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By Ray Bixler, CEO, SkillSurvey. This blog post originally ran in the Human Capital Institute blogspace.
With a new wave of millennials entering the workforce, and the continued growth of the economy, the competition for quality talent is heating up. However, while the level of talent is increasing, sourcing that talent is becoming far more difficult. A recent analysis of the U.S. labor market indicates that 42% of key U.S. markets exhibit undesirable sourcing conditions for employers.

To deal with this situation, many recruiters and sourcing professionals have turned to social media channels to optimize their talent acquisition strategies. Online professional networks are some of the fastest growing sources of hiring talent, trailing just behind online job boards and company websites.

However, social media has its downsides. With more than 20,000 recruiters on LinkedIn alone, odds are that the top performer you are reaching out to is also being tapped by other interested parties as well.

To add insult to injury, companies today are becoming more aware of recruiters and are therefore making it difficult for poachers to find their employees online.  A columnist posting to SourceCon discovered that more than half of the employees at a large medical facility were not listed in the online company directory.

All of these factors are making it increasingly difficult for recruiters to make contact with potential talent.

Discovering passive talent

LinkedIn’s 2015 Global Recruiting Trends report notes that “while three quarters of professionals consider themselves ‘passive’, only 61% of companies recruit passive candidates.” So, while only 25% of the workforce is actively looking for a job at any given time, 75% of the workforce is willing to talk about a potential new job. This means that the talent pool could be much deeper and wider than any of us thought.

Creative recruiters need to not only engage with high quality talent, but they also need to use their time and resources efficiently. One way organizations are finding new passive candidates is through reference checking. Combine the reference checking process with technology, and recruiters can expand that pool of candidates exponentially.

Not only do these solutions help organizations speed reference checking, improve hiring quality, and reduce turnover – they also help them build a pool of passive candidates. And as more recruiters are adapting to the changing human resources landscape and increased use of technology, they are discovering that they are able to gather better data faster. They are accruing valuable information, not just about active candidates, but about passive candidates as well, with up to date contact and job history information.

References are the key to finding passive candidates

Talent attracts talent. References, whose contact information is recorded in these online reference checking solutions, generally come from the same industry and job focus area as the candidate that they are evaluating. With references collected though these solutions, recruiters and organizations have a new means of finding targeted talent, and at a much faster rate.

As companies struggle to hire more qualified candidates at a faster clip, they will have to find new, diverse ways to source candidates. Looking to the references who recommended current high performing employees might not be a bad place to start.

For more information on sourcing candidates with SkillSurvey’s Pre-Hire 360® download this whitepaper.

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