Resources How to Hire 101

Effective Strategies to Grow your Talent Pipeline

You’re hiring and you’ve done your homework. You’ve crafted a compelling careers page. You’ve built a great job description. You’ve pushed your posting out to major job boards. You are ready to take on the masses and funnel candidates through your hiring process to make the hire.

So you wait. But the masses don’t show up and your talent pool is dry.

In your hiring, you’ll inevitably encounter a time where, despite your best efforts, the applicants you need are hard to find. Whether it’s the quantity of applicants that is low or the quality of talent that is poor, you need to build a strong talent pipeline for your hiring funnel to do its job.

It’s time to put on your Recruiter Hat.

Viewing your hiring like a recruiter is just like viewing your sales process as a business owner. You need to think strategically about the tools in your box and how to deploy them. Just as a sales professional might use a CRM like Salesforce to manage leads, a recruiter might use an ATS to manage their recruitment process. An ATS had an advantage is this simile: an ATS gets you “leads” by pushing job postings out to job boards. But sometimes, you have to go get them yourself.

Data is Magic for Finding Quality Candidates

Thinking like a recruiter first means getting curious and asking questions about what’s currently going on with your hiring process. Why are you struggling to find quality candidates? You may have good intuition, but first, check the data:

Job Clicks: Check how many people are actually viewing your job posting. If the number of clicks seems relatively low (take a look at other past successful posts to compare), look at these two things:

  1. Job Title: Is there another job title you can try that may be more popular in search results?
  2. Sources: Can you share your post out to more source or more custom sources that will result in better quality applicants?

Click/Apply Rate: Also known as your conversion rate. How many people who are viewing your job posting are actually applying to the job? If it’s poor, this should tell you it’s your job description that needs a little TLC.

Applicant Sources: Where are the applicants you are receiving coming from? Indeed? Referrals? Look at where your past hires were sourced from and ask if you still getting hires from that source. If not, what changed?

Indeed Visibility is still by far the largest source of applicants for most companies. There are a few things you can do to ensure your job is getting the best visibility on Indeed:

  • If you posted your job more than 30 days ago, see if it’s time to refresh your job to move it back up to the top of the job boards and more prominent to job seekers!
  • Check that you’re following Indeed Best Practices
  • Include compensation and experience level

Custom Sources Are King for Building a Talent Pipeline

If you’re using an Applicant Tracking System like CareerPlug, your job postings are being sent out to major job boards like Indeed and ZipRecruiter. However, special (or custom) sources can be a true goldmine for finding top talent.

In 2018, CareerPlug found of all the job seekers who applied directly through careers pages, 5% were hired. Compare that to only 0.4% of job seekers who were hired after applying directly through Indeed. This means that referrals and custom sources result in better quality applicants and more hires than traditional job boards.

When thinking about custom sources, start here:

  • Industry Job Boards: Is there a job board that caters specifically to your industry? A quick google search for an industry or job title will show you if there are niche sites. Candidates who browse these sites are more likely to have the industry experience and qualifications for critical positions or critical roles you are trying to fill.
  • Local Job Boards: Check out city or university job boards and put up your job posting to attract local applicants.
  • Local Job Groups: Look into local job groups. For example, Austin has a local Facebook Group called Austin Digital Jobs where CareerPlug always shares new job posts.
  • Social Media: Take advantage of the audience you already have on social media and share your opportunities on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
  • Employee & Customer Referrals: This can be your most powerful source of hiring leads. Encourage referrals from your employees and customers. Build a referral program with a cash incentive if you make a hire doesn’t hurt either!

The bottom line: Your Careers Page is your Recruiting Hub, drive people to it wherever you can. I include our careers page link in my email signature and on my business cards!

Show Me The Money, and Candidates

Didn’t I spend money on an ATS so I don’t have to ever spend another cent on recruiting again?

I know, I wish it worked that way too. But just like you can’t depend on all your sales leads coming in organically, sometimes you need to spend money on hiring leads. Sponsoring jobs on Indeed or LinkedIn will get your opportunity in front of more quality candidates and usually increases your help build your talent pipeline.

As the Director of HR, I’m the in-house CareerPlug user, and I still budget for sponsored job posts and paid postings at custom sources. I’m slower to spend money on recruiting, but the cost of not spending money and struggling with a weak pipeline is much higher.

What About External Recruiters?

For most of our clients and the types of hires they need, I do not recommend a recruiter. Recruiters can be valuable for higher-level, specialized jobs. That said, if it’s a particular trickly position to hire for, and you’ve exhausted your other resources, a professional recruiter can help you find more potential candidates who match your criteria. You’ll typically be spending more money with a recruiter, but the cost of not having someone in a key position may outweigh a recruiter’s cost.

At CareerPlug, we’ve explored working with recruiters in the past but have never made a hire from a recruiter.

A Hiring Story

In the past six months, we’ve hired four new software engineers to our team. While many positions we hire for at CareerPlug get a healthy candidate pipeline from organic postings, we knew going into this recruitment process it may be more difficult. One of our first engineering positions we hired for (back in 2015) took up to nine months to fill. It was a painful nine months. This time the hiring manager and I proactively worked through the recruitment process to maximize our pipeline.

In addition to posting to the usual job sites, we sponsored the Software Engineer jobs with both LinkedIn and Indeed to increase their visibility. We also shared with Austin Digital Jobs and did a paid posting with Built in Austin (where we were recently listed as one of the best small companies to work in Austin).

As we do with all our positions, we also reminded employees weekly about our open positions and asked for referrals. We offer a $500 referral bonus if we make a hire. Our current engineering team reached out to their own network and talked to people about the growing opportunities.

Still, it’s a tough market. The Austin Unemployment Rate is 2.9%, meaning that most of the candidates we were looking for already had jobs. We decided to do some proactive recruiting and source candidates on LinkedIn and Indeed Resumes to generate interest.

Through a combination of these methods, we made two hires in the fall. We were still looking for an additional two senior-level positions and made the decision to open it up as remote posting. This gave us access to talent all across the United States and we quickly made two hires who are full-time remote employees.

Throughout this process, we tweaked and evaluated and checked the data. We changed the job description, we changed the job title, and we got creative when we could. It stretched us to adapt our hiring management process and access the best talent on the market. In short, we were rocking our recruiter hats.


  • You can’t always wait for the right applicants, you need to think like a recruiter and go do some proactive recruiting
  • Use the hiring data available to you to evaluate the effectiveness of your job title, description, and visibility
  • Seek out custom sources, like local or industry-specific job boards, to increase your quality of applicants
  • It’s okay to spend money on recruiting to boost your hiring pipeline
  • Stay engaged with the recruitment process and use your resources to make great hires

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