Good hiring practices help you extend your recruiting reach to lead you to the right person. With so much competition for talent and so many channels to reach potential candidates, however, it's hard to get your recruiting message heard. It can be more difficult for midmarket companies to recruit because candidates may not even be aware of job openings offered by businesses below the enterprise level. With less capital to throw around, middle market firms need to make the right decisions when they're trying to fill a position.

Tapping into local business organizations is one great way to attract a deeper pool of job candidates

Use these hiring practices to increase your applicant options:

  1. Aggressively seek and reward employee referrals. Your employees all have a professional and personal network, and a good first step to finding qualified candidates is asking your own people to recommend someone. If, for example, you're seeking to hire an engineer or IT person, your internal engineers and IT people will already know a number of potential candidates with the required skills. Encourage your team to network, attend professional events and join professional associations. If you hire a candidate referred by your employee, provide a referral bonus.
  2. Tap into different business and academic organizations. Try local chambers of commerce, your industrial association, professional associations and academic networks (including university career centers and alumni offices). Develop relationships with the local business and academic community around you. Go to events sponsored by these organizations, get to know the leadership of your local chamber of commerce and recruit regularly at local colleges. Let these groups know what you're looking for. Since one of the main objectives of these organizations is to help their members succeed, they're predisposed to match hiring companies with qualified candidates.
  3. Attend job fairs and career events in your area. These are a good way to have face-to-face interaction with potential candidates and share more information about your company. Simply showing up and making yourself available at a job fair raises your business's profile, which always helps recruiting. Whenever you talk to people, try to track down referrals.
  4. Engage in "social recruiting" by searching via social media platforms. Many middle market companies use LinkedIn to find candidates with specific skills. LinkedIn's platform is highly searchable, and it's easy to engage with candidates directly. Post on Twitter and Facebook when you announce you're trying to fill an opening.
  5. Consider looking overseas. If you can't find qualified local candidates, consider sourcing overseas. Yes, you will have to arrange for a work visa if you hire the person, and yes, this will take extra time and money, but for some very technical positions (such as engineers and software developers), this may be the only way to fill an opening.
  6. Think about using a recruiter or headhunter. This may be the most expensive option, since the headhunter will usually charge you a percentage of a candidate's first-year salary if you make a hire. No middle market company wants to pay 15 percent (or more) of a new person's salary, but sometimes that's the cost of tapping into candidates you wouldn't find elsewhere. If the above recommendations don't work, a headhunter may be your last resort for extending your hiring net.

You can't take a passive approach that assumes all qualified candidates will see your job opening. That will never happen. But by diversifying your outreach efforts, you'll be able to choose from more potential candidates. Since talent drives the engine of most middle market companies, recruiting efforts are worth the time and money.

Do you know of any overlooked online platforms that are a good way to find qualified candidates? Let us know by commenting below.

Boston-based Chuck Leddy is an NCMM contributor and a freelance reporter who contributes regularly to The Boston Globe and Harvard Gazette. He also trains Fortune 500 executives in business-communication skills as an instructor for EF Education.