Inbound vs. Outbound Recruiting

#Employer Branding #Recruiting #Recruitment Marketing #Talent Relationships
VP of People @ Talentry

What’s the difference and is one better than the other?

Would you rather attract talent with SEO-optimized content or write to them directly on LinkedIn? Would it be better to focus on the pull effect of brand ambassadors in social media or invest the money in job ads?

Questions like these reflect the differences between two much discussed and often disputed recruiting approaches: Outbound and Inbound.

I would define Outbound Recruiting as responding at short notice to a spontaneous need. We search for a specific position and want to enter directly into the application phase. (e.g. job advertisements, active sourcing, headhunters).

Inbound Recruiting, by contrast, is a long-term investment in recruitment and employer branding. As a company, we keep in touch with a candidate until he or she becomes an applicant through the Attract, Engage and Convert stages. (e.g. long-term relationship management, relevant content, brand ambassador).

So, which is best? Both approaches have their advantages. It’s a question of perspective and application. It doesn’t really matter how contacts (leads) are created. If no hiring immediately results (perhaps because the timing is wrong, or there are no currently vacant positions) that shouldn’t spell the end of the relationship. Follow the example of your colleagues in marketing. Don’t let relevant contacts fall through the cracks. Build relationships over a longer period of time. Just as marketing contacts thus developed later result in deals, recruiters’ efforts will eventually pay off in the form of concrete new appointments!

In 2019, many HR departments still are reactive. They will start looking for talent only when a need arises. But in today’s highly competitive markets that’s no longer enough because promising talent that isn’t currently looking for a position will be overlooked. Companies now need a proactive recruiting mindset.

Which approach is better for which applications?

That depends! With a very specific position, such as “Internal Auditor for IT”, which only has to be filled every ten years or so and whose strategic relevance is not above average, you can work well with outbound recruiting. However, most companies have central key positions that are difficult to fill, frequently advertised and strategically relevant. The outbound approach is only Plan B. Ideally, you already have a talent pool and an attractive employer brand. Only if you have no suitable contacts do you need to approach candidates concretely. And please do this proactively via social networks instead of exclusively with job advertisements. “Post and Pray” – posting the position and hoping that someone will apply – has served its purpose as a universal solution.

How do you begin using Inbound Recruiting if you have only done Outbound Recruiting before?

1. Don’t advertise for talent, attract it!

In the book “Big Five for Life” I recently discovered a great metaphor: the zebra. Zebras are pack animals. If they are alone, they look to join a zebra pack – a group like them. It’s no different with humans. We like to work together with like-minded people. And diversity officers take note: By “like-minded” I don’t mean “homogeneous.” Heterogeneous teams are clearly more efficient. I’m talking about cultural fit.

Companies must:

  • Make visible what they stand for.
  • Explain their “Reason Why”.
  • Credibly show their culture, values, way and manner of cooperation.
  • Clearly explain their vision and goals.

This “cultural fit” is becoming increasingly important. We need to hire people who fit in culturally, give them a lot of freedom and motivate them not only with money, but also with an environment in which they feel comfortable. It’s amazing how quickly people feel part of something when it’s important to them and they can contribute to it. So:

  • Develop “Personas” for your most important target groups and key functions.
  • Have a clear picture of your target candidate and then create relevant messages that make your culture, values, togetherness and benefits visible.

And remember: communication is best left to your employees. They are much more authentic and likely to attract the right talent!

2. Stay in touch!

As soon as candidates show interest (by visiting your career page, reading a blog article, visiting an event, etc.) stay in touch with them. Too many companies make the mistake of attracting talented people and then losing touch because they may already have successfully filled the position.

At this point, you won’t get anywhere without the right systems and tools: You need an authentic career site with exciting content – and a Candidate Relationship Management (CRM) system to build relationships. This software can help you generate contacts with talent (leads) and organize them in talent pools. It’s faster and easier than Excel. Even as a small recruiting team, you can communicate with a large number of contacts because the system automates these processes. And CRM is yet another innovation from marketing. Just as with potential customers, talent will be more and more convinced by the company and after a certain time, “ready” to begin.

Do you actually need a CRM system?

To be honest not every HR department does—or even needs to start with inbound marketing. But ask yourself the following questions. If you answer “yes” to most of them, you should definitely consider introducing a CRM tool:

  • Are you already actively looking for candidates on social networks?
  • Do you collect information from candidates in Excel lists?
  • Do you have multiple recruiters working together?
  • Are there hard-to-fill jobs?
  • Do you have to create manual emails, templates and workflows to address candidates?
  • Do you already have some profiles “lying around” in your candidate management system?
  • Do you use online campaigns or offline events and don’t know what to do with the generated leads?

Getting started: 5 tips for proactive recruiting!

1. Turn employees into brand ambassadors
2. Give insights into your culture – best via social networks
3. Create an authentic career page
4. Build high-quality talent pools with CRM, make the pool registration process as easy as possible, and use automated campaign features to reduce HR team effort.
5. Measure your success with clearly defined KPIs

The bottom line

In 2019, we will no longer be able to do without proactive recruiting. In today’s markets, we have to start recruiting new talent even before the candidate thinks of applying. Even companies that have always relied exclusively on outbound recruiting can introduce inbound recruiting and build talent pools. As Nelson Mandela said: “It always seems impossible until it´s done”.

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