Candidate Data Sources: What To Focus On

October 24, 2021

Are you leveraging candidate data sources for their full value? With more candidates generating valuable data about themselves online, the modern recruiter stands to reap the rewards.

The modern recruiter will be intimately familiar with a variety of candidate data sources, perhaps utilizing dozens in just a single day at the office. With a highly technical discipline like sourcing, success can often come down to a numbers game. The source of the data in these silos will mostly be farmed from current or pre-existing job applications, collected resumes and information gathered at networking days and job fairs. However, these resources pale in comparison to what recruiters can gather with online sources.

Quantity vs. Quality

Say a client approaches you with a sudden vacancy in a skilled position. If you’re simply relying on traditional data sources, then you won’t have a complete picture to help you make the most informed decision. The vast majority of us will simply recruit someone with the CV that most closely matches the role, as that’s one of the few concrete sets of data available. However, this ignores hugely important variables such as soft skills and whether a candidate’s values align with a company’s culture. But when you add online candidate data sources into the mix, new horizons open up. You could find out the project’s a candidate’s previously worked on, discover if any of their online activity matches the role, or even see if they’ve made contributions in their field in communities like Stackoverflow or Github. This allows us as recruiters to develop a profile of a candidate that reflects their personality and can reveal any interests or passions they might have that will help them excel in their new position.

Candidate data sources can prove invaluable when used reactively to help find a new hire for a role. They also offer value if you’re trying to proactively develop long-term recruitment strategies to help with candidate engagement. When using available data to put together a picture about your candidate teams, you’ll be able to find a digital footprint that could lead you to wellsprings of valuable manpower. When you have the data to forecast emerging trends in recruitment, you’ll always be one step ahead of the competition.

Online Candidate Data Sources

There are so many repositories that could be holding valuable candidate data, that it can be difficult to decide where to start. We would recommend beginning with some of the following:

  • LinkedIn
  • GitHub
  • Twitter
  • Stackoverflow
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Glassdoor
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube

Of course, aggregating data about a candidate from online activity can be temperamental. We as recruiters have no control over what the candidate contributes, and many will operate anonymously on different platforms. However, people are increasingly comfortable about revealing their identity online across multiple platforms, which is making our work considerably easier. That said, with such an abundance of digital funnels available, we must ensure that such a large quantity of data can be organized and measured in a practical manner. Fortunately, whatever recruitment platform your office uses will likely have proprietary talent engagement systems to help you generate data sets.

Data Enrichment

Data enrichment refers to the practice of utilizing a candidate’s available public details to help gather and collate additional information drawing from a wide variety of sources. With the current crop of online tools currently available, enrichment has never been easier to implement. A service like SignalHire is a great place to start, with a Chrome extension that lets you source information from a variety of search criteria.

SignalHire searches through over 400 million profiles on major social platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and GitHub to return candidates tailor-made for any opening. Clicking on a result reveals the location, past and current employers, and contact details for a prospect. You can then contact them directly, as SignalHire sources their personal and business email addresses, so you can reach out to them without having to go through messaging on a site like LinkedIn. Third-party tools verify all contact information, so you won’t be wasting your time following useless leads.

SignalHire is particularly effective because it searches through a candidate’s entire profile to return results. So, if they have a skill or expertise that’s not listed in the basic profile information, you’ll still be able to identify their repertoire and possibly have a valuable hire on your hands that other recruiters might have overlooked. You can also search by skills, job title, contact information, and even location, making SignalHire a powerful multi-feature tool with applications across the recruitment sphere.

Data Use 101

The modern candidate is generally far more likely to reveal large amounts of information about themselves online, both personal and professional. This can leave recruiters in a predicament, as they may simply choose the safest available option to fill a role that risks missing out on more talented applicants. Most candidates aren’t posting on a platform like Instagram or Twitter thinking that their content is going to be taken into consideration for a job review. Consequently, recruiters don’t need to factor in every single sliver of information when using online candidate data if it bears no relation to the position at hand. Just because there’s a photo online of someone who’s had a few too many drinks at the office Christmas party doesn’t mean they can’t do their jobs. Context is essential, and recruiters need to be mindful that they’re not making discriminatory hires based on irrelevant information.

The Bottom Line

Proactive sourcing isn’t an entirely straightforward process. While it opens up the books to a huge talent pool, you run the risk of being overwhelmed with so many prospects and large quantities of data that it becomes difficult to separate and prioritize the best hires. Automation and online tools with a reliable API need to be effectively employed to help you scale up your recruitment practices, as they can take care of much of the hard work for you. A variety of online candidate data sources are an untapped well of potential for many recruiters, but current trends suggest that, soon, these practices will define the future of the industry.


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