Candidate sourcing strategies will vary based on your population size. This is because your population size and geography dictates your hiring demand, size of your talent pool, and competition. Design and adjust your sourcing strategy based on your population size.

Basing our framework on Statistics Canada’s definitions, we have developed our population centre classifications. Population Centre:

  • A = urban population centres of 100,000 people or more
  • B = population centres between 30,000 and 99,999 people
  • C = population centres between 10,000 and 29,999 people
  • D = population centres less than 10,000 people

When tailoring your sourcing strategy, we have noticed best practices for each specific population centre size. Here are our findings:

Population Centre A (+100,000)

In a large urban population centre like Vancouver, Montreal, or Toronto, there is a big talent pool but a high competition for talent. Typically, hourly employers don’t struggle with the quantity of candidates, but with having a simple and effective way to screen through all of them, if this is your challenge you may find this post helpful – Building a better hourly workforce through the process. The most effective sourcing tactics for large urban population centres include:

  • National job boards
  • Sponsored job postings

National job boards are great tools to reach a wide audience. In order to gain the most visibility, sponsor your job openings so they are the first postings seen. Job seekers are flooded with opportunities and typically drop off after looking through the first couple of pages on a job board. This affects your quality and volume of applicants as your postings get pushed further down on the page. Take into consideration your budget as well as and volume of roles you need to source for.

When sourcing in large urban population centres, consider the accessibility of the retail location and or availability of public transportation. Specify in your job description the region you operate in to find best-fit candidates who live in close proximity to the actual store location. This will reduce the chance that transportation will be the reason for employee absenteeism or turnover.

Population Centre B (30,000 to 99,999)

For populations between the ranges of 30,000 to 99,999 people, national job boards are still very effective. The most crucial time to sponsor would be when seasonality demands are high. To layer on top of this strategy, it may be effective for your roles to use:

  • PPC or sponsored advertising on social
  • Database campaigning
  • Niche job boards

If your ideal candidates are social and tech savvy, get granular with your targeting on Facebook, Twitter, and or Instagram. Post relevant and visually appealing images that speak to your brand and corporate culture. Make sure your call-to-action is clear and directs them to a quick and easy way to convert from prospect to applicant.

Another tactic would be to use campaign via paid or unpaid databases. Within the database, you can target specific locations, filter based on experience, and even conduct direct custom email campaigning for your specific role. This offers a passive pipeline of candidates to source from in those hard-to-fill regions. Mindfield leverages various databases to consistently pipeline and source for candidates.

Population Centres B are big enough to reap the benefits of using national job boards, and they are usually small enough to have their own niche job board. Some of these boards have proven to be very effective for local communities.

Population Centre C (10,000 to 29,999)

The best practices for targeting this drastically smaller population center become more granular.

  • Niche job boards
  • Database campaigning
  • Local outreach
  • In-store hiring posters

Niche job boards are very important for small population centers. Understanding what the local community uses for their job search demonstrates your insight and expertise in the small population centre and can yield good results. National job boards still have an impact on this population size to gain general exposure, but smaller communities tend to focus on their local niche resources.

Reach out to unemployment centers, local community centers, and even the local newspapers. In-store hiring posters are very effective for small population centres. Customers tend to be the best pool of candidates because of proximity to the physical retail location, familiarity with the community, and a decreased size of the talent pool.

Population Centre D (less than 10,000)

Population centres that have fewer than 10,000 people would follow the niche practices that would be applied to Population Centre C. However, it should be understood that the time to fill a position would typically be longer than the average role in a medium or even small population centre because of the reduced talent pool size.

  • Social Media Advertising – Facebook
  • Local Outreach
  • In-store hiring posters and cards
  • Feet on the street
  • Relocation strategies

Targeting Population Centre D with sponsored advertisements via social improves brand awareness and allows your organization to get specific on the search parameters for your candidate profile. This is particularly helpful because there is a relatively small candidate pool to get in front of.

Similar to Population Centre C, local outreach and in-store hiring posters and cards prove to be very effective to target these communities. To add to this tactic would be to implement a ‘feet on the street’ program where recruiters are headhunting candidates locally.

If you are an hourly employer with sufficient resources, you have the opportunity to explore implementing a relocation strategy. Explore the surrounding geography of your population centre to broaden your talent pool size. Target surrounding cities, and or source in cities with high unemployment rates. If your role requires specific certifications, then look at other population centres that have an influx of those candidates.


Population size is a major factor when designing your sourcing strategy. A blanket approach to sourcing will not yield good results in those hard-to-fill regions. At Mindfield, we leverage a combination of over 30 unique job boards and implement these best practices when sourcing for talent nationwide.

Consider the population size to determine your hiring demand and the size of your talent pool. Adjust your sourcing strategy and use these best practices to get in front of your ideal candidates.

To learn more on how Mindfield tailors our sourcing strategy to attract the best talent, click here.