Picture this:

A group of miners venturing into a dark cave, equipped with only their pickaxes, helmets and a strong desire to do the work.

They each have a mission to find valuable mineral deposits. And while every miner expects to find something of worth, there are special gems, like diamonds, they hope to find along the way.

Diamonds are notoriously difficult to locate in the wild. It takes a special effort and creative thinking to uncover them. But this hope, and this challenge, is similar to the one we recruiters face as we look to unearth the most ideal candidates for an organization.

Beyond the Resume

Finding quality candidates is rarely a straightforward process. However, there are certain methods we all use early on – whether that is scoping out GPAs or running searches for graduates of the best schools.

If we are lucky, it is that easy. But high-GPA holders and Ivy Leaguers are not always readily available. More importantly, they are not always the perfect fit. That does not mean you should lower your expectations. You simply need to think differently about the way you are looking for quality candidates.

Recruiting Acumen

Just like diamonds, many high-quality candidates lay hidden. They did not attend Yale. Their GPAs may have been average. But they have the skill, exceptional work ethic and unshakeable dedication required to make it in the industry you are recruiting for.

These intrinsic qualities cannot be found through a Boolean search string. But there are a number of ways recruiters can find these hidden gems.

Social Media

With the growing popularity of social media as a recruiting tool, the odds have significantly improved for you to find quality candidates on these networks. You are often able to uncover information that does not live on a person’s resume, such as personal achievements, volunteer activity or unmentioned professional-level skills. Not shockingly, this is especially true for millennials and Generation Z. To better your odds even more, think beyond Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Try looking for talent on industry-related community websites.


Referrals are excellent for many reasons. For starters, they are more likely to recommend the company they represent to others. Since we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with, chances are those individuals will have valuable skills as well. Referrals are especially useful when searching for talent in tough-to-fill requisitions or locations, because they give a recruiter direct access to an area that would otherwise stay hidden.


Another way to find quality candidates is to look at competitors. This may be adventurous for some recruiters, but it could prove to be incredibly beneficial. By pitching the benefits, positive culture and other advantages of working for your company, you may be able to convince a great candidate to join – even if they were not looking to leave originally.

As you work your way through these candidates, one of the most important aspects to consider is their personality. Being outgoing, personable and willing to learn go a long way. Individuals demonstrating these attributes make it easier for us recruiters to discern the diamonds from cubic zirconia.

Looking beyond GPAs and prestigious schools, beyond job boards and beyond the resume is key to finding the “diamonds” every recruiter is after. These candidates are willing and able to do the work required of them. They have the drive, spirit and attitudes necessary to get the job done.

Their raw talent sets them apart. But our recruiting acumen is the only way to find them.

Some may look past these individuals because they do not fit their preconceived notions of quality candidates. But the organizations you are recruiting for will be enriched by their willingness to be open and take calculated risks.

One last tip: An organization’s Employee Value Proposition can give you a significant boost in your search for hidden talent. With a great EVP, those diamonds may even come to you themselves. Check out Cielo’s Guide to Crafting a Powerful EVP to learn more.


This post was contributed by Cielo's Erin Koerner, Interview Specialist. Share this article on LinkedIn.