Outbound Recruiting Strategies to Hire Faster in a Challenging Labor Market

Hiring manager using outbound recruiting strategies on a laptop shifting through resumes

Between a nationwide talent shortage, a growing skills gap, and the lingering effects of the Great Resignation, right now is arguably the hardest time to hire in modern history. This is especially true if you’re seeking talent in a particularly hard-hit field like tech or nursing. At the same time, employers are looking to keep a lid on recruiting costs and want open positions filled yesterday. 

If you’re still relying primarily on inbound recruiting methods to source talent, it’s time to change your strategy. 

Though inbound recruiting requires less ongoing labor and generally costs less, it also significantly limits your ability to reach passive candidates and compete for talent who are interviewing with multiple companies. The solution? Outbound recruiting. 

Whether you’re changing gears from a mainly inbound-focused strategy or you want to step up your existing investment into outbound recruiting, these strategies will help you find more, better-qualified candidates for tough-to-fill positions in a challenging labor market. 

Outbound Recruiting vs. Inbound Recruiting

First, let’s review the difference between inbound and outbound recruiting. 

Inbound recruiting is a passive strategy. Recruiters build assets or campaigns once, attracting candidates for months or years to come. Inbound recruiting strategies include techniques like brand building and content marketing. 

Outbound recruiting, on the other hand, is an active strategy. Recruiters must continuously perform tasks to keep them in contact with their existing leads and find new talent. Outbound recruiters use strategies like email marketing and being active in online communities. 

Whereas inbound recruiting is a long-term approach, outbound recruiting is short-term. 

Inbound and outbound recruiting vary in terms of the types of candidates they’re best to attract. Because inbound recruiting focuses on bringing candidates to you, it’s more geared toward reaching professionals who are actively looking for a job. These people are more likely to take action if an interesting job opening or alluring company catches their eye. 

Outbound recruiting is better when you want to target tricky-to-reach passive candidates. Because they’re not taking their own initiative to search for a job, you’re more likely to win them as an applicant when you go to them

Related: What is Inbound Recruitment? Why is it Effective?

Outbound Recruiting Strategies to Make Better Hires, Faster

Be proactive

Outbound recruiting, by nature, requires you to be proactive. But you also want to go on the offensive regarding the availability of positions. Don’t wait for a job opening to start looking for great talent. Instead, consider roles that are likely to become available in the near future and start having conversations about them with candidates ASAP. 

Job forecasting and succession planning are two good tools to help you anticipate your company or client’s hiring needs in advance.

Go beyond LinkedIn

Don’t get us wrong; LinkedIn is an invaluable recruiting tool. However, many recruiters rely too heavily on it as their only source for identifying candidates. In a time when every other recruiter is also combing the platform for talent, LinkedIn alone isn’t enough. 

LinkedIn also comes with limitations. For example, it can’t help you get in touch with candidates who aren’t active on the platform (or on it at all), which many passive candidates are not. 

To reach untapped talent pools, you need to connect with candidates on platforms where they spend time when they’re NOT job searching. This might include other social media platforms like Twitter and TikTok, industry-specific communities like GitHub and Stack Overflow, forums for professional organizations, and even professional directories like ZocDoc. 

Refine your message

Email templates are a necessary evil when you’re reaching out to dozens of candidates, but that doesn’t mean they have to feel stale. Use personalization tokens (and even manual personalization) to customize your message for the recipient. For example, begin your email by referencing the last job you discussed with a candidate or use a subject line customized with job titles they’re likely interested in (i.e., ‘Sales manager position – gauging your interest’). 

Not only are customized emails much more likely to be opened, but they also contribute to the positive rapport built on every solid recruiter-candidate relationship. 

Tap into your ATS

If you use an ATS, it’s probably overflowing with candidates you’ve talked to through the years and acquired through various recruiting campaigns, both inbound and outbound. Many of these leads will be outdated–but not all of them.

Revisit the talent in your ATS and make contact to find out where candidates are today. Some who passed on a position with you years ago may be open to speaking with you again. Candidates who lacked experience in the past may have built up valuable experience in the time since you last talked. 

Scan your phone book

You might not realize you have a gold mine of recruiting information in the palm of your hand: the phone book in your smartphone. If you’re like most people, it contains hundreds of contacts you’ve accumulated through conferences, networking events, and social interactions. 

Once a month, scan through your phone book and touch base with the people you haven’t spoken to in a while. Even if it’s someone you know from a non-professional setting, you never know when one of your own connections will be the perfect fit for a role.

You can use this same strategy with your address book on Gmail and other email platforms.

Target freelancers

Freelancing has exploded in popularity, but it’s not for everyone. Directories on sites like Upwork are filled with talented people, some of whom might have decided self-employment isn’t for them or who are only using the platform as a side hustle. The great thing is that their qualifications and work samples are usually in their freelance portfolio, which means many of your screening duties are taken care of. 

Browse freelance directories for qualified freelancers and make contact to see if they’re open to the possibility of full-time employment for the right position. You may even be able to work out some sort of hybrid role that meets both of your needs. 

Related: How to Find a Freelancer That’s Right For Your Business

Leverage colleagues

Outbound recruiting isn’t a solo sport. It should be a team effort involving recruiting staff, department managers, and other colleagues. Get employees on board to help identify talent using referral programs, bonuses, contests, and other sourcing events.

Related: How to Make Your Employee Referral Program a Powerful Recruitment Tool

Use your metrics

As passionate recruiters, we’re constantly looking for ways to improve our game, but we don’t always need to reinvent the wheel. The Pareto principle often applies to your recruiting efforts: 20% of the output delivers 80% of the results. 

Analyze your recruiting metrics to find out which strategies are achieving the highest ROI, and then do more of them. To be able to do this, you must first have a system for tracking and analyzing recruiting KPIs. Here are two good posts that will help:

Outbound recruiting requires more consistent effort, but it’s what may make the difference between landing an accepted offer and spending another long night in the office scouring for more candidates in the tight labor market we’re living through. 

Pete Newsome

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the President of 4 Corner Resources, the staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. 4 Corner is a member of the American Staffing Association and TechServe Alliance, and the top-rated staffing company in Central Florida. Recent awards and recognition include being named to Forbes’ Best Recruiting Firms in America, The Seminole 100, and The Golden 100. Pete also founded zengig, to offer comprehensive career advice, tools, and resources for students and professionals. He hosts two podcasts, Hire Calling and Finding Career Zen, and is blazing new trails in recruitment marketing with the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Connect with Pete on LinkedIn