Talent sourcing: What’s data got to do with it?

Two coworkers reviewing hiring data printouts in office

7 mins, 8 secs read time

As a recruiter, talent sourcing is arguably one of the most important activities you’ll do, especially if you’re working for a newer company without an established employer brand. There are a few reasons sourced candidates tend to perform better in interviews than direct applicants:

1) The best job candidates are often already employed and fall into the pool of those who need to be sourced and 2) sourcing means you’re pre-screening potential candidates to ensure they meet an ideal set of qualifications. Plus, sourcing allows you to prioritize diversity and inclusion and intentionally prospect from talent pools with diverse backgrounds.

But how do you know whether your talent sourcing efforts are paying off? There are a few ways that you can measure this. We caught up with Greenhouse Senior Recruiter Ariana Moon to learn how the Greenhouse Recruiting team uses data and analytics to understand the success of its sourcing efforts.

In this post, we’ll share some of the data points you’ll want to collect, as well as a few specific reports you can pull within Greenhouse. Want to learn more about how data can fit in with your overall recruiting efforts? Be sure to check out the first post in this series, "What's Data Got to Do With it? Measuring Recruiting Performance in Real Time."

When it comes to talent sourcing, what should you measure?

Ariana notes that since the hiring process can vary significantly depending on the role, you’ll most likely want to start off measuring your sourcing efforts on a role-by-role basis. Here are important sourcing data points to gather for every role:

  • Response rate

One of the most obvious and telling metrics is response rate, or the percentage of people who respond to your outreach.

This varies by role, but Ariana shares that the Recruiting team at Greenhouse expects an average response rate between 30–50% to their initial sourcing emails.

That said, not everyone who responds is ready to become a candidate. But just because things don’t work out today doesn’t mean they can’t work out tomorrow! It’s always worth taking note of the outcome of your messaging and maintaining relationships with prospects for future roles. Add these responsive prospects to your talent pools. That way you can easily reconnect with them when your hiring needs align with their needs better. What’s more, if a prospect feels positively about your interaction with them, whether or not they’re interested in your open roles, there’s a good chance they’ll refer colleagues from their own networks that might be a fit. In fact, that’s how Ariana found the first Sales Engineer at Greenhouse, one of the toughest roles to fill on our Sales team.

  • Candidate conversion rate

Another important data point to track is candidate conversion rate, or how many prospects end up becoming candidates. We consider the conversion point from prospect to candidate the moment a prospect agrees to get on the phone with a recruiter for an initial screen.

Here at Greenhouse, we aim to fall within a 15–20% conversion rate (but of course, the higher the better!). If we notice that the conversion rate is significantly lower than this number, we’ll take note and modify our strategies accordingly.

A few lessons from measuring response & conversion rates

Based on her years of sourcing and measuring response and conversion rates, Ariana shares a few observations about what tends to work best when it comes to outreach. Here are some of her tips.

  • Personalize as much as possible.

“To me, personalization is the most important aspect of a sourcing email,” says Ariana. “I want it to be immediately obvious to the prospect that this email is intended for them and them only. Who wants to feel they’re 1 out of 100 people getting blasted the same message?”

A few suggestions for personalization are to mention a prospect’s current/past roles, companies they’ve worked for, or maybe even professional content they’ve published on social media. Another tactic is to highlight anything you might have in common with the prospect—maybe you went to the same college and can make a human connection, or perhaps you both enjoy the same hobby of traveling or rock-climbing.

  • Keep it brief.

This is especially important when reaching out to executives and sourcing for more senior roles. Most people appreciate emails that are thoughtfully brief and to the point.

  • Subject lines are critical.

Borrow a page from the marketer’s playbook and think about how you can craft an attention-grabbing subject line. Your email may be one of dozens a prospect receives in a given day, so think of ways to stand out from the pack. Again, personalization goes a long way.

  • Do the heavy lifting.

Make it as easy as possible for prospects to learn more about your company by attaching relevant links and materials. Ariana likes to include this video that Glassdoor made when Greenhouse was named Best Place to Work to give prospects insight into Greenhouse’s company culture.

  • Experiment with different tools.

There are a number of tools out there that will give you visibility into whether your outreach emails are being opened and whether any links you’re sharing in them are being clicked. Experiment with these types of tools and use the insights they give you to tailor your follow-up messaging. Maybe you noticed that a prospect hasn’t even opened an email you sent to their personal address. There’s a very good chance that the personal address is outdated and that messaging from another medium, let’s say LinkedIn InMail, could produce a response. Measure, evaluate, iterate, and try new tactics.

  • Take a conversational approach.

Ariana suggests keeping the tone of your emails conversational. Sourcing emails full of formalities and jargon can easily be a turn-off, especially when prospects assume that’s the way your company communicates. Another tip is to not assume a prospect wants to talk to you. Rather than ending an email with “I’m free at X time this week to chat,” which can sound pushy and presumptive, Ariana suggests using gentler wording like, “I trust you’ll let me know if you’re interested.”

Which reports can you pull in Greenhouse CRM?

The data you gather in Greenhouse CRM can also help you better understand the results of your sourcing efforts. Here are three reports that may come in handy.

  • Prospect Pool Activity

Whether you’re lucky enough to have a talent CRM, or Excel is your go-to, you can organize prospects into “pools” depending on where they come from, like cold outreach, your company’s alumni network, or people you’ve met at specific career fairs or networking events. The “Prospect Pool Activity” report in Greenhouse shows how many people have entered, remained, and converted out of each of the pools you’ve created in your CRM, so you can better understand the quality and value of that pool.

  • Prospect Conversion

The “Prospect Conversion” report in Greenhouse CRM helps you see how effectively the prospects are converting into not just candidates, but ultimately hires from your various talent pools (Ariana discusses talent pools in much more detail in her eBook, “How a Talent CRM Will Help You Win at Hiring.”) This is a good snapshot into the effectiveness of each of your talent pools when considering where to invest into for future hires.

  • Prospect Activity

The “Prospect Activity” report in Greenhouse CRM shows you who at your company is submitting the most prospects and converting them into the most candidates and hires. On a recruiting team level, it gives you a quick look into your recruiters’ activities and provides indicators into who might be sourcing the most effectively. On a company level, it highlights sourcing activity outside of your recruiting team, which is helpful behavior you might want to shout out and promote.

Conclusion: Moving closer to data-driven sourcing

As we mentioned earlier, sourcing is a critically important part of recruiting, and keeping track of the metrics we’ve mentioned here will help you measure the fruits of your efforts. Keep in mind that all roles are different—even the same role that’s open at a different time, as the talent market might have changed—so it’s always a good idea to revisit your metrics and make adjustments as necessary.

Start measuring as soon as possible, establish benchmarks for your company and roles, and look for ways to make improvements based on some of the suggestions we’ve made.

Have any other tips on incorporating data into your sourcing efforts? Leave us a note in the comments section to share the love with our readers!

Want to dive deeper into how to manage talent pools? Download the eBook “How a Talent CRM Will Help You Win at Hiring.”

Melissa Suzuno

Melissa Suzuno

is a freelance writer and former Content Marketing Manager at Greenhouse. Melissa previously built out the content marketing programs at Parklet (an onboarding and employee experience solution) and AfterCollege (a job search resource for recent grads), so she's made it a bit of a habit to help people get excited about and invested in their work. Find Melissa on Twitter and LinkedIn.