10 Ways to Expand Your Candidate Network

updated on 14 December 2021

There’s probably never been a time where Talent has been a bigger factor in companies’ success than right now. The success of companies have always centred around the quality of the individuals in their team but now, more than ever before, accessing talented individuals is competitive – and nowhere more so than in tech. To the extent that Ashlee Vance, the author of Elon Musk’s biography, attributes Elon’s ability to access talented individuals as one of the keys to his successful companies. For recruiters, it’s therefore essential to build out expansive candidate networks – and to get creative doing it. There are many different ways of meeting new talent and it’s about finding the ways that work best for you. These are some top strategies to try out:

 Use Your Current Network…

Top talent tends to know top talent. The old saying is that you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. It’s an old saying because there’s definitely truth to it. When you’ve built up a good relationship with someone great, reach out to them and ask them about their network. A broad ask like “If you know anyone else open to new opportunities, feel free to give them my information” is a good way to generally expand your network but when you’re working on a specific role, it’s also good to reach out to the candidates you have a strong relationship with and ask them whether they know someone with those specific skills.


… but also maintain your current network 

This should go without saying but as recruiters, it’s easy to get caught up in the roles you’re working at that moment. However, it’s important to set aside time to check in with candidates you’ve worked with before – whether you placed them successfully or not. A congratulations when someone starts a new role or has a work anniversary goes a long way – and LinkedIn will even tell you about all those milestones. But what also goes a long way is just checking in from time to time – not about work. Building relationships is about creating connections that are not just transactional and has some personal element to it too.


Keep Track of Potential Future Candidates

Similarly to above, don’t keep your scope too narrow when you’re sourcing for a specific role. You’ll often come across great candidates when you’re sourcing who aren’t specifically right for what you’re looking for at that moment, but they’re still great candidates. You don’t necessarily need to reach out to them at that point but keep track of these candidates and build up potential talent pools before you need to actively build out that pipeline.


Get Off LinkedIn…

Not completely but don’t rely entirely on LinkedIn for your online sourcing. LinkedIn is great and its value can’t be understated. In the tech world however, LinkedIn is a place where talent always have full inboxes already. LinkedIn is the primary professional social network but networking has spread out considerably further. Facebook and Twitter for example are often used by professionals to connect to other professionals in their industry, and therefore a great place to access people in specific industry groups.


… and onto industry specific sites

There are websites that are practically used by specific industries. Creatives share their work and look for inspiration on Behance, In their own words “Every developer has a tab open to Stack Overflow”. GitHub has a user base of 73+ Million developers. These websites are where your talent spend their time, and you should be spending some time too.


Get Offline Too

As much as we live in a digital world and Covid’s increasingly made us comfortable staying online, engaging in the real world is still relevant. The in-person equivalent to communities and groups you can access online are industry-specific conferences and events. It can be more organic to meet and engage with people at in-person events than it is online because you can just walk up to someone and chat rather than needing to curate the perfect reach out message that could easily go unseen.


Know How to Network 

Whether it is curating that reach out message or walking up to someone at an event, knowing how to engage with talent is key. Speaking broadly, there are two main ways to engage someone for the first time: to talk about a specific opportunity or to generally build up a relationship. When it’s the prior, make sure that you’re specific, know what you’re talking about and that you’re not too impersonal. You have a specific reason to reach out but personalise your reach outs and find common ground between the opportunity or yourself, and the candidate. When you’re reaching out purely to build a general relationship, make sure that you can clearly articulate who you are and what you do – and therefore why someone would want to be in your network. It’s about balance though, be able to do this but don’t come across as if you’re purely trying to sell something to them either.


Keep Track of Your Success

Data is an exploding industry for a reason. You can vastly improve your productivity and success rate by keeping track of your successes and what hasn’t worked too well. Consider tracking your rate of response, amount of good candidates you meet at which events, and on which sites and where you meet receptive candidates. This can save you a lot of time because you’ll know where your time is best spent.


Expand Your Geography 

The Netherlands is one of the most appealing places for tech talent to be but if Covid gave us one positive thing, it’s the increased openness of companies to have employees work completely remotely. Where many recruiters had specific countries, or even specific cities, they specialised in, that restriction is often not a factor anymore. Talent is increasingly open to connecting with recruiters outside their own geography and expanding their networks beyond their own cities and countries. As this is somewhat still a new exercise for many people, it’s a good time to reach out and be the person who can help candidates get out of their own location.


Build Your Own Brand

We know the importance of Employer Brands but as a recruiter, your Personal Brand is also important. This starts with the experience candidates have when engaging with you – make sure they enjoy working with you. That should be a given but what’s sometimes forgotten is that you need to have a public brand. Share content on social platforms that matter to you and that relate to the talent you’re looking to engage with, engage on social platforms and be authentic in your interactions on social media as well as your engagement with talent and hiring managers.


Accessing top talent is competitive.

There is no question about that. But there are so many different avenues to take to meet new talent that it’s also quite exciting, and fun.  Whether you prefer staying behind your screen or working a room, getting in touch with people from years ago or just meeting new people all the time – there’s a way that’ll work for you. Some recruiters may want to do all 10 of these while others may want to become experts at only a couple of them. At the end of the day, expanding your network is about building human relationships and because of that, it’s also about figuring out what works for you.


The “About Us” Part

What is your story?

The first part of a job description should be an introduction to the company. To do that well, you need to know the company’s story and what the employer brand is. An employer brand is essentially what an outside person thinks it’s like to work at the company. It’s the company’s reputation and what sets it apart from others. The company’s story is its employer brand presented in a more relatable, engaging way. Sometimes the story is about how it started, how work is done or what the mission is. It should relay what sets the company apart. It also needs to relay the information candidates generally want to know. Include elements like what type of people they’ll be working with and how the leadership team manages, the environment, the physical (or virtual) place they’ll be working in, and most importantly, include why it’s unique – tell the story.


Why tell your story?

We know that maintaining healthy company culture is essential. A team needs to be able to technically do their jobs. However, how they do it and how individual team members fit into their team is important too. There are multiple reasons why you want a good company culture: retaining employees, having more engaged employees, collaboration, good morale, etc. If you want to understand more about the value of healthy company culture, you can find more information about it here. Telling the story is about attracting the right type of candidate, who will thrive in the company culture and in the team. A good “About Us” part can also improve the overall employer brand awareness. Not everyone keeping an eye on the job market is ready to move, but stand out and it’ll be a company they remember. When those candidates do get to a point where they’re ready to make a move, they’ll likely remember the company.


The “About the Role” Part

Why is this different from the rest?

Whatever you’re hiring for, others are too. If you search your job title many others will pop up too. So this part is where you sell your job. Using the Software Engineers knowing they need to code example from above: they know that they’re going to be doing that (just like Copywriters know they’ll be writing in a Copywriter role). Tell candidates why coding for this company is going to be different and exciting. Think about selling points, but be clear and brief. This part still needs to be a summary of the job and needs to give people a clear idea of what it will entail.


The “Responsibilities” Part

Just be specific.

It’s pretty much that simple. Make a list of bullet points saying exactly what this person will be doing in your company. This is where you tell your Software Engineer that they will in fact be coding. But there’s still more to it than that, so again just be specific. Include something about the language and the type of product they’ll be creating, for example. Once someone is done reading this part, they should have a clear idea of what their day-to-day would look like in this role. Include the key aspects but not every single detail. Roughly 10 bullet points should be enough.


The “Requirements” Part

What do you want and what do you need?

An important question to ask, before starting to hire for any role. You should have a clear idea of what your ideal candidate looks like. You should also accept that your ideal is exactly that: an ideal. It’s most likely that the candidates you meet may not have all of your ideal qualities. That’s why you have to have a clear idea of which requirements are wants and which are needs. Have “minimum” and “preferred” requirements listed on your job description and don’t be too limiting when it comes to the minimum requirements.


Who are you looking for?

Your requirements should not just be a list of experience, technical skills and qualifications. Soft skills are worth considering and worth mentioning. When deciding on which soft skills to look for in a candidate, consider two things: what are the key qualities that’ll make someone fit into the company culture and what are the key qualities that’ll enable them to do this job in the right way. Soft skills can generally be learnt but they’re often also innate, simply the way someone is. We all know that some of us are more adaptable, think more critically, pay more attention to detail or are more creative than others. These are the types of skills that are worth adding to your requirements.


The Optional Parts

There may be other information that you want candidates to know. This often includes elements of the employer brand or culture that didn’t fit into your “About Us” part. If your company has particularly good benefits or you have well-defined values (that your company really lives by) it may be worth adding those as a “Benefits” or an “Our Values” part at the bottom.


Those are all the parts that your job description should have, and the order that they generally appear in. The structure of a job description is pretty standard but what it contains shouldn’t be. Top talent looks for what sets a company apart. They know that they don’t need to settle for an average company, so don’t present the company like one. Every single company has a unique story in some form, and you need to get candidates excited about what the company can offer. We don’t exist in a job market where candidates just look for jobs they can do. They look for a job that they want to do, in a company that left a good first impression.