ABC’s of Hiring – #30 The 4 P’s of Candidate Sourcing

The 4 P’s of Candidate Sourcing

Sourcing is both the science and art of finding qualified candidates who may be interested in working for your company. Candidate sourcing requires a clear understanding of the opening and knowledge of where to look for qualified people. It also requires skilled resources and execution of the right methodologies. Simply stated, you are trying to determine how to find the best possible candidates and then motivate them to explore the opportunity with you.


Preparation is the prerequisite for planning and understanding the skills and experience needed by potential candidates. It starts with a job description that clearly defines the role, the responsibilities and any other qualifications needed from a successful applicant. This effort can be best understood as “What exactly are we looking for?”




Once you know what to be looking for, you have to target where they are likely working. This focus is driven by the specifics of the functional area you are pursuing. For example, a sales opening will be in a general geographic area with the person likely selling a related product to the same markets that you serve. A Human Resource Manager may be working in a similar size company with a related background and lives locally. In each case, there are national databases available that allow you to search businesses where the talent is likely located. For example, Reference USA is accessible via your local public library and is free.


Once you have performed this research, you will have a targeted list to utilize for pursuing potential candidates. Your efforts should not be limited to this list only, but this is your highest likelihood of finding the right person for the job.


The next step is to prepare your “sales pitch”. What will you say to a potential candidate to entice them, and motivate them to learn more about you and this position? Think in terms of what’s in it for them. Provide just enough information to paint a picture of the position, the company, the challenges, the size, scope and relative importance of the position. Potential candidates will compare this short script to their current situation and opt-in, or screen themselves out, if they have no motivation to make a change.


The process can best be described as “Where are they and what will we say to interest them?”




Like anything else, this effort will require resources both internal, and potentially external. Candidate sourcing can involve a recruiter, a researcher, an HR representative, a hiring manager or all of the above, depending on the company and its available resources. The other major considerations are time constraints and confidentiality. These issues usually are the determining factors in any decision regarding who will be doing the work required to surface qualified and interested candidates.



Once you have defined your needs, targeted where the best candidates are and determined how to resource your efforts, it is time to pursue the methods used to access the market for both passive candidates and the un-employed. Consider the following:


  • Traditional advertising:


  1. Newspapers
  2. Trade magazines
  3. Trade associations
  4. Professional associations
  5. University alumni
  6. Outplacement agencies


  • Job fairs, depending on the level of the position


  • Post internally and offer to pay a bounty for a referral


  • Review resumes collected from previous and similar searches


  • Use which allows you to use Google to search profiles on LinkedIn based on your search criteria


  • Network with your professional contacts to generate interest and referrals


  • The best executives never stop sourcing; continually meeting people and assessing available talent in their markets.


  • Contact your suppliers and customers and get to know your competitor’s talent pool


  • Online advertising :


  4. Your company website


Both Indeed and SimplyHired are aggregators that collect postings from the entire internet and are very popular with job seekers. LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network where you can post and search for targeted potential candidates. Depending on the volume of your efforts, you may have to upgrade from their free membership.




  • Identify competitors or companies likely to have qualified candidates and then use LinkedIn to see who you know at these companies. Check current and former employees.
  • Use LinkedIn to go through your own network and the network of your coworkers to identify potential candidates or referrals.
  • Use the Advanced People Search capabilities on LinkedIn.
  • Use the “People also viewed” section on LinkedIn for additional candidates.
  • Send inmails on LinkedIn to potentially qualified people. “Sell” them on why this is a great opportunity. Don’t oversell or undersell. Present to them what’s important to them, not a boilerplate reiteration of the job description. This is a vital step.



If you still can’t find the right one, or have not generated sufficient candidates, call me.




There is no-one-size-fits-all solution but the methods used should match the needs of a given search.

Sourcing candidates is all about being prepared, having a process to target the best candidates, dedicating people resources and implementing the best practices needed to identify potential candidates. Depending on the skills and availability of your internal resources, a third-party recruiter is often your best investment.


In the next ABC’s of Hiring, we will provide best practices for job seekers on “How to be found”.



Bob Harrington Associates has been in the executive search business for over 20 years and can help you find the best people for your business.


Best Regards,


Bob Harrington CPC
Bob Harrington Associates




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