How to: Outbound vs. Inbound Sourcing Part 1

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Aug 8, 2016
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

In the race for talent, recruiters and sourcers have to create a working sourcing strategy that not only targets the right candidates but also produces a list of prospective candidates fast. At the beginning of every successful sourcing strategy lies a plan that often balances outbound and inbound sourcing and makes them work together in unison. What makes a strong talent pipeline is usually the balance between the two sourcing modes.

Inbound sourcing traditionally involves receiving job applications, resumes, and interest from people who would like to work for you or your client. It can be as simple as posting job ads on internet job boards, social networks, developing company career websites and as complicated as building employer brand, hosting career fairs, or creating email campaigns or an employee referral programs. Essentially, inbound sourcing is spreading the net to catch all the active seekers. The weakness of inbound sourcing is the lack of passive candidates on its roster.

On the contrary, there are two things at the center of every outbound sourcing strategy. First, it is a list or a pool of leads built through federated or resume search. Second, it’s a recruiter who does outreach to potential candidates on that list through any means necessary, cold calling or cold email or delivering the message in person. The weakness of outbound sourcing are the pitfalls of spam and a number of resources it takes to do it properly.

The process starts with learning about the requirements, the role, the company, the industry to gain a solid understanding for designing the sourcing strategy. This process can be anything from picking the right talent channels to identifying weaknesses and strengths of the plan, introducing experimental search techniques, as well as continuously testing, re-testing, and optimizing the whole sourcing process.


Source: Man jumping the fence to “deliver a message” to the White House – CNN


When choosing how to go about your sourcing method, there are several factors to consider. The first factor to consider is what type of organization you are hiring for and what type of candidate you would like to attract. There is a huge difference between the methodology you would use to hire software engineers vs. truck drivers. There is also a huge difference between how a startup would hire vs. a largely developed organization. Inbound sourcing rarely works for niche positions. There are some job openings with extremely rare skills where they may only be 100 people with that skill globally. Posting a job advertisement won’t attract those type of candidates to your company. These candidates need to be identified and hunted. They will not apply to you directly. They will want to know the ins and outs of your company and what project they will be on. You need to be more prepared when doing outbound sourcing vs. inbound. The candidate expectations are different and you will be expected to sell the position to them.


Let’s use the example of hiring truck drivers. Unlike software developers, truck drivers will not have a portfolio of their truck driving experience on a personal website. You won’t find these candidates on Github. These candidates will be sourced differently and in a more traditional manner. Job advertisements in the local newspapers, billboards, Craigslist, CareerBuilder, Indeed, and Monster tend to be the most effective. Employee referral will also be a great way to reach these candidates. Some of these candidates may have a resume on the job boards. A lot of trucking companies are still using paper applications, while candidates may submit their interest online, they will still be required to submit a paper application. The sourcing questions will also be different. Unlike the software engineer position, you will ask the candidates about things that aren’t on their resume prior to getting them to fill out an application. You will probably ask them about their driving record and reliability. Some job applications ask you how many days did you take off of work this year.

Some positions require a mix sourcing plan where you will be required to hunt for new candidates while also waiting for them to apply. Let’s say you need to hire 100 JavaScript engineers for a large software company. The volume is quite a challenge and you are expected to constantly produce. Let’s say that the interview process is extremely hard and only the top 25 percent get through it. You would need to find 400 JavaScript engineers to be interviewed in order to meet your target. This number doesn’t account for candidates who may drop out of the process on their own. In this case, you need to constantly be on the hunt for passive candidates and also market your positions to candidates who are on the market for a new position.


Source: Job Boards & Social Networks Source Quality Hires – LinkedIn


Clearly, define the requirements and the end goal, then figure out how to create a talent funnel to accomplish the set goal within budget. You have to have a good idea where to go and which platform to use to get to the right person or let the right person come to you. There is definitely a learning curve when it comes to mastering a sourcing channel, but you don’t have to know all the details, to begin with. Regardless of which channel you choose, make sure you are armed with knowledge based on experience or learn from a case study which can significantly augment your initial sourcing.

To Be Continued……




This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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