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06 March 2017

Sourcing: Find your candidates that are not easy to place

Carerix is also active in the German market and works closely with commercial journalists to highlight trends within the market. This article is a translation of: Sourcing: Die einfache Suche nach komplexen Kandidaten (German)

Gone are the days when a job advertisement was enough to produce a flood of job applications. Recruiters are finding it especially difficult in the IT and engineering sectors in which candidates are in short supply. Sourcing technologies can make their job easier.

Labour market: new recruiting technologies becoming more important

In 2016 the German labour market performed better than it has in the last twenty-five years. According to data from the German Federal Labour Office, the average annual unemployment figures fell below the 2.7 million mark for the first time since 1991. However, one man’s joy is another man’s sorrow. Those figures are anything but good news for those who are searching high and low for skilled workers. At present, there are 51,000 specialist vacancies in the German IT industry alone – a twenty percent increase on last year – and it is almost impossible to fill them. That is the finding of an up-to-date, representative study by the digital association Bitkom, which surveyed 1,500 managing directors and HR managers at a wide variety of companies.

Shortage of skilled workers makes active sourcing a must

However, there is also a noticeable shortage of skilled workers in other sectors. According to Bitkom, 54% of companies in Germany are expecting an increase in the number of jobs for highly trained employees in the coming years. This means that recruiters will face further challenges. After all, demographic changes have made young high potentials a rarity. And the few who are on the market are highly sought after. Nowadays, companies that want to attract candidates cannot wait until talented individuals approach them; they need to go out and find them. To that end, active sourcing is the magic word. It means approaching candidates directly at trade fairs, via social media, business platforms, CV databases, and so on, and so forth.

So what is sourcing?

However, when it comes to online recruiting in particular, active sourcing can be a laborious process. It involves trawling through business networks to find key words and scanning potential candidates for availability and suitability. It can take time to find the proverbial needle in the haystack. The use of search engines like Google is equally laborious, as recruiters face a virtually unmanageable, unstructured mass of data. It is practically impossible to obtain a realistic overview. At least, that is the case if the searches are performed without the appropriate IT support. However, recruiters can now breathe a sigh of relief thanks to the availability of highly reliable sourcing tools which make their lives a lot easier when it comes to online research. So what is sourcing? In the field of recruitment, sourcing is defined as the proactive search for candidates, and it largely relies on online sources. The first step involves finding information about potential candidates, regardless of whether or not they are actively looking for a job. The next step may involve presenting them with an attractive job offer.

How does sourcing work from a technical point of view?

Smart sourcing algorithms are used to perform a single search on several databases, including CV databases, social media platforms or business networks simultaneously. In other words, it is like Google for recruiters. The tools’ semantic search technology uses Boolean logic to trawl the internet for information in the same way as Google. During this process, complex search engine commands (Boolean operators) are combined into logical, long search strings. The only difference is that sourcing solutions use completely different search parameters and ranges than Google.

Why do sourcing tools produce different results than Google?

This means that they penetrate niche areas of the internet that tend to fall through the cracks with Google et al. These areas include special communities that are filled with scarce, skilled workers. The main reason they are part of these communities is to communicate professionally. In doing so, they also leave behind information about their career development. This content would be too specific for the classic search requests made by the average internet user. For recruiters, however, who are looking for skilled high potentials, that information can never be too specific. With the right combination of keywords and criteria, even users with no technical training can use sourcing software to find the best candidates with very little effort. The most widely known tools on the market include Talentwunder, TalentBin or CxSearch, which is available as part of the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) from Carerix and is based on the technology from the Dutch HR software provider Textkernel. They can be used to search the databases of major career portals at the click of a button. This includes social media platforms like Xing and LinkedIn, and new sources are added on a regular basis. New additions include IT expert forums like GitHub or Stack-Overflow, which are filled with IT experts with a high level of specialist knowledge.

Sourcing tools filter according to a candidate’s suitability

The information compiled about each individual candidate is systematically ranked according to a candidate’s suitability. Just like in a well-structured CV, the name, CV information and contact details can be easily retrieved. Ongoing search requests can be easily amended or supplemented at any time. The weighting factor for individual search criteria can be easily adjusted. Companies looking for candidates internationally can use the tool in English, Dutch, German and French. New languages are added on a regular basis.

Is sourcing compatible with data protection?

So what about data protection? No problem! Just like the major internet search engines, only publicly available information is accessed, which means that compliance with German data protection guidelines is guaranteed. Recruiters only see what candidates disclose online themselves. And since all of the information is compiled from approved sources, this process produces an authentic picture of the specialists. According to the Recruiting Trends study, which was carried out by the University of Bamberg in collaboration with the Monster career portal, sourcing tools provide companies with considerable opportunities to cover their shortages in skilled workers. Two-thirds of the companies surveyed assume that this type of technology will be used more frequently in the future. They believe that sourcing tools:

  • speed up the recruitment process (56.3 per cent)
  • improve the effectiveness of recruitment (50.0 per cent)
  • facilitate non-discriminatory recruitment (49.3 per cent)
  • help find the most suitable candidates (47.3 per cent)
  • simplify the recruitment process (46.6 per cent)

The commonly expressed fear that, sooner or later, robots could replace recruiters, is unfounded. Algorithms can only perform routine assignments, which means they free up time for what is really important: direct contact with the candidate in the job interview and the onboarding phase. The future is looking bright.