Need Higher Quality Candidates? Try These 6 Recruitment Strategies

At CareerPlug, we like to keep our finger on the pulse of recruitment trends – the good, the bad, and the ugly. One piece of feedback we often hear from business owners is that they sometimes struggle with finding high-quality applicants for the jobs they post. This can be frustrating, especially when you want to make the right hire, not just the best hire available at the time. 

The size of your applicant pool can vary based on a number of factors, including:

  • Location
  • Industry
  • Seasonality
  • Unemployment rates
  • Competition for talent

Of course, changes in the labor market over the last couple of years have caused additional shake-ups to the applicant pool as well. But while these factors are all generally outside of your control, there are a few things that are within your control as an employer. 

If the applicant pool in your industry is small, you need to recognize that as an employer, you’ll need to be proactive about attracting the fewer high-quality applicants available to you.

We’ve put together a list of six strategies you can use to put your business in a strong position to attract the top talent in your applicant pool.

1. Use your careers page to get people excited about your employer brand.

Your employer brand is your business’ reputation as a place to work. The first thing you’ll want to ask yourself is: “What do I want my target applicant pool to think of my business?”

A highly-qualified candidate who finds your job on a major job board will want to learn more about your company before committing to applying – after all, the most skilled workers can be picky about where they choose to work. Think of your careers page as your opportunity to create the image you want top candidates to see.

A good careers page should include things like:  

  • A description of your company culture, mission, and values
  • Employee testimonials (more on that later)
  • Recent photos and/or videos of your team
  • Enticing benefits information
  • Growth opportunities

An attractive, compelling careers page can often be the factor that seals the deal for motivated candidates. Plus, applicants who apply through company careers pages are 4 times more likely to be hired than those who apply from job boards, indicating that people who research your careers page before applying tend to be more closely aligned with your company’s values.

To learn more about what makes an attractive careers page, watch the video below from CareerPlug’s Senior Director of People, Natalie Morgan: 

2. Create employee testimonial videos.

Fun fact: Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video, compared to 10% when they read it in text. Videos bring employee testimonials to life – so, if possible, we encourage you to film short interviews of your happiest employees singing your praises and giving future candidates an idea of what it’s like to work for you.

It may take a little upfront investment of time and effort to produce a few testimonial videos, but you can leverage videos like this on many channels – your careers page, your social media pages, virtual hiring fairs, and all your recruitment marketing efforts.

Check out this great example of an employee testimonial from CareerPlug client, Hand & Stone:

3. Encourage employees to write reviews on employer review sites.

Here’s a not-so-fun fact: More than half of job seekers abandon their pursuit of a job after reading negative reviews about a company on employer review sites like Glassdoor and JobSage.  

Potentially missing half your applicants due to poor online reviews can significantly hinder your recruitment efforts. Knowing how much weight employee reviews carry, we recommend encouraging your existing employees to write reviews of your business on these sites. These reviews serve as social proof to job seekers and if they’re mostly positive, they can work in your favor. 

Pro tip: Employer review sites allow reviews from your employees as well as anyone who has interviewed with your company. It’s important to maintain a positive candidate experience with everyone you interact with, regardless of whether or not you hire them. Job seekers can be put off by reviews giving them a heads-up that they’re in for a negative candidate experience if they apply.

4. Create an employee referral program.

Earlier we mentioned that candidates who apply from careers pages tend to convert to hires at far higher rates than those who apply from job boards. But there are other applicant sources that are even more successful: employee referrals and custom sources. 

Our data shows that applicants from referrals are 18 times more likely to be hired than applicants from job boards. 

Referrals can also boost retention. Studies show that employees who are referred by existing employees stay longer at the company than those who were hired from other sources.

Far too often, hiring managers think of employee referrals as a secondary source of applicants, but the data says the opposite is true: Employee referrals tend to be high-quality candidates and strong hires. Establishing, promoting, and maintaining an employee referral program should be top of mind for all hiring managers.

5. Recruit from custom sources – not just major job boards.

Like employee referrals, custom sources account for a low overall percentage of applicants, but those applicants convert to hires at a much higher rate. Custom sources can include things like:

  • Industry-specific job boards
  • Local/community message boards
  • University job boards
  • Craigslist (yup, even Craigslist!)

Get creative when distributing your job postings outside of the major job boards. For example, post your jobs on your social media accounts or send an email to contacts in your network with a link to your job. Cast a wide net and keep track of which source is producing the best candidates – not necessarily the most candidates.

6. Make it easy to apply from any device.

Today’s job seekers want their search for the perfect job to be as convenient and quick as possible, so it’s not surprising that nearly 86% of candidates use their smartphones for job searching. 

Mobile applicants also have no qualms about moving on from an application if it takes too long or is too difficult to complete from a mobile device. As an employer, just think of it this way: Each qualified candidate who gets annoyed by a bad mobile application experience is one less qualified candidate you’ll get a chance to meet.

Pro tip: Job seekers should be able to apply to your job in less than 3 minutes. An applicant tracking system like CareerPlug can help you accomplish this by providing candidates with an easy mobile-friendly job application. 

mobile job posting example

Need more advice on increasing your applicant pipeline? CareerPlug can help!

Schedule a free demo with one of our Hiring Experts today – no commitment required. We’re happy to chat and help you solve the number one challenge facing business owners today: finding, hiring, and keeping the right people.


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Originally from small town in central Texas, Ashley Johnson graduated from Texas State University in 2013 with a degree in Business Administration. She was hired by CareerPlug as a Talent Specialist in 2014, and moved up to ultimately lead the Recruitment Services team. From there, she pivoted to Implementation, and is now the Implementation Manager.

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Chris accidentally started a 20-year career in franchising when he was 18 years old and took a job painting houses for College Pro Painters. That job turned into the ownership of his first franchise (a house painting franchise). While at Monmouth College in IL, he operated his business, played on the varsity football team, and studied to become a teacher.

The taste of entrepreneurship and desire to coach others led Chris deeper into franchising, working with a few franchise brands helping them grow their businesses. He lived in the Chicagoland area his entire life until recently moving his family to Austin, TX.

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Jenny Leman


Native to Texas, Jenny graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2004 and joined CareerPlug in 2017. She retired her first career path as a Registered Dietitian after 10 years, and has found her true belonging in business operations.

As CareerPlug’s President, Jenny leads all teams to an aligned effort toward achieving our vision. She works to build healthy and scalable internal systems to equip and empower the CareerPlug teams to bring their best for our clients. She loves contributing new ideas and rethinking the status quo. Jenny really connects with the company’s core values, but especially with our intent to “Keep Growing.”

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Clint Smith

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Clint founded CareerPlug in 2007 with the simple idea that there was a better way to help employers connect with quality applicants. Today Clint works every day to fulfill CareerPlug’s mission: Make Hiring Easier. Leading by example, Clint loves spending his time developing new ideas and teaching others.

After graduating from the University of Florida, Clint worked in investment banking and strategic marketing; both experiences influenced the development of CareerPlug. He also spent a year away from the business world teaching 5th grade in Boulder.

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