The Diminishing Returns of Outbound Recruiting

I was talking to someone who runs talent acquisition at a 1,000 person company the other day.  She was talking about how they’re really struggling to get in front of quality people.  This probably sounds like a familiar conversation to many people out there.

SEO was one potential strategy they were going to consider.  I offered my thoughts on SEO and why it probably isn’t a good idea to focus on it.  Job boards are dying, we both agreed on that.  This company was also considering more direct outreach via various platforms.  In fact, cold outreach was their main strategy going forward.

The Problem With Outreach to Quality Candidates

Cold outreach is a good way to get in front of candidates, don’t get me wrong.  However, there are significant diminishing returns.  And, I believe these returns will continue to fall over time as they have in the world of sales and marketing.

An in demand candidate is now getting more emails, calls and inmails than ever from recruiters.  This means there is a lot to digest, a lot of noise.  If you’re the 21st call this month, you’re going to have a lot of trouble getting any mindshare, if you can connect at all.  This is why Inmail response rates are down, and it seems harder and harder to get in front of quality candidates.

The Same Thing Happened in Sales

We’ve seen this movie before.  It happened 10 years ago in sales.  Prospects were being bombarded by emails and calls (they still are, in fact!).  And, it was nearly impossible to get time on someone’s calendar, even if you had an amazing product!

Then, companies like Marketo, Hubspot, Eloqua and Pardot started to emerge.  They were new software solutions that allowed sales and marketing teams to generate demand through “inbound marketing.”  The basic idea was to disrupt your prospect’s normal day with something useful – like a SEO analyzer, professional development webinar, or other content that was high value.

Once you had someone’s attention, you had then won the right to tell them about your awesome product.  While cold outreach hasn’t died, and is actually seeing a revival with platforms like Outreach, SalesLoft, etc – inbound has risen to be one of the most important ways that marketing teams drive qualified leads to sales.

Inbound Recruiting

We’re now in the 2nd inning of the inbound recruiting game.  Candidates (prospects) are being overwhelmed by cold outreach.  It’s so hard for recruiting teams to break through the noise, even if they have an amazing product!

It’s now incumbent upon talent acquisition teams to build their inbound recruiting capabilities.  The basic strategy is to 1) create good content that will be useful/interesting for your target audience and 2) get it in front of them through paid or organic means 3) convert them into a lead via your recruitment marketing platform.

  • Content: “Good content” can mean in person meetups, webinars about a specific sales tactic you’re using, employee stories about their career paths, or any number of other things.
  • Promotion: If you have a talent CRM, you can promote this content to your readership.  You can also promote this through syndicate channels, or paid and organic social postings.
  • Convert: Next, make sure you have the appropriate calls to action in order to engage the audience and capture their information.  Keep in mind that many of these people won’t have an updated resume!
  • Follow Up: Lastly, have an action plan to use these leads either in a nurture campaign, or by having a recruiter dedicated to handling inbound.

Inbound recruiting is the next wave in talent acquisition.  Get on board, or get left behind.

Phil Strazzulla

Founder at NextWave Hire
Phil is a founder of NextWave Hire.Previously, he was a VC at Bessemer, and has a MBA from Harvard, and studied finance at NYU.