Harnessing internal and external sources of recruitment

Planning your recruitment strategy can be a daunting task in today’s competitive talent environment. Knowing where to look, which sources of recruitment to use, how to structure your job ads, and how to move your candidates through the funnel are all essential skills that you need land that perfect hire. Luckily, with a bit of research, and even more strategic planning, you can create a recruitment system to find, screen, and hire the right talent for your organization that’s repeatable and profitable for your company.

One of the first steps in this strategic planning process is to understand which recruitment sources are available to you, and how to harness them as part of your overall recruitment strategy. In this article, I’ll discuss the two main sources of recruitment: internal and external.

no single recruitment source quote

Before we get started, you should note that no single recruitment source will necessarily be the solution to all of your recruitment problems. You should be looking at several sources of recruitment in order to broaden your search area and get your job postings in front of as many qualified candidates as possible.


There are a number of advantages to internal sources of recruitment, including:

  • Motivating skilled employees in your company with the promise of upward growth.
  • Reducing employee turnover.
  • Reducing recruitment and training costs.
  • Guaranteeing that your vacant positions are filled with candidates who fit and understand your company culture.
  • Improving overall job satisfaction and morale within your team.

Showing your candidates that you’re willing to promote and move them into roles that will help further their careers demonstrates your commitment to them and their goals. It also means that you fill your vacancies with highly qualified and pre-screened candidates.

Some issues to consider with internal recruitment sources, however, is the potential tendency toward confirmation bias. Or, simply put, fewer outside voices introduced into your company to shake things up and move the dial. It’s always a good idea to take a hard look at the requirements for each job vacancy you have and, together with the hiring manager, determine if an internal or external candidate is the ideal solution.

3 types of internal recruitment sources

Now that we’ve talked about what internal sources are, and why you should use them, let’s take a look at some examples. Here’s a list of some of the most common types of internal recruitment sources you can consider for your recruitment strategy.

  1. Transfers. Employees can be moved laterally within your organization into similar jobs, or vacancies that compliment their skill set. This can be with or without a salary change and is a great way to re-structure your team while also reducing boredom and stagnation among your employees.
  2. Promotions. Vacancies can be filled by promoting your most skilled employees into more senior roles. This is a great way to motivate employees, reduce turnover, and show a commitment to career growth.
  3. Employee referrals. Encourage your employees to refer family, friends or former co-workers who they think would be perfect for your vacant positions. This helps find qualified and vetted candidates who often have a higher likelihood to fit seamlessly into your team and culture.

Internal sources of recruitment are a fantastic way to harness the best assets you already have at your disposal: your employees. Couple these internal sources with external ones and you’ve got yourself a robust and well-rounded recruitment strategy.

Like internal sources, external ones have their own set of unique benefits for recruiters, including:

  • Providing a larger and more diverse pool of candidates.
  • Bringing new ideas and skills into the organization.
  • Promoting your employer brand and culture.
  • Filling your talent pipeline with candidates for future consideration.

Before deploying external recruitment techniques, however, it’s important that you do your homework into who your candidate is, where they’re searching for jobs, and what they’re looking for. Be sure to tailor any external sources of recruitment to a well thought out strategy to ensure that you’re not inundated with hundreds of unqualified candidates. Depending on the strategy, external recruitment can be a time consuming and expensive endeavor, so you want to make sure your investment will yield positive results.

6 types of external recruitment sources

You’re likely already familiar with many external recruitment sources – these are some of the most common techniques recruiters use to find candidates. To get you thinking, here’s a list of some of the most common external sources in use today.

  1. Online job boards. Self-explanatory. Think of websites like, or any other page that lists job posting. These can either be free or paid, targeted or broad. Find out where your ideal candidates typically search for jobs and get your ads posted.
  2. Advertisements. These are similar to job board postings, but are broader, and don’t necessarily need to be online. Think of all the websites, newspapers, magazines, and even physical places your candidates likely visit on a daily basis and post some appealing job ads. These are typically paid placements, but the right location can yield great results if targeted properly.
  3. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) or other recruitment software. Take a deep dive into the candidate pools you’ve collected from previous search efforts to see if there are any qualified applicants you can reach out to. Use an ATS like Recruitee to search for specific parameters to narrow down your efforts.
  4. Educational institutions. Makes connections with universities, colleges, and trade schools and invite new graduates into your company for internship positions. These are great future high performers that you can scoop up early in their careers.
  5. Former employees. Don’t be afraid of rebound or boomerang employees. In today’s job market, it’s very common for people to jump from company to company in order to progress through their career. If you have a vacancy that might appeal to a former colleague, reach out to them to see if they’re ready to make a comeback.
  6. Social media. LinkedIn is a no-brainer for recruiters. Search for candidates based on job title, skill set, and location to find high potential candidates, and reach out to them via InMail. Don’t be afraid to search Twitter and Facebook for industry-relevant pages and groups that you can reach out to as well.

As mentioned earlier in this article, no one source of recruitment will be the solution to all of your problems. Instead, take some time to strategically plan your recruitment process, know your candidate and deploy the sources that will yield the best bang for your effort and buck.

social recruiting playbook

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