Why low unemployment levels mean proactive candidate sourcing is key

The introduction of the Three-Day Week to conserve electricity during a period of extensive striking by coal miners. Two general elections and a hung parliament. ABBA winning the Eurovision Song Contest with Waterloo. All these events occurred in 1974 – nearly 50 years ago – and that’s how far back you’d have to go to see the unemployment rate lower than it is now, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) data for the period between May and July 2022.

On the surface an extremely low unemployment rate is a good thing. Dig a little deeper, however, and it becomes clear that, although the unemployment rate is decreasing, the employment rate is also decreasing. The ONS points to a rise in the economically inactive in the same period, largely due to long-term ill health.

Clearly this indicates a need for greater flexibility and understanding from employers to make it easier for people to re-join the workforce – but that’s an article in itself. What it does mean is that finding those currently in the workforce who might consider a job move and those in the ‘unemployed’ figures that are actively searching for a job needs to be far more targeted.   

WaveTrackR data gathered in August shows applications plateauing for the second consecutive month, whilst simultaneously jobs increased month-on-month. In other words, fewer candidates, more jobs. Such a climate calls for a well-rounded approach to candidate sourcing that includes a range of candidate attraction strategies.

Traditional methods such as posting job adverts to job boards shouldn’t be abandoned but instead be used as a piece of the candidate attraction puzzle, alongside other pieces that will complete it. Proactive candidate sourcing is key to this.

Applications have plateaued for the second consecutive month – August 2022 Report

What is proactive candidate sourcing?

Proactive candidate sourcing means identifying and nurturing talented candidates before a specific job needs filling. So, rather than reactively advertising for candidates for a job once you have it, you source and then form relationships with both passive and active candidates, keeping them updated of opportunities as they arise. It means that you have a pool of qualified candidates that you can immediately reach out to when jobs come in.

Key forms of proactive sourcing:

CV Search

Searching directly for CVs that match the specifications of the types of jobs you recruit for can enable you to find and vet candidates ahead of time.

WaveTrackR’s newly expanded CV Search allows you to search multiple job board databases and your own database in a single search, from a single location – a massive time saver. Its watchdog feature is also useful for finding CVs from a specific search as you’ll be updated daily as the results change.

Proactively finding candidates this way means you can begin to build and nurture your own talent pool.

Talent pool

Building and nurturing an internal talent pool is something every recruiter should do, regardless of market conditions.

Having qualified, talented candidates – whether passive or active – that you can call on when suitable jobs arise is a gold mine. The ability to dip into a rich database of candidates that you have vetted, fostered relationships with, and can easily contact gives you the upper hand in the race to source the right candidate for the right job.

The key here is the word ‘nurture’. A pool of untouched CVs in a database is not a talent pool. Foster relationships with those candidates – keep in touch with them, update them with new opportunities, update them on the current market conditions, or just phone up for a chat. Consistent communication is key. That will make the difference between a list of CVs and a pool of candidates that are engaged and on board.   

Engage with content

Be noticed for all the right reasons. Writing candidate advice articles (think interview techniques, CV writing tips, etc.) or thought leadership pieces on the industry you recruit in provides candidates with valuable content and instils trust.

Other forms of content, including webinars, video how-tos, podcasts, and quizzes, are also a great way to engage with candidates via your recruitment website or social media channels.

It’s two-pronged – gaining you exposure and widening your reach so that candidates find you independently, but also building your brand as a recruitment agency that understands the industry and can be trusted with people’s careers.

Social media

Social media sites are great places to source both active and passive candidates. They’re the proverbial watering hole where people come to chat, to listen, to ask advice, to influence and be influenced.

On sites like LinkedIn you can engage with a variety of people that work in the industry you recruit in – they could be people looking for work, people keeping on eye on the jobs market, people that hadn’t realised what else was out there.

You can informally share your jobs, post your thoughts, share content, and engage with other people’s content. Be present, strike conversations, and build relationships.


Your candidates can be a valuable networking source. They will know many others in the industry and can therefore make some quality referrals. It’s often worth instigating a referrals scheme whereby people are rewarded for referring quality candidates to your agency. People are busy so rewarding them in some way for providing referrals can be a huge motivator.

Careers fairs

Careers fairs are another way to find candidates looking for jobs like yours and most will be actively looking for a job. You will have access to a huge pool of candidates who have come specifically to investigate job, recruiter, and employer options. You will be able to meet them face-to-face immediately, giving you the opportunity to vet them straight away.

When faced with low unemployment, adding to your methods of candidate attraction increases your chances of finding quality candidates more quickly. Proactively sourcing candidates throughout the year is a way to be prepared for whatever the market does next. With recent history having shown that being able to quickly adapt to changing conditions is vital for survival, a proactive approach is a smart move.

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