 52%, say they first turn to their professional network, and another 28% 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 used 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. The key is to understand your target candidates so you can better predict where to find them online. For instance, check out Triplebyte if you’re looking for engineers, Hired for tech talent, and Underdog if you’re hiring for a startup. 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.



4. Include offline recruitment methods

There’s no doubt that online channels amplify your engagement. But offline recruitment methods are still a powerful force. 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!

5. Utilize your employees’ networks for sourcing candidates

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.

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 recruiters 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 skillsets required. Aggregate those skills and what you know about the company and team culture so you can begin to source for specific profiles (personas) in a focused but 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!

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. This is where outreach can help you in your talent sourcing process.

Outreach recruiting examples include basic tips that make your messaging more candidate-focused. View it as a way to offer superior customer service to your prospective candidates, because the messaging is similar. You want to focus on their needs and wants. Your message targets the candidate’s goals, not your company’s. It turns the tables on traditional hiring methods and makes your talent the priority.

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 about the candidate.
  • Paint a brief picture of the role and your organization.
  • Explain how you think they could contribute to the team.

Knowing your audience is crucial to writing a strong outreach message. While 78% of sales professionals said they would accept less money to work at a company selling something compelling, 66% 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.

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 likely 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: 92% 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

Reviews matter to your prospective talent. Over 60% 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.

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.

Layer 1 Layer 1
of companies are continuing their investment or increasing their investment in recruitment marketing

Source: Human Capital Institute
Learn more

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!

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.

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.


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

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 have had to do – until now. Using the right recruiting tools, such as Lever, helps you streamline your process, organize your approach, and successfully source the best candidates.

At Lever, we think hiring managers and recruiters deserve the best solution. That’s why we built LeverTRM, 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.


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.

diverse inclusive interview panel