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Firms Share Their Best Recruiting Strategies

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Recruiting firms find that cold calling is still an effective way to source candidates — but only in certain recruiting segments — and that social media is an important sourcing tool. Those are some of the findings in our 2015 North American Staffing and Recruiting Trends Report. Our research also found that taking referrals and looking to an existing pool of candidates remained top sourcing strategies in 2014.

Executive search firms ranked cold calling as the most effective sourcing strategy, reflecting its power when it comes to carefully targeted, specialized searches for high-level candidates. Once carefully targeted, a cold call or email is one of the most efficient ways to get qualified candidates, says Amy Perrone, vice president of Shelli Herman & Associates, a retained executive search firm. Perrone goes on to say that “referrals may or may not result in a candidate, but are always welcomed.”

Our research also found that leveraging existing candidates from a recruiting firm’s applicant tracking system was the most successful source of qualified candidates for firms of all sizes except upper mid-sized firms (those with 26 to 74 recruiters and salespeople). Upper mid-size companies preferred receiving referrals from placements. Job boards and re-hires seem to work best for larger companies.

Use Social Media for Sourcing

Social media is a crucial part of recruiters’ networking strategy now, says William Vanderbloemen, CEO of Vanderbloemen Search Group. “In today’s world, it’s vital that people who are searching for you are able to find you, so we use online outlets like social media and select job boards to make it easy for those looking for opportunities. As email becomes a crowded means of communication, social media has proven effective for our team in contacting and building relationships with candidates in our niche.”

Use Different Sourcing Tactics for Different Levels of Talent

The WorkPlace Group deploys passive and active candidate sourcing to identify talent that matches position requirements and culture, says executive partner Steven Lindner. In general, active strategies such as job ads, career site listings, social media, and job fairs work well for entry level positions, while strategies for passive candidates (direct calls and emails, networking and referrals) work best for professional-level talent.

Do Your Homework before Cold Calling

As a retained search consultant, The Wellesley Group Managing Director Cathleen Faerber says she finds that direct recruiting is still the best way to identify and recruit the top-level professionals in any industry or geographic area. But using this tactic effectively requires first identifying companies that are currently employing the type of professional you’re looking to recruit. “I still engage the services of researchers who call into targeted companies to obtain information on who’s who.” Faerber says she also digs for information about organizational structure and market intelligence.

Getting to this level of detail takes work, and it can’t be found in databases or job board postings, Faerber says, but it helps to make sourcing more effective and efficient in the long run. After strategically identifying target candidates, direct contact is often more powerful, as passive job seekers are unlikely to respond to an email. Says Faerber, “Getting targeted candidates on the phone provides an opportunity to learn about their background, sell them on the opportunity, and network.”