It’s no secret that recruitment is challenging. And it's as important as it is difficult. With various studies highlighting the cost of a bad hire, it's critical—not just to your performance as a recruiter but to the success of your entire company—that you get it right. So it's important to dig your well before your thirsty. That means building a pool of talented candidates before you need them.
Thankfully, you have several tools at your disposal to help do that, like sourcing tools. A good sourcing tool can be a powerful part of your recruiting arsenal.
What is a sourcing tool?
A sourcing tool is anything you use to build and curate your pool of candidates. They're very helpful to companies who actively nurture candidate pools irrespective of current vacancies. When vacancies do arise, these companies already know the type of person they want to recruit and they have a pool of potential candidates to draw from before they even post the job.
Successful use of tools like these requires thinking about what sort of candidates you’re looking for and beginning to build a database of potential fits (even when you’re not hiring). But it can be well worth the extra effort.
For example, suppose a company has an important employee leave abruptly. If they have to start from scratch, it could take a quite a long time to find the right employee and onboard them. On the other hand, if the company has been proactive in nurturing a candidate pool, they can quickly generate a shortlist of candidates to invite for interviews.
This relieves an incredible amount of pressure to conduct the full recruitment process as quickly as possible.
And the quicker you can recruit someone, the earlier your candidate can give notice to their current employer. That leads to a shorter gap between someone leaving and you filling their position.
While this sounds amazing in theory, it’s a process you must commit to in the long-term if you want it to work. Sourcing tools are just that: a tool. They can play a part in a larger strategy of ongoing recruitment, but they won't do the work for you.
How do sourcing tools work?
In general, sourcing tools allow you to search for potential candidates based on a variety of criteria, including:
- Current or past roles.
- The company they work for currently—some companies build their recruitment strategy on a foundation of recruiting from competitors!
- Technical skills.
- General educational or specific specialist qualifications.
- Experience in working with specific software or on particular project types.
Some sourcing tools specifically target candidates in specific fields. For example, they may focus exclusively on candidates for IT roles. Using these tools can be beneficial as you'll start with candidates that are already working or seeking opportunities in your industry. You can then apply whatever searches and filters you need to narrow down your search appropriately.
Sourcing active and passive candidates with sourcing tools
In 2015, LinkedIn’s Ultimate List of Hiring Statistics found that, on average, 30% of the global workforce is made up of active candidates (people who are actively looking for a new role) at any given time.
There are sourcing tools that enable you to differentiate between active and passive candidates (aren't actively looking for a new role). Keep in mind, while passive candidates may not be looking to change employers, they still may be open to discussing new opportunities. Even if they're not, building a relationship with them now can put your company at the top of the list when they're looking in the future.
The candidates you prioritize should be based on your current needs. Are you trying to fill a current vacancy? Or are you just building up a pool of talented candidates to nurture for future vacancies?
If you've got an immediate need, active candidates are your best bet, but you can cast a wider net when you're operating at full capacity.
Choosing the right sourcing tool
While the potential benefits of using sourcing tools are clear, you still need to ensure you choose the right tool to fit your recruitment strategy. Let’s look at some free and paid sourcing tools you might want to consider.
The top 3 free sourcing tools
If you're working on a tight budget, free sourcing tools will help you build shortlists and nurture candidates without a huge financial investment. And many of the tools available don't require registration, meaning you can easily test them to see how they would work in your recruitment process. Or you might just use them sparingly and as a means of getting a snapshot of the current recruitment landscape in your industry before embarking on your hiring campaign.
Recruit’Em, formerly known as RecruitIn, is a comprehensive yet easy to use sourcing tool. The most appealing aspect of Recruit’Em is that it was the brainchild of a digital recruiter. It addresses many of the real-world challenges you face when sourcing candidates and gives you the data you need to build your candidate pool.
Recruit’Em takes advantage of Google's index of profile pages from six platforms and helps you generate a comprehensive database of potential candidates. Your search will return profiles from LinkedIn, Dribble, GitHub, Xing, Stack Overflow, and Twitter. However, you cannot search across all platforms simultaneously because each option contains different search fields.
Recruit’Em is 100% free. You don’t need to register and there aren’t even any ads on the website! Additionally, Recruit’Em also has a free job ad optimizer that will generate suggestions for keywords to include in your ads, based on candidates' search data.
- Has a simple and easy to use interface, you can get results in seconds.
- Focuses on a smaller number of filters, making searches easy to set up.
- Allows searching profiles from numerous platforms.
- Uses Google Search, so any potential candidates who have set their profiles to private will not show up.
- Redirects to Google Search, meaning you still need to copy and paste URLs into a spreadsheet to build a candidate database.
- Doesn’t offer a way to differentiate between active and passive candidates.
OctoHR calls itself GitHub for Recruiters. It’s a free Google Chrome browser extension (sorry Firefox users), so all you need to do to use OctoHR is go to the website in Chrome and add the extension. OctoHR allows you to search GitHub— – hence the tagline— – and gather information on potential candidates’ areas of expertise and their email addresses.
Given the specific scope of OctoHR, this is a great tool to use if you're recruiting software development roles. One of its most significant search features is the ability to search for candidates based on their number of GitHub followers. This option effectively gives you a means of finding peer-reviewed, recommended development experts!
You don’t need to give up your email address to use OctoHR, and anti-virus software lists it as safe and secure.
- Works as a non-invasive Google Chrome extension.
- Allows you to search for candidates based on GitHub followers or repositories.
- Shares candidate email address.
- Limits you to GitHub searches.
- Only allows searching for expertise in one coding language at a time, although you can see other coding competencies in candidate profiles.
- Doesn’t offer a way to quickly build a candidate list.
Shapr is much different from Recruit’Em and OctoHR. It's more of a networking tool than a recruitment tool. However, like with LinkedIn, if you want to use it specifically for recruitment, you can adjust your searches accordingly. To use Shapr, you must sign up. Then you’ll have the option to use the platform in your web browser or by downloading the app.
Shapr matches you to people with common interests, based on the contents of your profile. You then decide whether you would like to connect with that person. If you both say yes to connecting, you can then message each other.
The way Shapr works makes it ideal for finding active candidates if you make it clear you are using the tool for recruitment and are actively searching for candidates. However, it denies you the chance to present your opportunity to passive candidates you might wish to contact.
Shapr also limits you to 15 potential connections per day, which you may find limiting if you’re looking to create a pool of candidates quickly.
On the flip side, using Shapr works may make it easier to develop a rapport with candidates before entering a formal recruitment process as you can message them from the moment you connect. When you first connect, who says you have to talk about work?
- Has a familiar user model. Think Tinder, but for networking!
- Only connects you with people with mutual interests, theoretically ensuring you’ll always find active candidates.
- Offers you the opportunity to make personal connections and grow your network beyond your recruitment objectives.
- Restricts you to a limited number of daily connections.
- Built for networking rather than explicitly for hiring.
- Forces you to rely on a person’s Shapr profile for your first impression. If a person has only just started using Shapr, or it isn’t their primary job search tool, they may not have added much information.
The top 3 paid sourcing tools
With so many useful free options available, you might ask why anyone would consider paying for a sourcing tool. Well, it depends on how you use sourcing tools as a part of your overall recruitment strategy.
While the free tools are great, there are some limitations. Paid sourcing tools address some of the shortcomings of free tools and provide a range of additional features and benefits that will aid you in the recruitment process.
All three of these sourcing tools have a free trial or freemium version, so you get an idea of whether if they're worth the price. But to get the most out of them, you’ll have to go with the premium version.
ContactOut calls itself the email search engine. ContactOut claims that recruiters at 30% of Fortune 500 companies use the tool, counting Microsoft, Nestlé, and Rackspace among its clients. They say they can find email addresses for 75% of the western world.
ContactOut claims a person is twice as likely to respond to an email than a LinkedIn message. While there is no concrete data supporting this, a Sales Handy study from 2018 does highlight that open rates will usually be better for email than a sponsored LinkedIn InMail message. That suggests that you're more likely to establish a line of communication with a candidate through email than LinkedIn.
The most attractive aspect of ContactOut is that you can do everything in one place from your account dashboard. ContactOut also offers a Google Chrome browser extension, which can find the contact details of potential candidates at the click of a button while viewing an online profile.
As with many sourcing tools, ContactOut primarily works by fetching data from LinkedIn. However, you can also use it to try to get contact details for profiles you find across the internet.
Cost: Free trial, which becomes a fully paid service. ContactOut does not make pricing readily available, but you purchase credits to use the service and its features as needed.
- Finds email addresses and contact details of potential candidates who don’t have LinkedIn profiles.
- Provides a lead management tool enabling you to create individual folders for specific roles or specialties.
- Offers the ability to contact candidates and manage mail campaigns directly from the tool.
- Doesn’t provide pricing.
- Is at risk of becoming severely limited if LinkedIn stops the company from crawling its data (as LinkedIn often does).
Hiretual is a sourcing tool that several global brands, including Nike, Amazon, and Continental AG use. Speed is a critical metric if you need to quickly fill vacancies to maintain efficient operations and Hiretual, which utilizes artificial intelligence technology in its platform, claims that its tool can make recruitment ten times faster.
It uses AI to help you find candidates and rank them in order of suitability for your role based on the filters you use. For example, if you want your search to prioritize candidates based on their current job role, qualifications, or professional experience, Hiretual will do this for you.
On top of AI, Hiretual boasts a wealth of features, ensuring you can fine-tune your candidate search directly to your recruitment aims. For example, if you want to diversify your workforce, you can use Hiretual to source candidates from traditionally underrepresented demographics in your niche.
Other features of Hiretual include:
- Labor market insights, helping you understand the salary you need to offer to attract candidates with specific skills when recruiting a role for the first time.
- Competitive intelligence showing you what to include in your job descriptions to attract more interest in and applications for your role.
- The ability to build “ideal candidate” profiles and see candidates who match what you’re looking for in seconds.
Hiretual is also adaptable to various positions within your recruitment team. For example, recruitment team leaders can use Hiretual to collaborate with their team and monitor performance.
Cost: Free, with 10 contacts per week. $89 per month, with 200 contacts per month. The Pro plan has bespoke pricing and offers unlimited use.
- Automates much of the work associated with sourcing and recruitment.
- Makes it easy to engage with candidates and create rankings of candidate suitability.
- Works as a full applicant tracking system if you need it to.
- Might have too many “bells and whistles” depending on how elaborate your recruitment strategy is.
- Requires a substantial investment.
Pipl is unique among these three paid tools, as it's not a traditional sourcing tool. Instead, its primary purpose is to verify identities and mine information.
It's typically used by financial institutions and familiar brands like Huffington Post and Lifehacker, for everything from tracking down delinquent debts to delivering personalized advertising.
Due to its configuration, Pipl won’t find candidates for your search. However, if you only have a name or a profile page for a potential candidate for whom you need to find contact details, Pipl can help. And if this tool doesn’t find the details, they’re must not exist!
You might find the free version of Pipl is all you need for occasions when you can't find contact information for potential candidates using other tools.
Cost: Free, or three price tier options. $99 per month for 200 searches, $199 per month for 500 searches, $599 per month for unlimited searches.
- Not connected to or dependent on a specific network or website, so you can search for anyone you want, assuming they have an online presence somewhere.
- Has an API that you can integrate with existing tools.
- Doesn’t actually find candidates. Requires a substantial investment, especially considering the amount of manual work you will still need to do.
Using sourcing tools in your recruitment process
Now is the time to determine how sourcing tools and resources fit into your overall recruitment strategy. Competition for the best candidates is fierce! So you need to start working to attract and recruit the best talent today. Adding these tools to your toolbox is a great way to begin.