In a Corporate Recruiting Department, What Percentage of Hires Should be from Outbound Recruiting?

I went to hireEZs (formerly called Hiretual) Outbound RecruitCon this week and the big topic of conversation was recruiting isn’t working! Surprise! It’s broke!

Well, recruiting probably isn’t broke, it’s just what we normally do isn’t working as well any longer. The reality is, about 90% of corporate recruiting is some form of posting jobs and waiting for candidates to apply. That clearly isn’t working right now! And, it probably won’t work for a long time to come.

Outbound recruiting traditionally has been something only agency recruiters really did a lot of. It’s why recruiting agencies are a multi-billion dollar industry. Even RPO (Recruitment Process Outsourcing) companies don’t do outbound recruiting, they also, primarily just replace the normal inbound recruiting done by corporate talent acquisition departments.

Why don’t we do more Outbound Recruiting in Corporate TA?

First, it’s exponentially more difficult to do outbound recruiting than inbound recruiting.

Why? It’s fairly obvious, one is just contacting people who have already told you they want to work for you (inbound) and the other is convincing someone to come work for you that might have never even heard of you and your organization!

Second, we don’t really train our recruiters to do outbound recruiting.

And since TA leaders grew up only doing inbound recruiting, their training consists of, “Look, it’s not hard, just pick up the phone and call people!” Which is actually really shitty training! It’s incredibly hard, and it takes skill.

Third, we don’t give our recruiters the technology and tools to do outbound recruiting properly.

Almost all corporate talent acquisition budgets are focused on inbound recruiting. It takes a lot of money to fill the inbound recruiting funnel, and since that’s what most of us do, that’s where the money goes. And, no, LinkedIn isn’t an outbound recruiting technology!

What percentage of our recruiting should be Outbound vs. Inbound?

This is a very organizational, job, and industry-specific question. If you do a ton of hourly hiring, your organization will do more inbound recruiting than outbound. If you hire highly skilled workers, healthcare, technology, etc., you definitely should at a minimum be doing a 50/50 split of inbound and outbound recruiting, and some will be in the 70-80% outbound the more specialized you get.

We all know there are some roles that you can post and advertise and they are so specialized you will never get a candidate remotely close to being qualified. And yet, the money is spent because, “well, you never know…” Actually, yes, yes we do know, and I’m not burning any more cash just for the fun of it! All of those resources should be spent on outbound recruiting.

The key to increasing your outbound recruiting is two-fold:

  1. You’ve got to measure the two, inbound and outbound, separately.
  2. You’ve got to have recruiters who aren’t asked to do both, because they won’t. I’ll add here, these two types of recruiters have to be paid differently and you can’t expect the same outcomes from both types.

What we know today is having a talent acquisition strategy that is mostly inbound recruiting will and is failing for most organizations. It’s hard, but in current times, its what is needed.

1 thought on “In a Corporate Recruiting Department, What Percentage of Hires Should be from Outbound Recruiting?

  1. I know I’m late to the game here but… what are the metrics you suggest for measuring in bound and outbound?

    When I first started in corporate recruiting I had a base plus bonus which ended up being about 20% of my TCC. I think that model makes sense for outbound recruiting. For inbound, you end up doing too much HR work and corporate projects, etc… to incentivize them based on filling reqs. You have to manage the teams differently, I could see there being some resentment both ways on that.

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