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How to evaluate talent sourcing tools and choose the right ones for your business

There are many talent sourcing tools, but it's important to find tools that enhance your recruitment strategy. Learn how to evaluate tools using this comprehensive guide.

Nikoletta Bika
Nikoletta Bika

Nikoletta holds an MSc in HR management and has written extensively about all things HR and recruiting.

Choosing the right talent sourcing tools may seem like a Herculean task: tools range from browser extensions and resume databases to fully-fledged sourcing services. To make the process as painless as possible, simplify your search to few factors. Here’s how to determine which tools you need:

What factors are important when choosing sourcing tools?

No one tool is perfect, so knowing what matters most to your talent sourcing strategy is essential. Prioritize all factors you care about. Here are four important ones:

  • Price. Some companies are willing to pay extra to find the most powerful tool, while others prefer to keep a tight budget. But, in the end, it’s important to find a tool with a price that matches its usefulness to your business. Consider:
    • Negotiability. How much room for negotiation do you have? For example, ask senior leaders if they will approve a more expensive tool if you are determined it’s the best tool that can shape and improve your sourcing process.
    • Necessity. Consider whether your sourcing strategies require an expensive and multi-featured tool. Ask yourself whether you could use inexpensive or free tools to accomplish your goals.
  • Type. Determine the type of tool you are looking for based on your sourcing challenges and strategies. For example:
    • If your recruiting team wants access to many candidate resumes, then a resume database would be a good choice.
    • If social media sourcing is a big part of your strategy, build a strong social media recruiting strategy. For more on how, read our FAQ guide.
    • If you’re looking to connect with qualified candidates in talent-strapped markets like tech, use tools like Hired and JamieAi.
    • If you’re considering reaching out to passive candidates and want access not just to resumes but deeper insight into candidates’ motivations and skills , consider People Search, a rounded sourcing tool that scours the web to find candidates’ resumes, online social and professional profiles and contact information.
  • Functionality. The most important factor is what your tool can actually do. For example:
    • Do you want your tool to let you search for names, locations, industries and keywords? If you are used to crafting Boolean queries, it’d be helpful to have a tool that enables Boolean commands.
    • Search quality is important. If you get a free trial, search for people you know or with useful keywords (e.g. “Java” if you’re hiring Java developers often) to check whether the tool delivers. Test the tool many times throughout your trial to ensure it performs consistently.
    • Legal compliance. For example, if you want to source EU residents, you need to follow the guidelines of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Before you invest in a sourcing tool, ask the provider about any compliance problems that may occur.
  • Customer support. Customer support is important for every service or tool you purchase. Without quick and competent customer support, you may end up losing time trying to understand the tool and finding workarounds to problems. Check to see if your preferred sourcing tool’s support staff provides:
    • Online resources. An informative and well-written support section can help you and your team resolve any quick issues with the tool.
    • Varied contact methods. How do you prefer to reach the support team? Consider how you can reach the support staff (e.g. by phone, live chat or email) and whether those methods suit your team.
    • Accessibility. Around-the-clock support is a huge advantage, particularly for remote teams. Find out if your preferred tool’s support team is available during the hours that your teams usually work.
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How to evaluate talent sourcing tools

Decide how you will find and evaluate products. To ensure that recruitment tools will meet your needs, use these methods to understand your options:

  • Search for lists of sourcing tools. If you are just beginning your search, evaluate a few tools initially to establish a point of reference and familiarize yourself with different types of online sourcing tools. Look for lists to get started.
  • Ask for referrals. Your friends, colleagues or acquaintances may have some good tools in mind. Reach out to them in-person or ask open-ended questions on your social media profiles. When you receive some recommendations, begin your evaluation process.
  • Check online reviews. Sites like Getapp and Software Advice have many product reviews and let you sort tools by criteria like industry and features. But remember: different people have different criteria and what works for one company may not work for yours. Check out the overall ratings but also be sure to read some reviews in full to learn what exactly each user likes or dislikes.
  • Sign up for free trials. Take advantage of any free-trial options. Use trials to try out products firsthand and see if you like their interface and capabilities. Free trials also help you evaluate customer support services with real questions.
  • Ask for a demo. If a tool doesn’t offer a free trial or if you’ve been intrigued by the trial and want to know more, ask for a demo. Salespeople will be able to show you the full range of features and also present the benefits of their tool. Here are some things to look for in a demo:
    • Ease of use. How many steps are actually involved in finding a candidate? Ask salespeople to walk you through a sourcing scenario.
    • Mobile capabilities. Recruiting on the go is a huge advantage and time-saver. Ask about any mobile apps or capabilities with your preferred software.
    • Pricing and other services. How is the pricing structure set up, and what other services might you get within the price point?

Sourcing is also about engaging candidates

Talent sourcing tools will help you find the right candidates. But what you do to contact them and build relationships is the next important step. To be able to engage passive candidates:

  • Personalize your email templates. Sourcing email templates save you a lot of time but the most effective emails are personalized. Use information about candidates (e.g. interests, achievements, previous work experiences) you found online with the help of your sourcing tool to connect with them more naturally.
  • Meet candidates in person when possible. If you found a great potential candidate using your sourcing tool, look for event overlap. For example, they might mention that they are attending the same conference you are going to on Twitter or Once at the conference, be prepared to introduce yourself to them and get to know them.
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