Inbound Recruiting Is Killing Your Talent

Most recruiting done today is inbound recruiting. This is organizations posting jobs everywhere, people seeing these jobs and then applying. These candidates are coming ‘inbound’ to you in some form or fashion – into your ATS, into your email, showing up at your front door, whatever it takes for them to find you.

Outbound, then, is the opposite. It’s you finding them.

Too much inbound recruiting kills your overall talent.


Inbound recruiting relies on active applicants. There are hundreds of studies about who is actually active, but most fall around the 20-25% of the total workforce are actively looking for a new job (this includes those unemployed looking and employed). So, you’re filling most of your jobs with 20-25% of the overall talent that is available.

You aren’t even touching 75-80% of the total workforce by using inbound recruiting. But, Inbound Recruiting is great because that 25% is still a huge number and boy can we still get a bunch of applicants and, well, it’s easier.

I don’t have stats on this (if you find them please share!) but I would guess 90% of organizations only use Inbound Recruiting!

Now, a bunch of people will tell you that ‘active’ applicants aren’t the only thing. CareerBuilder’s Talent Behavior study recently found that if you combine Active and Those Open to Hearing About Openings that number climbs from 25% to 75%! Okay, now we’re talking! The problem is that extra 50% isn’t responding to your Inbound Strategy!

To get the full 75% of the workforce who might be interested in your job you must have outbound recruiting strategies. These include getting your butt on the phone and talking people into why you’re the best damn place on the planet to work! These people might actually love you as much as those people who are freely sending you their resume, but they’re waiting for you to contact them!

This is confusing to many people in Talent Acquisition.

If you only post jobs and wait to see who applies to your posts, no matter how many places you post, you’re only possibly getting 1 out of 4 possible candidates.  In a perfect scenario of using both inbound and outbound, you could get 3 out of 4. No one gets 4 out of 4 because about a quarter of the workforce is considered truly passive, meaning you and G*d couldn’t talk them into leaving their current job.

Also, you calling a candidate who has applied to your job is not considered outbound recruiting! You need to go out and find talent that doesn’t even know you have a job opening and entice them to apply, to fall in love with you, to show interest! This is ‘real’ recruiting. This is the recruiting most organizations have lost, or never had, to begin with.

This is why sourcing became a thing. Sourcing, in its best form in a corporate structure, is only about outbound recruiting. About uncovering that talent that most organizations aren’t even going after and getting them interested in your organization.

The interesting piece to all of this is annual TA spend. Take a look at your own inbound vs. outbound spend. What I find is most organizations tell me they want the best talent but they are spending the majority of their budget going after the minority of the talent. Shouldn’t it be the other way around, the majority of your budget going after the majority of talent?

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