Presenting the Structured Sourcing Framework

Attracting qualified candidates is harder than ever, especially for certain positions (e.g., software engineering) and in certain geographic areas (e.g., Silicon Valley). Large companies, or those with well-known brands, have an advantage over smaller companies: They get many incoming résumés. But we all know that the best candidates rarely come knocking on the front door. Recruiters, even at the largest companies, have to become adept at sourcing if they want to find and hire the very best.

Candidate sources

Sourcing means proactively finding and contacting potential, qualified candidates for the positions you are recruiting for. Like any other endeavor, sourcing benefits from a structured approach and a framework for thinking about how to maximize one’s efforts. At NetIn we advise recruiters to use the Structured Sourcing framework.

First, there are three types of potential candidates:

  1. Actively looking (employed or unemployed)—we call these “Type I candidates”

  2. Not actively looking, but open to opportunities—we call these “Type II candidates”

  3. Focused on their current positions—we call these “Type III candidates”

Companies need to think about sourcing across all three types of candidates, as each type has its pros and cons. There are three ways to compare each type:

  • Ease of sourcing

  • Potential fit

  • Competition

Let’s look at each candidate type, comparing them along the above axes.

Candidate types

Actively Looking (Type I)

By definition, a candidate who is actively looking and applies to a job is the easiest to source. They come to you! However, the fit may not be there as a candidate may be stretching for the role or may not have the exact qualifications you are looking for. In addition, you can be sure that the candidate is applying to other companies that will end up competing against you.

While looking at incoming candidates is an important part of recruiting and hiring, we think of this strategy as “seeing who comes in through the front door.” It may result in good hires, but it can’t be the only strategy if you want to build and maintain a great team.

Open to Opportunities (Type II)

These candidates are harder to find, but a well-crafted message will catch their attention. Clearly, it takes more work to find these people, but the potential fit of any given candidate will be higher as they will be sourced based on their qualifications. Highly qualified candidates will generally fall into this and the next category, as they will rarely find themselves unemployed or having to proactively search for opportunities. Competition with other employers will also be lower, although someone who is already thinking of new options may launch a wider search if they feel they are getting close to a new opportunity.

This strategy is like “fishing with a net.” A good recruiter will have a tool that lets them find candidates that have the qualifications they are looking for and helps contact them.

Focused (Type III)

These candidates will be the hardest to source, but may present the biggest opportunity for a fantastic fit and someone that really makes a difference for your team. The best employees are very often “heads-down” at their current jobs and will be much less receptive to standard recruiter overtures, let alone browsing job boards. If you manage to attract the attention of a focused candidate, it will be because you have a position that really catches their attention and because you’ve done your homework. This also means that they are less likely to look at alternatives if they find themselves thinking about the new opportunity.

This strategy is like “fishing with a spear,” and it requires a superior level of information and insight by the recruiter in order to find the right candidates. A focused candidate will have to see potential for a great fit, as well as a message that catches their attention in order to even engage.

A company has to source all three candidate types in order to successfully build and maintain their team. Type I candidates will provide a steady stream of potential hires, with a few being good fits. There will be fewer type II and III candidates, but if sourced correctly, they will be of greater quality. And type III candidates will be especially important if you want to surface superstars or more senior/executive hires.

At NetIn, we’re focused on giving you the data you need to hire and source across the board, but with a special focus on giving recruiters the signals, features, and insights necessary to execute on structured sourcing and find and reach out to type II and III candidates.

For example, in the case of an engineer, this doesn’t just include providing a basic résumé like what you’ll find on LinkedIn, but also insight into how a candidate has contributed to open source on GitHub and how active they are in a community like Stack Overflow. It includes being able to search not just for specific technologies (e.g., RabbitMQ), but having the tool automatically expand the search to include other equivalent tools (e.g., queuing systems). We also surface subtle signals that may indicate if a candidate may be newly open to new opportunities based on small changes to their online profiles. Bringing all this data together gives a recruiter a huge edge in being able to “fish with a spear” when looking for outstanding candidates.

Final thoughts

I’ve introduced a few ways to think about candidates, the advantages and disadvantages of each type, and touched on why it’s important to consider a diverse approach to candidate sourcing. If you’d like to learn more about these topics, visit the NetIn blog for more on Structured Sourcing and other topics of interest to recruiters.

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Soheil Yasrebi

An ex-Twitter engineer, Soheil Yasrebi is the founder of NetIn. He received a degree in Computer Science from University of Arkansas and held several engineering positions with Silicon Valley startups before starting NetIn.

Filed Under:

Candidate Sourcing