Talent Sourcing

Hiring Success Glossary

Table of Contents

What is Talent Sourcing?

Talent sourcing refers to the process of identifying, researching, generating, and networking with potential job candidates in order to convert individuals into job applicants. The broader task of talent sourcing is to generate a consistent flow of highly-skilled applicants.

Talent Sourcing vs. Recruitment

The goal of talent sourcing, at its most basic, is to convert non-applications into applicants. Recruitment, on the other hand, requires the conversion of applicants to employees. Talent sourcing is therefore the starting point of the recruitment process and an essential element of building a robust talent pipeline.

The relationship between talent sourcing and recruiting is, therefore, symbiotic. Most recruiters source talent for assigned requisitions through a variety of sources, including LinkedIn and job boards. They manage the recruiting process from end-to-end. Recruiters interface with talent sourcing representatives when needed.

A talent sourcer generally focuses on generating leads for a small number of requisitions. They work closely with recruiting and hiring managers. Their objective is to search for and identify talent, generate leads, and build interest in available positions. Sourcing and recruiting, in other words, go hand-in-hand but have important distinctions.

The Talent Sourcing Process

Each organization should develop their own sourcing process to suit their own needs. With that in mind, there are four basic steps to the sourcing process. As you will see, the talent sourcing process combines elements unique to talent sourcing with those that overlap with recruitment.

  • Plan: talent sourcing begins with establishing a clear plan designed to direct your search towards areas where you are most likely to find a high-density of desirable candidates
  • Source: once a sourcing plan is in place, the next step is to identify, reach out to, and cultivate relationships with potential candidates. Be sure to read the "Talent Sourcing Tips section below for guidance on how to source most effectively
  • Assess: Once you’ve generated a pool of qualified applicants, it's time to assess the pool. This involves identifying the candidates best suited to perform the position in question and those most aligned with your organization’s culture and values.
  • Hire: after a thorough interview process, you will offer the position to the top candidate, negotiate the particulars of the employment contract, and ultimately hire them.
  • Onboarding: the final stage of the talent sourcing process entails the onboarding of new employees. 

Talent Sourcing Tips

The talent sourcing process requires careful attention to detail. Here are eight tips for how to optimize your sourcing practices.

  • Identify talent based on growth needs: Talent sourcing is not simply about identifying the most talented people. It also requires the identification of talented individuals whose abilities lend themselves to the needs of your organization. In other words, you need talent that fits with and addresses the needs of your business.
  • Write a job description with your talent needs in mind: One of the easiest ways to source talent that fits your organizational needs is to create job descriptions with clear and explicit links between your needs and the talent required to meet them. In other words, if your advertising highlights your talent needs, you are more likely to attract multiple top candidates who satisfy your requirements.
  • Create an ideal candidate profile: Before you begin sourcing candidates, develop a detailed profile of your ideal candidate. What and how much work experience are you looking for? What specific skills are required to perform the job, and which skills are preferred? What about salary range? Workplace flexibility? Personality traits, etc.?
  • Source the right talent pools: By developing detailed ideas of what you are looking for in your candidate profile, you will have a much easier time sourcing and assessing your talent pool. Different job platforms have different specialities. Sourcing the right talent requires understanding where candidates with your desired talents are concentrated.
  • Connect personally with your leads: Once you’ve identified your proper talent pools, you need a clear strategy informing how you will engage with potential candidates. Moreover, the messages you send to leads should be personalized. Candidates are less likely to respond to your inquiries if they feel they are receiving nothing more than a form email. By sending a detailed message, you are beginning your relationship by implicitly stating that you care about them. Consider mentioning common hobbies or skills, why you think they might be perfect for your role, etc. There’s no need to oversell and turn candidates off, but using a personal connection to segue to information about your organization’s culture, relevant teams, and company goals will help you attract more candidates. Research shows, moreover, that three emails--an initial personalized emails with two follow-ups--maximize the chances you’ll hear back.
  • Respect Candidates Time: Your initial contact should not ask candidates to apply for the position, nor should they solicit resumes or requests to take online assessments. Instead, the goal of initial contact is to set up a phone call, 10-15 minutes, to discuss the position further. Only after the phone call should you begin discussions about applying for the position.
  • Don’t forget about passive leads: Talent sourcing is a long term process that requires maintaining a robust candidate pool. Therefore, you need to keep in contact with your passive leads, whether you are actively recruiting them or not. Communications twice a year should keep them abreast of your company’s progress, wish them well on their birthdays, etc.
  • Try out new strategies: It’s important you do not allow your sourcing process to go stale. You should constantly look for ways to improve your talent sourcing process. The only way this will happen is through trial and error. So when you have a new strategy that interests you or the talent sourcing team, devise a thoughtful way to experiment with it, acquire feedback, and measure results.


Talent sourcing is the crucial first step in bringing the best talent into your organizational fold. The best talent sourcing teams are able to cultivate a robust and steady stream of high-quality potential candidates that remain engaged with and interested in joining your organization. By having a clear sourcing process in place, utilizing best practices, and constantly searching for ways to revise your strategy, you will maximize the utility and benefit of your talent sourcing operation.

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