The Issue of Rapid Sourcing – 7 Ideas to Find People Fast

Need people yesterday? What do you do? Obviously, you should have a longer-term strategy to feed your sourcing needs. The elements of a long-term strategy include developing a competitive intelligence database so you can find people at your competitors, using a well-built web site that attracts candidates and develops relationships with them over time, creating an on-going employee referral program, developing relationships with local schools and colleges to attract interns that can be screened and converted, and putting in place a school-to-career program or similar program to attract and develop young people. But, when it comes to finding people right now, here are a few ideas:

  1. Use every advertising medium you can afford and find. This means using print, locally and carefully, to attract attention to your firm and to the kinds of positions you have available. The real value of print comes in driving traffic to your web site. Even an average web site is better at attracting candidates than an advertisement by itself. Many firms find that advertising in newspapers for entry-level people is both effective and inexpensive. Firms like Charles Schwab use a lot of print (i.e. newspaper) advertising to attract candidates for jobs in customer service at the local level. Other advertising media include billboards, which are extensively used in California, to get the attention of candidates stuck in traffic. The radio and television also offer good ways to get the word out that you are recruiting. Be sure to include your web site address and make this the focus of your message. You can also get your employees to pass out “business cards” as they commute or to friends and fellow church or club members. These cards have your web site URL as well as a phone number and name of a recruiter. The card urges people to check out the job opportunities your firm has and send a resume or call. This costs practically nothing and is highly effective in generating leads. You can also put your web site and a short recruiting message on a variety of freebies such as key chains, ice cream wrappers, and so forth and pass them out at sports events or other public gatherings.
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  3. Attend all relevant job fairs and trade shows. Job fairs are not very good for longer term recruiting, but they can fill immediate needs quickly. I recommend attending local job fairs and those that are carefully targeted at the kinds of people you are looking for. Westech has put on superb job fairs for many years and, if you are seeking technical gurus and IT professionals this is the job fair for you. The downside of job fairs is that they are best when they are local. If you aren’t located where job fairs are held, you are at a disadvantage. You might try virtual job fairs. Cool Works and Viewnet both offer virtual jobs fairs that allow you to post jobs and actually interview candidates on line. Trade shows are another great place to find people – especially people who are employed and not actively looking for a job. Go to all trade shows and pass out the “business cards” I mentioned above or even set up an actual booth at the trade show to talk about the opportunities your company has.
  4. Create your own job fairs and special events. Many firms put on their own event to provide information to potential candidates and to gather resumes and information about candidates. These are often not advertised as recruiting events, but as informational sessions. For example, a stock brokerage put on an event about stock options and investing. They sent invitations to a select group of high tech professionals and attracted more than 400 people. Out of this group, almost all of who left a business card or a resume (yes, some were smart enough to figure out what the intent was), more than 30 got hired. Not bad for a day’s work and a few hundred bucks. Let your creative juices flow and come up with an approach that would be attractive to your desired audience and yet offer them something real in return.
  5. Mine the Internet. I assume you are all using the Internet to seek out potential candidates. This is becoming a required skill for many recruiters and some are specializing in this alone. By using a variety of search techniques and skills, an experienced recruiter can find many good potential candidates on a regular basis. Of course, creating a web site that attracts and builds relationships with candidates is the best approach, but mining the Internet can be a highly effective choice when you are pressed for time. If you don’t know how to use the Internet well, check out the great seminars by AIRS or the book and seminars by Barbara Ling (
  6. Cold call. Yes, this age old process of just getting a bunch of names and working the phones can be useful, although I don’t rate it highly. Also called direct sourcing, it requires skill to do well and courage to do at all. Many experienced recruiters made their mark with cold calling techniques, and there are classes you can take on how to do it better. There are scripts available with suggested ways to introduce yourself and what you seeking, as well as books.
  7. Ask employees and friends. Your employees are a gold mine of information about people they have known and worked with. Ask them for help and recommendations. Have a contest and award a prize to the employee who provides the most names of qualified candidates. You can also award prizes for actual hires, but just getting names is worth something. Again, when you are in need of names and candidates, give this a try.
  8. Use agencies. Agencies are great at finding people for you – for a price. IF money is not a major concern, a few agencies carefully chosen for their expertise and track record, can help fill the gaps. Agencies are best used when you are very clear about your requirements and don’t mind the fees. Because of the tight labor market, fees are stiff and quality can suffer. Know your agency and insist on references and recommendations from current clients. Spend a day or two digging around before signing a contract.

Whatever you do, don’t panic. Take a systematic approach and try to devote a little time to putting in place the beginnings of a longer term strategy so that you never have to go through this again.

Kevin Wheeler is a globally known speaker, author, futurist, and consultant in talent management, human capital acquisition and learning & development. He has founded a number of organizations including the Future of Talent Institute, Global Learning Resources, Inc. and the Australasian Talent Conference, Ltd. He hosts Future of Talent Retreats in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. He writes frequently on LinkedIn, is a columnist for, keynotes, and speaks at conferences and events globally, and advises firms on talent strategy. He has authored two books and hundreds of articles and white papers. He has a new book on recruiting that will be out in late summer of 2016. Prior to his current work, he had a 20+year corporate career in several San Francisco area tech and financial service firms. He has also been on the faculty of San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco. He can be reached at


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