Like many recruiters, I rely on many resources. I strategize as to the best places to post given the parameters of the recruit. The key factors include length of time I am given to recruit and the types of people/profiles my client is seeking.
Community boards: If the recruit is quick and dirty, the fastest way to get responses are from using things like Craigslist or TaskRabbit or the like. These resources can be tricky to mine because it is where many “pros” prowl, applying for everything and often lying, even having multiple email addresses and aliases.
Recruiters, when using this as a resource, often see the serial respondents and avoid them (many of us keep a liars list). There are strategies in survey creation that can help you avoid liars: Do not ask leading questions, ask open ended questions and build in every possible answer (especially the ones that disqualify them). There are strategies to make these tools work for you and useful.
Blogs and groups (i.e. yahoo, Google +, etc.): If we have time to be more methodical than reaching out to targeted groups is typically the best. With permission from the owner of a group some places will actually post to their blogs, yahoo group, google group, etc.
You can find a group in existence for almost any topic, sometimes it’s as simple as emailing the moderator and asking them to ping the group. If they aren’t open to posting to the group perhaps you could offer incentive if they will reach out to people in their group in a more targeted way that they know fit the research.
Friends and family: Used sparingly, these can be somewhat fruitful. While friends and family is a great resource I find that it doesn’t yield a ton of applicants. Surprisingly even something as simple as a yogurt recruit gets very little traction in a recruit through this source.
I tend to be choosey in how I tap into or use this group often times posting only maybe one out of every 15 recruits I have on my plate because this is a resource that you don’t want to overuse. I, oftentimes, will use this for my hard to recruit things or things that may be a “different” subject matter because I find they get more attention. It depends on your network but I find mine responds the most when they feel challenged to find something “interesting. Regular recruits like food habits, technology habits, etc. are best suited for other lists.
Targeted recruiting:. Recently I was recruiting people that have smartwatches so I reached directly out to all my IT friends and all those that I know are gadget heads to see if they know people in their group. Its always nice, if you use this route, to send them a thank you gift card if they connect you with people. Something as simple as a $25 gift card can go along way to them wanting to help on future postings, even as small as $5 can go along way to say thanks, I appreciate it. The amount of the gift card varies depending on the level of difficulty of the recruit in my opinion.
Online Panels: One strategy to employ here is create a survey and have 100 people apply, from those responses pull your top 20 responses of interest, call to screen them further and conduct in person sessions with those that really stand out as the most interesting fit for the research. This route can take time and be costly so use this on the “right” project. It’s a great hybrid recruit though for the right project that allows you to learn something from all those survey responses at the same time.
When using this route make your intentions clear (always do this anyway) but in this case build in a question in the beginning asking if they would be open to an in person interview down the road if they are selected. Making this a simple yes or no question will allow you to disqualify those that would not be open to this as a possibility down the road and there are a lot of people on online panels who are not open to in person engagements.
Posting flyers in targeted places: This route is great if you have time to allow it to work because recruits can trickle in at a slow pace. Profiles should be fairly simple when using this route because getting to more nuanced things can be tricky. Having a template ready to type up and get out is helpful and knowing the places to post that will actually yield some results.