Active sourcing – What Is Active Sourcing?

Active sourcing - measures to attract suitable employees to one's own company on the external labor market by contacting them directly.

Active Sourcing in der Umsetzung

Active sourcing stands for all measures to recruit suitable employees on the external labor market for one's own company by directly contacting them. In the following, we would like to give you explanations as well as present tips, tricks and tools.

What is Active Sourcing?

Active sourcing is a discipline in recruiting. In other words, it is a method of recruiting new employees for one’s own company. Active sourcing describes the approach of actively searching for suitable employees. The biggest difference to classic recruiting measures such as job advertisements or employer branding is the reversal of the entire process: it is not the applicant who applies to the company, but the company itself that approaches suitable candidates and thus applies to the candidate.

This type of recruiting is partly comparable to headhunting, which is carried out by personnel consultants. Similarly, the aim is to identify suitable people without that do not actively look for a job.

What is the Difference Between Active and Passive Recruiting?

Passive recruiting describes measures such as employer branding. In other words, all activities in which the company goes to the market in an undirected manner and expects people to apply to the company at the end.

Passive Recruiting

The advantage of passive recruiting is that it often does not require a lot of effort, because you simply wait for applications to come in. A major disadvantage of passive recruiting is the dependence on applications and the lack of focus on hard-to-fill positions. This is because, especially in highly competitive fields such as software development or in engineering jobs, one often waits for applicants.

Active Recruiting

Whenever passive measures do not work, active methods such as active sourcing are a good alternative. In this case, the company does not have to rely on unsolicited applications, but actively searches for suitable talent on the labor market. With these active measures, one can control the flow of candidates, for example by addressing more suitable candidates on social networks.

Different Methods in Sourcing

Social Media Recruiting

Social media recruiting uses social networks as a platform for finding candidates. There are many opportunities to address the right talents via a direct approach or with advertising placements.

Guerilla Marketing

If one does not have a large recruiting budget, they can use guerrilla marketing. Here, surprise effects and tactics are used to create a big impact with little capital investment.

Campus Recruiting

Many companies want to get their hands on the right candidates as soon as possible. So why not approach them directly during their studies? Campus Recruiting provides a few options here, such as career fairs, to get in touch with students.

Headhunting / Talent Scouting

The highest discipline. The best candidates do not apply to the company but must be approached. In general, active sourcing is also understood as the direct approach of people.

How Does an Active Sourcing Process Work?

The process in Active Sourcing can be divided into different steps. These can be done by one person, but often many different people are involved.

  1. Create requirement profile The first step is to determine what kind of profile is being sought. This should provide an initial picture of a perfect candidate, so that the subsequent search can be adjusted accordingly.
  2. This includes Selection of channels Tailored to the requirement profile, only the appropriate channels are selected through which the search should take place. For example, software developers via Github.
  3. Identify talents With the matching searches, suitable candidates are now identified and placed on a longlist.
  4. Approach talents The profiles from the longlist are then pre-qualified and the suitable ones are approached.
  5. Convince talents In the next step, the talent becomes a candidate if it can be convinced for the open position. A rough form says that you need to approach 100-150 people to end up hiring.
  6. Hire candidates We have now done a lot of work and now comes almost the easy part: the candidate gets an employment contract and is then hired.

Active Sourcing Channels

Among the most popular channels for active sourcing are social networks. Here, there are quite a few platforms that are popular for sourcing:

Business Networks Like Linkedin & XING.

Perfectly suited for active sourcing are the business networks since making contact for professional purposes is one of the great promises of the networks. Searches can be carried out relatively easily due to a lot of relevant professional information that is made available in the networks. Comparable to the information from a resume, one can thus search for job titles, companies or skills.

Industry Networks Like GIthub & StackOverflow.

Business networks are now overrun by recruiters. As a result, very hard-to-find professionals are often no longer on these networks because they are flooded with messages there. To find these people, one has to turn to industry networks. Software developers, for example, are heavily represented on Github or StackOverflow.

Science Portals Like Researchgate

Another exciting class of platforms are the science portals. There, one can often find candidates for much more specific search terms, because publications can also be searched here, for example. In addition, many students who are still about to start their careers can also be found here.

General Networks Like Facebook or Instagram

There is a whole plethora of different networks and portals on which to search for suitable candidates. With large networks such as Instagram or Facebook, it can also be useful to use the built-in advertising platforms. There, a very fine selection of the target group is often possible.

Boolean search is a method of formulating search requests very precisely. In Active Sourcing, this enables a very precise description of the search passage. For example, results can be linked or individual areas can be excluded.

Active Sourcing Tools

There are a variety of active sourcing tools that simplify the entire process of sourcing. We have a small excerpt here:

  • Search engines: professional software simplifies the search process. From building the search queries to contacting the right person.
  • Talent pool software: The company can stay in touch with former applicants and rejected candidates.
  • Recruiting management software: Helps guide candidates through the process.


We would like to point out that our website provides non-binding information, which under no circumstances constitutes legal advice. This also, and especially, applies to topics within the sphere of legal HR advise. The content of this contribution cannot and is not intended to replace individual and binding legal advice. For this reason, all information provided is without guarantee of correctness and completeness, but always researched with the utmost care.

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