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What to do when you have a lack of applicants

In today’s tight labor market, getting enough applicants and find candidates for your roles can be tough, it’s important to make sure you are using the right sourcing tools and strategies, in addition to referral recruitment. 

Recruiting sourcing tools 

If you’re wondering “Where do recruiters find candidates?” The first thing you’ll need to do is select a recruiting sourcing tool or tools.

The simplest way to do this is to use one of the many job boards available online. But job boards are not the only channel that you can use, we also recommend taking advantage of sites like LinkedIn, where you can search for specific tools.

In addition to job boards, there are also many resume databases online, where you rather than waiting for a candidate to apply, you can look through resumes and find a candidate that meets your needs, and then proactively reach out to passive job seekers. 

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular databases:


MatchScout offers a complete package of tools to ensure transparency, implement full-circle recruitment automation and save on hiring costs. The system AI to search passive candidates on job boards and social media, and reach out to them using custom email nurturing campaigns.  And with the MatchMiner tool, you can also search through your existing CV database and turn it into your biggest candidate sourcing asset. 


Monster’s Talentbin contains millions of profiles. It focuses on finding passive candidates through boolean search and social media recruiting. It also includes information from candidates' social media accounts to help you contact them. 

Careerbuilder resume database

Similar to Monster’s Talentbin, Careerbuilder’s resume database has a wide range of employment seekers and resumes. The search logic supports boolean searches through this database powered by Careerbuilder’s semantic technology.


ZillionResumes.com is an aggregator database, which gathers resumes from thousands of other sources. It allows you to locate hard-to-find candidates, and can also provide you with lists of resumes that match your criteria.


Hired is a platform created to bring employers and job seekers together. Employers can create a company profile and look through candidates. They can then reach out to candidates through the platform, where, according to Hired’s website, candidates answer 95% of contact requests.


HiringSolved lets you find candidates from all over the world and search in any language. An interesting feature: it lets you search “by example” and find candidates with a similar profile to a CV that you upload into their system.


Sourcing.io has a huge database of engineers that you can search using filters. It is particularly strong in team referrals and social recruiting by looking through your team’s online connections for great candidates.

Speaking of social recruiting, referrals are another tool you can’t afford to ignore when it comes to the hiring process. After all, according to Mike Stafiej, CEO at Erin, 82% of Employers rated Employee Referrals above all other sourcing options to yield the best ROI.

How to Get Referrals for Jobs? Start an Employee Referral Program 

The key to sourcing good candidates from your employee’s existing networks is to set up an employee referral program.

But this needs to be done strategically, or it can create confusion, dissatisfaction, and decreased motivation among your employees, resulting in fewer referrals. Let’s look at the steps you can take to create a well-rounded and effective employee referrals program. 

Explain job requirements clearly

Employees don’t automatically know what their companies are looking for in candidates. They might have an idea of what kind of person is a  “culture fit”, but specific job requirements may be less clear, especially if employees are asked to refer people who will work outside their own department and job functions. Clearly defining the requirements also empowers your employees to provide advice for job seekers that they refer. 

Don’t make it a mystery. Always include links to job descriptions when sending emails asking for referrals. You may also want to highlight what you’re not looking for. Just because someone is a friend doesn’t necessarily mean they would be a good coworker. 

Keep employees updated

Employees who refer candidates expect to receive updates on the process. If they don’t get these updates, they may be hesitant to refer again, which undermines your candidate referral program.

Keep employees in the loop. Let them know what’s going on at each stage of the process. When a referred candidate isn’t selected for an interview, send referrers a thank you email anyway. This encourages them to stay on the lookout for good candidates. 

Acknowledge good referrers

In addition to offering monetary bonuses, try to publicly recognize good referrers. For example, if one employee has referred 10 people, six of whom were hired, that’s an excellent “batting average”, this person is an amazing referer. Make sure they know that their efforts make an impact and are appreciated. This acknowledgment can take a variety of forms such as an award or personal acknowledgment from team leaders during a meeting. These acknowledgments should be a codified part of your referral program policy.

Don’t use money as the only incentive

Money is a great incentive but offering an experience (e.g. trips, vouchers, or motorbikes) can make your employee referral program really stand out. Some of these incentives, like time off and gift vouchers, are less expensive for the company than direct cash awards. Salesforce.com recently offered employees who participated in their employee referral program free baseball tickets.

When you do use money as an incentive, go for a tiered system: this is the most effective way to motivate employees to participate in your referral program. Offer higher rewards for harder-to-fill positions. You can also offer a set amount for each referral and then offer another bonus if the referred candidates get hired and stay at your company for at least six months.

Don’t neglect the user experience

We’ve covered in previous posts how a user-friendly application process is essential to getting candidates to apply for a job, and the same is true of internal referral programs. Your referral process shouldn’t be lengthy, complicated, or require lots of clicks. Otherwise, you risk driving referrers away.

You may want to use dedicated software for this. Dedicated software can also help employees share open positions with their social network. Applicant tracking systems (ATSs) can typically integrate with dedicated referral software services, or offer their own referral tools.

Use different tactics

Survey employees to find out what inspired them to refer (or, not refer) and what suggestions, if any, they might have for improving your referral program. The best referral programs adapt by trying new and different strategies. Try these techniques to improve your employee referral program’s results:

Use spontaneous promotions: This can come in the form of, for example, a suddenly announced office-wide contest to refer candidates, for example. 

Use specific questions: You might consider, for example, rather than asking for “referrals”, asking your employees more specific questions like “Who’s the best  Python developer you know?”.

Try gamification technology: Gamification has been shown to increase user engagement across all kinds of different sectors, referrals included. This makes the referral process fun and competitive. 

Offer special bonus schemes: For example, if you are trying to increase diversity at your organization, you could offer an increased bonus when women and minorities are hired through referrals.

Let AI Recruit For You

Organizations struggling to attract enough applicants to open roles may want to consider Employa. To see what Employa can do for your organization, sign up for a free trial!

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