Active sourcing: The 5 most successful methods & channels


Definition: Active sourcing in recruiting

Active sourcing describes the targeted and proactive search and approach of potential candidates as part of recruiting. The main difference to classic recruiting methods is that companies do not wait for suitable applications, as was usual in the past, but rather take action themselves to attract promising talent.

But why should companies switch to this often more complex and cost-intensive form of recruiting?

Why active sourcing is indispensable today

The change from classic personnel recruitment to active sourcing is not surprising. There has been an enormous shortage of skilled workers in Germany for years. In the IT sector in particular, specialized specialist staff are almost at risk: 96,000 vacancies were recorded in 2021 alone (Study by Bitkom). A trend that is likely to have increased significantly in 2024. Added to this are demographic changes and increasing globalization in recent years - both phenomena that are further upending the labor market. The combination of increasing demand for skilled personnel, simultaneously decreasing supply of employable workers and a larger international supply of such personnel means that companies are now more dependent than ever on an active form of personnel recruitment.

An effective active sourcing strategy is essential, especially for small and medium-sized companies that do not (yet) have a strong employer brand, in order to be able to fill all key positions in the company in the long term. Large corporations have it a little easier in comparison, because brand awareness and a positive image are usually also reflected favorably in the search for personnel. Nevertheless, active recruitment is becoming increasingly relevant for these companies.

It’s all about the right active sourcing methods!

Basically, active sourcing can be thought of in two steps:

  1. The talent search
  2. Approaching suitable candidates

When looking for promising talent, the right approach is important. Before you actually start your search, think about what skills and experiences you expect from a potential candidate. It can be helpful to create a so-called candidate persona, i.e. a fictional person who fulfills all the desirable characteristics that are important for the open position. This candidate persona then represents your target group. You should then ask yourself which channel is most likely to be used to contact your target group. Useful questions could be:

  • Does the person move mostly online or offline?
  • Does the person like to attend trade fairs and career events or do they prefer exchanging ideas via online platforms such as XING or LinkedIn?
  • Has the person already submitted a CV to common job portals?

Once a sufficient number of potential candidates have been identified, it is of course important to get them excited about your own job. An individual and creative form of approach is more than ever crucial to success. Qualified specialists and experienced managers usually receive several job offers per week - and usually significantly more on online platforms such as LinkedIn or XING. So recruiters have to find ways to stand out from the crowd. It’s not just the content that matters, but also the way in which contact is made. Individual video messages have increasingly emerged as the most successful medium in recent years. You can find more information about this here (

The 5 most effective active sourcing methods

The Internet in particular today offers numerous useful tools for active sourcers that make the process of finding and approaching talent easier than ever before. But traditional active sourcing methods can still be used effectively. Below we have summarized the 5 most successful methods of recent years.

1) A real game changer: The internal talent pool

It often happens that recruiters have a specific person in mind for an open position. Then sentences like:

  • “Didn’t we have an intern in this area last summer? He should have finished his studies by now.”
  • “Just last month I had to reject three applicants for this position. Don’t we still have their contact details floating around somewhere?”
  • “At the last career fair we had some promising people interested in this area at our stand. Did one of them

Any idea where their business cards went?”

In such moments it becomes clear that the search for qualified personnel does not have to be expensive or time-consuming. The concept behind a well-maintained talent pool is simple: The contact details of interns, former employees, trade fair contacts and previous applicants are stored in a uniform and clear database and, if possible, sorted according to skills and interests. This data can then be compared at regular intervals with the company’s current vacancies.

Advantages of an internal database:

However, the real superpower of the internal talent pool lies not in the ability to quickly find previous contacts, but rather in the fact that companies can use it to become largely independent of external platforms in the long term. Large career sites such as Indeed, Stepstone or social networks such as LinkedIn themselves offer large talent pools from which companies can draw.

However, this also creates a great dependency on these sites. Of course, the use of both channels is not mutually exclusive, but having your own database at your disposal definitely protects companies against all eventualities in the long term!

Another big advantage of the internal talent pool method is that it creates a long-term relationship with all candidates. Similar to how modern sales organizations provide interested parties with relevant content for their market, potential recruiting candidates can also be continually informed about new open positions and career opportunities. This increases company loyalty enormously and ensures a significantly higher rate of positive feedback in the long term with this form of active sourcing.

A second, very successful method of active sourcing is the so-called CV database search. Here, companies use career sites such as Monster, Indeed, Stepstone or Careerbuilder, where millions of employees worldwide have deposited their CVs. Basically, these sites are huge external talent pools that can be used for your own personnel search for a fee.

The enormous reach and associated potential of these job platforms is of course a decisive advantage. In addition, compared to conventional profile mining, the entire CV can be included here in order to filter for desired skills and experiences when searching for talent. However, care should be taken to ensure that the target group is not chosen too narrowly. As a result, the company could miss out on exciting applicants who fall through the search grid due to a single characteristic.

It should also be noted that very few candidates regularly update their CVs. Another reason not to make the search criteria too narrow, because it may be that some people already have the necessary qualifications for a job but have not yet included them in their CV.

The disadvantage compared to the internal talent pool is that in most cases the desired candidates have not yet had a point of contact with the company. This makes appealing and creative contact all the more relevant with this active sourcing method.

3) Referral Sourcing: Fill vacancies through your own employees

Referral sourcing (loosely translated: employee recommendation) is a tried-and-tested concept of active personnel recruitment. The basic principle: employees recruit employees. The big advantage here is that friends and acquaintances of employees already have an indirect connection to the company and in many cases are similarly qualified.

In order for this form of recruiting to work, job advertisements must also be advertised internally and incentives must be actively created for employees to bring promising candidates into the race. Strong employer branding often dramatically increases the success rate.

Tip: When it comes to referral sourcing, there are now numerous useful tools that simplify the process of recommending employees in the company. Well-known providers in this area include Onlyfy, Softgarden and Firstbird.


4) Campus recruiting & direct approach to career events

For all positions that do not require many years of professional experience, young professionals who have just come out of training are often a perfect match. If you want to win over these young talents early on, you should attach importance to so-called campus recruiting. The name says it all: With this active sourcing method, companies present themselves directly at universities or other educational institutions, to recruit promising candidates for future positions.

This relatively old form of recruiting has the following advantages:

  • Personal contact is established immediately; the candidates immediately see a few faces behind the company
  • Contacts from campus recruiting can also be collected for the internal talent pool, which means that both methods complement each other perfectly
  • Young talents can be won for the company before they actively look for alternatives on the job market

This is offset by the obvious disadvantages:

  • A lot of time and possibly costs
  • Only a very limited target group can be addressed
  • Hardly any opportunity to recruit candidates who already have professional experience

It must therefore be considered in each individual case whether this method from classic recruiting is advantageous for your own company.

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5) Talent sourcing via XING and LinkedIn

Social recruiting (, i.e. the active search for suitable candidates via social media platforms, is one of the most popular and currently most successful forms of active sourcing. A large proportion of young workers these days search for jobs on social networks.

The advantages are apparent. Career sites like LinkedIn or XING are specifically designed for this purpose - bringing employers and employees together. These platforms not only offer the opportunity to actively post job advertisements or write direct cover letters to interesting candidates - tools such as the XING Talent Manager or LinkedIn Recruiter are also designed to make the active sourcing process much easier. So if you want to pursue successful active sourcing in the long term, you can’t avoid these networks.

But this method also has its weaknesses. Precisely because recruiting via LinkedIn & Co. has become so relevant in recent years, the competitive pressure on the platforms is enormous. Highly qualified specialists and managers are often inundated with messages. This is precisely why it is particularly important to choose an individual and refreshing approach when directly addressing active recruiting via these platforms.

Personalized video messages for more positive feedback

The use of personalized, but still highly automatable video messages has proven particularly effective here. The new medium sets them apart from competing news and immediately arouses a certain level of interest. DeepX has already supported numerous companies from various industries in implementing their own active sourcing campaign with personal videos. Further information on the topic can be found here (

Conclusion: Why many people still fail to achieve success

Overall, it can be said that active sourcing is more relevant and successful today than ever before. Active sourcing offers various methods that, depending on the company, are more suitable for identifying and contacting potential employees. Building your own talent pool, CV database search, referral sourcing, campus recruiting and social sourcing via LinkedIn & Co. have proven particularly useful.

But even though active sourcing opens up so many new opportunities in recruiting, the expected success often fails to materialize. The reason for this is that, in addition to all its advantages, this new method also brings with it some unexpected pitfalls. We have summarized exactly what these are and how you can cleverly avoid them in our article “Active Sorucing | The 10 most expensive mistakes” (

We have already briefly touched on one of these mistakes in this article: Many companies fail to arouse the necessary interest when addressing their candidates directly and to stand out from the mass of messages. If you want to maximize your success rate here, you should definitely become familiar with addressing people via personalized video messages, which drastically increases the number of positive feedback. You can find more information on the topic here (

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