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30.06.2023 Talent acquisition

How to source candidates (for free): 10 sourcing strategies

How to source candidates (for free): 10 sourcing strategies

Candidate sourcing is an essential part of the recruiting process – and a unique skill to acquire. With the right candidate sourcing strategies, you can improve your hiring process and find qualified candidates – whether active or passive – more efficiently.

Finding the right, qualified talent can be challenging, especially when trying to find (and attract) passive candidates. Even more so when you understand how integral the process of sourcing quality candidates is to the overall success of your business.

This article gives you an in-depth overview of how to source candidates for free (or paid), focusing on an array of strategic candidate sourcing strategies that require little to no financial investment.

After reading this article, you’ll have a better understanding of how to optimise your sourcing and recruiting process to get great candidates!

Table of Contents:

What is candidate sourcing?

Candidate sourcing refers to the proactive search for potential candidates to fill a job role. It’s a strategic process that involves identifying, contacting, and engaging individuals who aren’t necessarily actively searching for a new job, but may be interested if the right job opportunity presents itself.

For a more detailed definition, check out our separate Glossary page: What is candidate sourcing?

Understanding how to source candidates efficiently is a skill that is indispensable for anyone involved in the recruitment process.

From business owners to hiring managers to the HR team, being proficient in sourcing candidates without relying heavily on expensive resources can significantly streamline and improve your recruitment process.

Consequently, it can lead to better hires, fostering a more productive and harmonious work environment. With this in mind, let’s delve deeper into some effective and cost-efficient candidate sourcing strategies.

5 candidate sourcing strategies to source candidates online

As the world continues to shift towards digital operations, the role of technology in the recruitment process becomes increasingly significant. Let’s take a look at some technology-based candidate sourcing strategies you can adopt. After, we’ll share five offline methods you can try as well.

Online job boards and resume databases

Online job boards are the digital counterparts of the traditional job ad in a newspaper. Websites like Indeed and Glassdoor allow employers to post their jobs for free. Additionally, they offer access to vast resume databases where you can search for qualified candidates.

While some advanced features may require payment, you can still utilise the basic features for free. When posting job posts, remember to use targeted keywords to attract the right candidates.

And with a (free) multiposting tool, like JOIN, you can post to dozens of job boards at the same time with just one click!

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Social media platforms

Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have evolved into dynamic platforms for finding candidates. Companies can post job vacancies for free, engage with potential candidates, and showcase their company culture.

A strong presence on social media can attract both active and passive candidates. Utilise relevant hashtags to increase the visibility of your social media job posts and enhance your sourcing process in recruitment.

Professional networking sites

Professional networking sites like LinkedIn are veritable treasure troves of potential candidates. The advanced search features can help you find professionals based on keywords, location, industry, and more (also see our next tip about Boolean search).

By creating a compelling company page, posting job vacancies, and joining relevant groups, you can significantly increase your talent pool. This approach is also effective for re-engaging candidates who’ve previously applied or interacted with your company.

Also read: How to post a job on LinkedIn

Use Boolean search operators

Boolean search is a type of search allowing users to combine keywords with operators (or modifiers) such as AND, NOT and OR to further produce more relevant results. If you want a more detailed explanation, you can check this Wikipedia article on Boolean algebra.

For recruiters, this can be a highly beneficial tool when sourcing candidates. For instance, a recruiter looking for a graphic designer could use a Boolean search to find resumes that include the words “graphic designer” but not “senior”.

This narrows down the search and brings forth candidates that are more suited to the role at hand. Boolean search can be utilised on various platforms such as LinkedIn, Google, and various job boards or resume databases, helping streamline the candidate sourcing process and find the right talent more efficiently.

Applicant tracking systems

An applicant tracking system can be an invaluable candidate sourcing tool. While some features might require a subscription, many ATS platforms offer free versions or trials that can help you streamline your hiring process.

An ATS can assist in automating the screening and interview process, maintaining a database of potential candidates, and re-engaging candidates for future job opportunities.

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5 extra (offline) candidate sourcing methods to consider

Even as technology offers numerous candidate sourcing tools, traditional methods for sourcing in recruitment remain just as essential. Despite the modern advances, these tried and tested strategies still hold their ground in today’s digital era and can be instrumental in finding the best candidates for your job openings.

Employee referrals

An employee referral program can be a highly effective tool in your talent sourcing arsenal.

Your company’s current employees can be a valuable source of potential candidates as they often have networks within the industry and understand the company culture and job requirements better than anyone else.

A well-implemented referral program encourages your employees to recommend qualified talent from their networks. While there may be costs if you offer incentives for successful referrals, the basic mechanism of an employee referral program can be run without incurring any costs.

Suggested read: What is an employee referral program (and how to create it)

Traditional job ad posting

Posting job openings in the classified sections of newspapers and industry-specific magazines is a time-tested method that can still help you attract many job seekers.

Despite the surge in digital job boards, some potential candidates continue to use these traditional platforms when looking for new job opportunities. Granted, it probably isn’t the best strategy to find and hire tech talent, but for other industries – like the service industry – you’re likely to still get results.

Crafting a compelling job description is crucial to the success of this method. Make sure your advertisement clearly outlines the job role, required qualifications, and any unique benefits that your company offers. This clarity will attract the right candidates and make your screening process more efficient.

Job fairs and career fairs

Job fairs or career fairs serve as a real-world platform where employers and job seekers can interact directly. At these events, you can meet a large pool of potential candidates, collect resumes, and even conduct preliminary interviews.

While there might be costs associated with setting up a booth, you can generally attend as a visitor for free. This strategy allows you to get a first impression of active candidates and build a talent pipeline for future job openings.

Leveraging recruitment agencies

While not a free method, collaborating with recruitment agencies can help streamline your recruitment process.

These agencies have extensive networks and candidate databases, which can make the sourcing process much quicker and more efficient. Many agencies offer flexible terms, and you typically only pay if you hire one of their candidates.

For more information, check out our article: Should I hire a recruiter?

Re-engaging candidates who’ve previously applied

Don’t overlook the potential of candidates who’ve previously applied to your company. These individuals have already shown interest in your company and may still be open to new job opportunities.

Consider maintaining communication with these potential candidates, updating them about new openings, and even providing useful industry insights. This kind of ongoing engagement can transform your recruitment process and foster a sense of community and loyalty among potential candidates.

More ways to improve your sourcing and recruiting process

Mastering how to source candidates (for free) demands a fine balance of traditional recruitment methods and technological savvy.

Job advertisements, career fairs, and employee referral schemes offer time-tested ways of sourcing candidates in recruitment. Meanwhile, online job boards, social media, professional networking sites, and Applicant Tracking Systems provide innovative ways to source candidates.

By integrating these strategies into your sourcing process, you can significantly increase your talent pool and find the right fit for your company without breaking your budget.

Need more help perfecting your process? Then check out these resources:

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