What are some strategies for sourcing candidates through conversations? We asked hiring managers and experienced talent acquisition professionals in order to get their best insights. From making your message stand out to building relationships you can tap into when needed, we found several tips that may help you use conversations to source talents for roles you need to fill. 

Here are 12 ways to source candidates through conversations.

Make Your Message Stand Out

“In today’s market, candidates are inundated with messaging, so it’s important to make you stand out. My tagline is a Ron Burgundy quote and I’ve done LinkedIn messaging campaigns featuring Vanilla Ice lyrics. I got over a 50% response rate on that Vanilla Ice one, by the way, so it works. Make your message memorable or at least warrant a response. No one wants another worn-out template to ignore.”

Jeffrey Boyle, Associate Manager, Talent Acquisition – North America

Organize Webinars or Other Virtual Events

“Webinars and other free virtual events are a great way to source new candidates. Provide as much detail as possible about the event so that you can attract qualified candidates. Make sure your presentation topic caters to your audience. You want people to leave the event interested and ready to follow-up and connect with you. This is a great opportunity to create a talent pipeline, so be sure to appreciate your audience, follow up and stay connected.”

Phillip Lew, Founder & CEO
C9 Staff

Try Live Streaming

“I love the potential offered by live streaming platforms, such as Twitch. My co-founder, who’s a talented software developer, streams while he works. He succeeded in growing his following from 0 to 1,000 in a few months, and now most of our new candidates for technical roles actually come through his stream. The leads that we get are already familiar with our company culture as they have, in a way, worked together with one of our founders through the stream. Inviting people to join your work sessions is pretty much the closest connection you can create with potential candidates – everyone should try it.”

Max Korpinen, Co-founder & CEO

Engage Through Subreddit Debates and Exchanges

“Here’s an off-the-wall but potentially lucrative way to find candidates. Go onto a subreddit or other niche forum that’s relevant to your business. Comment in a thread or start your own and be part of a respectful yet engaging debate. This is the kind of content professionals in your industry enjoy reading – something that’s energetic enough to keep their interest, and focused around something only they would understand.

“Let it slip that you’re ‘always looking for workers who have experience in X’ or “if I could hire folks who know how to Y, my bosses would be thrilled.” You’ll get replies and DMs from candidates who were following your conversation and want to be part of your business. Not every candidate will be worthwhile, of course, but the ones that are have  essentially come to you for free. And if you leave the thread up, you’ll find it becomes a continual source of recruiting potential.”

David Patterson-Cole, CEO

Personalize Messaging With Chatbots

“Gone are the days when chatbots were used solely for customer service. Today, they’ve also proven very useful for recruitment and hiring. With the modern customer expecting a personalized experience, recruits are beginning to expect much the same thing, especially today, when have the upper hand in the candidate-driven market. Adding a chatbot feature to your career portal is a fantastic way to personalize your recruits’ experiences inexpensively and with minimal effort. The chatbot can field simple requests and hand over the chat to your hiring manager to answer the more complex questions with a human touch.”

Scott Lieberman, Owner & Founder
Touchdown Money

Connect Through Professional Communities Like Fishbowl

“One strategy for sourcing candidates through conversations is using Fishbowl, a professional community to connect and talk with others in roles and industries similar to your own or what you’re targeting. While my agency is very niche in our location and sector, the topics, conversations and Q&A on this platform share so much intel on how candidates think about career options. Fishbowl gives you an opportunity to be anonymous and pose questions to candidates to understand their priorities. The platform also allows people to directly message someone (once you have enough “likes”) to have more one-on-one conversations to give advice. This, in turn, has led to connections on LinkedIn and referrals. I believe this platform provides a safer place for candidates to be honest and conversational, changing the recruiting world in a positive way.”

Rachel Newmyer, Sourcing and Recruiting Manager
Taylor White

Get Live On LinkedIn

“My means of conversation for sourcing candidates is definitely through LinkedIn, such that I literally have their work expertise right in front of me. I can engage in a casual setting to get a ‘feel’ of who the applicant is. I can even follow their history to determine if they’ll be a good cultural fit. What I like best in recent months per the new LinkedIn feature, and I can propose an instant meeting. LinkedIn is definitely the way to go.”

JK Bridges, Corporate Talent Acquisition
KACE Company

Use Conversational AI for Mobile Engagement

“Broken communication channels in the recruitment process have always been a pain point for candidates and employers. On one hand, candidates find it difficult to reach the recruiters to answer their queries or receive feedback. On the other, recruiters struggle to find the time to engage with candidates.

“Chatbots run on conversational AI platforms. They not only help streamline the recruiting and hiring process by automating search and selection, but they keep candidates engaged with 24/7 chatbot to answer queries at fingertips. AI uses a bank of predefined questions and answers to converse with candidate, immediately providing them with the information they need. Conversational AI provides a mobile engagement solution that offers innovative and personalized communication to regularly engage candidates. This provides a seamless candidate experience by making candidate communication convenient and enabling higher response rates when reaching candidates through other methods.”

Swechha Mohapatra, Head of Consulting & Delivery

Source Candidates Through Groups and Organizations

“Source candidates through groups and organizations that you are already a part of. Women in Tech (WIT) is a great example. This non-profit organization where women in tech are able to meet for webinars, networking events and panels with others in similar industries. Finding candidates here is great and fairly easy. Start with these types of organizations then go from there.”

Shaun Price, Head of Customer Acquisition

Develop Conversation Pipelines  

“One of my favorite things to do with candidates is an exploratory conversation. I find that you can sometimes get a more authentic view of a person when you’re chatting about their general interests and what they want out of a role rather than asking them questions where both you and the candidate have a specific role/job description/list of requirements in mind. Establishing and nurturing these relationships has allowed us to build strong pipelines of talent, which able to reach out to as soon as a role that aligns with what they want to do opens up. We’ve also found that our candidates become better promoters of our talent brand in the market when they see us as establishing relationships that are more than transactional, or focused on just immediate gaps/needs we have to fill – it’s a key part of our candidate-centric approach to talent acquisition.”

Patrick Ward, Manager, Talent Acquisition
Halloran Consulting Group, Inc.

Reach Out Through Phone Calls

“Sometimes the best method of engaging talent is the simplest and most underutilized. Pick up the phone! There are a multitude of contact finding tools available and so many phone numbers are publicly listed. I find that most people respond favorably to a well-timed call and a friendly voice.”

Jody Simon, Head of Global Sourcing

Build Relationships You Can Tap When Needed

“Sourcing candidates through conversations is less about ‘technique’ and more about ‘intent.’ Knowing that eventually everyone is a candidate, it’s important to build a good idea of what the person is looking for. If that authentically fits an opportunity you have right now, great. If not, it’s not a wasted conversation. When they are ready or when you get an opportunity, it will be an easy win. If you think this way for every interaction, after a decade of sourcing, you will have relationships for just about any task.”

Jonah Manning, Founder & Sourcer
Hire Wells