7 Ways Recruiters Find Candidates

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Table Of Contents

Learn how recruiters find candidates. This can be helpful if you are a recruiter or if you are looking to use tried-and-true recruiter tactics to find employees.

You’ve got a long list of open roles to fill, so these six ways recruiters find candidates will come in handy! Give them all a try to learn which ones work best for you. If you implement the following strategies into your recruiting practice, we’re confident you’ll find the talent you need.

Quickstart Guide To Finding Candidates

  1. Write a detailed job description. Snag our free job description template to get started.
  2. Search for your dream candidates on ZipRecruiter's resume database. ZipRecruiter’s resume database allows you to search millions of jobseeker resumes. You can start using ZipRecruiter’s resume database for free.
  3. Post your job opening on job posting sites so that applications start rolling in.

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7 Ways Recruiters Find Candidates

You can find your ideal candidates almost anywhere. But, there are several tried and true methods that should be part of your recruiting toolbox, such as:

  • Job Boards
  • LinkedIn
  • Applicant Tracking Systems
  • Social Media
  • Networking Events
  • Referrals
  • Alumni Associations

When you use them in concert, you’ll likely have a steady stream of top talent filling your candidate pipelines.

Job Boards

Job boards, like ZipRecruiter, are great for bringing candidates to you. When you post a role, you’ll attract the attention of many job seekers. If you get lucky, you may find the perfect fit among the digital pile of submitted resumes you receive.

But - as a word of caution, you’ll likely receive tons of responses from unqualified applicants. That means you may have to spend a lot of time sifting through applications to come up with a shortlist of people to contact. But, there are ways to quickly and easily narrow the field.

To improve your applicant pool, make your job advertisement very detailed to include specific education, skills, credentials, and experience required. Then, add screening questions that job seekers must answer to complete their application. If their responses don’t align with the position’s requirements, their submission automatically gets disqualified, so you won’t have to waste time reviewing it.

For additional job boards, check out our guide to the best free job posting sites.


LinkedIn gives you access to a massive, global network of professionals. On the platform, you can search for, connect with, and contact potential candidates. If you have a paid membership, such as LinkedIn Recruiter, you’ll be able to use advanced search features, message people you’re not connected with (via an Inmail), and more.

Here are a few best practices when using LinkedIn to find candidates:

  • Post your open roles on LinkedIn - it can serve as another job board! For more tips, check out our guide on how to post a job on LinkedIn.
  • Contact your current connections - perhaps they’ll be interested in the position - or know someone who would be.
  • Use keywords from the job advertisement when you search - your chances of finding a solid match will go way up.
  • Tailor your outreach to each person so you don’t come across like a spammer.
  • Improve your company’s LinkedIn page and your own LinkedIn profile - feature-rich content helps candidates find you.
  • Check out industry-related groups - you may discover qualified professionals hanging out there.

LinkedIn can be an incredible way to locate and engage passive top talent. If you want to fill your jobs fast, you’ll need to pursue both active job seekers and passive candidates.

Applicant Tracking Systems

Your applicant tracking system (ATS) can be a goldmine for candidates - especially if you frequently recruit for the same positions. Chances are, you’ve got some solid applicants (possibly already vetted, interviewed, and well-liked) in there from previous job postings. So, before you spend money boosting an ad or waste time wading through endless resumes or LinkedIn profiles, run some quick keyword searches in your ATS.

Apart from being a tappable internal database of talent, your ATS may also be able to help you:

  • Post your roles directly to job boards (including paid ads)
  • Share your listings to social media to promote sharing
  • Manage and track employee referrals
  • Run reports to see where your candidates are coming from (referrals, job boards, social media, career site, etc.)

Since your ATS can do all of this, it should be the first tool you use when a hiring manager submits a requisition for an open position.

Social Media

Nearly everyone uses social media these days. That means you and your company need to be active on there, too. There are billions of potential candidates at your fingertips. But, to get optimal results, you must use these platforms intentionally and strategically. Here are some tips:

  • Understand where your prospects hang out. For example, a mid-career software engineer is more likely to be on LinkedIn than TikTok.
  • Write posts about your company’s mission, culture, and benefits so people can imagine what it would be like to work there.
  • Share advice about how to land a job with your firm, and clearly explain the hiring process.
  • Post industry-related educational content to showcase your organization’s expertise and willingness to help.
  • Be responsive when people engage with your posts to show a genuine interest in their questions or concerns and foster engagement.
  • Run targeted paid ads to get your key job openings in front of many qualified candidates.
  • Personalize any direct messages you send to make a good impression and increase your chance of getting a response.
  • Make sure that all content is visually appealing with branded graphics and optimized for mobile phones.

If you implement these tactics, you should see an uptick in candidates coming from social media!

Networking Events

Networking events are fabulous opportunities to connect with several people in a short time. You should consider going to both industry-related events and recruiter-specific events. At an industry-related event, you’ll meet hiring managers and potential candidates directly. At a recruiter-specific event, you’ll connect with other recruiters who may know the perfect person for one of your open roles (or vice versa).

To make your next networking event successful:

  • Know your purpose for attending (i.e., connecting with specific hiring managers or seeking candidates for a particular role).
  • Have business cards on hand (yes, people still use those!).
  • Bring company literature and job descriptions to show prospective candidates.
  • Create a concise and engaging elevator pitch to kick-off conversations.
  • Work the room after you speak with anyone you targeted - you never know where a discussion will lead.
  • Offer to help when you can - people will remember your service.
  • Follow up and stay in touch - you’re planting seeds for the future, too.

Pro Tip: Want to network with many potentially qualified candidates in one day? Host a career fair and invite professionals to meet you and explore opportunities at your firm.


Referrals are like gold because they’re often to qualified candidates from employees or other people who know your company well. The referrer likely gave the potential candidate information about your firm - and can provide you with insight into their background and why they’d be a good fit for the organization. Since all of this happens before you speak to the prospect, it makes the actual vetting process faster and easier.

Plus, referred candidates often interview well, get hired, and stay with the company for a long time. That means referrals are a time and cost-effective method to find candidates. Rather than pay an unknown amount in advertising fees, you can financially reward the referring employee (which, as a bonus, also keeps them satisfied and engaged).

Alumni Associations

Alumni associations can be a great resource for finding job candidates when recruiting. Alumni associations are made up of graduates of a particular school or program, and they often have a strong connection to their alma mater. This connection can make them more likely to be interested in job opportunities that are related to their field of study or interests.

In addition, alumni associations often have a large network of members who are well-connected in various industries, which can be a valuable resource when looking for job candidates.

One way to tap into the alumni association network is to attend alumni events and meetups. These events can be a great place to connect with alumni who are interested in job opportunities, and to learn more about their career goals and interests.

Another option is to reach out to the alumni association directly and ask if they have any job boards or other resources for job seekers. Many alumni associations have job boards or other resources that are available to members, which can be a great way to connect with potential candidates.

How To Recruit Your Ideal Candidate

You don’t want just any candidate. You want the ideal candidate for the position. Here are some tips to make that happen:

  • Refine the job description so that it accurately reflects the role’s requirements.
  • Check your applicant tracking system first for potential candidates. Don’t have one? Consider implementing the software.
  • Use a variety of sourcing methods to cast a wide net.
  • Ensure your recruiting process, screening, and interview processes are aligned with the job’s requirements.
  • Be transparent about what the job entails and what working for your company is like.
  • Make the hiring experience as fun and straightforward as you can for candidates.
  • Stay in regular contact with your candidates to keep them engaged.

If you incorporate best practices like these into your recruiting strategy, you’ll find, impress, and hire the candidates you need.

Frequently Asked Questions 

How to find and recruit the best job candidates?

You can find and recruit the best job candidates by using various candidate sourcing methods and publicly sharing what makes your company exciting and unique.

How to tell who the best job candidate is?

You can tell who the best job candidate is by how well the person’s qualifications match the position’s requirements, how well they interview, and how well they fit in with the organization’s culture.

Do recruiters use Google searches to find candidates?

Yes, recruiters run boolean keyword searches on Google to find candidates.

What are the best ways to source candidates?

The best ways to source candidates include job boards, LinkedIn, applicant tracking systems, social media, networking events, and referrals.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to locating top talent, you’ve got a lot of options. We’ve discussed six ways recruiters find candidates. After reading this article, you’re in great shape to fill that next requisition.

Need a little extra support? ZipRecruiter can help with all of your recruiting needs. Explore the resume database on ZipRecruiter today!