Before sourcing candidates, make sure you have a clear, well-defined job description. This will streamline your advertising, screening and interview process.

With a clear job description, you have the necessary information to attract the best possible candidates. When sourcing candidates, first consider whether you can hire from within, or whether you need to advertise for an external candidate.

Sourcing internal candidates: Growth opportunities for current employees

Before advertising a job, determine whether there is a growth opportunity for someone already on your team. Hiring internally is beneficial because it:

  • Provides new opportunities for existing staff, which improves employee retention and commitment
  • Leverages the knowledge and skills in which you have invested
  • Keeps corporate knowledge in-house
  • Minimizes the knowledge gap—that is, the employee moving to the new job will still be available, and usually willing, to train and mentor the new employee in their old job

External candidates: Advertising a position

If you advertise externally, think about how people look for jobs in different professions. This will help you decide where and how best to post your job.

It’s common to post a job in a number of different ways to get the top applicants, especially for highly specialized or scarce, leading-edge technical skills.

Employee referrals

Employee referrals can be a rich source of potential candidates. Encouraging referrals allows you to leverage your employees’ networks of people in relevant jobs in relevant industries.

Employees usually refer only those they feel would be an asset to the company. They have a vested interest in hiring hard-working, co-operative people, and their own reputation is on the line when they refer. Some organizations offer a referral bonus when someone is hired.

Networks and associations

Your professional and personal networks are key sources of highly-qualified candidates, especially for technical, scientific or business roles. Posting is usually free or at a low cost for members. Attending association events enables you to network with potential candidates and can lead to valuable introductions as well.

Corporate website

Advertise any current openings on your website. However, as this is a somewhat passive approach, use this in conjunction with other recruitment tools.

Internet and social media

For most technical and scientific jobs, the internet and social media can be effective in finding the right candidates. Depending on the region, job and demographic of your target audience, you will find that different online job sites or “groups” will be more useful than others. Choosing the right sites will help you grab the attention of the best candidates. Some sites charge a fee to post, while others are free.

Co-op students and new graduates

Colleges and universities yield a great source of candidates. By working with co-op students and new graduates, you can:

  • Attract affordable talent
  • Test for longer-term potential
  • Provide opportunities to bright and keen newcomers to the field

Recruiters and headhunters

Good recruiting firms or headhunters provide a valuable service by conducting the search on your behalf. In leveraging their connections and expertise, you not only save time, but also access a strong pool of candidates. However, this service does come at a cost, so ensure that the recruiters you hire have solid track records and references.

Some startups choose to work with a more holistic human resources (HR) service to guide recruitment as well as other aspects of HR. Such firms usually work on a fee-for-service structure, based on time and effort.

Temporary agencies

Temporary agencies can be useful for short-term or urgent requirements. They are primarily used for support or repetitive roles.

Some agencies specialize in high-calibre technical skills. These would usually be project-based placements, with candidates considered consultants rather than “temps.”


Newspapers are a traditional method of searching for employment and are still relevant for certain jobs. While most business, technical, scientific and retail job positions are sought through online listings, many heavy industry, mechanical or service positions are still effectively posted in a local newspaper.