Recruiting Methods: Pros and Cons

Gone are the days of posting a job description in the want-ads of the newspaper. Half of the working population probably doesn’t even know what a want-ad is. I’ll give you a hint—traditional want-ads went out of style with the rotary dial telephone, the top-loading Beta-Max, and cassette tapes.

We’ve come a long way in how we attract and retain top talent since the 80s, but now, we almost have too many options.

Which options are the best? Which are the worst? To find out, you have to ask yourself a few questions:

  • What are your organization’s goals and needs?
  • What’s your strategic talent plan?
  • What kind of culture do you have?
  • What type of business do you operate?

Technological advances and changes in the workplace will continue to evolve how we attract talent into our organizations. To understand what the best recruiting tools are for your organization, you need to match the recruiting source to your organizational goals and needs. What does an effective recruiting tool mean to your organization? More resumes? More hires? Higher retention? Measurable ROI?

You’ll want to weigh your options and examine the pros and the cons of each sourcing technique as they relate to your organization.

Let’s take a look at four different methods of recruiting and dive into the pros and cons of each.

1. Unsolicited Resumes

Every employer, large and small, receives unsolicited resumes. The more reputable your organization is, the more unsolicited resumes you will receive. Job seekers are attracted to your brand and hope that by reaching out, they can snag an interview.

While your first instinct might be to toss those resumes – don’t. This is an effective recruiting method and one you should reconsider.


What are the pros of this method? First, unlike the following recruiting methods, your company has no upfront costs for passive candidates. The resume arrives at your office without any work or effort on the part of recruiters and hiring managers.

There’s a reason you receive resumes, though. The effort you put into building an employer brand is also indirect effort in sourcing. Your company’s brand, culture, current employees, product, service, and involvement in the community, amount other attributes, made your company an attractive place to work, and brought in passive candidates.

Even though these resumes were unsolicited, though, you still need to create a process of sorting through these resumes and responding accordingly. You’ll want to be sure that your process is applied in a nondiscriminatory way, just like for other recruiting methods.

When an employer reviews unsolicited applications or resumes, those documents are considered to have been evaluated for employment. You might not know it, but this creates a state and federal obligation on behalf of the employer to retain those documents for up to one year. Sounds intense, but from this required retention process, you can create a database of potential candidates. This way, if your company has an open position come up unexpectedly, you can fill it from this candidate database.

Pro tip: if you are using an intelligent employee referral platform, you can further scan this database of potential candidates by searching the professional networks of your employees’ to determine if the passive candidates are known and if so, reaching out to the connected employee for their input.


What are the cons of this method? Because these candidates are unsolicited, it may be difficult for you to ascertain the quality of the candidates through blind submissions. Secondly, unless you create a process for keeping track of these resumes, it will be difficult for you to organize receipt of these candidates.

2. Online Job Boards

Online job boards are the modern-day want ad. Both companies with and without strong brands use online job boards, and often, you’ll see the same job posting across different boards.

A job board is different from a job search engine, although they often post similar information. An employer can post their job openings for a fee on a job board. The employer can also accept applications and resumes through the job board itself. A job search engine, on the other hand, scours the web and posts job openings from both job boards and company websites.

Online job boards are still a powerful method of recruiting, coming in a high second of all recruiting sources. However, you should understand the benefits and drawbacks of this popular method so that you can distinguish your organization from the slew of other job board openings appearing on the Internet.


Online job boards are tremendously cost-effective, even if you choose to post on more than one service. The use of technology allows you to display information about the job vacancy through text, video, and graphics, across several platforms, including smartphones. Job openings are easy to access and easy to send an application or resume for job seekers. You can reach a large audience through the Internet, and the platform itself simplifies a lot of administrative tasks you would otherwise have to complete manually.


What are the cons of this method? It’s possible that you’ll receive a high number of application or resumes that are not right for the job opening or your company. Be sure you draft the job description with the appropriate details.

3. Job Agencies

Job agencies can place job seekers temporarily or permanently. They can also place professional and executive employees, typically with confidentiality provisions or when such placement may be industry sensitive. These agencies will understand what type of candidate you’re looking for, what the job is, what the intricacies of the position are, what your culture is, and what you’re offering. This can relieve pressure from the human resources professionals in your organization because the agency will conduct the search and vet the potential job candidates for you. They’ll perform background checks, conduct drug tests, conduct initial interviews, and call referrals before you even get to your first interview with the candidate.


You’ll often work with a specialist recruiter with your business sector knowledge. They know the skill set you’re looking for in a candidate. The agency deals with the initial administration, and the open position isn’t posted publicly. Finally, if the candidate doesn’t work out, the organization usually doesn’t have to pay the agency’s fee.


Even with these benefits, this recruiting method lands at the fourth most popular method. So what gives? Using agencies can be a costly option. The more senior the role, the more expensive it is to use an agency. The agency may only have access to a limited pool of applicants, so the more specialized the candidate, the more limited your options. Further, if the agency isn’t reputable, they may send you candidates that aren’t qualified for your position. Their incentive is to fill the position, regardless of quality of hire, and move on.

4. Employee Referral Programs

If you’re looking for high quality, vetted candidates, a good employee referral program will draw in many more candidates than all of the above options. However, like any recruiting method, it takes time and effort to set up an employee referral program that motivates, rewards, and incentivizes your employees to provide high-quality referrals.


Employee referral programs take the cake for the most popular type of recruiting method. Why is this? When employees refer a friend or acquaintance to you as their employer, that candidate has already been vetted by your employee. Your employee understands the company culture. Your employee understands what the company is looking for in a new hire. Your employee knows his or her friend – they won’t refer someone who’s a bad fit because it will reflect poorly on them within the company.

If you’re putting your employees first, then you probably have a banner employee referral program established where your employees receive cool incentives plus cash for referring the best of the best to your company. That will encourage your employees to refer more candidates.

And, it’s a win-win. For the stellar job candidates that you employees are recommending, receiving a referral from someone who already works at the company is a great way for them to get a foot in the door.


So then, what are the cons of this number one method? Every recruiting method has its benefits and drawbacks. Employee referral programs can be difficult to get right. Employees may refer from a limited pool of friend or acquaintances. Even though it seems that we all have hundreds, if not thousands, of connections through social media, we only know a handful of those online connection. This handful of people could potentially lead to a nondiverse group of referrals.

When you’re setting up your referral program, you may motivate your employees with money. This can distract employees from the purpose of the program. Some of your employees may send out notes to everyone in their LinkedIn network hoping someone will bite on a job opportunity, and that’s not the purpose of your referral program.

In conclusion…

With today’s business world moving quickly while becoming more competitive, remain flexible in your recruiting methods. Have a plan. Be strategic. Follow up. One approach may be best for you today, and another way may be more effective for you two years down the road. By staying on top of your recruiting sources, and receiving feedback from your current and new employees, you’ll be able to remain ahead of the competitive curve. Now about that flip phone. . . .

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