How Candidate Sourcing Strategy Impacts DEI

Candidate sourcing can help hiring teams create talent funnels, but is it fair to the job seekers they don’t target?

For better or worse, candidate sourcing is a tried-and-true method for hiring teams. Rather than wait for job seekers to reply to job ads, recruiters actively seek out potential candidates using their preferred channels. 

Various sourcing channels can help hiring teams by creating talent funnels that bring in a regular stream of candidates. But how fair is candidate sourcing to job seekers whom hiring teams don’t target? 


Types of candidate sourcing channels

Right out of the gate, candidate sourcing limits the number of job seekers who get a chance to apply for a given role. It also invites an individual recruiter’s unconscious biases to influence the candidates chosen.

Here are the various types of candidate sourcing channels that recruiting team rely on:

Recruiter sourcing

This is when individual recruiters use LinkedIn and other sites to seek out candidates. The fear is how often a profile picture becomes the basis for moving candidates into or out of the funnel.

Diversity recruitment

Diversity recruitment usually entails a diversity recruiter heading up the effort to recruit candidates from underrepresented groups. The problem here is that putting it all on one recruiter alleviates other recruiters from the responsibility. Diversity is every recruiter’s job, not just that of a single recruiter. 

Third-party sourcers

When hiring teams outsource the effort to a third-party recruiting firm that has a larger sourcing pool, they may increase their reach. But the recruiting effort is still limited by the size of the outside firm’s pool of job seekers. And, more importantly, the hiring team may be subverting their own agenda (i.e., finding the best candidate) with that of the recruiting firm (i.e., finding a certain number of candidates).

Referral programs

While most recruiters don’t put referrals and sourcing together, they are a part of the same effort to artificially create a more robust candidate pool. Referral programs bring in candidates, but they only bring in job seekers who have a connection to someone at the company. Apart from limiting the candidate pool, referral programs also set up a system of privilege in your hiring process.



Candidate sourcing has some issues

Sourcing can increase diversity at your organization if you target certain candidates, but diversity is nowhere near that simple. 

When a recruiter, hiring manager, or third-party sourcer reaches out to a candidate from an underrepresented group and mentions diversity and inclusion (D&I), what are they really conveying? That the company is truly committed to diversity? That the recruiter needs to check the diversity box to meet a company quota? Or that the recruiter is just mentioning D&I because it’s an industry buzzword these days?

A lot of hiring teams are doing diversity sourcing these days. That means candidates are left to wonder exactly why a recruiter is contacting them. Is it because of their abilities, expertise, and experience or because they belong to an underrepresented group? Unless the sentiment is genuine, it can feel contrived or pandering. 

Addressing these issues

That’s especially true if the candidate looks at the company’s website and sees few or no faces similar to theirs. Maybe the hiring team is just getting started with inclusion efforts, or maybe they’re just trying to hit target diversity numbers. Job seekers won’t know.

The makeup of the hiring team can be a clue for candidates, which is why it’s important to have diverse hiring teams. And the hiring process itself can be revealing as well. For example, does your hiring team include women and people of color? Does your hiring team take cultural or socioeconomic factors into account (e.g., do they understand that some job seekers don’t own a car)? 

If the clues don’t add up to a genuine effort to help people from underrepresented groups, candidates from those groups may sense it. They may feel like the company is only interested in them as a token. 

The best way to address candidate sourcing issues is with a qualified, naturally diverse organic candidate pool. The way to a naturally diverse candidate pool is through inclusive job posts that welcome qualified applicants without turning any away.


Is candidate sourcing fair hiring?

There’s no shortcut to diversity and fairness in hiring. On the one hand, candidate sourcing can help hiring teams develop their talent funnels and target candidates from underrepresented groups. But on the other hand, candidate sourcing isn’t the most equitable approach to diversity and inclusion.

In the end, fairness in hiring doesn’t come from hiring practices based on connections or privilege. And diversity doesn’t come from lip service to D&I in a job ad or LinkedIn message. 

Charlie S.

Charlie S.

Search Datapeople

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