What’s one of the biggest challenges in the recruiting industry today? Recruiting passive talent. If you’ve got this skill under your belt, then take pride in the fact that you have a “sweet spot” that’s highly valued all across the industry.

And just for the record, sourcing and recruiting are different functions. Sourcing vs. recruiting is a giant animal in itself. So if you’re interested, check out this article that goes into detail about the differences between the two.

Passive candidate sourcing is essentially the act of identifying and engaging people who are not currently looking for a job. A strong sourcer can look out into the vast talent pool beyond and return with qualified, interested, and available candidates.

This is a really hard job – from decoding a hiring manager’s description of a candidate to actually finding that person and then getting them to return your call/email/InMail/desperate sticky note that you left on their car window (Dean DaCosta I’m looking at you, stop stalking my current location via tweets).

So how do you successfully source passive candidates? Here are 4 sourcing techniques that talent acquisition professionals can leverage:

1. Mine Candidates From Your Own Database

There might be “gold in them thar hills!” This tactic may seem obvious, but it’s often overlooked. Regardless of which applicant tracking systems and talent acquisition software you are using, there’s a chance that the perfect candidate for your position is already living on one of your existing databases. Especially if you’ve been using an applicant tracking software for an extended period of time, it’s likely you have a good selection of solid, talented candidates in your database.

This can save you time by avoiding the chase for a new candidate and capitalizing on your past efforts. Much like anything else in life, you’ll get what you give into your candidate database. Interested in scoring jackpot with your existing applicant tracking system?

Ensure a clean candidate database by checking for any gaps or inconsistencies in your candidate data. Tending to the holes in your candidate data is crucial for success. A valuable tip from Bullhorn on archiving candidates, “Don’t delete them because you’ll lose all the notes and history attached to the candidate. Instead, file the candidate away using your ATS’ archive function. This prevents the candidate from clogging up your searches without permanently erasing potentially valuable information.” This strategy lets you search your ATS more efficiently, but also keeps key details in case a candidate returns to you as an applicant via other passive sourcing channels.

2. Referral Programs

An established referral program can be a gamechanger. A successful referral program shifts some of the burden of recruiting off of your employer brand and outreach strategy. “It allows you to turn your entire workforce into recruiters,” says Kara Yarnotwho studies referrals for a living in her position as president of Meritage Talent Solutions. If you think about it, you only have so many sourcers, recruiters, and resources at your disposal to activate candidates – it complements your recruiting efforts well to have a strong referral program in place to enable employees to help source. With incentives, rewards, and the right strategy – referral programs are a cost-effective way to activate a grand, qualified labor pool of candidates.

Referral programs also aid the company’s bottom line. Studies show that referred candidates have a longer tenure than traditional hires. Beyond that, employee referral programs have proven to diminish recruiting costs since referred candidates typically onboard faster and report greater job satisfaction. Interested in creating an employee referral program and improving your business’s overall retention rate? Check out this 6-Step Guide to Building the Perfect Employee Referral Program.

3. Talent Communities

Next up is talent communities. So what is a talent community? “A talent community is a medium enabling you to connect with candidates who don’t see an available opportunity with your company that aligns with their interests.” In simpler terms, it’s a centralized hub where candidates can submit their information without committing to a specific position. Once you have a good amount of job seekers within your talent community, you can build a pipeline of candidates who have already engaged with your employer brand and are keen to work for your organization.

For example, let’s say you have an engineering candidate who is proficient at Ruby, but there are no open positions on your team for Ruby. Some time later, a project emerges where you need a proficient Ruby developer immediately. Now you’ll have a candidate that has already expressed interest, long before the position even existed.

Another benefit to running a talent community is the opportunity to nurture future candidates with content about your company successes, vision, and culture. Armed with a better understanding of your organization, they are more likely to self-select for culture fit and do better in an interview.

Altogether, you’re looking at a major increase in response rate and employee fit just for letting people express their interest before a position was ready for them.

4. AI & Supercharged Sourcing Software

In the last few years a number of tools have come into the market that go far beyond a typical database of candidate information. These are supercharged sourcing tools that leverage AI to assist in automating high-volume tasks like searching across networks, building rich candidate profiles, and ranking candidates by level of relevance.

Ferry’s recent survey found 69% of talent acquisition professionals believe using AI as a sourcing tool has resulted in higher quality candidates. Introducing a specialized sourcing software into your strategy can also enhance candidate resumes by using public data sources and social media profiles to paint a larger, more detailed picture.

The advantageous aspects of using in AI are vast – improving the accuracy of candidate matching and freeing up time to focus on the human element of recruiting. Sourcing softwares can also help reduce bias since AI is driven by data to make decisions. As Ideal says of how AI can enhance our humanistic efforts: “Recruiting AI sources and screens candidates by using large quantities of data [and] these data points to make predictions about who will be the best candidates. The human brain just can’t compete when processing information at this massive scale.”

So how can you bring AI into your life to speed up your sourcing process? There are dozens of tools out there, but of course we’d love for you to try Hiretual first.

Bonus:

Personal Branding for Digital Hires

By now, you have certainly heard of employer branding and the immensely positive effects it can have on your recruiting organization. But your own personal brand as a recruiter can not only help your company, but yourself too. I know, I know you’re probably rolling your eyes right now because you’ve heard the phrase “personal brand” for the 1000th time. But talent acquisition is a hard job, now more than ever – candidates have more technology and options at their fingertips than ever before. An uncharted territory for recruiters may be personal branding. Essentially, it’s how you market yourself in the digital age.

Having a strong personal brand will aid in standing out to candidates, and enables you to connect at a different level to prospective job seekers. Instead of just being a recruiter, you have the opportunity to be seen as a thought leader in the industry, presenting yourself in a fresh way to candidates.