11 untapped candidate sources you can use today

Last updated:
December 15, 2020
December 19, 2021
min read
Ingrid Stommer
Table of contents

Have you spent years refining your hiring and recruitment process, only to find that it doesn’t deliver the specialty candidates that you’re looking for? With the right candidate sources, you can tap into niche employees and passive candidates that might not be discovered in all the “usual places”.

You’ve done the hard work of identifying the gaps in your employees’ skillsets and your organization’s various roles. So now you are fully aware of which candidates you need to fill those vacancies and round out your teams.

Now comes the most important step in the process: finding the talent that you need.

While traditional sourcing methods work well for everyday hiring needs, they don’t always connect you to specialized talent or help you find passive candidates to fill your open roles.

How do you know which sources will be most effective for the type of candidates that you need to hire? As part of your recruitment strategy online, you’ll need to have a master list of candidate sources that can connect you to the right talent.

But what exactly are the “right” sources and the “right” talent?

The secret to recruiting passive and specialist candidates

A lot of people share the same concern about chasing passive candidates: they’re not really looking for work, so why bother?

According to LinkedIn, only 15% of the working professionals in a recent survey reported complete satisfaction with their career or position. That means that 85% of the passive workforce may actually be interested in hearing what you have to say.

Since people classified as “passive candidates” aren’t actively looking for employment, you aren’t going to be able to source them using traditional strategies or job boards.

They are, however, fairly receptive to various methods of contact so your sourcing options are quite vast. You just might have to get a little creative.

Keep in mind that passive candidates are only going to leave their current position for something better. This may be a better work environment, a better position, or even just more opportunity for growth potential.S

ourcing this kind of candidates is more about creating a conversation about your company and what it has to offer.

Here are 11 often untapped sources where you can search for passive and niche candidates to fill your gaps today:

1. Your company website

We’re not talking about just posting up job information or sharing your website via social media. You can (and really must, at this point) use your company website to showcase your culture and stellar work environment.

Make people want to work for your company, whether it’s because of the flexible location options or because you have Taco Tuesday lunch parties.

You show this through a beautifully crafted careers site. Need some inspiration? Here are our tips to make the best careers page.

The reason that passive candidates are almost always willing to consider a job opportunity, if even they don’t actively seek it out, is because their current company isn’t delivering on employee appreciation and satisfaction.

What’s more, is that the leading reason that people DO change jobs is that they feel unappreciated or underappreciated by their current organization. In both cases, you need to sell yourself as a better option- get your website and careers page onboard in selling this!

2. Social Media

Again, sourcing passive candidates is different from sourcing active ones. You can’t just post a job listing or a link to your company website on social media and hope that people will bite.

Of course, if you’ve done active sourcing correctly, this should already be in place and it may still catch the occasional attention of a passer-by.

There is more to capitalize on in the realm of social media when for sourcing candidates who aren’t actively looking for work:

  • Don’t rely solely on LinkedIn for passive sourcing. You can definitely use it, but a lot of passive candidates get so many high-volume recruiting messages and spam or unwanted queries that they don’t check these messages often.
  • Use Facebook Messenger to reach out to potential candidates. These messages are far more likely to be viewed by passive candidates than those sent via job-specific portals.
  • You can also use paid Facebook ads and groups to get the attention of passive candidates.
  • Use Twitter’s search feature to find talent. Use common industry hashtags and other info to drum up some potential candidates and send them a private message about your opening.
  • Instagram and Snapchat are great for promoting company events, employee recognition programs, and other cultural highlights. You can also make a brief post about an actual job opening, use hashtags to highlight employee perks or skills your company needs, and so forth.

3. Employee referral programs

Big, multinational companies were among the first to roll out employee referral programs, offering incentives to current employees for bringing in new talent. Today, this practice (and great candidate source!) has expanded to organizations of all sizes.

It can be a great resource for passive talent acquisition, too. Candidates who may not otherwise be actively looking for work could easily be persuaded by a satisfied employee who refers them to a position. The same candidates may not respond as well to being approached by a recruiter or sourcing specialist.

Develop a strong employee referral program that works for everyone. Use clearly defined rewards that will engage and entice employees to do your sourcing for you.Believe it or not, only six percent of employees refer someone for the cash incentive. Most do it to help a friend, while others do it to help their company or to improve their perceived value to the organization.

Regardless of their intentions, a good employee referral program will always work in your favor.

4. Recruitment software with artificial intelligence

Technology is changing the way that people manage recruiting. Candidate sourcing can now be done, at least partially, with the assistance of AI programs and recruitment automation tools.

This is quicker and more efficient than manual searching and can allow for better hiring success based on data.

Recruitment software and AI programs will scour the web to collect data and analyze everything in one place. It can gather information from social media websites, job posting websites that might be home to outdated resumes, and other sources.

Then, it can identify which candidates might be more open to a job change, which makes it easy to prioritize passive candidates when using this method.

Keep in mind that there still needs to be a human element in your search for talent but using AI can give you a lot of rewards with minimal effort.

5. Your competition

Nobody likes a shark, but let’s be honest: one of the best passive candidate sources is your competition. They have people with the skills that you need, who are obviously doing a great job, and they probably don’t appreciate them half as much as you will.

If they do, you will know because people won’t be as likely to jump ship when you toss out the proverbial olive branch.

Keep in mind that depending on the industry, candidates may be bound by non-compete agreements or other contracts in their current positions.

If you encounter this, you will need to figure out whether breaking such an agreement is something the candidate would be interested in. Using the competition for a candidate source comes with some considerations, but it is an effective option for those who want easy access to qualified employees.

6. YouTube

One of the most useful tools, for any potential candidate, is a “day in the life of…” video. Companies that create videos that showcase what it’s like to work for their organization are more likely to find good talent when they need it.

Again, like other social media tools, YouTube can increase your success with passive candidate sourcing by building a visible and measurable reputation for your company.

If you want to get extra creative, you can create your own hashtag that leads people to more information about the company, its employee culture, and other related resources.

7. Podcasts

Podcasts that are relevant are a great way to get your organization’s name out there. There are even specific recruiting podcasts that help with employment branding by doing in-depth interviews with various HR managers and hiring execs.

If you’re in an industry where you want to reach the hip, tech-friendly crowd, this could be an invaluable resource for passive sourcing.

8. Professional and industry groups

If you work in an industry that has professional organizations or industry groups, these are ideal candidate sources. Like sourcing from your competitors, you can guarantee that people in professional associations are going to have the skills and abilities that you need.

Plus, these people might not be actively looking for employment, but when they are approached by someone within this circle, it can be difficult to turn down a good offer.

If your organization or association holds special events or social gatherings, that’s also a good place to showcase your company culture and attract candidates without actually approaching them.

9. Local events

According to Forbes, local events allow you to incorporate your existing employees and potential candidates for your company.

In the case of Taco Bell, the popular fast-food giant, a hiring party was recently held to identify candidates that may be part of the new generation and not as amenable to other recruiting methods. By having a “party”, they took the stress and formality out of the experience.

Local events, like professional association events, are a great place to showcase your company and its culture.

For a more indirect approach than an outright hiring event, look at local professional events, job fairs, and “get to know you” type of events around town where you can passively reach out to candidates and remind the general public what a great organization yours is and how it can be to their advantage to become a part of it.

10. Your own coding

If you’re in the market for developers and coders, what better way to test their skills than to hide a job posting or candidate search in your own coding? GoDaddy and other companies have done this with success.

After all, it’s going to catch their attention, and it will guarantee that you get candidates with the skills that you need. This is a very job-specific tip, but it’s one that gives you a glimpse at how to get creative with passive recruiting.

11. Job boards

Although we mentioned at the beginning that you can’t just go to the job boards for passive candidates, there are some things that you can still do to use them to your advantage.

For starters, you can use software or search functions to seek out inactive resumes and outdated profiles of candidates who may suit your needs but are not actively looking for a new job.

These resumes and profiles might belong to your next perfect candidate, whether they know it or not.

Getting creative with your candidate sources

There’s no one way to source great candidates. However, relying on the same methods and sources for every vacancy will offer diminishing returns. Look critically at your candidate sources and explore new channels to reach your target audience, whether they’re passive, active, or niche candidates.

Additional reading: 5 things to fix in your candidate attraction strategy

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