How to Source Candidates Like a Recruiter

how to source candidates like a recruiter

The other day, I got a call from a prospective client who stated that he was having a hard time identifying enough candidates. He felt that he had a really successful hiring process that included the ability to thoroughly screen, interview and select the “right” candidates; he just needed more people in his pipeline. He said he had tried running an ad on Monster, then on Craigslist and then on Dice, and he still didn’t get the responses he needed. He also stated that he was a small business owner and just could not afford professional recruiter fees, but asked if I would be willing to share with him how he could source candidates himself.

So in the spirit of sharing, I revealed some trade secrets; this is what I told him:

1. Identifying candidates requires an investment in time and money. We put in about 40 to 80 hours per search in the first 30 days just identifying resumes that meet the basic criteria, so you need to have someone who can dedicate this amount of time.Also understand that recruiting qualified candidates costs money, but when done properly, is one of the best investments a company can make.

2. Job Boards: To find a wealth of qualified candidates, you need to post multiple ads on a variety of job boards. It is not enough to just post on one job board and wait for that to NOT work, and then try another. You need to run at least 3 at a time.

You need to be proactive and search the job boards. You can’t just rely on your ads and hope for candidates to come to you. This is where we find most of our candidates, and this is where your investment comes in (although most contingent recruiting firms don’t even make this investment; however, many contract recruiting firms do make the investment, which is one of the reasons they require a retainer before they begin a search).

The Cost of Job Boards: On March 11, 2013, we contacted the following job boards and asked them what and how they charge, so I could provide you with the latest pricing. The following is a breakdown of their responses:


When conducting proactive searches, you can target by using keywords, e.g. "Java Developer," "Project Management Professional" or "Consultative Software Sales." It is also important to consider that job titles are sometimes relative and that there are potentially a variety of different names for the same role. Mix up your search words, and you’ll end up with a greater breadth of candidates.As you can see, with the exception of Craigslist (which typically does NOT produce any great results), none of the job boards we contacted allow you to sign up for anything shorter than a one year commitment, so if you are only hiring a couple of people a year, this may not be the route for you. 

3. LinkedIn Groups are another great resource for finding talent. Identify and join groups that align with the roles you are seeking. Many of them allow you to post job ads on them for free.

4. Typically, the best candidates come from word of mouth. If you go to any Sales Manager you know, he will usually know someone else in the same role that is qualified and looking for a better opportunity. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your contacts. It’s also important to remember that sometimes your best source for other employees are your own: institute a motivating employee referral program and constantly promote it!

5. The Screening Call: please understand that this is a SALES CALL, and the person conducting these needs to be trained on how and what to say in order to “sell” the opportunity. This is especially true when you are contacting people who are currently employed -which is also typically where your best candidates come from. This is not the time to wing it or sound like you're doing them a favor by calling them. Top talent receive a lot of calls and emails about job offers, so your pitch needs to be compelling.

6. ABR: Always Be Recruiting! Most people wait until they have an opening to fill and then get in a rush to fill a new vacancy, which typically results in hiring the wrong person for the job and costs you A LOT MORE. You should always be actively seeking new employees and build a database of them that you can access when needed.

In response to this need, Excelsior now offers a Candidate Sourcing Service that allows you to utilize our annual service agreements with top job boards and our expert staff to source your candidates, without paying any large recruiting fees

(function(){ var s='hubspotutk',r,c=((r=new RegExp('(^|; )'+s+'=([^;]*)').exec(document.cookie))?r[2]:''),w=window;w[s]=w[s]||c, hsjs=document.createElement("script"),el=document.getElementById("hs-cta-67e6292e-0f9a-4588-a2cb-1c6102c65a64"); hsjs.type = "text/javascript";hsjs.async = true; hsjs.src = "//" + encodeURIComponent(c); (document.getElementsByTagName("head")[0]||document.getElementsByTagName("body")[0]).appendChild(hsjs); try{"hidden";}catch(err){} setTimeout(function() {try{"visible";}catch(err){}}, 2500); })();

To receive the latest in Talent Assessment, Acquistion and Leadership Development, sign up for our blog here.