Free hiring: the secret of a $0 cost per hire

Let’s be honest, recruitment can be expensive both in terms of time and money. But does it really have to be that way? Here we list some great free tools out there that recruiters can use to find and hire people for free. A cost per hire of $0 is not so far fetched as you imagine.

Free job boards……..are you using them?

There are loads of free job boards out there. Ok, so they may not quite have the coverage that some of the big players have but free is still free and if you make just the occasional hire from it then down goes your cost per hire!!!  Here are just a few we’ve looked at:   (US only)

Do a Google search ‘free job board’ and you’ll be amazed at what you can find.

Use an applicant tracking system (a free one) to build your own talent pool:

Still using email to get cvs in? Oh dear. There are a few really good systems out there that can help you manage your hiring programmes for you. The system does all the donkey work for you like bulk rejecting applications etc………all saving you precious time. is a great example……..and it’s completely free. Ok, so we’re biased because it’s ours but hundreds of companies use it for the very good reason that it does all the work for you. But the main reason for using an applicant tracking system is the ability for you to store cvs easily and retrieve them just as quickly. If you get cvs in now for a job and think they could be useful in the future, try not to log the cvs in email folders, filing cabinets or excel spreadsheets………that will only get you so far. A cv database will allow you to store unlimited cvs with a couple of clicks, search them by detailed criteria in seconds and send bulk emails with details of a role……..oh and this is all free if you’re using a free applicant tracking system. It will also allow potentially interested jobseekers to log their cv with you for future roles by dropping their cv directly into your talent bank even if they can’t see a role right now that they’d like to apply for. There’s nothing for you to do but search it when you’re next hiring, find suitable candidates and sign them up for without spending a dime.

Don’t forget, the cvs that you get in are exactly the same as the cvs that agencies get, they just store them and retrieve them better than direct employers then charge you 20% for the privilege of sending you a cv that you received directly 12 months ago but failed to store correctly.

Social media - it’s (mostly) free so use it:

The buzz (some would call it hype) in recruitment these days is all about how social media is going to be the way all recruitment is done in the future. We don’t buy that one bit. There’s no way you can rely purely on social media for finding your staff, but if done properly it can get you in contact with passive candidates and thus must be a part of your resourcing strategy regardless of how big the organization or company is.


If you personally don’t have a LinkedIn profile it’s a good idea to add yourself on and don’t forget to post an entry on your profile if you’re hiring. Similarly if your company/organization hasn’t got a LinkedIn page, create one and post that the company is hiring. Also, make sure you join some of the groups set up. There’s bound to be at least one that is in your field and post a help request on that…….’Can anyone suggest a good Web Developer…..etc’.

It just takes one referral or the right person to spot your entry and you could fill the job. LinkedIn is an absolute goldmine for finding good candidates so make sure you do a people search as well but ensure that you use the advanced search box because that allows you to narrow the location down to a much tighter area. So click on the advanced link next to the search box at the top and type in a job title into the Title box, then a rough location and see who appears. You can always add in some keywords as well if you get too many results.

Unfortunately you can only see the first 10 pages for free but you’d be amazed who’s in your network. You can contact anyone who is either a direct connection or an indirect connection (i.e. you know someone who knows them) for free or better yet, get introduced to indirect connections by whoever is the link person between you and them.

Oh and don’t forget……if you communicate with a good candidate for whatever reason and you want to keep a link with them for possible future hiring, ask to link to them on LinkedIn. So easy to do and gradually you can build a network of potential future hires and a source of referrals as well.

We’ve found LinkedIn to be a great source of candidates for roles we’ve recruited for our clients at a senior level but less so for more junior roles. Finally, make sure as many of your employees have profiles on LinkedIn. It’s very easy for job seekers to work out who they are connected to at your company. The more of your employees are on LinkedIn, the more likely you are to source the widest possible amount of applicants. If jobseekers know people at your company, they are more likely to apply or at least ask for an introduction.


Set up a company Twitter page or if you’re hiring a lot, how about a page dedicated to just listing your company’s jobs. It’s free so post an entry linking back to your company website. To build up your followers, make sure you follow as many people as you can related to your field. They’ll then look at you and perhaps follow your tweets back. Twitter is rapidly becoming a job search engine in it’s own right with dozens of companies listing their vacancies at any one time. Do a search on Twitter now for a job title you are currently recruiting (or about to) and see what comes up. You might even find a few job seekers who match up. 

All the ‘followers’ of recruitment agencies and direct employers are likely to be looking for a job so if they’re on Twitter following another company’s job postings they’ll be doing regular searches to find matching jobs…… get listing !!

A nice app you can use to find potential applicants via Twitter is called Locafollow. Incredibly easy to use, you just type in the skill set/job title you’re looking for and approximate location, hit search and it will find people who match up. You can then follow them/make contact etc and maybe hire them. A different site but doing something similar is called Follower Wonk. Both are free.

Don’t forget if you do make a tweet, particularly if you’re listing a job that you’re trying to fill, put some searchable tags with a hash symbol in front. So next to the job title is good, and maybe words like jobs or careers:

#web developer  #careers  #jobs     etc etc

By adding a hash symbol #, the word following it becomes searchable to other users.

Jigsaw is less well known but is a similar idea to Linkedin. Quite simply it’s a gold mine for finding people. So if you’re on the look out for an SEO expert, just select the Advanced search option, type in the job title you’re trying to fill, select a location and it will produce a list of everyone who has registered their profile matching your requirements. Linkedin and Jigsaw are a headhunter’s nightmare and dream rolled into 1. A dream because it’s now so easy for them to identify who’s who at just about every company but a nightmare because it’s now so easy……..why don’t you just do it yourself and save the £15k fee?

Blogs and groups

A bit like using the Groups facility on LinkedIn. There are bound to be blogs/group sites that cover your field and allow members to post articles and comments. Just put a request for help on them (‘we’re recruiting a ……does anyone know someone’ etc) or better yet, start contributing and joining in discussions. Alternatively and even better still, set up your own company blog and write pertinent articles on your field of expertise or updates on what the company is up to. You’d be amazed who will follow you. Just make sure you’ve got a mechanism built in (RSS) which allows people to do that. Oh, and keep mentioning the roles you’re trying to fill. Tumblr is a great site which allows you to create a company (or personal) blog in seconds and it also synchronizes with your Facebook and Twitter pages. In addition, on any job advertising you do, invite people to follow your company blog and if they have any questions on the role (which you should also post onto your blog) they can ask them confidentially on your blog. When  setting up on Tumblr there is a tick box option to allow other people to ask you a question confidentially……so just tick it. Thus it becomes a 2 way communication tool for jobseekers to find out more about the role without you having to give out your email address.


You need to be a bit careful with Facebook as you don’t want to spam your friends or friend’s friends but if you’re really struggling put a post onto your Facebook page…….’We need to hire a Web Developer…….any recommendations etc’ and get it messaged to all your mates. Just don’t make a habit of it otherwise they may well not remain mates if you send one to them each week.

Have you created a company Facebook page yet?  Well if you haven’t, you should. People who may want to work for you, or just keep abreast of what you’re doing as a business so when you’re hiring, add it to your company Facebook page and get it sent out to all those possible applicants. The other advantage to having a company Facebook page is that you can keep it updated with stuff going on at the company: sports and social events, photos or videos of the office or messages from key people. All of this is a doddle on Facebook but not so easy on your corporate site. Jobseekers want to get a feel for the company and letting them check you out on Facebook is a great way to attract them (just go easy on those embarrassing Xmas party photos). Don’t forget that jobseekers may well consider applying to only a few companies so anything you can do to make your company more appealing has to be good. So if you’re hiring, at the bottom of the job description make sure you add the title of your Facebook Group and encourage people interested in your company to join/communicate with you via that. on Facebook who’s profile matches the job you’ve created. 

Also, don’t forget to post the job onto the Facebook market place. It’s free so you’ve got nothing to lose. Oh and finally, encourage all your staff to update their Facebook profile by ensuring that they list your company name as their current employer. Why? Well there are Facebook apps out there (Branchout) that make it easy for people to talk to people they know at a given company so if a jobseeker sees your job advert they can then do a quick search of people they are connected to see if any of them work or worked at the company or know someone who does. It might just help get your company’s praises sung a bit and find you that star candidate. If all this extra work to utilize social networks seems a bit daunting, you can use iKrut’s built in social media distribution service which will do much of the above automatically for you, for a small annual charge. 


Google + is of course the elephant in the room. Given Google’s resources and dominance of the search market it’s difficult to imagine that it will not become a major player in the social media arena in some form or other. If you’re not familiar with it then it’s a little like Facebook and if you’re doing a bit of hiring you’d be well advised to create a company Google + page which potential jobseekers interested in your company can join, read your announcements and begin to interact with you. You can of course list all your jobs……

Also another Google service you might like to consider is called Google base. Strictly speaking it isn’t really social media as it’s difficult for you to interact with other people or socialize the content to friends but it’s worth considering given Google’s dominance in search. Basically it allows you to list anything you want (such as jobs) and Google will host whatever you write on their servers and make that content searchable on the web. So if you’re hiring a role and it’s not yet listed on your company’s corporate site, it’s a good idea to add it to Google base just in case someone searches Google for that type of role. 

Try a meta search

A what?  A meta search. A meta search is when you look for something on a meta search engine. These are websites that search across multiple search engines. So if you’re looking for an Online Marketing Manager in New York, type in:‘online marketing manager’ ‘New York’ ‘cv or resume’ and see what comes up. You won’t find that many cvs but increasingly web savvy people are listing their profiles online for search engines to pick up. It’s worth a try for digital or technical roles as these types of people are most comfortable posting resumes online. 

Here are a few meta search engines:

The only downside is that it’s a bit hit and miss as the search results will also contain quite a few entries which are not people’s resumes. But a free hire is always worth the 10 minutes it takes. Oh, and whilst we’re on the subject of search engines, take a look at Google alerts which is a great new tool you can use to find cvs. Just type in a search term and Google will email you (whenever you tell it to) if a new cv appears on the internet matching up. So if you’re continually trying to hire Research Scientists in Miami or Tax Accountants in Zurich, it could be just what you want. It’s a sort of free cv alert service.

Got an iphone? Get Autosearch

An app for the iphone that allows you to search for possible candidates across a spectrum of social media sites. It’s also available as a web application as well.

And finally…..

The traditional way of sourcing a candidate if you do it yourself is to plonk a job advert somewhere like a magazine, or job board. That’s fine but can be costly if you’re using 2 or more job boards and print publications are never cheap.

You might want to try the new breed of job search engines like Simply Hired, Indeed, Check4jobs and Jobrapido. They allow you to synchronize your jobs from your careers pages and have them appear instantly (and free) on their site. If you don’t get the response you’re looking for you can then just pay on a pay per click model, paying a specified amount each time that job is viewed. But since there are now so many of these search engines appearing, if you post it to enough of them you’ve got at least a reasonable chance of the ideal candidate viewing it and you can then hire without having to pay anything.

This article is taken from the e-book:

The 21 tips and tricks they don’t teach you at Harvard Business School about recruiting

which can be viewed in full at:

Nick Leigh-Morgan is the Managing Director of Zodo, a company which specializes in providing recruitment systems and services to small and medium sized employers. We work with companies to manage their recruitment for them, typically working to provide a shortlist of candidates for any vacancy sent to us. Currently we have a success rate of helping our clients fill in excess of 60% of their vacancies.  Zodo is not a recruitment agency. We don’t operate like one and don’t charge like one.

We have not been paid for any of the product recommendations we have made and our endorsement of them is based purely on our personal use or awareness of them. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided at the time of writing is accurate we don’t warrant that it is. Please ensure you do your own research  before purchasing or using any products or services that we recommend.

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