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Sep 13, 2019

This is a continuation of our two-part series that will take a look at six different steps in examining and building your sourcing strategy.

  1. Sourcing without strategy: my story
  2. What is the sourcing strategy
  3. Four steps for building a productive sourcing strategy
  4. Support tools
  5. When you don’t need a sourcing strategy
  6. Conclusion

Support Tools

“To be or not to be.”

You can use a hack by Irina Shamaeva for market research. When we use this search string, we see the account of all the people from LinkedIn. If you have a LinkedIn Recruiter profile, you can see detailed analytics and filtered candidates by city, university, primary skills. Also, you know the list of companies where your potential candidates work.

Reference point

The method I am going to describe further helps me more than any list of donor companies from my US colleagues. What I do is check the best CVs from hiring managers. You can find everything in CV’s: universities, company names, marker phrases, and marker words. If you have not asked for CV’s of perfect candidates from your Technical Leaders or Hiring Managers yet, you should start doing it now.  A lot of valuable information for analyzing and building your sourcing strategy can be acquired this way.


This business-analytics tool helps us build a targeted sourcing strategy. When I was a student, I learned a phrase from a marketing course, “if you’re doing something for everybody, you’re doing it for nobody.” The phrase can be applied to recruitment, sourcing, and HR-strategy.

A persona is a notion that stands for a typical person from our target audience. We should analyze data about our persona broken down by the following criteria:

  • Where do our candidates live (countries, cities, regions)?
  • Professional area. In what companies and spheres do they work? If these specialists have some professional communities, meetups, Facebook groups, and online chats?
  • Social life. In which organizations do they volunteer? Which social events do they attend?
  • Online presence. Which social networks do they use? Where do they search for professional information (e.g., forums like StackOverflow for developers)? Which means of communication is comfortable for them?

In my case with sales-people, for example, my persona was a 25-30 years old person, who graduated from college 1-3 years ago and lived in Columbus, Ohio. My persona has a PC insurance license and has a background in the service sphere. My candidates were expected to be active in college. They were members of a sports team or took an active part in university life, organized charity events or led professional communities. There was a high chance they graduated from Ohio State University or Otterbein University, use LinkedIn and alumni networks (like Handshake).


We can create a check-list for our search, which will help us a lot during the whole hiring process. Even a simple list can prevent us from getting into a muddle during sourcing:

  • Which sources are useful for the vacancy?
  • Where can we find perfect candidates?
  • Which sources did we skip?
  • Have you used every potential opportunity?
  • Did we forget about some donor company or professional community?


This support tool is beneficial when you search for candidates in several countries or cities. You can both see the general picture and quickly understand the specifics of the region. The technique was borrowed from the business analysis. I enjoy finding cross-area practices and acquiring some interesting, useful things not only from recruitment. Business analytics, UX designers, and developers can bring some fresh ideas in our recruitment process.

Collection of sourcing strings (iterative search)

You can build your strings before sourcing. One should use the list of synonyms as a basis (names of the companies, skills, certifications, universities, etc.) and build as much X-Ray boolean strings as possible. They seem similar, aren’t they? But we know that if we change “AND Lviv” to “Lviv” at the end of the string, we see different results! Sourcing is a flow of experiments!

The list of support tools isn’t comprehensive. You can use every other format for documenting and visualizing your sourcing strategy. For example, you can write it in the text form or make a presentation. It’s up to you. It’s the content that matters not the format.

When You Don’t Need Sourcing Strategy

  • If you’re looking for junior specialists and you have a lot of inbound applications.
  • If you’re a recruiter in the big city and you’re looking for a familiar specialist.

Sourcing strategy is beneficial when you’re looking for:

  • Rare specialists
  • Candidates in different countries or cities
  • Candidates in narrow niches (like science, for example)


Finally, I want to share some universal sourcing advice.

I recommend you to keep your search strings in the table and mark them: “done/not done,” “success/fail.” When we’re looking for a rare specialist or we’re looking for a new specialist for the first time (like I was looking for insurance advisors), we experiment a lot. It’s easy to forget about used searching strings and approaches in this massive flow of new ideas and to go in circles and accidentally review 30 pages of the Google results once more. This collection is a great trainer! Your brain starts to create compelling stings when you have already used 50 of them.

Also, I advise behaving like a real detective. We face a large number of companies and community names, new variants of role names and skills, or words and phrases which are used only by these specialists. I recommend you to look closely at each candidate’s profile or CV and find something new for your search strings.

No matter what tools and formats you’ll use for documenting your sourcing strategy. Just remember about the benefits of building a sourcing strategy that can save your time, allows you to create more precise searching strings and lower time-to-hire and cost-of-hire, eventually. Think strategically and act based on data: recruitment is about creativity, but also it’s about planning, analyzing, and continuous optimization.

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