ReadyToManage Webstore

Recruitment and Selection

What Are the Key Hiring Channels in the Modern Working World?

What Are the Key Hiring Channels in the Modern Working World?

The world of hiring has undergone a massive change in the last ten to fifteen years or so, much of which has been driven by new technology and the spread of the Internet in particular. This change has involved much more than most of the available jobs switching from newspapers to online web sites and actually means that there are at least 10 major sources or channels from which applicants can now come to fill the available jobs in any one firm. Let’s therefore look at each of these channels in a little more detail.

Internal applicants

When an individual resigns, is promoted, retires or is terminated, or even when a firm gains new investment, relocates or expands geographically, the first port of call for the vacancy that this creates is internal applicants. In some companies a job may not even make it beyond this channel. When this happens, it makes the pool of jobs very private (as we will look at later in the tenth channel below) but even where external applicants are allowed to compete, it is estimated that the internal applicants win the job around 50% of the time, as employers feel “safer” with someone they know.

Referrals from existing employees

Especially in situations of growth and expansion, getting employee referrals is an extremely popular channel for many organizations. Of course, to benefit from this as an outsider, you have to have contact with an individual inside the organization and this means successfully seeking out a suitable and appropriate person (by carefully researching who this may be) and then putting yourself forward for a suitable vacancy. Once again we cover this further in the Networking channel below.

Employer web sites

In this age of the Internet, it is not just the big companies that have web sites. In the US alone it is estimated that there are over 350,000 employer web sites which directly and specifically advertise available job openings. Such a number may be difficult to track but this is an increasingly popular way for employers to attract and hire the right candidate.

Internet Job Boards

Internet Job boards are now many and various and are estimated to number around 1500 or so, with the largest of these (such as CareerBuilder or Monster, for example) boasting millions of resumes being available to employers. Although some are general, many of these Internet job boards specialize. This may be functionally (for HR, Accounting or Sales people for example) or even be industry/sector specific (such as Government, Energy-related or Non-Profit jobs for example). The main problem with this channel is duplication of jobs on multiple boards and the challenge of finding the right person (the needle) in a sea of applicants (the giant haystack).


Newspapers were a powerful source of jobs in past decades but have diminished rapidly in the last 10-15 years as the Internet has become such a powerful force. However, premium newspapers and some regional ones still carry job adverts and therefore remain a strong job-source channel for some.

Trade magazines

Like newspapers, trade magazines were used much more frequently for job advertisements in the past but much less so in the modern world. However, the trade magazine job advert decline has been less dramatic and they have been more successful in also making jobs available to their subscription bases via electronic means. This has meant that certain jobs (like professional engineers or accountants) can still be advertised frequently in trade journals.

Social media sites (such as Linkedin)

Although social media sites still do not necessarily play a primary role as a job advertisement channel (with the exception of LinkedIn perhaps which has a strong recruitment portal like a job board designed within it) they do nonetheless often play an important secondary role. This is in supporting employer efforts to advertise their jobs in general and candidate efforts to find out which employers may be in hiring mode. In addition, employers are increasingly looking at applicants’ profiles on social media sites such as Facebook in order to look for suitability and consistency with the résumés they have been sent.

Traditional agencies (including headhunters)

It is estimated that there are less than half the number of traditional recruitment agencies that were around as little as fifteen years ago as direct channels and web recruiters have taken their place. However, agencies still flourish as a channel in the professional and managerial job vacancy market and dominate in the high end or well-paid jobs where so-called “head-hunting” is involved, or a longish search for the one candidate that best fits the job. 

Web Recruiters

Web recruiters have grown rapidly in the past decade or so and are essentially researchers for employers who want to “find” a certain type of applicant for a job. Such jobs may be in scarce supply through other channels or be quite specialized or need very particular skills to be successful. Web recruiters tend to work with Internet Job boards to help narrow down their searches and then produce a short-list of possibly suitable applicants.

Networking (the private job market)

The private or completely unadvertised job market is huge (and at a minimum is estimated to be over two-thirds of all jobs). But as the graphic below indicates, according to specialist recruitment firms like Tapit Worldwide, this percentage increases significantly as the seniority and pay levels of the job rises, so that by the time a job is paid over $150,00 a year, private vacancies account for 95% of the total. Networking (the private job market) As the vast majority of jobs then are privately filled, it means that the only way for an external or unknown applicant to put him or herself forward for one of these jobs is for him/her to effectively use his or her networking skills. To do this takes much research and effort to start to attend the kind of meetings and events that can raise a profile high enough to be noticed – no easy task and it may take months or even years. But the good news with this channel is that it is far less competitive. It has been known for senior jobs to be filled with only one applicant because they were well-known to the company ahead of time (and the person was simply in the right place at the right time).


There are now many hiring channels in the modern working world. Some of these have been around for a long time and some are new. For the employer, it is worth thinking through the benefits of each of these channels and then making use of the ones that then make the most sense (with many being able to be used in combination). For job seekers, awareness of all ten channels above is critical so they as an individual can best craft a focused strategy to get that job that they really want in the future.

Related Resources

Share this article.

About Dr. Jon Warner

Dr. Jon Warner is a prolific author, management consultant and executive coach with over 25 years experience. He has an MBA and a PhD in Organizational Psychology. Jon can be reached at

View all posts by Dr. Jon Warner →

Related Posts

Shop the ReadyToManage Webstore for 100's of downloadable coaching, training and development resources!
About the Editor and Primary Author

Jon Warner

Jon Warner is an executive coach and management consultant and in the past has been a CEO in three very different companies. Read more

Newsletter Subscribe

ReadyToManage Webstore Close-Out Sale


ReadyToManage is your one-stop shop for world class employee and personal development resources.  Our mission is to assist individuals and companies in developing management, leadership, and business skills in themselves and their employees through effective and affordable development materials and courses.

Newsletter Subscribe

Join Now!

Search Topics