How to Expand Your WordPress Applicant Pool

Whereas sometimes you have too many applicants to choose from, other times the pool is dry and the contents are lackluster. No need to choose a less than desirable candidate out of scarcity. You just need to know how and where to increase your pool of applicants.

While simply posting a job seems like all that is required to nab a new employee from a highly capable pool of candidates, there is more nuance to it than that. You can certainly find employees that way, but they may not be the employees you hope for.

A problem many hiring managers and agency owners face is perspective. They think about hiring from their own perspective and create job postings accordingly. But, as a hiring manager, you need to put yourself in the shoes of your applicant (or potential applicant).

Where do they come from? What do they need from a job? If you better understand who they are, you can more easily reach them.

Active vs Passive Candidates

It’s easy to only think about active candidates, but you have to think about the full continuum of potential employees.

  1. Active Seekers — There is a small number of people (let’s say 5%) who will seek you out, asking to be considered for a job. Super easy for you.
  2. Active Lookers — Then you’ve got the group searching job boards (call it 15%). These active candidates are considering you alongside hundreds of other postings. For this group, you have to market yourself and stand out. This is the most typical group of candidates employers attempt to reach.
  3. Restless Passives — Next, you have passive candidates that are wanting a job change but aren’t necessarily looking (20%). This group takes extra work to capture. They don’t live on job boards and could easily continue in a job they dislike for years. They think about changing jobs a couple times a year but are afraid of change. You reach them through various means outside of traditional job postings and entice them to make a change.
  4. Happy Passives — Finally, you have the happily employed (60%). While seemingly immune to your job-dangling charms, they are still reachable by certain means. While happy, they could always be happier. To bring your job posting to the largest possible candidate pool, there are even ways to reach this largest group of passive candidates.
Expanding Applicant Pool Chart wordpress developers

Hypothetical Breakdown of Potential Candidates


Where most employers focus on just those actively looking for a job (and sometimes get lucky with the seekers), they neglect that large section of passive candidates. To really expand a candidate pool and gather true talent, you can’t ignore the passive candidates.

So, let’s start with the ways you can reach candidates that aren’t exactly looking for a new position.

Capture Passive Candidates

Charming the Happily Employed

Starting at the top of our funnel with the happily employed, there are certain ways you can bring them to apply for your posting.

If you are so bold, one strategy is to start connecting with potential candidates on LinkedIn. With an updated tagline of “Looking for Great WordPress Developers to Join Our Team”, your request for connection will stir some to think about changing up their situation.

While you can’t expect a massive influx of candidates from this strategy, you are likely to get very qualified candidates. If nothing else, connections made from this strategy could be future restless passive candidates.

Watch Development Communities

Stack Overflow and GitHub are chock full of experienced developers. Where better to hang out and dangle your great job opportunities. This is an awesome place to attract developers that are wanting to change things up in their employment but aren’t actively job hunting.

Social Media

While passive candidates won’t be on the job boards to find your posting, they use social media every day. Even better, they are likely connected to some of the same people and organizations you are.

Share opportunities on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and others to broadcast your opening. Ask your followers to share the post with their friends and followers to amplify the message.


Why not start your searching within your company? You hired smart and capable people, so why wouldn’t they know similarly smart and capable friends? The answer is, they do and you should strive for their referrals.

The great thing about referrals is that they tend to stay longer than the random hire. Beyond netting another great employee, a referral means that your employee enjoys work enough to endorse it to their friends.

Other great things about referral hires: they have the best ROI compared to other sources, reduce the time and cost of hiring, and decrease turnover (h/t TalentLyft). With stats like these, it would be smart to incentivize employee referrals, encouraging more talent to join your applicant pool.


Passive candidates are potential employees and great ones at that. While they may not be actively looking, they might respond to the right posting if it finds them.

Give people a place to sign up for future job openings so that you can update them as necessary. It might be just the thing to make a passive candidate active.

Boost Your Profile with Active Candidates

Job Description

Dull job descriptions are no Tinder for firing up job applicants. Especially when a lot of companies are hiring, candidates have their pick of positions. Why choose you? You want to wow candidates into applying.

Treat the job description as a sales pitch, marketing yourself to them in order to find the best. If they feel like they are valued, you are more likely to find talented candidates. If you stand out from other similar companies, they will be attracted to your offering.

First, the format is important. Include bullets, where appropriate, to break up the text. Also, use headings. Headings should not only describe the section but also get the attention of the reader. They are used to the usual headings, so mix it up.

Talk about your company and the culture that makes it fun and engaging. Describe typical projects or a day at work. Do you have fun perks? Talk about them. And your benefits, of course. A quirky detail that sets you apart? Tell them!

Great developers like solving problems. Point out the types of challenges they would face and would get the responsibility of solving.

Ditch the required years of experience in favor of levels of knowledge. A lot of people learn quickly and have mastered a skill, whereas some have spent years doing something they have not yet mastered. Don’t put off those talented people!

If you are including the salary, be certain that it is commensurate with what you are expecting. No better way to turn away candidates than by undervaluing them. Adding a salary range is also a good way to let candidates know that the effort will be worth their time. Make them want your job over the others.

Job Titles

In the same vein, the title you place above that job description can do a lot to attract attention. It is the first thing they’ll see on that job board. Don’t phone it in.

First, think about experience. Are you able to train this developer in-house? Do you have the internal bandwidth to help grow them in their career? If yes, add Junior to the job description. There are plenty of junior developers out there that have great potential and you should find them.

The same goes for non-dev entry-level positions. Make the language match what you want in a candidate. Using words like “admin”, “assistant”, and “coordinator” infer entry-level status and will encourage more applicants to apply (you can also just say “entry level”).

On the other hand, if you don’t have the bandwidth to train up less experienced developers or don’t need an entry level employee, do not ask for one. It will only hamper their professional progress and hold your projects back. To nab higher level candidates, be sure to use the right words: senior, specialist, manager, lead, supervisor, director, etc.

Further, when titling a position, especially a technical one, make certain that your title actually matches the job you want them to do. Be specific and accurate. Where WordPress development is concerned, what you ask for and what you’ll get might be very different. Do you need a back-end developer, a front-end developer, a webmaster, or a page designer? The distinction is vast.

These language distinctions are important since you want to use the words that your ideal applicant is searching. Remember that SEO applies to job postings too!

Social Media

Your social media accounts aren’t just for sharing new blog posts, case studies, cat GIFs, and dank memes (though it is certainly for all those things). If fostered, your social media following can be the amplifier you need to get your job posting in front of the right people.

Share a link to your job posting on the major socials you use. If your followers or friends know someone who’d be perfect for the job, they can let them know. Or, they can reshare your post to expand the audience. Where active candidates may gloss over your posting on the job boards, they could see it shared by a friend.

Connected to like-minded people and organizations, your post will quickly be in front of lots of culture fit candidates. Your employees can also share your post, passively referring their friends to work with them.

Specialized Job Boards

If the position you’ve got up is specialized, why not get more specialized with your choice of job boards? In the WordPress ecosystem, there are a number of job sites solely for WordPress positions.

Beyond delivering your post to only the right people, you’ll find more of those specialized people thus expanding your qualified candidate pool. We put together a list of the best WordPress specific job boards to get you on the right track. For other types of positions, you can find great lists of specialized job boards for most things.

This is not to say that posting on larger job boards is something you shouldn’t do. Definitely do. With the right job title and description, you can bank a lot of talented specialists to choose from. Indeed, CareerBuilder, Google Jobs — there are a ton of general job boards where your future candidates are searching.

It’s fine to cast your net wide, but make sure you are taking advantage of the fish in the barrel too.

Now, Filter

Now that you’ve got yourself a longer list of candidates, you’ve got to whittle it down to the most qualified. What a great problem to have!

Filtering this list of candidates can be time-consuming. It can also be affected by unconscious bias. We covered how to avoid this bias in another post, which covers the many ways that you can make the process more effective and less costly.

One great way to filter down WordPress candidates is with an assessment platform like VerifyWP, which illuminates the most talented of your candidates through role-specific testing.