Active Sourcing

Active Sourcing

Active sourcing is a recruitment measure in which recruiting staff actively look for suitable candidates to fill a vacant position. The aim is to make personal contact with candidates via various channels and win them over for the company. Common channels for establishing contact include business networks such as XING and LinkedIn and social networks such as Facebook. Active sourcing must be distinguished from passive sourcing, in which the recruiting team places job advertisements, for example, with the aim of eliciting a response in the form of an application from potential candidates.

What are the methods of active sourcing?

1. Profile crawling in business networks and relevant social media platforms

Profile crawling involves recruiters actively trawling through business networks or social media platforms such as XING and LinkedIn to find candidates to fill an advertised position. By entering specific job titles or hard and soft skills, recruiters can search for professionals in specific positions or with specific skills and then send a private message to contact them. These are not the only business networks, however. Especially when recruiting international candidates, country-specific business platforms such as Maimai in China provide opportunities to find the right candidate.


2. Boolean searches

Search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo can also be used to engage in active sourcing. To do this, certain keywords are entered in the search mask. To narrow down the search results, it is also worthwhile using what are known as Boolean commands. The following commands are some of the most important Boolean operators:

a. The minus sign (-): This operator can be used to narrow search results. For example, if you are looking for a programmer but want to exclude all search results that are about gaming programmers, it helps to put a minus sign (-) without a space in front of the keyword you want to exclude. Example: programmer -gaming

b. Quotation marks (""): If a keyword appears in quotation marks in the search mask, the search engine will look for exactly this keyword. Searching in quotation marks is a useful way to exclude synonyms and ambiguous search results. Example: "PLC programmer”

c. OR: The Boolean operator OR is used when looking for at least one of the terms entered in the search bar. OR must always be capitalized. As an alternative to OR, the pipeline operator "|" can also be used. Example: Mechanical engineer OR Technician in mechanical engineering

d. Wildcard: If an asterisk * is appended to a keyword, all search results that begin with the keyword will be displayed. Example: *Java


3. Careers events

Compared to the use of digital recruiting methods, companies that present themselves at careers events, job fairs or recruiting days have the advantage that they can meet potential candidates in person. A bond can be established much faster through a personal conversation, which makes it easier to convince the candidate of both the position and the company. In addition, any questions about requirements, professional experience and skills that are relevant to the given position can be asked and clarified face to face.


4. Referral sourcing

Referral sourcing involves active sourcers checking their employees’ business network to look for potential candidates in existing networks. It is highly likely that professionals who have already been recruited will have similar qualifications. Since this method of active sourcing is very time-consuming, automated programs can be deployed to pre-select suitable candidates.


One significant advantage of active sourcing is the way in which candidates are approached. HR managers who leave a personal message for desired candidates can formulate their wording in a much more personalized way than a job ad does. In addition, the direct approach can also reach passive candidates, i.e. those who would not have applied in response to a job advertisement. A personal and individualized approach to candidates can also contribute to a positive candidate experience and ensure a positive first impression.


Disadvantages can arise if the methods of active sourcing are not applied correctly. The search for suitable candidates can then quickly become very time-consuming and costly for the recruiting company. The importance of the first contact should not be underestimated. If messages come across to candidates as mass texts and as unprofessional, the first impression of the company will not be a good one. A lack of employer branding – if what the active sourcer says does not match up with the company website, for example – also leaves a bad impression. Finally, active sourcing always involves a lot of research, above all if the target group is very specific. Especially in such a case, it does not make sense to simply scour popular business networks such as XING and LinkedIn for suitable candidates. Instead, HR managers should take an in-depth look at the target group so that they can ultimately select the appropriate recruiting channel.