Sourcing Candidates

No Nonsense Guide to Candidate Sourcing

Every business starts out as one employee. As the business grows, the business owner will need to hire more staff so he or she can focus on sales and growth. This means hiring more accountants, more operations personnel, a marketing team, and perhaps a finance team. It means candidate sourcing.

We can all agree it’s very difficult to find talented workers to fill open roles. With the unemployment rate at a decades low, an HR manager or a business cannot simply post a job opening on LinkedIn.

It will be a slog to mine LinkedIn or post jobs in every internet job board. For a small business, every minute spent on finding a new employee means less money and time for other things, like marketing and sales.

One of the reasons why we created a tech enabled recruiting service at Vested is to help these small businesses automate their candidate sourcing efforts.

And it all starts with Talent Branding – something we feel is important in today’s job market:

But if you’re a business owner who is keen on doing this yourself, then bookmark this guide on how to source candidates.

This guide will show how to source candidates within your organization and if that’s not enough, it will show you how to use resources that are available out there for sourcing candidates.

Sourcing Candidates Internally

Filling an open role with an existing employee has many benefits.

First, if an employee has been working at a company for an extended period of time, then he or she already has a reputation and a history. You can check his or her past work evaluations. You can ask his or her boss and peers about work performance and long term career goals.

Most of the data points needed to evaluate a potential hire are readily available if you’re hiring within an organization.

Current employees are more likely to be loyal and committed to the company. They have friends and colleagues. They have a vested interest in helping the organization. They also have an existing knowledge of how things work and require less orientation and training.

Finally, internal promotions are great for morale. It shows other employees that one can have a future within the organization. Work hard and your loyalty will be rewarded with a promotion. It’s great for company culture if everyone has an expectation that hard work eventually pays off.

If new perspectives or ideas are needed for an open role, hiring internally may not be the best option. The company culture and processes are already ingrained in most internal candidates. If you need someone to “think outside the box,” then perhaps it’s necessary to hire outside the box.

How to Search Internally for the Perfect Candidate

Communication is key. Existing employees need to know there is an opening so they can apply.

Posting the job will help announce the new role in the organization. This could be as simple as a notice in the break room, an email announcement, word of mouth, a post on the company website, or it could be all of the above.

It’s helpful to include job requirements, skills, experience, and management reporting structure for the new role.

Applicants should be encouraged to talk to the hiring managers and team members so they can explore fit and understand the role better.

Another way to source internally is to encourage referrals. The best incentive is money so offer a cash bonus for any referrals from internal employees. Employees will be incentivized to search their own networks to help fill the role. They’ll do the talent sourcing for you by sending you emails and contact numbers of friends, family, and past co-workers, which will save you time from mining the Internet and the job boards yourself.

Finally, you can try rehiring former employees. Former employees already have a familiarity with the organization and the culture. Hiring former employees who resigned might be better targets than employees who were let go. Terminated employees could still harbor hard feelings and want no part in the future of their former employer. However, it could be a different story for former employees. If they are incentivized by a higher salary, a nice title or both, then they could be swayed to rejoin their former employer.

Sourcing Candidates Externally

If leveraging your existing employees is not possible, then it’s time to find candidates externally.

Using Job Boards to Find Talent

Job boards have been around since the advent of the World Wide Web. It’s still one of the most popular ways to find talent to fill open roles in your organization.

  • Popular Job Boards: The list includes Craigslist, Indeed,, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn. These boards are very well known so they attract a ton of candidates. The only drawback – job boards attract people who are already actively looking for jobs. Even though this means they are more likely to take the open position, it also means they may not be the top talent in your industry. The best talent are often still working at an organization and climbing the corporate ladder. They are less likely to be surfing job boards for another job. So if you want to attract high quality passive candidates, then job boards are not the best option.
  • Niche Job Boards: Niche boards specialize in a particular field and business function. Craigslist and Indeed allow anyone from any industry to post their jobs. Their pool of talent is large but it doesn’t help the hiring manager to narrow down their search. It might be better to focus on a narrower focused board. For example, org specializes in the recruitment of pilots. So an airline might be better off posting a job opening there rather than a generic, jobs supermarket like Indeed.

To stand out in job boards, it’s important to have effective job descriptions. It should attract candidates to the role, and it should also set expectations. If 8-10 year experience is required, then that should be in the job description. If Javascript is required, then that should be included. The more focused the job description, the likelier you’ll attract the right candidates.

Promote your brand. In a jobs supermarket like Indeed, you’ll be competing with other employers in your industry. Use videos, infographics, and pictures to stand out. Show how great your brand is so candidates can have the confidence to submit their resumes to your job listings.

Use Social Media to Find Passive Candidates

The problem with job boards is they often attract candidates who use the “shotgun approach.” They barely read the job descriptions and use the law of large numbers to their advantage. They apply to as many job openings as possible and let the rule of percentages work for them. For every 100 submissions, they’ll be happy with 10 interviews regardless of who they are.

These candidates are often the least desirable. They do not care about the role or the company, which means that even if you hired them, they’ll likely leave in 1-2 years for a better paying job.

The best talent are often passive candidates. They display one or more of these traits:

  • Currently employed and not actively seeking employment
  • Content with role but willing to listen to new opportunities
  • Employed or under employed and haven’t applied to your company

These candidates typically don’t spray and pray with their resumes in job boards. They are highly selective of who they talk to, as they know they have the skill and experience that employers want. They can afford to be selective.

One of the best ways to attract these types of candidates is through social media. Everyone in the world is active on at least one social media platform:

  • Facebook: With over 2 billion users, Facebook is easily the largest social media network in the world. Whether it’s a teenager or a CEO, that person likely has a Facebook profile. They use it mostly for networking with friends and family, and perhaps one or two sessions of Candy Crush or Farmville. Users tend to stay long periods of time in Facebook, which is a great for someone looking to reach passive candidates. Companies can engage in Facebook ads to showcase their brand or more directly, showcase job openings in their organization. Facebook ads are still the cheapest form of advertising, especially considering their potential reach is enormous. Even a simple brand awareness campaign will do wonders in terms or reaching out to passive candidates on Facebook.
  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn is an obvious choice to search for passive candidates. LinkedIn is literally a host for digital resumes in the form of user profiles. If you’re hiring for business, being active on LinkedIn is a must. Although much more expensive than Facebook, LinkedIn ads can help reach a highly targeted niche (business). There are options for brand awareness, such as sponsored posts. There are options for automated InMails. There is a host of options to attract passive candidates on LinkedIn.
  • Twitter: Twitter is a great way to target influencers within your industry. Twitter is often a place where leaders in an industry speak (or Tweet) their opinions on anything from the latest business news to what hot new restaurant to check out. It’s easy to compile lists of passive candidates who would be amazing hires for your business. You can use Twitter ads to promote brand awareness, and use direct messages to recruit industry leaders and influencers.
  • YouTube: YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world (only its parent Google is larger), so passive candidates are likely to be watching videos on YouTube. Often, people use YouTube to search for how to videos, and this is a great way to reach potential new employees. Establish your company as a leader in its field by creating how to videos about your industry. If you are a web design agency, create how to videos about website development and website marketing. Become a leader in your field and YouTube will promote your channel and videos. This will increase the likelihood that passive candidates (using YouTube to answer a question or looking for a tutorial) will encounter your brand or company. You can then retarget them to keep them in your recruiting funnel.
  • Reddit: Reddit has one of the largest user bases on the planet. It’s made up of subreddits, which are highly niche focused. A savvy recruiter can navigate through Reddit’s endless list of subreddits, and focus on highly active subreddits relevant to their industry. Then he or she can identify thought leaders and active users on that subreddit. They can then engage in communication and introduce that Reddit user to their recruiting funnel. Reddit is an under-utilized source for finding talent, but if used effectively, it could be a unique gold mine to find thought leaders in your industry.

These social media platforms are a great start to finding those passive candidates. If you focus on brand awareness and outreach, you can get these passive candidates in your recruiting funnel. They’ll be more likely to be qualified for any open role in your organization.

Old School Networking

Before there was social media, candidate sourcing was done the old fashion way. This meant meeting people in person and using personnel networks. Here are examples:

  • Attend Conferences: Every industry often has a conference. For example, data scientists have Tableau conferences, where there are opportunities to network with highly skilled data scientists. Attending an industry conference is a great way to collect business cards, and create lists of highly qualified individuals.
  • Alumni Networks: Many schools often have alumni conferences or networking events. It’s not just a time to relive past college glories. It’s also an opportunity to collect business cards, and identify people who could work within your company. They are more likely to be receptive to recruiting overtures because alumni share a common bond – the university.

How much time is needed to source candidates?

Many factors come into play, when estimating the time needed to fill an open role. For executive roles, expect a long drawn out search. It’s important to take time for an executive because he or she will be the face of a large division. There is little room for error when it comes to hiring an executive. On the flip side, finding an executive assistant will not be as time consuming for a company.

As a general rule, expect to spend 30 minutes to an hour sourcing passive candidates. This means going through LinkedIn, fielding questions, reaching out to potential candidates, doing research, and staying active on social media. There is a reason businesses hire whole HR teams to do candidate sourcing. It is a long and grueling task.


Candidate sourcing can be a long drawn out process, especially for a business owner with few employees. Even a medium to large company with a dedicated HR staff will need time to find highly qualified talent to fill roles.

A better solution could be to use technology to automate candidate sourcing. Check out our tech enabled recruiting service here.

Whatever method you use to source candidates, don’t skimp on the process. Employees are the life blood of any successful organization.