Everybody loves high-quality candidate lists. Who wants low-quality candidates streaming in by the boatload? That’s not a recipe for growth or success.

But it feels like the white whale of modern recruiting in terms of how you get those high-quality candidates. So, let’s bust it open and offer some hacks.

Build a proactive pipeline:

 This is the No. 1 way, honestly. People are social animals and they want to build relationships with others. Too much of recruiting can feel transactional like you are a sale to the recruiter because of your skill set. While that’s admittedly how the system works, the best recruiters find the best candidates by going out and meeting them: dinner, drinks, coffee, local events, etc. Then they know the “scene” around tech or healthcare or whatever industry they need to know in their region. Once you know “the scene,” you know how and who to place. You’re delivering high-quality more than most.

Leverage LinkedIn:

It’s still a gold standard for recruiting, even if it has flaws. Post interesting stuff. Talk about the flaws of standard recruiting. Engage with people that way.

Use sourcing extensions to work smarter:

Here ya go.

Source outside the norm:


  • Conference speaker lists are a great place to find talent that’s qualified in different areas.
  • App stores are a good place to browse technologies that are similar or related to your own, and if you find something of interest, consider reaching out to the people behind the app.
  • Quora showcases great talent who are knowledgeable and passionate about specific topics.
  • Amazon book reviews tend to be a great source when looking for commenters who make intelligent remarks about books on your industry or subject matter.

Write job descriptions that actually mean something:

… and you’ll get better people. Maybe speak to where the role could go in 3, 6, 9, and 12 months. Show a growth path.

Use referrals:

Your current A-Players? Go talk to them. Who do they know in the area? Who have they worked with before and been impressed by? Any remote candidates? Know their ecosystems. The best like working with the best.

Mobile-optimize that career site:

A-Players are busy people. They likely check jobs from their phone. If you ain’t mobile-optimized, they’re bouncing. Be mobile-optimized.

Keep the process simple:

No one wants to fill out the 27-screen ATS data points when they’ve already uploaded something. Keep it simple. What do you need? Ask for that. Once you have that, the candidate is good. When you make a smart person do unnecessary things, they get frustrated. A complex process alienates your best possibilities.

Learn from others:

Attend events. Find the best sourcers. Learn what the best tech is. Learn what others have done and wished they hadn’t done. Build a tribe.

Tech tech tech tech:

Get it, use it, embrace it, love it. But make sure whatever you have is working for you.

Ted Bauer

Originally from New York City, Ted Bauer currently lives in Fort Worth, Texas. He's a writer and editor for RecruitingDaily who focuses on leadership, management, HR, recruiting, marketing, and the future of work. His popular blog, The Context of Things, has a simple premise -- how to improve work. Ted has a Bachelors in Psychology from Georgetown and a Masters in Organizational Development from the University of Minnesota. In addition to various blogging and ghost-writing gigs, he's also worked for brands such as McKesson, PBS, ESPN, and more. You can follow Ted on Twitter @tedbauer2003, connect with him on LinkedIn, or reach him on email at [email protected]