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Prospective Candidate Sourcing Software 101

70% of talent leaders recently told us that growing pipeline is their top priority for 2021. We know that doing so requires great sourcing software... so we wrote this buyer's guide for you, wherever you are in your journey.

In a recent survey of over 500 talent acquisition professionals, nearly 70% of talent leaders told us that their #1 priority for 2021 was pipelining. Where they plan to invest their recruiting budget this year is reflective of that priority: 59% said they’d be investing in sourcing tools and tech. In fact, the importance of passive talent sourcing, pipelining, and automating those top-of-funnel processes came up again and again over the course of the survey: sourcers, recruiters, and talent leaders all identified “difficulty finding qualified candidates” as their top recruiting challenge; automation scored a 7/10 on a scale of importance; and while 49% of respondents said they used email automation to support remote hiring prior to COVID, 28% said they plan on adding it to their tech stack this year. This means that nearly three out of four talent teams will be using email automation to make processes more efficient, save time, and improve candidate experience in 2021 and beyond. 

So we decided to write a Buyer's Guide for Prospective Candidate Sourcing Software for that 70% of talent leaders who said growing pipeline is their top priority, and for that 28% looking to add email automation to their tech stacks. Because now that you know what you need, how do you start to solve for it?

The pandemic clearly hasn’t eased the pervasive challenge of finding top talent and competing for it across industries, which is why so many sourcers and recruiters we’ve spoken with recently said that their “year of upskilling” in 2020 included learning and implementing new sourcing techniques and strategies. For many organizations, geography has been democratized and talent pools have opened exponentially. Opening those pools has meant more reachouts to more candidates within the same time constraints. Respondents to the aforementioned survey noted that “Competition is fierce and we have to touch on multiple channels and platforms in very little time; automation helps with this”; “With more reachouts due to opening up the candidate pool, the benefit of automation is huge. It’s otherwise so easy for things to fall through the cracks”; and “As the country reopens and the workforce is rebuilt, the numbers coming back in will be substantial—which will mean less time for us. Automation will be especially important then.”

Of course, your automation efforts are only as good as the talent you use them on, which is where sourcing as a talent acquisition strategy comes in. Sourcing is the process of actively seeking out, identifying, engaging, nurturing, and building relationships with talent (active and passive) for current open roles and roles that may be open in the future. It’s a proactive, rather than a reactive, endeavor, an outbound approach to target the best—and the best-fit—talent in the market, leading to qualified candidates being submitted into process who would not have applied on their own. Sourcing has these benefits:

  • It reduces time to hire and therefore cost per hire, because you’re nurturing relationships with talent long before the need to fill a role arises. Industry numbers suggest that sourced candidates are more than twice as efficient to hire as inbound candidates are. At Gem, some of our customers have seen roles filled up to four times faster, thanks to the ready pipelines sourcing generates.
  • It improves workforce diversity. With sourcing, because you’re not rushing to fill newly-opened roles, you won’t be pressed to turn to the first-best prospect—the “quick hire” often made through referrals and former colleagues—and replicate the homogeneity in your organization.
  • It opens up the pool of available talent exponentially. Passive recruitment practices get you a pool of limited talent—your internal pool, your referral pool, and your active pool. But seeking out talent that isn’t “available” opens up that pool in remarkable ways. For instance, in 2020—a difficult year for the vast majority of industries—tech occupations saw only a 3% unemployment rate. That means that only 3% of potential software talent was actively looking for work. Sourcing opens organizations up to that other 97% of qualified talent.
  • It improves candidate quality, because you’re actively discovering qualified candidates rather than sifting through all those inbound resumes to find the proverbial needle in the haystack. (42% of resumes companies receive are from unqualified candidates.) Passive talent has transparent motives—they have no urgency to find a new job, since they already have one—and no need to embellish or exaggerate their skills and experience. They’re also less likely to need skill development because they’re already employed, and up-to-date with technologies and industry developments.
  • It improves quality of hire, because you spend more time than you might otherwise thoughtfully outlining your ideal candidate and getting as specific as possible about required skills and expected impact. As you do, you and your hiring manager develop a better understanding of the role and what “success” looks like in it. The better your understanding, the stronger your search outcomes will be. 
  • It builds employer brand, which, in the wake of COVID and of the renewed visibility of Black Lives Matter in 2020, is more important than ever. This is a happy side-effect of nurture campaigns, which keep talent communities up-to-date on everything from funding rounds, to product updates, to corporate social responsibility initiatives, to internal diversity stats, to personal stories of individual employees. In other words, you get to push your messaging to talent who would likely not otherwise see it—most talent isn’t likely to land on your careers page on their own, no matter how beautiful it is. As your company becomes familiar to the talent receiving your messaging, they come to perceive you as a trustworthy organization—and your sourcers as allies, and possibly friends.

Even in our post-COVID world, the term “talent scarcity” is as prevalent as ever. But the most mature talent acquisition teams don’t buy into this line of thinking. They recognize that there are plenty of skilled workers out there; many of them just happen to be working elsewhere. And the majority of them would be open to a career change if the offer was right. That’s why the Apples, Googles, and Amazons of the world have teams of dedicated sourcers—despite the fact that they’re inundated with applications. 

Because of this new sourcing-and-nurturing paradigm, between 70% and 80% of “recruiting” happens prior to application now. And in our time-poor industry, sourcers and recruiters deserve technologies built just for them—ones that will automate or accelerate their sourcing and outreach tasks (email finding and automated follow-ups, for example), track every touchpoint they have with talent, offer metrics—and, by extension, best practices—to help them better understand their outreach, and give recruiters back their time so they can focus on things like candidate experience, making meaningful touchpoints with talent, and talent advisorship. 

That’s where candidate sourcing software comes in. At Gem, we believe in the importance of sourcing so deeply that we’ve built our products around automating its processes—and not just automating them, but allowing recruiters to personalize the experience, and maintain that crucial human element, while doing so. Here’s what some of our customers report:

  • 8-10 hours saved per recruiter, per week (Robinhood)
  • 135 hours/week saved, team-wide, in repetitive processes (an equivalent of 3.5 FTEs/year) (Dropbox
  • 4x increase in PPR thanks to set-and-forget email sequences rather than one-off emails (Lyft)
  • 40% decrease in time to hire thanks to automated (but personalized) campaigns (Cockroach Labs)
  • 10% increase in response rates (Terminal)
  • 30% candidate conversion rates into ATS (21% higher than the industry average) thanks to send-on-behalf-of features (Mapbox)

It’s clear to us at Gem that business leaders are more and more recognizing the importance of sourcing to their organizations. They’re empowering their TA teams to make strategic business decisions and rethinking their technology stacks to drive hiring efficiency and offer better candidate experiences. This empowerment puts TA teams in a tremendous position: to get to choose to implement sourcing as a strategy, and to decide what software they should use to do so. Of course, we feel pretty confident that Gem is one of your best options; but regardless of what solution you end up choosing, we’d like to be here to take the complexity out of your decision.  We’re here to take the complexity out of that decision. So regardless of where you are in your journey, we’ve written this buyer’s guide as a choose-your-own-adventure of sorts. It answers all of these questions, according to where you are on your journey: 

  • Wait—what is sourcing software... and how is it different from the ATS I’m already using?
  • I know what sourcing software is; but what are its benefits?
  • I know what sourcing software is; but how do I know if my team needs one?
  • How do I determine what features my org needs in a sourcing solution?
  • What are the most essential features of a sourcing solution?
  • What steps should I take to choose my prospective provider?
  • I’ve narrowed down my sourcing solution providers; now what questions do I ask in the demos?

Regardless of which of the above questions you’re asking, we think you’ll find valuable information here to help you make the best investment for your team, your company, and your candidates. So jump in and start at the section that’s most relevant to you. And if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us at gem.com. Answering questions is one of our favorite pastimes. 

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