Sourcing is the first step in the recruitment process to gather a list of qualified candidates from a designated talent pool. Different from a candidate pipeline, your talent pool is the endless possibilities of candidates, regardless of interest or other factors that disqualify a candidate such as requesting a higher salary, not available yet, etc.

Ensuring you have the best candidate sourcing strategies in place for your recruiting team gets the ball rolling on filling your open billet – here are five sourcing strategies to help you be successful.


A recruiter’s relationship with their position’s respective hiring manager is essential to how successful the hiring process functions within a company. A hiring manager that has lost trust in their recruiter can prevent a billet being filled.

Start with a kickoff meeting to discuss the position requirements, get a sense for what would make someone successful in the role that is not listed in the SOW, and understand where to find this talent other than the traditional sources. Is there a slack channel you should join? An upcoming networking event near the customer site that would potentially have candidates? Run a few Boolean searches with one another and discuss why certain candidates may or may not fit.

Stay connected with your manager throughout the process to see if requirements need to be stricter or loosened to identify the best number of candidates to make a hire.


The best, cheapest, and easiest sources for a recruiter is an applicant tracking system (ATS) with your already complete profiles and some candidates that have been communicated with, and employee referrals that can already speak to the company brand and mission.

Make it a habit to run a Boolean search in your ATS as soon as a position opens and reach out to those candidates by email, text and phone if necessary.

Have a weekly or monthly emailed newsletter that talks about some of the hot jobs the recruiting team is seeking candidates for and remind employees of any referral bonuses. Employees can help reach under the radar candidates, and improve response rates from talent they may have a relationship with.


Having the best sources and talent pool is a moot point if candidates do not want to engage with your messaging. Knowing your audience, making sure there are not typos, and setting yourself apart are crucial points in being more approachable (or at least them wanting to respond). A few other tips:

  • The subject line should stand out but not seem like a bot so your open rates increase.
  • Personalize your communication so candidates know you actually read their resume / profile.
  • Highlight the position and your organization.
  • Explain some of the benefits and how they could really strive on this team.

The goal is to give them the information that makes them want to respond to learn more, but not overloading candidates (especially the passive ones) causing them to delete or ignore altogether.


In a passive candidate market, your brand means everything. And a brand that does not have a good reputation can cause candidates to fully ignore you or spread the word about their bad experiences. Recruit your current employees to be brand ambassadors and share your company’s story. They should highlight their positive experience or amazing projects online, but also take time to attend networking events to reach the secret squirrels who may not spend as much time on social media.

Partner with organizations that can also elevate your brand; organizations that align with your mission, or those that supply talent to defense contractors like yourselves (think tanks, academic institutions, transitioning assistance programs, nonprofits, etc).


If you continually try a sourcing tactic that is not working again and again, you’re crazy, right? Or maybe you aren’t measuring the data of what messaging works, which sources work, and more importantly, which don’t supply you the candidates you need.

Discover how many resumes / candidates each recruiter on your team has had to identify in the past to result in a hire, how many candidates you generally need to submit to each customer to fill their respective positions, and how effective certain messaging/engagement strategies improve your response rates.

Other important metrics to note are how many connections you need to make within a candidate source to receive a response, how high your application completion rates are, or what your time to fill is per recruiter.

Here is a sourcing calculator your teams may find helpful.

# Resumes, social profiles, names, etc., to source 67
% Response Rate 25%
# Candidates Engaged 17
% QIA (Qualified, Interested, Available) 25%
# Candidates Submitted for Consideration 4
% Selected to Interview 75%
# Interviews 3
% Offer Extended 40%
% Offer Acceptance 80%
Target # Hires 1


Calculator source: Boolean Blackbelt




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Katie Keller is a marketing fanatic that enjoys anything digital, communications, promotions & events. She has 8+ years in the DoD supporting multiple contractors with recruitment strategy, staffing augmentation, marketing, & communications. Favorite type of beer: IPA. Fave hike: the Grouse Grind, Vancouver, BC. Fave social platform: ClearanceJobs! 🇺🇸