What Do You Use To Find Candidates?

Finding great candidates is definitely a skill, but like any craftsman, there are a number of tools that recruiters use to find the diamonds in the rough. Keep in mind that the best candidates are usually employed and not desperate to leave, but are open to hearing about something that might be better. These are known as passive candidates and the best recruiters utilize their tools and time sourcing and engaging with them. Weaker recruiters will almost exclusively provide active candidates, who are actively seeking employment for various reasons and many are not good. Outlined below are some of the most common tools, resources, and systems recruiters use to find candidates:


This professional networking site is a monopoly and essentially the only of its kind. Professionals have a summary of their background published and connect with people they know but are not necessarily looking for a job. This makes LinkedIn an excellent place to source passive candidates, especially as the more people you are connected to, the more people are visible to you via second and third-level connections. LinkedIn has slowly morphed into a place for employment connections, allowing individuals to broadcast that they are open to opportunities and companies to post job ads. Recruiters often pay to have a “recruiter license” on LinkedIn, which allows them to view a near unlimited amount of potential candidates privately (it is not revealed who viewed their profile).


Every recruiting firm has an internal database they have built up over the years. For many firms that have been adding great intel and avoiding the “garbage in, garbage out” syndrome, this is one of their primary sources of candidates as they are all known and at least a “warm” relationship vs. having to make a cold call. Recruiters will peruse their database and then either check-in with the candidate directly or review their LinkedIn profile to determine their current job status. If you are working with a good recruiting firm, they should have a solid database to use. 


This source of candidates is one of the true barometers of a great recruiting firm. Talented people tend to know other talented people and will only refer them if they have had a good experience with the recruiter. Referrals are the very best source of passive candidates and the worst recruiters never get a referral. Great recruiters will reach out to both current and past connections to see if they know of anyone who is looking for a change. Again, a great recruiter will often utilize referrals when finding talented professionals.


Networking can mean anything from meeting someone at the grocery store to attending industry functions, to joining groups established for that sole purpose. While every recruiter is likely doing some form of this and some are much better than others, it is rarely providing a large chunk of their candidate flow. However, recruiters can use these events to meet more talented professionals and call on them when a good opportunity arises. So, if you met a recruiter years ago and they are just calling you now, it means two things: 

  1. You made a lasting impression.
  2. The recruiter is probably good at what they do. By remembering you and your skills, they are drawing on more than just a database, but a deep memory of their personal network. 

Job Boards

This is basically posting a job ad somewhere, such as Indeed, CareerBuilder, Monster, and many thousands of other places including LinkedIn. While a recruiter can get lucky occasionally by snaring a high-quality candidate this way, any of their client companies can post the same ad. What extra value is the recruiter providing? You guessed it – none. By definition, passive candidates are not applying to online jobs and only the weakest firms rely heavily on this method to get their candidates. If your recruiter is using this method, then you may want to reconsider working with them. 

Overall, you want a recruiter who will use their personal network, internal database, and deep industry connections to find you a great candidate. While many of the best candidates are “passive,” there are a number of great “active” candidates as well. 

If you have read all the way through this article and still have questions about how recruiters find talent, please contact us at 713-357-9565. We want to give unbiased answers to your questions, whether you choose to engage our help or not.