The Ultimate Guide to sourcing A-players

You can’t hire anyone if you aren’t actively sourcing A-players.  It’s one thing to be great at interviewing and screening and reference checking, but if you aren’t filling your sourcing funnel with potential A-players, it’s all for nothing.

Following are the main methods used for sourcing potentials hires.  I’m going to explain and comment on how to make each one work for you.

  1. Posted ads
  2. Recruiters
  3. Internal recruiting
  4. Building your bench
  5. Standing second in line

Posted ads

You need to know right up front that when you post ads in print or online, you’re fishing in a pool primarily made up of B and C players.   Sourcing from job ads must be done carefully.

This doesn’t mean that there are no A-players looking through job ads.  A-players get sick of their current role or look for new challenges like anyone else.

But most often, the best are already working somewhere and doing a really good job.  While they’re thinking of leaving, their employers would be horrified to know that they’re on the hunt for something new.  They want to retain them.  After all, they are A-players!  Who doesn’t want to retain a great person?

When sourcing using ads, I suggest using an application form that repels B, C, and D players.  You can find my application form here.

It asks for specific details about career history.  Candidates are required to give ratings from past bosses and be transparent about number in their past.  Non-A-players have no interest in disclosing this kind of information.  They would rather see it buried and not mentioned again.

When I use job ads, I’m very careful, and go in assuming that I’m very likely screening a non-star.


Recruiters are a great source for finding great people.  Depending on the recruiter.  Think of a recruiter like you do a realtor.  Some want to do as little as possible to put any candidate in front of you, hoping for a commission.

Others care and dig and do their best to make you happy.  In any profession, 50% of people are in the bottom half of performers in their industry!

So first, make sure your recruiter comes highly recommended and shows an attitude that you like.

Second, help your recruiter by being absolutely sure of who you’re looking for.

Be clear on the qualifications that are a must-have, and those that are a wish to have.  Specify the key measurable results you want to see from a new hire within 12 months of hire.

The more your recruiter knows exactly what you want, the better fit they’ll be able to find.

Internal recruiting

This is an often-overlooked source of new team members.

Here are some fun ways to use internal recruiting to your advantage:

  • Post a ‘wanted’ ad. Make an old west style poster and be clear on who you’re looking for.  Hang it in public places at your place of business


  • Offer a commission. You’ll pay for a recruiter.  Why not pay your own people if they know a great referral?  If you choose to pay, make sure you stagger the payments.  One third when the person is hired, another third if they’re with you in six months, and the final third after a year.  No point paying for someone you don’t want or keep.


  • Appeal to self interest. It’s in everyone’s best interest to work with people they like.  There are few more significant factors in job satisfaction than enjoying your co-workers.  Give your team the opportunity to choose who they work with in the future.

Building your bench

Ask yourself, “Who do you know that you would love to have on your team?”

You can put people on your bench, and they don’t even know they’re there!  It just means that you reach out to them and build relationship.  Have coffee.  Drop a note in the mail.  Communicate over social media.  Just stay in touch.

People on your bench may not be from your industry.  But here are typical places you’ll find potentials:

  • Trade shows
  • Social circles
  • Competitors
  • Customers
  • Vendors
  • Businesses you patronize as a customer

In all of these places, there are outstanding people.  Find out who they are and get to know them.

Make a list and make sure you stay in touch over time.

Your bench isn’t designed to fill a job next week.  The bench is focused on 1-3 years in the future.

Standing second in line

One of the most powerful sales tools is to simply stand second in line.  Your prospect is happy now, but eventually they won’t be.

One day their favorite boss will quit, their company will change, they will get bored or dissatisfied, and they’ll look around them.  Whoever is standing second in line will have the best chance of recruiting them to their team!

So, stand second in line and reap the rewards!  Put great people on your bench, stay in touch, and wait for the right moment.

In summary

Here are the main methods of sourcing A-players.  Each has it’s strengths and weaknesses.  The more hooks you hang in the water, the more fish you’ll catch.  So, use each one well, and know how each one works.

  1. Posted ads
  2. Recruiters
  3. Internal recruiting
  4. Building your bench
  5. Standing second in line

Man in Library

Trevor Throness is a speaker, consultant, and author of “The Power of People Skills.”  He is also co-founder and senior instructor at

Find more about “The Power of People Skills” here:


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