7 proven ways to actively source candidates
December 15, 2023
min read

7 proven ways to actively source candidates

Krissy Davis
Krissy Davis

Every tech recruiter wants to find the crème de la crème, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the pièce de résistance when it comes to talent, but to do so, you need to stand out. And to stand out, It takes more than just writing a stellar job description and waiting for applicants to respond. To really stand out as a reputable recruiter and create a pool of talented tech experts, you need to harness the power of active sourcing. 

In this article, we’ll discuss all things active sourcing. From methods and tools to processes and tips, by the end, you’ll have the knowledge to establish yourself as a reputed tech recruiter with a pool of highly skilled individuals to source from. 

What is active sourcing?

Active sourcing is a proactive recruitment strategy that allows recruiters to go beyond the traditional methods of hiring (through their website or social media posts). Instead of waiting for candidates to come to them, recruiters take charge by actively seeking out and engaging with potential talent. By tapping into their extensive networks and utilising advanced search techniques, recruiters are able to identify those who possess the skills and qualifications needed for a specific position. Active sourcing increases the likelihood of finding the ideal candidate and allows recruiters to establish meaningful connections with skilled professionals.

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Active sourcing methods and strategies 

Effective active sourcing involves creating databases, advanced search techniques, industry events and meetups to connect with potential candidates on a more personal level. By taking this proactive approach, you can identify top talent and build lasting relationships within the tech community. But how do you go about doing it? Here are some strategies commonly used:

  1. Leveraging Boolean search techniques: When searching for candidates online, you can use advanced search operators and Boolean logic to make your search more accurate. By using specific words and symbols, you can tell the search engine to look for candidates with certain skills or experience. This helps you easily find the most suitable candidates for your job opening. For more information about  Boolean search techniques, read the below article. 

Here are some tools that offer advanced Boolean search capabilities across multiple platforms, including LinkedIn, GitHub, Stack Overflow, and more: SeekOut, HireEZ (formerly Hiretual), and AmazingHiring

RELATED: Ways to use Linkedin to recruit technical talent

  1. CV database search: With the help of specialised software or platforms seamlessly integrated within applicant tracking systems or recruiting software, you can easily access a vast database of resumes or CVs. This enables efficient identification of the most qualified candidates for job positions. 
  1. Referrals and employee networks: Referrals are a powerful tool, allowing companies to tap into the vast networks of their employees, friends, and professional acquaintances. When a job opening arises, you can turn to your trusted workforce to recommend potential candidates who may be a perfect fit. These referrals bring an extra layer of credibility, as they come with the endorsement and trust of the referring employee. The three main referral processes are employee referral programs, networking events (industry events, conferences, etc.) and social networks.
  1. Harvesting: Harvesting is an essential strategy that aims to revolutionise how companies find new employees. By using some or all the methods above, you can compile information about individuals with relevant skills and experiences. You’ll then be able to create and maintain a comprehensive and up-to-date database of potential job seekers. This innovative approach to tech recruiting ensures that you can stay ahead of the game, connecting with the best candidates in the industry. 
  1. Hackathons and other technical challenges: By hosting or sponsoring coding challenges, hackathons, or tech competitions, you open the door to a vast amount of talent. Not only do these events provide an avenue for showcasing your organisation's commitment to innovation, but they also allow you to identify top performers in the industry. By engaging directly with developers and other experts in the field, you foster a sense of community and collaboration that can lead to strong relationships. 
  1. Passive candidates: It’s important to remember that not all top professionals are actively seeking job opportunities. That's why it’s essential to go the extra mile to engage in long-term relationship building. By sharing industry insights, staying in constant communication, and offering valuable resources, you can keep these talented individuals on the radar for future openings. See also employer branding
  1. Networking: Attending industry events, conferences, or networking sessions is a surefire way to enhance your chances of connecting with talented individuals who could be the perfect fit for your company's job openings. These networking events provide a unique opportunity to engage with professionals from various backgrounds, making it easier to find the right candidate with the desired skills and experience. 

Tools and solutions for active sourcing

There are many tools and devices you can utilise for active sourcing. These tools are designed to help identify, engage, and manage potential candidates efficiently and effectively. Here are some popular ones:

RELATED: How to automate your recruitment process 

  1. Managed recruiting services: Services such as WeAreDevelopers offer streamlined recruiting by providing onboarding calls, active sourcing from Europe's #1 Developer community, pre-screening and delivering pre-filtered candidates, and providing an applicant tracking dashboard. If you want access to thousands of jobseeking developers in Europe, then the simpliest way is through the WeAreDevelopers platform.
  2. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS): ATS platforms like Greenhouse, Lever, or Workable come packed with powerful sourcing functionalities that streamline the entire candidate lifecycle, from sourcing to hiring. Recruiters can effortlessly manage every step of the process, from finding top talent to bringing them on board.
  3. Social media management tools: Platforms like Hootsuite or Buffer allow recruiters to effortlessly schedule posts, engage with candidates, and amplify job postings with just a few clicks. Gone are the days of juggling different platforms and struggling to keep up with the ever-changing social media settings and formats. These platforms streamline the process and enhance recruiters' ability to connect with candidates in a meaningful way. 
  4. Candidate Relationship Management (CRM) Systems: Innovative tools like Beamery, Avature, and SmashFly offer cutting-edge features that enable personalised communication and provide the ability to track interactions seamlessly. Recruiters can effortlessly engage with candidates on a one-on-one level, ensuring that your message resonates and leaves a lasting impression. These tools empower recruiters to take their candidate relationship management to the next level, ensuring a competitive edge. 
  5. Talent pool management: Cutting-edge tools like TalentBin (now part of Monster), Entelo, or TalentLyft empower recruiters to effortlessly create and manage talent pools or databases brimming with potential candidates. With their user-friendly interfaces and robust features, recruiters can easily identify top talent, engage with candidates, and seamlessly track their progress throughout the hiring journey. 
  6. Web scraping tools: Octoparse and ParseHub are tools that can change the way you gather candidate information. These platforms extract data from various sources such as websites, forums, and job boards, allowing you to collect valuable data effortlessly and saving time and effort. These tools will streamline your candidate sourcing process, which will allow you to focus on what really matters - finding the top talent for your organisation. 
  7. Email outreach and automation tools: With tools like Yesware, Outreach, or Mixmax, reaching out to candidates in your database has never been easier. These tools not only help you craft personalised messages that resonate with your audience, but they also offer tracking capabilities to keep you in the loop. And the best part? You can automate your follow-ups, saving you valuable time and ensuring that no lead slips through the cracks.
  8. AI-powered sourcing tools: Platforms like HireEZ (formerly Hiretual), Ideal, or TextRecruit leverage AI technology to enhance sourcing efficiency, saving valuable time and resources for hiring teams. Whether it's finding the perfect candidate for a niche role or streamlining the recruitment process, these platforms have become indispensable tools for recruiters looking to stay ahead in such a competitive job market.

Current trends and tips for active sourcing

As a recruiter, staying up to date with the latest hiring trends is crucial. The best candidates are always in high demand and have numerous opportunities at their fingertips. By staying informed about the latest recruitment trends, you can adapt your approach to better attract these top talents. Whether it's leveraging innovative sourcing techniques or embracing new technologies, by keeping ahead, you'll stand out in a crowded market and continue to actively source candidates effectively. Here are some of the current trends in recruiting: 

1. Community sourcing

Community sourcing is becoming a popular sourcing channel among tech recruiters who are actively sourcing. As it’s shown, developers love communities, so it’s no surprise more recruiters are joining these platforms to hire talented individuals. Tech communities such as GitHub, Stack Overflow, Python Developers and Hackerspaces provide jobseekers with forums, discussion boards, and networking opportunities to foster a sense of belonging. These platforms not only benefit jobseekers, but they also provide recruiters with a means to keep in touch and offer exciting opportunities for learning and networking - building strong relationships. 

RELATED: Hiring a Programmer: 12 Best Sites for Startups

Tips for community sourcing

Once you find the right community, you gain the advantage of sourcing talent from an already operational infrastructure where individuals regularly engage in structured tech activities. The World Congress, for example, is a perfectly acceptable place to source and meet developers and forge pathways into the community. It goes without saying, recruiting in a developer-native environment requires more than punching a few keys on your keyboard. You need to get out there! Below are some tips to help get you started:

  • Contribute, share, and engage: Joining a tech community is about supporting each other. Don’t just start posting job openings, as you’ll soon find yourself kicked out. Make sure you’re showing value by contributing. At WeAreDevelopers we put a strong focus on community sourcing, we create memorable experiences for developers and as a result have built a thriving international community. If you're finding it difficult to start community building, partner up with people who already have a community.

  • Show genuine interest: Don’t treat individuals as just “possible candidates”. Get to know them on a deeper, more personal level. Doing so will ensure you and your organisation are at the forefront of their minds when they start looking for new opportunities. It will also help increase response rates and referrals from passive talent. Think about the long game, the connections you make now might not be ideal at the moment, but a year or two down the line... that's a different story.

2. Talent marketplaces

The way people work is changing, and more companies are hiring people who work from home. This has led to the rise of various Talent marketplaces such as Upwork and Fivver. Recruiters who embrace this trend can gain access to a diverse talent pool, improve their agility and innovation, and build high-performing teams, regardless of their geographical location. There is often a drawback though. Canidates are often inexperienced or struggle with language barriers. To recruit using one of these platforms can be tedious.

Tips for using talent marketplaces

To ensure you get the best out of these platforms, here’s a few tried and tested tips: 

  • Define your needs clearly: It's important to clearly define the skills, experience, and project requirements when seeking talent to avoid wasting time on unqualified candidates.

  • Utilise the filters and search functions effectively: Make the most of the filters and search options to narrow down your search and find the best candidates based on their skills, experience, location, and other criteria.

  • Build relationships: Treat talent as valuable partners, not just disposable resources. Communicate openly, provide feedback, and offer ongoing opportunities to work together.

Active sourcing process

The process typically starts by defining your ideal candidate, like a skilled software engineer who loves open-source projects and thrives in collaborative environments. Then, you need to choose the right sourcing channels: tech forums, coding communities, or even hackathons. Once you’ve found a potential candidate, personalise your approach. Ditch the generic emails and craft a message that speaks to their interests and highlights why your company is perfect for them. Let’s break this down further:

  1. Define your candidate persona:

When identifying your ideal candidate, consider industry knowledge, technical skills, cultural fit, and career aspirations. Create a detailed profile to guide your sourcing efforts.

  1. Choose your sourcing channels

Take advantage of various online platforms such as LinkedIn, professional networks, job boards, and niche communities. Attend industry events, conferences, and meetups to interact with potential candidates in person. Engage with relevant groups and individuals on social media. You may also consider partnering with headhunters or universities that focus on your target talent pool.

  1. Research and identify potential candidates

Utilise advanced search and filters on LinkedIn, track industry news, and engage with relevant professionals on social media to find qualified candidates.

  1. Engage and personalise your outreach

When reaching out to candidates, avoid sending generic messages. Instead, put in the effort to craft personalised messages that are tailored to each candidate's background and interests. Highlight the specific aspects of your company and the open position that would be most appealing to the candidate. Use a friendly and professional tone to demonstrate your genuine interest in connecting with them.

  1. Qualify and assess potential candidates

Conduct interviews to evaluate the candidate's skills, experience, and cultural fit. Additionally, skills assessments or coding challenges may be used to evaluate technical abilities. Employers should also gather additional information through references and background checks.

  1. Build relationships and nurture your talent pipeline

It’s good practice to maintain communication with candidates who have potential, even if they are not the right fit for the current job opening. Share industry news and relevant content to keep them engaged and interested. Additionally, you can invite them to events or introduce them to other professionals in your network. Here are some additional tips to consider:

  • Use automation tools to streamline your sourcing process and save time.

  • Instead of just filling positions, it is important to focus on creating authentic relationships.

  • Be transparent about your company culture and expectations.

  • To attract the best talent, it is important to provide competitive compensation and benefits packages.

Actively sourcing candidates for positions in your company can be a huge task. It can take up to 66 days to fill one position. If your company is in a growth stage, and you need to hire quickly, you cannot wait around for developers to contact you. The single best way you can reduce time spent hiring is through a specialised platform like WeAreDevelopers. Read more about our developer recruiting services.


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