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Executive Search, Labor Market Germany, Talent Recruitment

Active Sourcing in Germany – An Extensive Guide

In the past decade or so, Germany has seen a shortage of skilled workers, leaving many high-grossing companies understaffed. Consequently, recruitment in Germany turned to active sourcing.

Active search or active sourcing is a strategy that employers can use to look for potential candidates, rather than waiting for candidates to come to them. Using this method, they can substantially narrow down their options from the start and secure a competitive advantage.

As the market is constantly changing and evolving, recruitment trends are changing as well. What was once a lengthy process that involved cover letters and passive waiting has turned into a quick and efficient process that we know as active sourcing. Many companies have been successfully using it to find quality workers for their open positions. That being said, the “post and pray” method should be a thing of the past now.

However, active sourcing in Germany is by no means at its optimum. Some employers still use passive recruitment, even though more efficient strategies have come to light. For instance, while the IT industry has been using active search for years now, law firms are yet to discover its benefits.

Active Sourcing Revolutionized Recruitment in Germany


German companies have recently experienced a huge shortage of high-skill workforce. The highest-grossing companies suffered the most, with more than 30% of high-level positions remaining unoccupied. Naturally, the lack of employees shifted the recruitment strategy in most companies. Instead of potential employees looking for jobs, employers now target and identify potential candidates, all in an increasingly competitive environment.

Traditional active employee sourcing was based on word-of-mouth recommendations. Employees reached out to their colleagues, looking for somebody who can be vouched for.

However, during the past two years, active sourcing in Germany has evolved. The recruitment process itself switched from personal referrals to online employee sourcing.

Business-oriented social networks like XING and LinkedIn replaced recruitment agencies and personal referrals. On top of that, CV databases and search tools keep popping up every day, making online recruitment easier than ever.

Active sourcing is not just about searching for candidates, though. It’s also about the company’s representation of its own authentic mindset and energy. The key is to find someone who fits the position and company’s norms perfectly, no matter where they may be in life or what their employment status may be. That way, the number of unsuccessful hirings drops and employee turnover decreases eventually.

Benefits of Active Sourcing


For starters, active sourcing brings about a much shorter time-to-hire (time that passes from the moment you place the ad to the actual hiring) than passive recruitment.

Moreover, active sourcing is quite economical. It does require quite a bit of time and effort, but the initial costs are low. Besides that, it pays off eventually, as the company regularly gains fresh and more importantly, highly skilled faces who are ought to bring profit. Employers can also reach all types of candidates, even passive ones.

Be that as it may, some companies, particularly in the legal field, still have trouble adapting to the circumstances.

Active Sourcing – Survey Shows Concerning Results


TalentRocket, a career-oriented social media platform for lawyers, performed an employment strategy survey. They interviewed more than 50 law firms’ employers, trying to discover how many of them do active recruitment in Germany. Unfortunately, the results turned out to be quite disappointing — only one in three law firms used active recruitment to fill their vacancies.

Despite the huge number of open positions available, almost two-thirds of the interviewed companies had never used active sourcing methods. In fact, most of them have never even heard of active recruitment at the time of the survey.

However, other industry branches, such as the IT industry, have been actively implementing active sourcing in Germany for years.

Law Firms and Active Sourcing in Germany


As the TalentRocket survey clearly states, law firms seem to have trouble upgrading their employment strategies. Even though the results single out the lack of knowledge as the primary factor, there could be more to it.

Law firms, particularly smaller ones, are simply not willing to implement modern active employee recruitment and they still hire paralegals and associates passively. However, most experienced, employed lawyers won’t seek out new offers by themselves. Consequently, smaller law firms often find themselves with vacancies in key positions.

However, larger law firms started using active recruitment in Germany. For one, they have the resources to implement a high-quality active sourcing campaign. In most cases, their HR departments are capable enough to seek out candidates, while smaller law firms might not even have an HR department.

On top of that, larger firms typically need to find new staff as quickly as possible, which probably made them switch strategies quicker than smaller firms.

In any case, employers working in smaller firms should also implement active recruitment for their own sake. High-skill workforce is getting harder and harder to come by. Therefore, less flexible firms might find themselves running low on staff, with the competition hiring all available people due to their active sourcing strategy.

Bottom Line


Due to the constantly growing shortage of skilled workers and talent, recruitment in Germany had to shift to adapt to the current economy’s demands. As a result, active sourcing, along with experienced HR companies who conduct it, rapidly gained popularity in Germany.

Active search helps companies find new and creative ways to attract the right employees. However, active sourcing in Germany is still a long way to go. As the shortage of highly skilled workforce is expected to rise, we should see more research on active sourcing in the near future.

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Lisa Meier
Lisa Meier

Lisa Meier has more than ten years’ experience in providing strategic advice and legal guidance on international trade, administrative and legal matters to foreign companies, associations, and governments doing business in Germany. She advises companies in a broad range of industries on successfully navigating the German economic environment.

Lisa brings a wealth of knowledge to Universal Hires’ marketing and client success team. In her free time, Lisa spends time exploring the unique city-life of Berlin and all the diversity that the East of Germany have to offer.

About Universal Hires

Universal Hires is Germany’s leading staffing provider. With expertise in recruitment and employer of record services, the company levarges its market entry support.

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