While researching the best ways to know how to recruit as an independent recruiter, I did a quick LinkedIn search to find that there were over 60,000 results when searching the job title “independent recruiter.” That number is supposed to grow even more! With that many people searching, contacting and hoping to place talented candidates, never has the need been greater for solo recruiters to stand out from the crowd.

Whether it be through relationships, results or marketing, you need to work hard at leveraging anything you have to deliver great-fitting candidates to your clients.

In our last article on independent recruiting, we covered how to recruit with the best practices and tools that provide financial stability. Now we’re going to cover methods for sourcing candidates to gain the competitive edge over the tens of thousands of other recruiters and agencies out there. You might not feel like you’re directly competing against your fellow recruiters, but who doesn’t want the cream of the talent crop?

Whether we like it or not, competition is fierce in the recruitment game. So whether you’re competing against:

  • Other recruiters
  • Big recruiting firms
  • Trendy tech solutions
  • DIY job boards

…it’ll pay to place your services at the front of the recruiting herd. How can you do that exactly? It will come down to your ability to find and deliver great matches again and again.

Use sourcing tools and techniques that make recruiting more efficient

Sourcing can be one of the most challenging and time-consuming aspects of the job. Plus, it’s that task that is always lingering below all of the other things you need to do. You probably recognize that “I should be looking for new applicants” feeling that sets in after a few days (or hours) of not combing LinkedIn.

Sourcing has come a long way since the internet “transformed” recruiting and the days where word of mouth, in-person networking events, and cold calls were the most common ways of contacting potential candidates. Those methods will always be important, but thankfully you can also learn to master the digital realm.

There are a few tricks that you can utilize to cut down the time you spend digitally sourcing. Now, the “be-all-end-all magic applicant sourcing machine” doesn’t exist quite yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t tailor existing tools to feel like recruiting silver bullets.

Let’s examine…

1) Simplify LinkedIn

There’s no doubt that LinkedIn is going to be here for a while and that it is a great source for you (we’ll see how Microsoft treats it, but let’s operate under the assumption that it won’t entirely vanish on us). There are a few ways that you can improve your searches inside the network. For example, try using a Chrome Extension that allows you to save searches in your ATS so that you can say goodbye to tediously copying and pasting information between apps, browsers and windows.

Pro Tip: If you are recruiting for a position that you don’t have much experience in, try piggybacking off of the expertise of companies you know to have good judgment. For example, Rebekah Campbell is the Chief Executive of Posse, and she uses LinkedIn’s company filter to find developers who have ties to Google, using Google’s proven expertise in recruiting as an early screening tool when she’s looking for qualified candidates.

2) Automate sourcing

Sourcing doesn’t have to be a completely manual process anymore. The process can be automated so all that you have to do is type in your desired search criteria and wait for candidates to be delivered to your inbox.

3) Expand your search

Try using new sites to find great passive candidates. Many have had success using Slack to find great, highly qualified people. You can join groups geared towards certain skill sets or interests; allowing you to network, learn new skills, and find qualified people. This is another case of finding the talent and communicating with them where they’re most comfortable.

4) Find good old-fashioned networking events (but organized with a technical twist).

Nothing beats face-to-face interaction with clients and putting a face to your name and skill set. Make plans to attend networking events geared towards HR and recruiting, may I suggest Sourcest? Networking events will connect you with clients, new candidates, and other recruiters.

You may also benefit from attending career fairs to meet new candidates. This will allow you to see how they interact with their peers and allow you to screen them quickly. Set up alerts in your Gmail account to instantly and easily hear about the latest recruiting events that are near you.

  1. If you’re unfamiliar with alerts, this article will show you how to get started
  2. Set up specific alerts for things like “HR event (enter your city)”
  3. Enjoy learning about events in your area from alerts that appear right in your inbox

5) Join relevant communities

Organizations and structured communities offer you great resources for regularly interacting with like-minded people. Focus on sects geared towards your recruiting niche industry using sites such as Eventbrite and Meetup.

How to recruit your best candidates with effective contacting methods

Contacting candidates has to be done in a timely, effective, and above all, diplomatic fashion. It’s key that your message and skills stand out from the sea of other recruiters that many, especially in niche roles, face. Before contacting a candidate, it’s always a good idea to take a look at their social profiles, specific backgrounds and any projects that you have access to. Entering a conversation armed with this knowledge will set you apart from the others and show candidate’s that you took the time to understand their unique background – something that independent recruiters can use to their advantage.

To try to stand out from the crowd many recruiters have started to contact candidates in a variety of new ways. Many are using social sites like Facebook or LinkedIn, while others have started to utilize texting. Texting is a great way to ensure that a candidate sees your message and responds in a timely manner. A Deloitte survey found that on average, people check their phones 40 times a day, that almost guarantees that your message will be seen. Use an ATS that allows you to send customized emails to multiple candidates at once to save you time and help to ensure that your messages are seen.

Utilizing new technology is great, but Greg Savage reminds us that sometimes nothing is better than a phone call to reach passive candidates.


“…it was simply dumb not to use the phone to approach top talent.”

-Greg Savage


If you’ve found an ideal candidate, reaching out and giving them a call can still be the best method. If they don’t answer or don’t return your call, you can always follow up with a text message or email as long as you’re not overzealous.

Prep candidates like your life depends on it

Preparation is everything, especially when it comes to interviews. Give the candidate as much feedback as possible before sending them off to an interview. Arm them with detailed directions, insights on the office dress code and the company culture, as well as information about the interviewers and the type of questions that they ask. Think of difficult interview questions that you have encountered in your career and throw a few of them at candidates to see how they respond and coach them.

Taking the extra time to prep your candidates and tailoring their resumes is also well worth the additional effort. Your candidates will appreciate the assistance and your coaching will ensure that they leave an impression on hiring managers. It may be time-consuming up front, but it will pay off as you present highly qualified candidates who have poised answers to difficult interview questions.

Finish strong

Finding and sourcing candidates as an independent recruiter will always be a challenge, but that’s the game! If finding talented candidates for specific jobs was easy, businesses wouldn’t be seeking your help. So remember to appreciate the struggle every now and again (even if you don’t enjoy it all of the time). Optimizing your tools, networking, contacting your candidates in an effective manner and ensuring that candidates are well prepared are all keys to building your reputation and finding the best candidates as an independent recruiter.