The Best Techniques for Staffing Firms to Use When Sourcing Candidates

Debra Auerbach

As a recruiter at a staffing firm, you know that finding, contacting and securing a candidate takes time. And in today’s competitive job market, you’re up against a lot of other companies and staffing firms for top talent. These candidates are receiving tons of messages, so yours must stand out and give them a reason to respond.

The best way to make sure you’re connecting with candidates is to ensure you’re contacting the most relevant candidates in the first place. That all starts with good sourcing techniques.

Here are some of the common sourcing tactics used to mine databases, along with pros and cons of each, and which one will get you the most bang for your buck.

A Simple Keyword Search
This is the easiest and most common way to search a database for candidates – simply typing in a keyword or job title. Putting parenthesis around keywords helps narrow the results further to ensure the full phrase is searched, as opposed to multiple words separately.

If you’re getting the results you want, there’s nothing wrong with using this method. The catch here is that around 80 percent of recruiters use this method when searching for candidates, meaning you’re finding, reviewing and contacting the same candidates as many of your peers. So if you’re using this method, you’ll need refined messages so you stand out from your competitors who are also targeting these top candidates.

Indirect Search
Recruitment industry expert Glen Cathey describes indirect search as “Searching for the ‘wrong’ people to find the ‘right’ people.” This essentially means making use of your current database of candidates – even those not directly relevant to the job at hand – to help you find and connect with candidates. For example, you may reach out to a sales account executive to see if they know of a candidate who could be a fit for a sales enablement role. This technique may be best applied when you have one or a few more specific types of roles you’re trying to fill.

Boolean Search
Another type of search recruiters commonly use is Boolean, which relies on key operator words and symbols to achieve the best results.

Boolean combines or limits search terms, providing a more refined candidate search. Resume databases or CRMs take your search string parameters and scan all content for the exact word or phrase matches, and serve up relevant results that meet your specific search criteria.

In order to get the most out of Boolean, you’ll need to have a solid understanding of its logic so you know exactly which types of positions —and related titles — to search for. So, it takes a bit more work, and knowledge, than the average keyword search. However, it does help narrow the pool of candidates so there are fewer, more relevant results.

Semantic Search
Sometimes the way job seekers describe themselves in their job application materials is different than how recruiters and sourcers search for those same candidates in a database. That’s where semantic search comes in. Semantic search technology applies related keywords — such as job titles and skills — to each search term used, broadening your relevant results and exposing you to all potentially relevant talent.

Semantic search is a good option for when you’re just starting your candidate search and want to get a sense of your available talent pool. It’s also often used when sourcing for a position with a wide variety of job titles.

A Combination of Methods
Oftentimes, the best way to find candidates is to use a combination of sourcing methods to achieve optimal results. For instance, when a semantic search is layered on top of a Boolean search string, related keywords are applied to all of the terms used in your search, casting an even wider net to catch all relevant candidates associated to each of your search terms.

When researching resume databases, look for partners who offer solutions with the technology to layer various search methods in order to get the best candidates – before your competition does.

Learn how our Talent Discovery platform can help you master the science of sourcing.



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