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Apr 6, 2018
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

Here’s a new sourcing takeaway that every recruiter, sourcer, and talent management pro needs to keep in mind: The Third Time’s a Charm.

That’s one of the findings that jumped out at me from a new study from Lever, the recruiting software for more than 1,500 fast-growing companies around the world, titled The Science of Sourcing: Benchmarks for Recruiting Success. The findings are culled from a year’s worth of communications between 135,000 “proactively sourced candidates and recruiters to determine how receptive candidates are to cold contact from recruiters.”

Follow up is important and roles matter

What they found was pretty interesting. Here are three (3) key highlights:

  • Consistent follow up is vital for hiring success The research found that just under 50 percent of candidate responses come in after the first sourcer/recruiter outreach, while another 35 percent come in after two emails (84.7 percent total), and three candidate touches earn almost 100 percent of responses.
  • Roles matter when it comes to candidate response Engineers had the lowest response rate to cold outreach at 35 percent, with sales candidates coming in with a response rate of 41 percent. Design candidates, on the other hand, had the best response to cold outreach, with 59 percent responding.
  • Brand may be less important than one might think When it comes to getting a response from cold outreach, companies with more than 1,000 employees saw an average response rate of 44.7 percent, and only 3 percent higher than smaller companies.

“The best hires aren’t always the easiest to find. Today’s competitive hiring climate requires companies be proactive and patient in order to find and recruit the best candidates,” said Sarah Nahm, CEO of Lever, in a press release about the report. “To succeed in sourcing and hiring passive candidates, it’s vital to nurture them through consistent, compelling and most importantly, personalized contact.”

Sarah Nahm’s comments about how vital it is for recruiters and sourcers to nurture candidates with personalized contact are pretty timely given that I’ve heard a lot about the “personalized” approach over the last month at both the 2018 SourceCon Royale conference in Las Vegas, and, this week’s ERE Recruiting Conference in San Diego.

The efficiency of candidate sourcing

It’s a pretty simple concept: the more you can personalize your communications with those you are recruiting, the greater the likelihood you’ll connect with them in a more meaningful way. Talent Acquisition knows this, of course, but it always helps to get current data that underlines that point.

And as with all research reports, Lever’s The Science of Sourcing: Benchmarks for Recruiting Success has some interesting insights and information if you dig down into it a little.

For instance, in the section titled ‘The Efficiency of Candidate Sourcing,” it said this —

“The data shows that:

  • 1 in 100 total candidates get hired
  • 1 in 152 applicants get hired
  • 1 in 72 candidates get hired

Sourcing wins. Overall, teams need 17 percent fewer sourced candidates to make one hire than the aggregate of candidates from all origins – including referrals, applicants, and sourced candidates.

Furthermore, it’s worth restating that half as many sourced candidates as applicants are needed to make one hire, meaning that sourcing is twice as efficient. This proves that doubling down on your sourcing efforts will help you hire great talent faster.”

Getting a fix on candidate response rates

This is GREAT information for sourcers, recruiters, and TA professionals to have at their fingertips when somebody asks something like, “how do we know that sourcing REALLY works?

Another section, titled “The Science Behind Candidate Response Rates,” had these insights:

“Sourcing is far more effective when you persistently follow up. This is why automating your sourcing outreach, and activities are critical to driving success at scale.

  • With two emails rather than one, you get 71 percent more responses.
  • With three emails rather than one, you get 100 percent more responses.

As you can see, nearly 100 percent of candidates who eventually respond do so by the third email. Therefore, we suggest setting up three automated emails as a starting point for your Nurture campaign, and increasing to 4 or 5 emails if you still don’t hear back from your candidate.”

The “Nurture” campaign refers to Lever Nurture, a sourcing automation technology that “is built natively inside Lever’s applicant tracking system, and allows recruiters to use metrics to identify the most effective sourcing tactics and build meaningful candidate relationships at scale.”

Tapping into a year’s worth of data

Here’s my take: I haven’t had an opportunity to get a first-hand look at Lever Nurture, but it certainly sounds like something TA professionals could leverage to be a lot more effective. In fact, there are all sorts of technology out there that can help anyone in talent management extend their reach and efficiency as they try to get ahead in the rat race that is talent acquisition.

What intrigued me most about Lever’s The Science of Sourcing: Benchmarks for Recruiting Success study was the breadth and width of the data it tapped into.

According to Lever, it “aggregates data from over 147,000 Lever Nurture campaigns targeting 135,000 candidates from January 2017- January 2018.” And to be more specific, it “examined communication between 135,000 sourced candidates and recruiters in Lever Nurture.”

A year’s worth of data that parses conversations between sourcers/recruiters and sourced candidates is a pretty big sample in my book, and the bigger the sample, the better the quality of the insights — including this one:

Sourcing candidates is far from easy. For many recruiters, it can be time-consuming and riddled with rejection. Still, it stands tall as one of the most efficient ways to hire – compared to applicants, it takes about half as many sourced candidates to make a hire.”

If you want to take a dip into this data, Lever’s The Science of Sourcing: Benchmarks for Recruiting Success report is available here. My guess is that it’s one that TA professionals will want to spend a little time digging into.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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