Recruiting Tips

9 Tips for Recruiting on a Tight Budget

Recruiting for new talent lives at a tricky intersection — where essential meets pricey.

You need to be on the hunt for new hires who will take your organization to the next level. But if you’re working with a limited budget, that’s easier said than done.

Throw a tough economy on top of that? And it might seem like you’re taking on an impossible task.

Don’t give up just yet!

There are ways to recruit that won’t break the bank. They just require a little planning and some creative solutions.


First things first: check to see if there’s any wiggle room in your budget for prospecting. 

If there is, hooray for you! Now it’s time to build a recruiting budget.

Here are some things to consider as you prepare for some budget-conscious recruiting.

  • Take All Potential Fees into Account

You’ll likely have to invest a little money into some tools and tactics to effectively recruit.

But, luckily, there’s a range of options — some of which fall on the “affordable-to-free” side of the spectrum!

Hiring a recruiting team or purchasing HR software is more likely to run up your bill than, say, posting on social media or paying to feature jobs on sites like Glassdoor.

Other (inexpensive) ideas to consider?

Running employee referral programs (this could have some kind of incentive, which may or may not be monetary), revamping your career site, and submitting to have a booth at college job fairs.

  • Estimate an Annual Expected Number of Hires

Next, determine how many roles you need to fill. This will help you figure out what you need to spend on recruiting by breaking it down per role.

It might be helpful to estimate the number of job openings you’ll have per year, then rank the roles by importance. That ranking could help determine how many roles you’ll have to account for each quarter.

  • Track Your Spending

So, you’ve estimated how much you’ll be paying in fees and on how many roles — congrats! 🎉

You’re one step closer to thoughtful, effective recruiting.

The best thing to do from there is to track your spending as it happens.

This will help you get a sense of where most of your budget is going and observe how close you were to your initial estimate. (Make cuts and adjustments where necessary, of course!)


On the other hand, you might not have wiggle room in your budget for recruiting.

That’s okay!

There are creative ways to effectively recruit without dropping too much money. Here are a few of our favorite tips and tricks.

  • Referrals make the world go ‘round

Employee referrals are your low-budget recruiting strategy’s new best friend.

Consider this: each person you bring onto your team brings with them a network of professional and personal connections.

And since you already decided those people are a good fit for your organization (you hired them, after all!) odds are their network is going to be equally well-suited for your company.

If you’re saying to yourself, “But I can’t afford to offer monetary compensation for these great referrals,” don’t panic.

Use this as an opportunity to build transparent relationships with your employees. If you want to utilize their networks to hire, just be upfront with them about the fact that there can’t be a bonus at this time.

You may be pleasantly surprised!

Oftentimes, employees are just eager to play a role in how the staff grows and how company culture is shaped.

And consider some non-monetary rewards you could use to incentive your workforce! Positive recognition from leadership or an eye-catching gift (that fits in your budget, of course) could go farther than you’d think.

  • Keep your options open

You interview someone for an open role…and it’s not quite a fit.

It happens!

But don’t burn your bridges, unless there’s some serious reason why they shouldn’t be hired.

Who knows, a candidate might not be the right fit now, but they could be perfect for another role that hasn’t opened up yet. If you’re responsive, attentive, and enthusiastic during the interview process, they’ll remember you as a great potential employer.

  • Make the most of networking

Whether you’re trying your hand at social media networking or attending a virtual industry event, always keep recruiting at the top-of-mind.

These opportunities are the perfect chance to discover potential job candidates — consider them impromptu screener interviews!

Go into any networking encounter with your hot jobs in mind and always have materials ready to send to inquiring candidates.

  • Blog about it

When you found out you were being considered for your current role, what was one of the first things you did?

You probably headed to the company website!

That’s a great case for having a strong, informative website in general. But one aspect of the company website that’s specifically helpful for recruiting?

A compelling company blog.

Your blog is not just a great opportunity to share a slice of your company culture, but it’s perfect for promoting open positions for free. Between your industry-relevant posts, sprinkle in posts about your hot jobs, including lots of links to your “Careers” page!

  • Use social media to your advantage

Social media provides the perfect platform to show off your company culture (again, prompting potential employees to seek out your jobs).

Plus, like blogging, it’s another low-cost way to promote open roles.

Dedicate some of your social efforts to recruiting, and maybe even incentivize your employees to share those posts. (Free lunch for whoever’s retweet gets the most likes, maybe?!)

  • Put it in the email signature

This is an easy one!

Ask your employees to put a “We’re hiring” link in their email signatures that directs to your “Careers” page — and don’t hesitate to put that link on your company social pages, either.

  • Perfect your job descriptions

Job descriptions matter.

A well-written job description can mean the difference between attracting top tier talent and attracting under qualified candidates who didn’t understand what you were looking for.

And, once again, job descriptions are a great opportunity to show off your company culture! Use every opportunity to convince potential employees that they want to work for you.

(Need some help perfecting your job descriptions? Check out our job description templates for administrative assistants, project managers, and accountants!)

  • Stay in touch with your Chamber of Commerce

Traditional job fairs can often be expensive and concentrated in urban areas.

Whether you don’t want to pay the steep fee or you’re too far from a metropolitan area, there are other options for attending these events — sometimes right in your own backyard!

Make sure to stay involved with your local Chamber of Commerce. They’ll often hold events, like job fairs, to introduce job seekers to local business owners.

  • Utilize the college job boards

If you’re searching for interns or entry-level employees, you’ll want to check out college job boards.

The young workforce is hungry for experience and they’re likely using their tech-savviness to search for opportunities.

One great resource is Handshake, a free platform that over 9 million students and young alumni use to check job postings. And, yes, it’s free to set up an account and free to post jobs!


Recruiting on a tight budget can feel like a huge lift — but don’t give up the hunt for your next rockstar employee!

There are free resources you can utilize, like your employees’ network and your social media channels.

And remember, highlight what’s great about your organization at every opportunity. Show every candidate that scrolls by why they should want to work for you, and your workforce will come.

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