And the Highest Quality Sourcing Channel Is . . .






Sourcing talent, at its most basic, is the identification of both internal and external candidates using various channels, tools, resources, and technologies. Recruiters do this by creating candidate pools (also referred to as “talent pipelines”) of active and passive candidates. And many recruiters spend the majority of their time trying to fill open positions, by scouring databases and constantly networking to find candidates.

Recruiters from different companies and industries employ many different sourcing strategies to attract and engage top talent for their organizations. However, as you might expect, some sources are more effective than others for finding the highest-quality candidates. How should organizations prioritize their sourcing channels?

Our recent study of 11 common sourcing channels found that employee referrals are the number one source of high-quality candidates, according to 51% of our survey respondents who were asked to choose their top three sourcing channels (see Figure 1). Employee referrals have long been touted as an effective sourcing channel but did you know that as a channel, employee referrals provide excellent bang for the sourcing buck, accounting for only 7 percent of sourcing spend but 12 percent of hires?

In terms of the next highest quality sourcing channels, employee referrals are followed by professional networking sites (42%) and internal candidates (40%) as the next two sources of highest quality candidates.[1]

As I mentioned in my last blog, A Look Ahead at Talent Acquisition for 2016/2017, one of the major research areas we’re covering this year is how organizations can optimize their sourcing channels. I’m pleased to announce the publication of three new Bersin reports focused on sourcing talent:

Not a Bersin member? Download the executive summary, Reignite Talent Sourcing WhatWorksBrief.

Interested in the rest of the high-quality sourcing channels or the results of sourcing maturity? Join me for Reignite Your Talent Sourcing Strategy: Finding Higher-Quality Candidates Faster, a complimentary Bersin webinar on Tuesday, February 21, 2017 at 11:00 am ET – register here.

So what do you think? Is sourcing a challenge in your organization? As always, I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to add a comment below, connect with me on Twitter @RAEricksonPhD, or by email at


[1] Strategic Talent Sourcing: Improve Blend of High-Quality Channels, Bersin by Deloitte / Robin Erickson, PhD, 2017.



This publication contains general information only and Deloitte is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor.

Deloitte shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person who relies on this publication.


Robin Erickson

Vice President, Talent Acquisition Research Leader / Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Robin leads talent acquisition, engagement, and retention research for Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP. Recognized as a thought leader in her areas of expertise, Robin offers more than 20 years of experience, including prior experience in talent strategies consulting and research for Deloitte’s Human Capital practice. Robin led Deloitte’s global Talent 2020 longitudinal survey series and her work has appeared in several issues of Deloitte Review and in Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends reports. She holds a doctoral degree in organizational communication and change, as well as a master’s in communication, from Northwestern University. Robin also has a master’s degree in theology from Northern Seminary and a bachelor of arts from the University of Chicago.

2 thoughts on “And the Highest Quality Sourcing Channel Is . . .

  1. Hi Robin,

    Thanks for the post. One channel that’s worth mentioning is alumni. In our research and experience in managing global alumni programs for many multi-national companies, well-managed alumni networks provide the 2nd best source of high quality candidates through rehires and referrals; we agree employee referrals rank #1. Deloitte has its own alumni program, so the Alumni Relations Director could probably provide some data to support this. If you want more info, feel free to reach out to me at Thanks again.

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