What Is HR Sourcing? Definition, Metrics And Importance

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 20 October 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

An organisation's human resources (HR) department uses sourcing to identify passive candidates for a current or future position in the company. These candidates are not presently applying for roles available on an organisation's website or third-party job portals but appear to be strong potential candidates.. Learning about sourcing metrics can help you understand the hiring process better and evaluate the performance of sourcing procedures. In this article, we define HR sourcing, provide metrics to measure the effectiveness of sourcing initiatives, share why these benchmarks are important for an HR department and outline talent sourcer responsibilities and skills.

What Is HR Sourcing?

HR sourcing is when HR professionals recognise talent and persuade them to apply for a position in the company. These positions can be open now or in the future. These HR professionals, also called sourcers, work with recruiters to define a group of qualified potential candidates for a specific role. There are different techniques in sourcing, such as social media outreach or competitive research, to identify suitable candidates. There are three types of sourcing in HR:

  • Passive sourcing: Passive sourcing is when sourcers approach candidates who are not actively seeking a new job but may be interested in exploring rewarding career opportunities.

  • Active sourcing: Active sourcing is when sourcers engage with candidates currently looking for job opportunities.

  • Direct sourcing: Direct sourcing is when sourcers select candidates for a particular position and recruit them without utilising job boards or any other third-party job platform.

Related: The Functions And Departments Of HR: A Complete Guide

HR Sourcing Metrics

Below are metrics that sourcers use to measure the success of their hiring procedures:

Source of hire

This metric helps examine the channels that candidates use to find out which companies are hiring. These channels include social media websites, job platforms and referrals. When a candidate takes part in a hiring process, these channels often create a tag to define the source of acquisition. With the help of these tags, recruiting agencies analyse acquisition channels to determine successful hires. This metric may help an organisation reduce hiring costs, prepare a cost-effective marketing and advertising budget and recognise recruiting programmes and tools in which they may invest.

Percentage of hires through referrals

Employment referrals help an organisation gain talent through recommendations from current employees. A company may have an employee referral programme to reward employees whenever they refer quality talent to the organisation. Calculating the percentage of referral hires can help an organisation measure the effectiveness of its referral programmes. Hiring through referrals can be a quick process with a lower cost per hire. When sourcers calculate this percentage, they can determine the performance of referral programmes. If the results are not satisfactory, an organisation can optimise these programmes.

Related: 12 Effective Recruitment Sourcing Strategies To Use

Quality of sourcing

The sourcing quality metric defines the efficiency of various recruiting channels, such as social media, job sites, career sections of a company's website or recruiting agencies. For instance, a social media platform may garner the attention of 2,000 candidates in a month, but recruiters can engage with only 1,000 applicants. This may suggest that social media is a potent channel to attract candidates, but an in-depth examination may show that out of 1,000 applicants, recruiters can only hire 50 professionals. This makes social media an ineffective channel in this case.

Effectiveness of sourcing channels

Sourcing channel effectiveness measures the conversion rate and the number of candidates applying for jobs through a recruitment channel. Assessing recruitment channels allows sourcers to recognise which hiring platforms professionals use the most. Examining each channel's user traffic can help sourcers plan platform-specific goals and sourcing efforts accordingly. With the help of this metric, organisations can document the feasibility of these channels and make informed decisions.

Cost of a sourcing channel

A company invests money in hiring processes, so candidates wishing to resign may be unprofitable. This metric calculates how economical each hiring channel is so they can properly plan their advertisement expenditure. Costs include the expenses associated with each hire. The formula for this metric calculates the cost of a sourcing programme during a period divided by job applicants successfully hired through a channel. When the cost per applicant is lower, it means that a channel is helping the organisation to find qualified talent effectively.

Related: What Are The 6 Stages Of A Typical Recruitment Cycle?

Importance Of Sourcing Metrics In HR

When sourcers in an HR department use sourcing metrics, they can analyse their recruiting techniques. These metrics are important for determining the cost of hiring sources and identifying the potential of employee referral programmes. Other benchmarks may allow HR departments to record how applicants respond to sections of the hiring process, such as job applications and interviews. When an HR team utilises these metrics, it can also examine the efficiency of the hiring procedures.

The examination includes the time to assess and hire new employees and how satisfied the manager is with the hires. These evaluations can help organisations to motivate their HR professionals to work towards their areas of improvement. This encouragement may often lead to inventive solutions and company growth. For instance, if an organisation cannot find a suitable professional for a specialised position, the hiring managers can use sourcing metrics to recognise inadequacies in the sourcing channels. Using this information, the organisation can invest in other recruitment channels and find qualified candidates.

Related: What Is Talent Management? Importance, Strategy And Process

Talent Sourcer Responsibilities

Below are the responsibilities that a talent sourcer fulfils routinely:

Preparing sourcing strategies

Talent sourcers develop various sourcing strategies, including personalised ones. While creating these plans, sourcers remain aware of the organisation's expectations. These professionals collaborate with department heads to understand the job's requirements and what they seek in a suitable candidate. This helps talent sourcers create sourcing strategies that align with the interests of the business.

Generating leads

Finding apt candidates for vacant positions in the organisation is an important part of a sourcer's responsibilities. Sourcing includes identifying hiring channels, comparing job boards, publishing job advertisements and giving the organisation some of the most talented professionals in the industry. Sourcers are adept at using various recruitment platforms, analysing data and examining candidate credentials.

Related: What Is Talent Acquisition? (And How To Do It In 7 Steps)

Utilising sourcing programs

There is a wide variety of platforms that candidates use to find jobs. While some candidates prefer using social media to find open positions, others may browse professional networking websites for new roles. With this diversity, it is important that sourcers know how to use different sourcing channels. Being able to use these platforms skillfully helps sourcers to create personalised job advertisements. They also possess proficiency in utilising applicant tracking software tools and reviewing applications for keywords.

Communicating with candidates

Sourcers have strong written and verbal communication skills to communicate with applicants. They realise the importance of sharing coherent messages to eliminate miscommunication in the hiring process. Their interactions with candidates may regard an open position or the company's workforce diversity endeavours. This task aims to add talented professionals to a company's workforce.

Documenting and reporting sourcing analytics

Talent sourcers manage sourcing processes involving collecting and analysing information associated with job candidates, hiring channels and operational costs. After gathering this data, they compile reports to identify valuable insights. They submit these reports to an organisation's management and team managers, who then review the reports to determine the success of a hiring process.

Promoting the organisation

Besides showing job advertisements to candidates, talent sourcers also promote the business to candidates. This helps candidates know when positions are open. To make the business appear attractive, an organisation may talk about how excellent its work culture is or the great opportunities that exist for candidates in the company.

Related: What Is HR Analytics And Why Is It Important? (With Types)

Talent Sourcer Skills

Below are some skills that a talent sourcer possesses to succeed in this role:

  • Creativity: Successful sourcers create innovative sourcing strategies that align with current or emerging trends.

  • Technology: Sourcers are familiar with modern technology in the HR industry, helping them use information technology systems to select the best employees for an organisation.

  • Persistence: Finding a qualified professional can prove to be a challenging and time-consuming process, but with persistence, a sourcer continually looks for a candidate until they find the right one.

  • Administration: A sourcer uses strong organisation skills to manage important soft and hard files containing candidate information.

  • Communication: Sourcers can talk convincingly and clearly with candidates, present insightful and engaging reports and explain sourcing strategies to management and departments.


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