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How do recruiters find candidates?

Posted in General News on 10th December 2022

It is no secret that the recruitment industry is misunderstood. Due to its competitive nature, clients and candidates are often anonymous, as well as how the firms work. Because our name is Candour Solutions, we thought we’d answer these questions since the high fees (anywhere between £3,000 & £15,000+) and lack of clarity often raise questions about the value for money. So… How do recruiters find candidates?

The main avenues are:

Job Boards



Passive Professional Network


Direct Submissions

Networking Events / Careers Fairs

Boolean Searching:

Many of these tools should be available to every business, but you may not know how to use them efficiently. That comes down to knowing how to search. So how do recruiters find candidates with Boolean Searching?

“The term Boolean is derived from computer pioneer George Boole, and it refers to the querying technique that utilises Boolean Logic Systems to connect individual keywords or phrases within a single query.”

Science Direct

Operators trigger Boolean Logic. These are the ‘signals’ that trigger Boolean Logic. They are AND, OR, NOT, ( ), “”.

On Job Boards and LinkedIn, the choice of operators is what generates your results.

Consider these search terms: REACT, AZURE, .NET.

Searching for REACT AND AZURE AND .NET will bring up any result that includes all three terms – they must include all three terms. This search parameter is useful if you are searching for a particular skill stack.

When you search for REACT OR AZURE OR .NET it will bring up every result that contains any of the key terms. This search operator aids in broad searches.

Thirdly, if you search for REACT NOT AZURE NOT .NET, you will only get results with REACT in their profile. This search will help you to be more specific in your search results. For example, you may need a very good React front-end developer and not someone with backend development experience.

Venn Diagrams explaining Boolean searches.
How Do Recruiters Find People?

Using brackets when searching tells the search engine what in particular they need to search for.

(REACT OR AZURE) AND .Net                                                                    React OR (AZURE AND .Net)

See how the same 3 terms are being used but, both of these searches will bring back different results.

The first search will bring up people with React or Azure, and .net. The second will show people with either React or, Azure & .net.

Using quotation marks is an exact match search. So, this is better for long-tail key terms. Because if you take the quotations out of the search it will search for all of the words.

Software Development Life Cycle will pull up anyone with those 4 words in their profile.

If you search for Software Development Life Cycle it will pull up all results that have those 4 words consecutively.

Now you know how to go about searching for talent, the next question is where.

How do recruiters find candidates using….?

Job Boards / Job Listings:

Companies and individuals use job boards/listings to find candidates and jobs, respectively. The likes of Jobsite, CW Jobs, Monster, Reed all operate similarly.

Companies use them to find candidates. The “Recruiter” tool on these platforms allows recruiters to find candidates seamlessly, and you can set up saved searches that deliver new candidates to your inbox every day.

Essentially, they’re a public database / ATS so you can customise your daily searches in any way you would like through Location, Desired location, Education, Salary, Job Title, etc.

Because these tools have been around for years, people whose profiles have not been deleted will still have their historic information on them. This allows recruiters to access passive candidates and increase their talent pools.

Although 79% of Americans use these online resources to look for jobs, they are becoming less effective. Fewer and fewer people are leaving online profiles or adding new ones. Therefore, the chances of receiving qualified candidates regularly are slim.


LinkedIn is the number one way recruiters find candidates in 2022. With over 800 THOUSAND users, the talent pool is virtually limitless. It is for this reason that recruiters build “personal brands,” positioning themselves as industry leaders and displaying their active roles on social media to build trust with prospective candidates.

In effect it is the same thing as an Employer Brand; build enough of a reputation that people want to work with [for] you!

Due to the size of the platform, there are many industry-related groups that recruiters leverage to find candidates. For example, there are many software engineering-specific groups.

LinkedIn Recruiter is LinkedIn’s most expensive premium product, but it provides the best results. In addition to acting as a job board, LinkedIn Recruiter also offers messaging capabilities and access to 800,000 users with very few factors limiting outreach.

Asking for referrals:

A recruiter finds candidates through networking. Recruiters generate leads and candidates by getting introduced to people by other people.

Recruiters are frequently referred to (ex)colleagues who are on the market as a result of building close relationships with passive candidates.

As a result of the effectiveness of referral programs, 46% of “high performing” companies offer them.

Talking with an existing professional network:

Recruiters find candidates by having a professional network is every recruiter’s bread and butter; candidate referrals are a side effect of having an existing network. For example, some of our candidates we have spoken with over a period of two years before placing them.

An average recruiter will approach hundreds of candidates within a month. As a result, the recruiter builds up a plethora of passive candidates that they will regularly communicate with, so when the candidate is available, the recruiter will be on top of the list.

ATS / Database:

As touched on above recruiters build up a list of passive candidates this creates a GDPR-compliant database of candidates. This turns into another tool to contact passive candidates and turn them into active candidates.

Direct CV submissions:

We’ve asked the question “how do recruiters source candidates?” Well now, this one isn’t the recruiter doing the hunting. Sometimes you just get lucky.

It’s another way recruiters get candidates. Candidates stumble across a job ad on the recruiter’s website and apply. Sometimes they message you on LinkedIn. Other times, they send an email. Either way, it’s another way recruiters get candidates.

Network Events / Job Fair:

Not everyone is on the job boards. Not everyone is on LinkedIn. So, recruiters unearth candidates in another way: through job fairs and networking events. Hundreds of candidates attend these events, which they use to build up their passive candidate lists.

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