Skip to main content

Proactive Sourcing: Why It’s All About Relationships

The best talent teams and recruiters know that sourcing candidates requires keeping top talent engaged and building relationships over time.

They know that even if only roughly 44% of professionals are actively looking for a job at any given time, a large portion of the remaining 66% are still willing to talk. By engaging with that pool of passive talent, recruiters and sourcers can begin to generate Talent Pipelines, which are groups of engaged candidates that regularly interact with your company in some way.

Essentially, your Talent Pipeline is a collection of ‘warm leads’ for recruiters to dip into anytime they need to fill a roll. But in order for these leads to be truly ‘warm’, your talent team needs to make sure they are building relationships with top talent.

Why you need to source candidates proactively

When companies face a tight talent market, it forces employers to compete for talent. Sourcing proactively (instead of waiting for a job ad to go live before you start sourcing) can put you a step ahead of the competition.

And it’s the job of your Talent Acquisition function to build relationships with passive candidates – a critical part of proactive sourcing. For one, passive candidates are unlikely to jump ship the minute you present them with a new opportunity, so they need to be engaged with your company well in advance of when you hope they develop interest in a new role.

It’s not just about timing, though. The experience that candidates are looking for with your company is fundamentally different in today’s customer-centric age. Their habits as customers have bled into their expectations of how a prospective employer should interact with them.

When buying a product or considering a new service, consumers interact with companies on their social media pages, they read product reviews and rankings, and they get custom recommendations or service follow-ups sent to their inboxes. It’s natural that consumers would expect the same level of interaction and personalization from a company that’s hoping to hire them.

Engaging with candidates helps sourcers on two levels. First, by exposing candidates to your employer brand early and often, you increase the chance that they will feel a stronger connection with your company and brand than they do with competing employers. And the more they engage with your company’s content and talent team, the more likely they are to be interested in exploring an employment opportunity with your organization.

The second (and probably the more important reason) is that, by establishing a relationship, you have the time and space to ‘convince’ the best talent that your company is the right fit for them. Remember all those reviews, rankings, and personalized recommendations we mentioned before? Those same things can also help you get your ideal candidate to apply for an open role.

Proactive sourcing creates a relationship where a candidate learns about the kind of employer you are: what opportunities you can give them, what values you stand for, what behaviors you reward, and how your employees talk about you.

And not only does a proactive sourcing strategy help you win passive talent, but it can also help shorten your time to hire. It’s much quicker to hire a candidate who already knows who you are, than someone who is just meeting your company for the very first time.

Modern sourcing and the new talent team

To adapt to this shift and create the kind of experience where candidates can engage with prospective employers well before applying, sourcing needs to change. Before, it was about being at the front lines and identifying new prospects, but now, it also means creating and nurturing relationships, and giving candidates an amazing personalized experience with the company. Those relationship nurturing interactions are more about interpersonal skills and communication than about technical search.

Not that the technical aspects of the job shouldn't evolve too: a modern sourcer has to manage talent pools and build customized nurture campaigns at a large scale. That includes everything from drip emails, to marketing automation, to social listening and community management.

In many cases, this has led to a change in the way recruiting teams work. The best recruiting teams focus more on marketing and branding. For example: engaging with candidates is only effective when sourcers and recruiters are armed with a clear, well thought-out Employer Value Proposition (EVP) that positively and accurately reflects the company’s employer brand.

Sourcing proactively also means being able to forecast better, so top recruiting teams are also investing in and building up their Talent Analytics. As a result, they are able to track their conversion rates at every step of the recruiting process, and they can anticipate how many hires they will need and can expect to make months in advance.

And to keep all of these different pieces moving in sync, the Talent Acquisition team needs smooth processes and the right tools in place. In other words, the shift toward proactive sourcing has changed hiring for the better. For sourcers in particular, it’s important that they learn from new best practices and develop a process to consistently target and hire the best fit candidate for every open role.


The key takeaway for sourcers is that today’s top candidates want personalized experiences, and they want potential employers to make an effort to build a relationship with them.

The competition in that talent market is fierce, and you won’t win the best talent if your sourcers aren’t going the extra mile to nurture candidate relationships. Of course, this is all a lot easier if your Talent Acquisition team has sophisticated tools and technology that can help facilitate this, at their disposal.

Learn more about how Beamery helps organizations attract, hire, and retain today’s top talent.