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Which recruitment channel will work best for your job search?

Looking for a job?

Which recruitment channels can you use to apply for a job and which will best suit your needs?

You can connect with a potential employer through:

  • Job postings on company websites or third party job boards

  • Job fairs

  • Response to a company solicitation (typically via email's or phone calls)

  • Response to a third party recruiter solicitation

  • An employee referral

  • A job counseling / placement firm

Each of these is more effective in specific hiring situations. An understanding of which channel works better for what kind of hiring will help in picking the right one for your job search.

The pull channels – Job postings & job fairs

Companies with strong brand visibility attract a large pool of applicants for jobs. Think Google for technology developers, Goldman Sachs for young investment bankers, or Tesla for automotive engineers.

Since these firms (in most cases) attract a large enough pool of candidates, they lean towards a "pull" strategy for their hiring needs up to mid-level positions. Their goal is to create visible and easy to access avenues through which roles can be advertised and candidates can apply for them.

These avenues tend to be company and job board websites, presence in campus job fairs, and company sponsored job fairs.

The solicitation channels – Emails / calls from a company or a third party recruiter

Firms solicit potential employees when their hiring requirements are not met by the "pull" channels. Some situations where this occurs are:

  • Hiring needs exceed the number of applicants e.g. tech consultants for consulting firms.

  • The brand / company profile does not attract enough candidates –companies which are less well known in their industries or young start-up's.

  • Niche or high demand skills – e.g. Hadoop developers, Pharma lab compliance engineers, anti-money laundering SME's.

  • Low volume & specialized roles – e.g. Salespersons for technology services firms.

  • Senior and sensitive roles – e.g. senior business leaders and CXO's

Solicitation can be done by the company itself; it may engage the services of a third party search/recruitment firm, or both. When soliciting, companies and third party recruiters both leverage candidate databases like LinkedIn or Monster, and their own in-house database of past applicants.

Third party recruiters supplement the solicitation efforts of a company bringing expertise of reaching out to candidates, access to private candidate pools, and insight about candidates who they have been closely engaged with.

Companies with higher volumes & brand pull tend to lean more towards in-house solicitation to have greater control on the process and potentially generate some savings in third party fees. However, for the most part, companies use a both of in-house and third parties when soliciting candidates.

Promotion channels – Referrals & job counseling/placement firms


Approaching a company through a known person's referral gives a leg up for any role pursuit. It is even more helpful for niche or critical roles where hiring is done with greater deliberation and an endorsement from a known referrer can be very beneficial to your candidature.

Submittal through a reference is most effective when your referrer works in the same group or team into which you have an interest to apply for a job. Here your referrer is likely to have the influence to have your candidature reviewed and also be able to present his / her favorable view on your professional background (which is why he / she was willing to be a referrer).

The value of a reference is proportionate to the influence the referrer exercises within the group which is hiring for the role. Outside of the immediate group in which your referrer works or has influence, there may still be a benefit but lesser so. In some companies, it may get the application reviewed by a recruiter and then it is treated on par with any other applicant.

Job counseling / placement firm

Job counseling and placement companies work with candidates helping them think through career options and employment choices. The focus is on understanding the skill sets and employment goals of the candidate and working with them to identify which roles and companies will be best fit.

Those counseling firms which have corporate clients and active job searches can also present you to their clients / searches for which they assess that you will have a good fit. This can be for open roles which a company might have or proactively as a potential employee.

These firms can be especially valuable as you move up the hierarchy, for niche roles searches, and if you have any unique needs – e.g. immigration sponsorship, location constraints, break in service, or work hours flexibility.

In closing

Depending on your skill profile and target employer, there are different channels which are best suited for your job search. A summary of the popular channels and where they are most effective is in the table below.

Pick the channel(s) which best fits your job search. It is a good practice to work with one channel for any one role or company so pick the best one and work with it when applying to a company.

Identify – the channel(s) best suited for your job search.

Apply – through the one which will work best

Succeed - get yourself in front of your future manager.

Happy hunting!


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