9 Creative Ways to Source Candidates

Whether you’re looking to fill one or multiple roles, the candidate sourcing process can be daunting. Countless options are available to source and engage talent; implementing creative strategies is essential to stand out from other employers in today’s competitive talent market.

While your team may already have successful sourcing strategies and tactics in place, there’s always room for improvement. Learn top creative ways to source candidates and build a strong talent pipeline of skilled workers.

  1. Leverage talent sourcing tools
  2. Integrate AI into the recruitment process
  3. Incorporate unique sourcing channels
  4. Engage independent talent
  5. Find and attract candidates on social media
  6. Develop a compelling employee value proposition (EVP)  
  7. Identify new ways to promote your employer brand
  8. Create an employee referral program
  9. Improve candidate sourcing over time

1. Leverage talent sourcing tools

Recruiters and talent acquisition professionals often spend a significant amount of time manually sourcing potential candidates. Manual steps may include researching talent on LinkedIn and other social or professional networks, reviewing resumes and candidate profiles in an applicant tracking system (ATS), and reaching out to individuals who look like the right fit for open roles.

By embracing talent sourcing tools, organizations can reduce the amount of time and resources spent on sourcing. As a result, recruitment and talent acquisition teams can spend more time focusing on top talent and improving the candidate experience.

Talent sourcing tools are technology solutions that help organizations build strong candidate pipelines by simplifying the process of proactively finding and engaging both talent actively seeking jobs and others passively interested.

Sourcing tools offer many features and benefits, including:

  • Candidate databases with advanced search filters
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) technology to identify and rank the most qualified talent
  • Targeted recruitment campaigns to engage both active and passive candidates
  • Communication capabilities to send templated or personalized outreach to talent
  • Task automation to reduce manual processes
  • Advanced insights to support data-driven decision-making and improve sourcing over time
  • Integrations with common recruitment and talent acquisition solutions such as ATSs, calendar applications, and messaging platforms

2. Integrate AI into the recruitment process

While talent sourcing tools have some AI capabilities, other AI solutions are also available to improve your sourcing and recruiting strategy. According to a survey of 1,068 HR professionals from Tidio, almost 67% of respondents believe AI is beneficial and has a positive impact on the recruitment process.

Some benefits of integrating AI into sourcing and recruitment include an improved candidate experience, increased efficiency, decreased bias and more objective hiring, and predictive analytics to determine likely candidate success.

The following are a few of the many AI-powered recruiting tools available to optimize the sourcing and recruitment process.  

Generative AI for written content

Generative AI tools such as ChatGPT or Google Bard can be used to help draft content for sourcing and recruitment purposes, including job descriptions, outreach emails to prospective candidates, and interview questions. Team members can share a prompt with the tool that includes important details about the job and the tool will generate suggested content. From there, the team can edit the content to ensure the messaging is accurate and on brand, which saves time compared to writing content from scratch.

Job description software to diminish bias

Software solutions like Textio and Datapeople use machine learning algorithms to analyze job descriptions and other recruitment messaging to minimize bias. Recruiters or talent acquisition team members can copy and paste job descriptions or other assets directly into the platform. The software will highlight language that may turn away certain job seekers or doesn’t align with the company’s employer brand, tone, and style and suggest alternatives for more effective, inclusive job descriptions.

Resume parsing and matching

Many applicant ATSs and recruitment platforms include AI-enabled features to automatically interpret resumes, cover letters, and other job application assets. Machine learning algorithms evaluate resumes to identify keywords that align with the job description, role, and required skills. Writing detailed job descriptions that include keywords related to your ideal candidate can help increase the success rate of resume parsing tools.

3. Incorporate unique sourcing channels

According to research from Gartner, while nearly half of HR leaders surveyed list recruiting as a top priority, 36% indicate that their sourcing strategies are insufficient for finding skilled talent. Most organizations source candidates by sharing open roles on their careers page, traditional job boards, and other common job posting sites.

Thinking outside the box and incorporating other sourcing channels can help your team reach more individuals with the skills you need.  

Unique sourcing channels to explore include:

  • Niche, industry-specific job boards such as Dice for tech workers, MarketingHire for marketing professionals, SHRM HR Jobs for human resources job seekers, and Dribbble for creative talent
  • Job boards that target specific demographics, including Diversity.com for underrepresented talent, InHerSight for women, and the Neurodiversity Employment Network for neurodiverse individuals
  • Industry- or skill-specific Slack communities, such as Product School for product managers, Online Geniuses for marketers, and OneReq for talent acquisition professionals
  • Online communities such as Reddit (common channels, also known as subreddits for candidate sourcing include r/jobs and r/recruitment)
  • University or college career centers
  • Professional networking groups
  • Past team members and job applicants
  • Talent marketplaces

4. Engage independent talent

An effective way to reach qualified workers in your sourcing efforts is by engaging independent talent. Rather than exclusively relying on full-time, in-house team members, accessing independent talent can help your organization diversify your talent pool, build a more agile workforce, reduce costs, and scale up and down as needed.

Upwork’s 2022 Future Workforce Report found that 78% of hiring managers surveyed who engage independent professionals feel confident about finding the talent they need, compared to just 63% of those who don’t leverage independent talent. Additionally, as the world of work and business demands continue to evolve, 84% of respondents who engage freelancers say they’re confident in their company’s ability to respond to disruption.

Through Upwork, access skilled independent professionals from around the world with more than 10,000 skills. You also have the option to initiate contract-to-hire working relationships using Upwork’s end-to-end full-time hiring solution. This approach enables your team to fill skills gaps faster than a traditional hiring process, engage workers for a trial period, and decide whether to move to a full-time relationship.

5. Find and attract candidates on social media

Social media is one of the most widely used sourcing and recruitment channels. In fact, research from CareerArc found that 92% of employers surveyed use social media to recruit talent and 86% of job seekers surveyed use social media in their job search.

Most organizations share links to job opportunities on LinkedIn and other social media platforms. However, simple job posts may be overlooked in a crowded social media feed. Identifying creative ways to stand out to talent can be beneficial.

Here are some tactics to consider as you source and attract prospective team members on social media:

  • Complete all company social media pages or profiles with detailed, engaging content
  • Run targeted LinkedIn job ads based on relevant audience attributes like location, job title, and job experience
  • Use relevant keywords to search for and message active and passive job seekers on LinkedIn
  • Search hashtags on X (formerly known as Twitter), Instagram, and TikTok for potential job seekers
  • Comment on social media posts shared by job seekers who are a fit for your open roles
  • Engage with individuals who comment on or share your social media posts
  • Create and share videos across LinkedIn, Facebook, X, Instagram, and TikTok, such as worker testimonials, interviews with leadership team members, office tours, recaps from company events, and job seeker tips
  • Forge partnerships with social media influencers to share content about why job seekers should consider joining your team
  • Follow competitors and top employers on social media to learn tips and new ideas

6. Develop a compelling employee value proposition (EVP)

Today’s job seekers are looking for more than a paycheck in their roles. An effective employee value proposition (EVP) can help your team answer the “What’s in it for me?” question for prospective workers. An EVP is a clear, concise summary of what an organization has to offer employees in terms of compensation, benefits, and opportunities.

While many elements go into a compelling employee value proposition, some companies also have a brief EVP statement, slogan, or mission that encompasses and embodies the employer brand. For example, former Amazon president and CEO, Jeff Bezos, coined the internal slogan,“Work hard, have fun, and make history,” and Microsoft’s mission is, “To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

Once you develop your EVP, you can use messaging from the summary in your job descriptions and sourcing outreach to engage qualified talent.

Some elements to highlight in your employee value proposition include:

  • Your organization’s mission, vision, and values
  • Opportunities for professional development and advancement
  • Compensation, including salary, bonuses, profit sharing, and other financial incentives
  • Comprehensive benefits, including paid time off, remote work and flexible schedule opportunities, health insurance, life insurance, retirement plans, wellness stipends, and mental health resources
  • New or unique benefits, such as financial wellness resources, pet insurance, and childcare or eldercare stipends or reimbursements
  • Company culture details, like the work environment, company events, corporate social responsibility initiatives, and employee resource groups (ERGs)

7. Identify new ways to promote your employer brand

An employer brand is the overall perception current and potential team members and other stakeholders have about what it’s like to work for your company. A strong employer brand can help your team attract and engage qualified talent. In fact, the study cited above by CareerArc found that 82% of respondents consider employer brand and reputation before applying to a job.

Many organizations promote their employer brand through company careers pages, job descriptions, and social media channels. In today’s competitive labor market, identifying other unique opportunities to share a glimpse into what working on your team is like can help your organization stand out and attract the best candidates.

Consider the following options:

  • Share employee testimonials and success stories. Reach out to team members to share first hand feedback on the employee experience. Testimonials and success stories can be written or in video format and shared across all channels where you promote your employer brand. Consider sharing stories from team members with diverse backgrounds who have completed interesting projects, earned a promotion, or successfully transitioned to another role internally.  
  • Apply for best workplace awards. Many job seekers are eager to work for companies that have been recognized for their commitment to the employee experience. A wide range of workplace awards are available, including local, national, and global best place to work awards, and lists specific to top companies for diversity, LGBTQ+ equality, women in the workplace, and other categories.
  • Add a recruitment-focused section to your blog. If your company blog primarily focuses on customer-facing content, consider adding a section dedicated to your employer brand and recruitment efforts. On the blog, feature content such as employee profiles, interviews with company leaders, recent award wins and other recognition, team events, and job seeker tips.    
  • Distribute a newsletter to your candidate database. Using content such as employee success stories, blog posts, and other company updates, send a regular newsletter—such as once a month or quarterly—to your candidate database. Regular communication can help passive and active job seekers keep your company top of mind and excite them about joining your team.

8. Create an employee referral program

While recruitment and talent acquisition teams are responsible for finding qualified workers, team members across your organization can contribute to sourcing talent through an employee referral program.

This approach offers several benefits, including cost savings, more qualified hires, increased engagement, and decreased turnover risks. Organizations can save money typically spent on recruitment advertising and initial screening steps. Additionally, existing workers want to work with others who will make positive contributions to the team; referred employees are more likely to be engaged because they already have a personal connection at the company.    

Best practices for an effective referral program include:

  • Creating a standardized process for team members to submit referrals
  • Communicating open roles and referral opportunities across internal channels, such as the company intranet, messaging applications, email, and team meetings
  • Hosting virtual or in-person recruitment events and encouraging team members to invite their professional connections
  • Adding a field on job applications for individuals to share whether they were referred by a current team member
  • Incentivizing referral programs with bonuses, gift cards, and other rewards
  • Offering additional incentives for referrals to leadership, executive, and difficult-to-fill roles
  • Implementing referral software to track the success of your program

9. Improve candidate sourcing over time

As your team tests new, creative ways to source candidates, measuring the success of each tactic and your overall sourcing and recruitment effectiveness is essential.

One step you can take is tracking sourcing channel performance. Track metrics such as how many total applicants and quality candidates you receive per role, along with the total number of hires for each sourcing channel. Many ATSs, recruitment platforms, and human resources information systems (HRISs) automatically track these and other metrics.

Some channels, such as job boards and social media advertisements, charge a fee per applicant or click on your job posts. By tracking the right data, your team can eliminate sources that don’t result in qualified candidates or eventual hires and reallocate your budget to top-performing sources.

Another option is to collect candidate feedback on the sourcing and recruitment process. Consider sending candidate experience surveys to new team members once they join your organization, as well as applicants who don’t receive an offer or choose to withdraw from the process.

Questions to ask in a candidate experience survey include:

  • How did you first hear about the company or open role? Did you find and apply to the role on your own or did a member of the team reach out to you?
  • What stood out about the company or role that encouraged you to apply?
  • How well did the recruitment process align with your expectations based on the job description and your impression of the company’s employer brand?
  • What were the positive aspects about the application and recruitment experience?
  • How can the team improve the experience?  
  • Are you likely to recommend the company to others based on your experience? Why or why not?

Start by engaging a recruitment specialist

Identifying and implementing creative ways to source candidates can help you reach talent with the skills you need to drive positive business outcomes. Testing new strategies often requires some trial and error so enlisting the help of an outside expert can help your team save time and resources.

Experienced independent recruiting professionals are available on Upwork to help you take a creative approach to sourcing qualified candidates. Recruiting professionals can provide support with other tasks including managing sourcing tools, screening prospective team members, and coordinating interviews.

Through Project Catalog™, simplify the process of engaging skilled independent recruiting professionals. Search for fixed-price projects and one-on-one consultations and select the option that best aligns with your candidate sourcing goals. Get started—browse available talent acquisition and recruiting projects today.

Disclosure: Upwork is an OpenAI partner, giving OpenAI customers and other businesses direct access to trusted expert independent professionals experienced in working with OpenAI technologies.

Upwork does not control, operate, or sponsor the other tools or services discussed in this article, which are only provided as potential options. Each reader and company should take the time to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situation.

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Author Spotlight

9 Creative Ways to Source Candidates
Beth Kempton
Content Writer

Beth Kempton is a B2B writer with a passion for storytelling and more than a decade of content marketing experience. She specializes in writing engaging long-form content, including blog posts, thought leadership pieces, SEO articles, case studies, ebooks and guides, for HR technology and B2B SaaS companies. In her free time, you can find Beth reading or running.

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