How the heck do you find candidates?

  By Chris Heinz  |    Monday May 16, 2022

Category: Expert Advice, Productivity, Recruiting


I’m not sure if you’ve heard it or not, supposedly there’s a hiring crisis.  Yes, we all know this because we are living it!

Even in this hiring crisis, there are many ways to find candidates today.  Some are easier than others, but NONE are easy!  The reality is there is no silver bullet. There is no ONE way.  As you all probably know, it takes multiple approaches to be successful in finding the right talent!

Let me make one suggestion that is very important…when you find someone who you believe is a good fit, DON’T wait to hire them (get them hired).  There is no written rule anywhere that you MUST interview 3 candidates before you can hire.  Yes, you want to find great talent, but as my recruiting partner, Blake, always says “Don’t let great stand in the way of good.”  This is true in any market condition, but especially true in today’s hyper-competitive candidate market!

So…how the heck do we find great candidates? I know what you’re probably thinking “Chris runs a recruiting firm so he won’t give away any of their secrets.  He won’t let us see behind the curtain.”  Au contrare, if you’ve been reading any of my previous articles, every month I’m bringing you behind the curtain and sharing our best practices.  I firmly believe that we should mutually share our gifts and capabilities!  Now, if you ask a magician “how’d you do that trick” their typical response is “very well”!  But, I’m not a magician, so you are good!

Let’s go over several ways to find the right talent!


Employee Referrals:  Many companies have a robust employee referral program. In our opinion, it is one of the single best ways to find good candidates.  After all, the employees within the company understand the culture, the work, and they know who would be a good fit with the team and who wouldn’t. We believe in it so much that a ⅓ of our company has come from referrals!

I have seen many forms of programs, from gift cards, to lunches, to bonuses (ranging from $500 to $5000) to trips!

While you might have a strong program, that is not enough. As the leader, you should specifically talk with your associates to get them to think of people worth reaching out to…perhaps more than once!


Past employees (that you liked working with).  In a previous article, we talked about the boomerang employee.  Perhaps it would be worth the effort to reach out to those that you liked to see how things are going with their new gig.  Maybe it isn’t all that it was cracked up to be!

Job boards (Indeed, Zip Recruiter, LinkedIn Jobs, Monster/ CareerBuilder/niche job boards, and your own company careers page)

Here’s a fact for you:  35-40% of the workforce is actively looking for a new opportunity at any given time.  Many companies have a careers page (with some much better than others).  Most organizations typically use job boards for sourcing.  Indeed, is the 200-pound gorilla in our current market, and some organizations have expressed to us that they get great value from Indeed, while others complain that they are paying out their “ears” for sponsored ads but not getting much from it.  In a future article, we’ll talk further about effective job board ads.  For the purposes of ‘candidate sources,’ it is worth evaluating whether job boards are worth it to you. If you keep a solid eye on the costs, then you can definitely find value.  Without it being evaluated, your monthly costs can reach the thousands very very quickly!


LinkedIn can be a very powerful tool if used correctly. But it requires effort to first build your connections, second by adding value by engaging in the content of others along with creating some of your own, and third through messaging.  The great news is there are a lot of content creators on LinkedIn. I don’t know about you, but I can’t scroll for more than 15 seconds without seeing who has recently accepted a new position!

If you build your network of connections, you have the ability to reach out to them via messaging.  Just remember a couple of things:  if someone does not respond, it doesn’t mean they don’t like you.  Most people don’t live on LinkedIn the way recruiters do.  So, they never notice they have a new message in the app, and the message itself may go into their spam folder in their email. Those that are actively looking for a position are the ones most active on the site.


Remember me? Your friendly neighborhood recruiter?  Over my almost 25 years, I know that we are not the right solution for every position.  It would not be a good business decision to fill every role through a recruiter.  We aren’t cheap! But, when you have positions that are hard to fill, confidential replacements, ones you don’t have the time to wait and see if other methods will work, you’ve tried many of the other approaches and they didn’t get you the candidates you need, that’s when you call in the cavalry.  

A good recruiter will be a valued consultant to you.  A good recruiter won’t try to shove misfit candidates at you.  A good recruiter will find candidates you probably would not find on your own–or be able to attract those that you do know but wasn’t successful in attracting through other methods. I like to consider my team to be good recruiters.  We are far from perfect but we do things the right way while being ethical and moral.

Build a Strong Employer Brand

Every single method of finding great candidates is hurt if you have a poor employer brand.  So, how do you ensure you have the best employer brand that you can?  The most important is to treat your employees the RIGHT way…not some of the time but all of the time. Other things to consider when it comes to your employer brand include:   

  • Your company LinkedIn page
  • Reviews (Google, Glassdoor, Indeed, Yelp) 
  • Involvement in associations

Make sure to capitalize on the evangelists for your organization! Remember that a company does not have a culture…the people within the company make up the culture! Encourage those that love working for the company are showing the wonderful things about the passion and care your organization portrays. They will be your best sources for illustrating a strong employer brand!

If the perception on the street is you have a poor reputation, don’t stick your head in the sand hoping people will ignore it.  Be proactive to improve it.  Whoever has control over your Google/Glassdoor/Indeed company pages, respond to negative reviews (without trying to be defensive).  If the company went through a senior leadership change, scream it from the rooftop and work to get into as many of the media streams in our industry as possible. The perception won’t be changed overnight.  But you can work to improve the reputation one employee at a time!

I hope you have gained a nugget or two from these different ways to find great candidates!  But, let me end with a statement of caution:

If you have great strategies to find candidates but you have a poor interviewing process or you don’t have compelling stories as to why they would want to come work with you, you will lose those you found.  In previous articles, I’ve discussed each of these subjects.  If you need a refresher, go check them out!

There is a field of diamonds out there that we like to call candidates.  Go find them!


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