June 23, 2023

Active Sourcing – this is how you do it right.

Active sourcing is the central pillar in modern recruiting and replaced the classic job ad a long time ago. In today's competitive world and candidate market, which goes far beyond software development, targeted and thoughtful approaches to active sourcing are critical. In other words, you need to pick up talent in a sensible way to ignite that spark of interest in them. It has to go *poof* – today we show you how.

For those who don't know, active sourcing is the proactive search and direct approach of potential candidates by companies or recruiters. They do not wait for applications, but actively approach suitable profiles in order to win the best talents for open positions. This is traditionally done on networks such as Xing or LinkedIn. But there are also a bunch of other networks and communities, which we described in our previous article. So networks like GitHub, Stack Overflow, local and regional communities, community hubs and so on. You should read the article we just linked to in order to be up to date.

Making contact: Dos & Don'ts

Everything starts with the first contact. You have one shot. One, you understand? Just imagine finding someone you really like on Tinder. You really go for it, don't you? Here, you're not using a message that you've also sent to 10 other people, right?

It's the same here - you're courting a person for your company, so you want that person to fall in love with your company. Okay, that was an exaggeration, it's enough if you spark their interest - but even that requires appropriate skills. Let's look at these in detail.

The subject

When you write an email (as opposed to a direct message on a network), the subject line has a disproportionate weight. If you don't get it right because you use an antiquated phrase like "A new challenge", all the work you've put in will go to waste. The subject line is a good exercise in determining whether you understand what potentially attracts the candidate to the position. So you want to make a personal connection - this signals to the person that you have explored this. In casual contact, the first name often generates interest. And if you link it to a reason or benefit that you think the person might find interesting, they are likely to click on the email.

In any case, you must sound different from the other 0815 emails we all know. These include simply using the job title. Even different and poorly written has more potential to be clicked than the same old predictable subjects. Be different. And above all - be personal and relate.

The right tone

So when you write to candidates, be personal and authentic. This is the most important thing in the whole communication chain. No one wants to have the impression that you are using a template. Take a look at the profiles of the candidates and find commonalities or interests that you can address in the email. Similarities create sympathy (you know, mirror neurons, the story) and again a sense of appreciation because you have engaged with the person beforehand.

Contents of the covering letter

Be specific about what impressed you about the candidate's profile. Mention one or two specific skills or projects that caught your eye.

Further, briefly explain why you think the candidate is suitable for the job - refer to the skills or projects mentioned earlier. This reference makes it clear why this person is so "uniquely" suited to the vacancy. If you can briefly mention the potential for personal and professional development, this is a plus. However, we must be careful not to make this first message too long.

Role description

As I said, in this first contact, the description of the position does not have to go into detail. We first want to arouse interest. You already know roughly that the person has the required skills, so it is enough to describe how the role contributes to the success of the company. See our article "Why your job description is doomed to fail" for more tips on how to describe the role in a stimulating way and leave out the meaningless elements. 

Length of the cover letter

A first email/message should be informative but not too long. Do not overwhelm the candidate with too much information at once. Don't forget: this initial contact has only one function, namely to arouse the interest of the other person! Everything else can come afterwards.

Video message? Why not!

Oh yes, a video message can work wonders. It shows that you put in extra effort and the candidate gets a much better feel for you and your company. Either send everything as a video message or complement your text with your video. In the case of the supplement, we would opt for the part in which you make it clear why the person is a good fit for your open position.

And what if further information is requested?

First of all, congratulations - this person is showing interest, great! Again, keep close to our article "Why your job description is doomed to fail". Since people always work with people, two things are particularly important:

About the team

Give an insight into the team the candidate will be joining. What is the team structure like? What are the common values?

Company culture

What is your company culture? List 2-3 core values of the company and how they are lived out in everyday life.

Technique & Timing

Arrange appointments

Send a Calendly link. This makes it easier to find a date and shows that you respect the candidate by giving them the opportunity to choose a date that suits them. This small step can have a big impact by encouraging candidates to actively engage in the process. And it is clearly the easiest step to take to reach an agreement.

Set reminders

Tools such as Asana, Trello or an electronic calendar of your choice can help you keep track. Set reminders to get back to the candidates in time. This requires a balancing act so as not to overwhelm the candidates. A good rule of thumb is to wait at least a week after the first contact before following up. Give the candidate enough time to think about the offer. If you don't get a response, you can follow up again after another seven days.

In summary, the cover letter is a central building block in Active Sourcing to win over potential candidates. It must be personal, authentic and attentive. With the right mix of personality and professionalism, nothing stands in the way of a successful contact.

Therefore, we would like to emphasise once again how important humanity is in this process. We are in the recruitment business because we want to help people find their ideal job. And that should be evident in every email, every call and every meeting. So, good luck with your active sourcing!

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