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Staffing 101: The most effective methods for candidate sourcing

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Welcome to Staffing 101. In this series, we’ll capture some frequently asked questions about running and operating your staffing firm. See the previous entries about applicant tracking systems here and back office data here.

What do money, free time, and quality candidates have in common? You never seem to have as much as you’d like. Indeed, 42 percent of staffing professionals say candidate acquisition is a top priority (making it the third-most urgent priority behind increasing profitability and revenue growth). Making matters worse, the talent shortage doesn’t appear to be going anywhere soon—it’s the number one challenge for staffing firms for the third year in a row.

So you probably want to find and place more candidates. But what’s the best way to do it? Here are the top three methods for sourcing candidates, as voted by over 1400 global staffing professionals in the 2018 Staffing & Recruiting Trends Report.

Referrals from candidate placements

The old staffing truism, “good people know good people” has stuck around for a reason—staffing firms say it’s the top source for quality candidates.  Many firms have a similar experience to that of Rolf Kramer of Kranect. Kramer took a look at the data and found that when it comes to sourcing candidates, 42 percent of his team’s recent placements came from referrals.

Why are referrals so valuable? According to Kramer, referrals result in better placements: “They’re more qualified because the referring person knows what we do and knows they’re a good fit. They were referred because someone thought we’d work well together.”

But quality referrals won’t generate from thin air. They’re the result of a top-notch candidate experience. Candidates won’t recommend a friend to use your agency if their experience was an unpleasant one. Make sure you’re a candidate experience MVP by focusing on everything from the onboarding experience to the feedback you provide and the attention you afford your candidates.

Existing candidates from your ATS and/or CRM

Another time-tested source of quality candidates are the existing candidates you’ve already added to your database. Last year’s number one spot, existing candidates just slightly drops behind referrals as the go-to method of choice for finding great candidates. But remember: as the old saying goes, “quality in, quality out,” so it’s worth it to make sure the information you initially put into your database is accurate.

If your candidate database has gotten a little unwieldy, check out these tips to help you get the most out of the existing candidates in your applicant tracking system (ATS).

Get the ebook: 25 Tips to Manage Your Candidate Database

Chances are that your candidate database is full of untapped potential. For example,  you may have great candidates whose records lack critical information, like an email address. Perform database searches to find any candidate records without crucial information. Run a search in your ATS that excludes all candidates with an @ sign in their email address. This will help you identify candidates in your database without a valid email address. You’ll now have some great candidates to reach out to once you update their information.

Social Media

LinkedIn is well-established as the go-to social media site for recruiters, but it’s not the only social media network with great candidates on it. A full 40 percent of staffing pros say they don’t use Twitter at all for recruiting, making it a great choice for sourcing candidates with less competition from other firms.

Of course, LinkedIn is the top dog for a reason. But because it’s such a popular choice, you’ll want a solid strategy to ensure you stand out from the crowded field. Timing matters too. According to LinkedIn’s data, 9:00 – 10:00 AM is the magic hour for reaching out to candidates. It’s the time of day with the highest response rate.


Learning to effectively source candidates is worth your time and effort.  For actionable tips to source more candidates, get Straight to The Source: Why Candidate Sourcing Matters and Tips For Success for interesting findings around the candidate acquisition landscape and sourcing tips that work.

Sourcing