How Social Selling led to Social Sourcing – and the future of recruitment

August 27th, 2019

Social Source Queue

Picture this: the year is 1990. The World Wide Web has just been born and a chain of events that will profoundly change the way human beings sell stuff to one another is being set in motion.

Instead of talking to the same people every day, people are tucked deep inside their houses, on crappy modem connections, experimenting with a new age of communication where it is possible to immerse yourself in wider communities of like-minded people you would have never met otherwise.

The world was soon inundated by a global wave of creativity, collaboration, innovation, cats and – yes, porn – the likes of which had never before been seen.

As the world began to bend to the will of the online realm, every salesperson and marketer was presented with a choice: evolve or die.

The popularity of these newfangled social networks meant salespeople no longer needed to annoy people in real life, or on the telephone. They could simply go online, search for the type of people they wanted to sell to and message them directly without ever having to lift anything but a keyboard-tapping finger.

Thanks to LinkedIn and Twitter, they even had the ability to become ‘connections’ and ‘followers’ of their prospects, whether they were a high-ranking Wall Street decision-maker or an old lady in Slough.

Business-to-business marketing cottoned on to this pretty quickly and soon the biggest CEOs in the world were plagued by a swarm of digital hawkers trying their luck with what became known as social selling.

With all of the unfiltered attempts to sell, quality sells were ambushed by annoyingly mass-targeted quantity sells until eventually most efforts of salespeople on social became white noise. So much so that platforms put precautions in place, increasing privacy and account verification measures to slow the barrage of unwanted, random selling.

This is when social selling evolved into an intuitive and tactile art – sellers began moving into social spaces where their voices could be heard. They began incorporating sales methodologies like LAARC and BANT to specifically target audiences and demonstrate the appropriateness of their product or service.

With this, social selling became a longer game, requiring a more personalised approach and validation of the salesperson. In order to become a trusted voice within their networks, individual sellers had to use content and creative to build a strong personal brand.

The best social sellers, people like Susan Cain and Gary Veynerchuck, focussed on providing non-transactional content that they knew their target audience would enjoy viewing and interacting with.

That was Social Selling. What about Social Sourcing?

RIDER header

Social Selling is, of course, the inspiration for Social Sourcing. The past few years has seen a boom in recruiters adopting social media-based techniques and methodologies pioneered by B2B sales. But, instead of selling products or services, we recruiters are selling roles and companies to potential candidates.

Social sourcing is especially handy when organisations are operating in candidate-driven markets or are seeking to attract passive candidates who are not actively looking for jobs but who might consider the "right" opportunity.

Considering the proliferation of skills shortages across industries as organisations adapt to an increasingly technology-driven world, it makes sense for more recruiters to start moving into spaces where their desired talent is and begin building a longer-term but more fruitful approach to talent attraction.

Through the lens of social sourcing, every single online community is a potential talent pool that can be targeted to source would-be candidates. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram – and all of the micro-communities that exist within those platforms – are bursting with potential candidates. But Social Media is more than the big networks.

From Github and Stack Overflow to Telegram and Tik Tok, Social Media is any digital location where people share and discuss information. Because almost all of these locations are oriented around specific interests (entertainments, hobbies, lifestyles, tastes, desires) employers can target them to source potential talent.

So You Want To Be A Social Sourcer? Try the RIDER Model

There’s no shortcut to becoming an effective social sourcer. It’s very much a marathon, not a sprint, if you plan on truly engaging talent and seeing your hard work pay off. So, where can you start?

The RIDER social sourcing model is currently being pioneered by our sister agency, Hire With Social. It comprises five parts; Research, Infiltrate, Develop, Engage and Recruit.

Recruitd infographic Social-Sourcing-The-Rider-Model


There’s no denying how competitive social recruitment can be, so you will need to get ahead of your competitors. That starts with research.

Where are your target candidates? What channels do they use? How do they use them? What are their interests, what grinds their gears, how are they triggered? Start by getting real, quantitative answers to these questions and everything that follows will become a whole lot easier.


When you have a grasp of where your ideal candidates hang out online, you can begin infiltrating their communities.

Choose wisely – there are only so many communities you can authentically become a part of. Ideally you should only focus on the one or two platforms that are most heavily populated by your target demographic.

Once you’ve joined these platforms, ensure you brand your personal profile in a way that promotes the value you are going to be providing – so that anyone who sees your profile will know what to expect when they engage with you. LinkedIn is a great place to start as that is the established ‘professional’ social media platform where you can easily find new connections and target accordingly.


Now you can start developing content that makes your presence known to talent and establishes you as someone of interest in their world.

Make sure your content isn’t job-related to start with, but more about the bigger discussions that your target demographics actually care about and want to engage with. Successful social sourcers typically alternate their content style between simple, quick-read posts and more complex and thought-provoking pieces, but ultimately the choice is yours. So develop your own spectrum and style.

Remember, everything you put out reflects your company brand too, so try not to damage how they are perceived in the bigger market: you can be outspoken, but make sure you’re not rude.


With your personal brand established and regular content going out, you can start engaging with potential candidates.

Most things we do on social media are tracked and outputted as notifications – so you don’t need to go all out and try to slide into random people’s direct messages straight away. Start with less socially intimidating actions like following their profiles or commenting on their posts and then, once a rapport is built, you can try tagging them in your own posts or sending personalised direct messages.

If you follow this process of ‘levelling-up’ your engagement, talent will be much more likely to respond as they already know and respect you as an active member in their professional bubble.


Now your network is engaged, leverage it! Just remember, even though you’ve put in the effort to become a warm connection, try not to jump the gun.

Instead of opening with what you want from someone (for them to become a candidate for your job) start by trying to understand them. Learn about the candidate on an individual level, what they want, what their needs are, and give before you take.

Once you know them better you will be able to personalise your pitch and make a deeper connection. A bespoke approach primes a candidate for your opportunity and will equal a higher chance of converting them from passive to active.

Thanks Illustration

Pssst… if you want a head start and some help sourcing while you focus on growing your networks, find out how other organisations are using Social Source to secure a steady stream of candidates from social media.