Competition for top-tier talent is always fierce. If you don't know where to look, or if you focus too narrowly on traditional sourcing methods, you could be losing to the competition.

If you're a corporate recruiter, hiring manager, or CEO, stop assuming that talent will come to you; start developing aggressive talent-acquisition strategies to attract and retain the right employees.

So, where to begin?

Hiring and sourcing best-practices vary by industry. Developing an efficient and cost-effective talent-acquisition strategy can be a complex process. Success will require some trial and error, but if you follow these principles you'll be on your way to finding quality talent:

  • Go beyond LinkedIn and finding talent on other social media channels.
  • Tailor recruiter messaging.
  • Continually recruit, and know how many candidates are needed to land the next hire.

1. Go beyond LinkedIn

Messaging today's candidates doesn't mean just sending mass InMails through LinkedIn.

Get creative with your talent search and dive deeper into social recruiting. Job seekers now go beyond LinkedIn to search for jobs, and recruiters are taking notice and beginning to search for both active and passive candidates via Facebook and Twitter.

Once you have the right messaging, you can begin creating clever advertisements and social media posts that build brand recognition. Just be sure you've defined your audience and you understand where they spend their time.

For instance, the average Twitter user is age 27 and is more likely to live in the city than the suburbs, Google+ is ideal for targeting IT professionals, and the plurality of activity on YouTube is from men age 45-54.

Discussion forums are also a great way to find thought leaders in any industry, as well as candidates with hard-to-find skills or technical backgrounds. Looking for Graphic Designers? Check out the Designers Talk Forum, which has groups for coding, Web design, and graphic design. Searching for creative professionals in general? Browse through the DigitalPoint or WordPress Forums to find discussions on design, marketing, search engines, and more.

Additional forums can be found on LinkedIn in the form of skills-based or career groups, and other thoughtful discussions can often be found through Twitter, Facebook, and even in the comments section of thought-provoking industry news stories. Through these websites, recruiters can quickly find out who has authority in the field, who are critical thinkers, and who truly possess the skills necessary to succeed in a position.

Once you understand where your audience is most active, you can create more enticing content to engage with them more effectively. Begin finding what type of messaging appeals to each audience to seek out top-tier talent.

2. Tailor recruiter messaging

When building a talent pool, it's not enough to simply reach out to candidates with an interview opportunity with a mass-email approach; recruiters need to invest the time to craft a custom message that speaks directly to that specific talent and inspires action.

When writing your recruiter message ask yourself:

  • Who is your ideal candidate?
  • What are his or her creative aspirations?
  • What do they value most?
  • What are they looking for in a career and an employer?

Finding the answers will take some research, but it is well worth the effort. Fine-tuning your recruiting message can align your recruitment strategy with candidates' values and career goals, helping you attract talent that embodies your organization's mission and culture.

Advanced tip: To take your recruiter messaging to the next level, try split-testing your messaging to see what language provides the best results.

3. Continually recruit

Before diving into the candidate search, corporate recruiters need to understand just how many candidates they'll need to fill a position. To land their next hire, recruiters typically need to source 67 people, according to Ali Dougherty, talent acquisition manager at marketing and creative technology staffing agency Profiles (where I work). Out of those 67 candidates, you can expect around a 25% response rate after reaching out.

Accordingly, it's important to begin planning your strategy and building a talent pool before a vacancy even occurs. Having a large talent pool or talent pipeline allows you to refer back to specific candidates whenever an appropriate opportunity arises, shortening your candidate search.

Some 65% of HR managers who continually recruit said having a talent pipeline shortened recruiting time per position, while 54% said it lowered hiring costs, according to a Harris Poll.

Continually recruiting doesn't have to be a time-consuming process. It can be as simple as adding a form on your website where candidates can upload their resumes, or it can mean partnering with a staffing agency.

For companies with limited IT or HR resources, partnering with a staffing agency that specializes in your field can provide instant access to a large pool of local and national talent.

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Three Essential Principles for Talent Sourcing in 2016

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image of Elissa Barnes

Elissa Barnes is recruiting manager at Profiles, a marketing, tech, and creative staffing agency located in Washington DC.

LinkedIn: Elissa Barnes

Twitter: @EBProfiles