What are recruitment sources and why are they important?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 4 August 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Effective recruitment is essential for organisations because it helps them to strengthen their workforce to have the right skill set to meet organisational goals. Employers use a variety of sources to find suitable candidates for vacancies. Knowing more about different sources for identifying and hiring candidates can help you succeed in recruiting-focused roles. In this article, we discuss what recruitment sources are, list some examples and provide tips on how to choose the right source.

What are recruitment sources?

Recruitment sources are the platforms employers may use to attract and hire suitable candidates for vacant positions. There are a vast range of sources of recruitment, and many employers use several methods. The most appropriate way to source potential employees often depends on the nature of the business and the type of professional they're looking for. It's important to consider the likely demographics of potential candidates to more efficiently recruit relevant professionals. For example, if a company is hiring students or recent graduates for entry-level roles, it can be most efficient to collaborate with the career offices of universities.

Why is using a range of sources important?

Using various sources is beneficial for organisations, as they can reach a wider pool of candidates. This is particularly important when the organisation is hiring for multiple positions. Using a range of sources means greater exposure for the organisation. This increases the likelihood of finding a suitable candidate for the job vacancy. This can reduce the time a position stays vacant, which may reduce a company's productivity.

Sources of recruitment

Here are some major sources of recruitment that companies commonly utilise:

Company website

A company's website is a cost-effective source for recruitment, which is why many organisations include a jobs section on their website. Employers can post job vacancies across the entire organisation here. Companies make their website a more valuable source of recruitment by including information about what working for the organisation is like and the benefits that employees receive. Candidates interested in working for specific companies often browse their websites.

Job boards

Online job boards are another important source of recruitment. These platforms allow job seekers to search for the type of work they want to apply for, so advertising helps employers reach a wider pool of candidates. Some job boards cover a wide range of jobs and industries, while others target a specific type of professional. When an employer posts a vacancy to jobs boards, consider whether it's more appropriate to use a generalist site, a specialist one or both.

Social media

Social media can also be an important recruiting source for some organisations. Sponsored advertising allows employers to target certain types of professionals, such as in a particular geographical area. This makes it easier to target candidates who are suitable for the job. Posts on company accounts also allow organisations to target people who are already interested in the brand. Another advantage is that it's easy to share social media posts. When users share job adverts, it can help to increase a company's overall reach.

Related: 7 ways to use social media for recruitment (with tips)

Employee referrals

Employee referrals are when a current employee encourages someone they know to apply for a job vacancy. Some organisations offer a bonus scheme if an employee refers someone who then gets a job. Existing employees advocate for the organisation, which increases the chances of suitable contacts they have applying for a job. This source works at any level of the organisation but is particularly useful at senior levels, where staff are likely to have larger professional networks and knowledge.

Related: What is an employee referral? (And how to implement one)

Internal recruitment

Internal recruitment is often an important source. Some vacancies are only advertised internally, whilst others are open to both internal and external candidates. An advantage of this source is that the organisation is already familiar with the experience, skills and potential of existing employees. This makes it easier to assess whether they're a good match for the job vacancy or better suit their current role. Another advantage is that these existing staff members are already familiar with the organisation's culture, values and procedures, meaning they often settle more easily into a different role and require less onboarding training.


Temp-to-hire is a recruiting source that involves giving permanent positions to temporary staff, such as an intern or a part-time employee. Similarly to internal recruitment, this is a useful source of recruitment because the organisation more easily assesses whether the candidate is suitable for the job. The temporary employee is also familiar with the organisation and knows whether they enjoy the work. This allows them to adjust to being a permanent employee more easily.

Recruitment agencies

Some employers use recruitment agencies as a recruitment source. This works for both permanent and temporary positions. Some recruitment agencies are generalists whilst others specialise in recruitment for a particular sector. Using a recruitment agency can be cost-effective and gives an employer access to a wider pool of candidates. Agencies also carry out some of the recruitment processes on behalf of the organisation, which reduces the burden of recruitment.

Related: In-house recruiter vs. agency (with key factors and tips)

Talent pool databases

Some employers maintain talent pool databases of previous job candidates that the employer is particularly interested in. This is a valuable source for future recruitment. Employers contact professionals in the talent pool who they think are suitable candidates to discuss the role and encourage them to apply again. This is useful because the employer already knows the candidate's skills and experience. The candidate may also already be enthusiastic about working for the company.

Related: Best talent pooling practices with importance and advantages

Job fairs

Job fairs are a useful source for recruitment because they allow employers to meet potential candidates in person, answer questions about working for the organisation and advocate for the business. This source is useful for employers looking for specific skill sets and specialisations, especially for industry-specific fairs. University and graduate career fairs are also a valuable way to recruit for graduate or entry-level positions.

Related: How to decide when to apply for graduate jobs (with guide)

Printed media

Whilst many organisations now focus more on advertising jobs online, printed media can still be a useful source. Print media can effectively reach candidates less likely to look for work online, such as older generations or in more remote areas. Newspapers and magazines have a broad circulation, meaning a printed advert can also help employers to reach a large pool of applicants.

Tips for choosing appropriate sources

It's vital to choose relevant sources for recruiting to make the process more efficient and to attract the most qualified candidates. Here are some tips to consider when choosing suitable sources for recruitment:

Identify the type of professionals you're seeking to recruit

To choose the right recruitment sources, it's vital to first identify the type of professionals you're to recruit and then consider the most appropriate ways to target these professionals. For example, using a specialist jobs board is useful for sourcing more mid to senior-level roles. This may reduce the number of applications, but increase the quality and relevance of the candidates. This allows a recruitment team to spend more time assessing each candidate.

Think about how candidates find jobs

Understanding how the candidates you're targeting search for jobs can help you strategically place adverts. For example, for graduate roles, it may be most effective to participate in university careers fairs. For candidates less likely to look for work online, using printed media is the most effective way to reach them. This can reduce recruitment-related expenses.

Consider the adaptability of the candidates

Adaptability is important to consider because this can affect which sources are most appropriate. For positions where it's necessary for the new employee to adapt quickly, internal recruitment or temp-to-hire recruitment can be important sources. These professionals are already familiar with the organisation and can adjust faster than someone new to the business. For example, if an employee in a critical role necessary for operation suddenly quits or becomes unavailable to perform the job, a company may require a replacement immediately to avoid any disruptions in operations.


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