The candidate market is constantly changing. Demographic change is leading to a change in the population. Especially for small and medium-sized companies, finding the right candidate is becoming a major time factor. A possible solution is therefore the proactive personnel search, which is also called active sourcing in professional circles. The idea is not to wait for a candidate to apply to a company on his or her own, but to approach and talk to potential candidates on one's own. The focus is on a personal approach and the establishment of a relationship with the candidate. The following questions can be derived from this: What are concrete success factors of active sourcing? Where are the limits? And how should the active sourcing process be implemented? What phases does it consist of?

Active sourcing process

Phase 1: Strategic planning


Which jobs or which types of jobs are to be filled with the help of active sourcing? Is it rather individual vacancies? Or should a talent pool be built up in order to be able to plan better for the future? The investment for proactive candidate search, makes sense especially for jobs that by nature have little applicant return. These can be managers or specialized professionals, for example. In addition, active sourcing makes sense especially when your own employer brand is not established enough in the market and potential applicants inquire at other companies with better presence. It is precisely then that it is necessary to proactively influence the application process.

Phase 2: Prepare for contact

active sourcing strategy

Usually, potential applicants find out about the company independently on the Internet after an initial contact. It can be helpful to carry out a self-test and look at the first results of the Google search to see how one's own company is positioned on the Internet. In concrete terms, this means: Does the company's own homepage offer sufficient information about the company, the actual position, about potential colleagues, or the respective department? How is this information presented? How is your own company rated and presented on employer portals such as kununu?

3rd phase: Independent candidate search

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Probably the most exciting question is where to actually look for candidates. In principle, there are no limits to the creativity of companies. It is important to consider in advance what kind of people are being searched for and in which locations (offline as well as online) these people can be found. On the other hand, the reach is crucial in order to recruit efficiently despite the active candidate approach and to get the widest possible selection of candidates. Some strategies of possible sources are mentioned further below. Generally, candidates can be found via various social media platforms or in resume databases. But don't forget the numerous blogs and forums where specialists who are not registered in any business network are also active.

4th phase: Addressing the candidates

active sourcing candidate approach

The primary goal of a successful approach is the individuality of the message. The potential candidate, who has already been identified in the previous process, should, if possible, get the feeling that the company has dealt with the respective profile/person. More specifically, engage with the candidate. What is the candidate's resume like? Are there interesting skills that could be added to the approach that fit the company and/or the position being sought? Otherwise, it is important to build the message in such a way that it can develop into a conversation with follow-up questions. Therefore, it is not absolutely necessary to refer to the offered position right from the initial contact.

5th phase: After the address has been made

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It may happen that some candidates do not report back directly. This is fine and part of active sourcing not achieving a 100% response rate. It is advisable to wait a few days before sending a reminder repeatedly. If there is still no response from the applicant after that, then it is safe to conclude that there is negative interest. Also, the response depends on the respective activity on the respective platform - this should also be taken into account. If, on the other hand, a potential candidate expresses interest, this should be used immediately as the start of a dialog.

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Active sourcing strategies and potential sources

As already briefly described in the previous process, it is crucial on which platforms candidates are searched for. In the following, some possible sourcing sources will be briefly outlined:

  • Social media platforms have the advantage of reach as well as the advantage that the candidate publicly discloses information, which you can in turn use to address them. Active sourcing via social media platforms such as Facebook is not advisable, as messages can either be lost, create a dubious impression, or simply be perceived as spam.
  • Business platforms such as Xing or Linkedin are particularly recommended for the search for academics and executives. Both platforms are home to millions of users, who are particularly willing to reveal a great deal about their own resumes. However, these platforms are not suitable for finding professionals.
  • Job portals with resume databases such as monster or Stepstone offer active sourcers a large database of user profiles. It can be assumed that the people to be approached are also looking for new challenges and are open to new offers.
  • Specialized career services such as Experteer, which are similar in principle to resume databases, but specialize primarily in the placement of highly qualified employees and are thus more suitable for key positions.
  • Special forums and blogs, that deal with certain specialist topics or revolve around specific industries. Opinion leaders" can be identified particularly well here and active sourcing can therefore be carried out at a very specialist level. For example, it is worth considering car tuning communities if a new mechatronics expert is being sought who must have mandatory knowledge of X and Y for the job in question.

Internal database is of course only of real advantage if this has already been set up and is updated. All potential applicants who have been in contact with the company in the past can be entered here.

Success factors of active sourcing strategies

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As soon as active sourcing is used in the company, the opportunities should become apparent relatively quickly. To be fair, it should be noted that the new, modern form also requires some practice. Otherwise, the main advantages for HR managers are the independent selection of candidates based on current user profiles. Accordingly, candidate selection can be carried out on the basis of skills and areas of interest. This information can not only be used in advance during the search, but can also be integrated in later phases of the application process: for example, within the job interview. In addition, the entire process is more transparent for all parties involved. This means that candidates can be addressed individually and questions and ambiguities can be answered in advance. Depending on the intensity of the implementation, it should also be possible to save costs that would otherwise be incurred for placing expensive job advertisements. Not to be neglected, however, is the personnel commitment that arises from the personnel manager.

Active sourcing with indivHR

indivHR offers HR managers the opportunity to proactively search for candidates. Be it for current vacancies or to build a candidate pipeline for the future. We support you with our team and over 15 years of experience in German-speaking countries. Tailor-made and precise. Fast and efficient.

Please feel free to contact us!

We will be happy to advise you and work with you to find the ideal model to make your recruiting even more successful.