Discovering the most effective ways to source candidates is crucial for successful recruitment. We’ve gathered 11 expert insights from HR directors, business leaders, and community managers, ranging from expanding sourcing reach in marginalized communities to employing search filters and Boolean strings. Dive into their experiences and learn how to optimize your candidate sourcing process.

  • Expand Your Reach to Marginalized Communities
  • Partner with Universities and Colleges
  • Network at Industry-Specific Events
  • Use Recruitment Marketing Campaigns
  • Invest in Candidate Experience
  • Leverage Hiring Manager Insights
  • Tap into Specialized Communities
  • Try Employee Referrals
  • Join Reddit Communities
  • Source Candidates on LinkedIn
  • Employ Search Filters and Boolean Strings

Expand Your Reach to Marginalized Communities

Linn AtiyehOne strategy I employ when sourcing candidates is to aim a little below the requirements — not because I want less than qualified applicants, but because I know well that marginalized communities tend to undersell their skill sets on resumes.

Studies have shown that women, LGBTQIA2s+, and BIPOC workers are more likely to downplay their accomplishments and experience. This habit can amplify structural bias, as less diverse workers apply for upper-level roles.

As a recruiter, targeting these communities isn’t just about increasing equality. Underappreciated workers can be a goldmine for sourcing because they’re neglected by other firms. To find the perfect placement, open your mind and expand your reach.

Linn Atiyeh, CEO, Bemana

Partner with Universities and Colleges

Peter BrylaPartnering with universities and colleges has always been an incredible way for me to connect with highly talented individuals eager to explore career opportunities.

First, I researched extensively to identify the universities and colleges that offer programs aligned with our job requirements. It’s essential to consider various factors, such as the institution’s reputation and the caliber of students they produce.

Next, we offer internship programs to students studying at these targeted institutions. This approach creates a pipeline through which we can spot exceptional individuals who may transition into full-time employees within our company.

Besides internships, we tap into the vast network of alums from universities and colleges we partnered with. By following these steps, you can effectively harness the power of university and college partnerships to source highly talented candidates for your organization.

Peter Bryla, Community Manager, ResumeLab

Network at Industry-Specific Events

Grace HeOne of the most successful and efficient ways to source candidates is through networking, and leveraging relationships with colleagues and professionals in related roles or industries.

For example, when I was looking for a software engineer previously, rather than posting online job ads on social media, I attended relevant events and seminars organized by coding universities.

This helped me to connect with many potential candidates who were recent graduates or experienced experts, likely not exposed to traditional job postings elsewhere. 

Others may use this strategy similarly, where they can attend industry-specific events, such as seminars, conferences, and trade shows to meet people interested in their business’ goals and initiatives. There is also the advantage of learning more about the latest trends within the industry while seeking untapped talent pools.

Grace He, People and Culture Director, TeamBuilding

Use Recruitment Marketing Campaigns

Michael Alexis A less commonly used practice that has seen success is hiring with supporting recruitment marketing campaigns; this involves using digital platforms to engage potential job seekers and build relationships over time before recruitment even begins.

It requires more effort upfront, but allows recruiters to access large pools of talent who are almost self-selected as good fits for the position advertised.

Michael Alexis, CEO, Virtual Team Building

Invest in Candidate Experience

Gordana Sretenovic As a company that built its content team from zero to 45 writers and editors, we found that the best sourcing strategy is to invest in our candidate’s experience.

We typically source candidates on national job boards and interest-based communities, but we heavily invest in keeping the top 1% of our candidates engaged and excited to go through our hiring process. 

As we insist on pre-employment assessments instead of relying on resumes, it is crucial to provide our candidates with a smooth recruitment process no matter the source they came from, and we do that by funneling all our candidates into our ATS where they all receive regular communication whenever they progress to the next stage or, unfortunately, receive a rejection letter.

Gordana Sretenovic, Co-founder, Workello

Leverage Hiring Manager Insights

Tracey BeveridgeEnsure you’re actually asking your hiring managers for proper insights into how candidate sourcing can be improved, then act on those insights.

For example, if management outlines opportunities to push job advertisements on specific social media platforms, then use that information and make the push on a platform-specific basis.

Tracey Beveridge, HR Director, Personnel Checks

Tap into Specialized Communities

Kelli Anderson Using industry or function-specific communities (such as Slack groups or association online portals) is a great way to source quality candidates. Post your role and start conversations with interested professionals without having to scan hundreds of resumes.

You’ll likely receive a couple of strong candidates in significantly less time than it takes to read through the huge number of unqualified applicants that came through your website.

Kelli Anderson, Career Coach, Resume Seed

Try Employee Referrals

Kimberley Tyler SmithEmployee referrals are one of the best ways to source candidates. They involve current employees recommending candidates for open positions within the company.

Referred candidates are often a good fit for the company culture and have the necessary skills and experience for the job. They are also pre-screened by the referring employee, saving time and resources in the recruitment process.

Implementing this strategy has made our employees more invested in the recruitment process and motivated to refer candidates who they feel would be a good fit for our company.

To maximize the benefits of this strategy, we offer incentives to employees who refer successful candidates. We communicate the open positions to our employees and provide them with the necessary information about the job requirements and responsibilities.

Kimberley Tyler-Smith, VP of Strategy and Growth, Resume Worded

Join Reddit Communities

Tim WalshClients are often surprised when they hear Reddit is part of my recruiting strategy these days. If they’ve heard of the site, it’s often mentioned with a healthy dose of negativity.

But Reddit communities are a recruiter’s dream thanks to their hyper-specificity. Virtually every profession has a subreddit. And while the site isn’t designed for job-hunting, this can actually be an enormous benefit. 

Perusing someone’s post history gives you a window into not only their background and experience but their personality too. It’s information you won’t get from their LinkedIn profile. That means you can reach out with highly discriminating offers before anyone even knows they’re dissatisfied with their current position.

Tim Walsh, Founder, Vetted

Source Candidates on LinkedIn

Wendy MakinsonProfessional or work-related social media networks like LinkedIn have certainly changed client sourcing, and it’s arguably for the better.

One of the best ways to source candidates via LinkedIn is to follow influencers in the sector and look at who they interact with. Is it consultants who could assist in a freelance position? Are there professionals engaging in industry-specific discourse who reveal that they’re “in the know?”

Creating that human connection with potential candidates on these types of platforms is an incredible way of getting in front of an audience that otherwise would not be possible.

Wendy Makinson, HR Manager, Joloda Hydraroll

Employ Search Filters and Boolean Strings

Benjamin FarberOne of the best ways to source candidates is to use search filters to find professionals with relevant skill sets and industry experience. The feature also can determine who is open to exploring new opportunities.

Besides filters, Boolean search strings are highly useful in refining the sourcing process. We can even use them in ATS or web browsers.

Benjamin Farber, President, Bristol Associates, Inc.


Terkel creates community-driven content featuring expert insights. Sign up at to answer questions and get published.