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What is Outbound Recruiting?

Outbound recruiting is a process where recruiters actively seek out candidates to fill open positions, instead of waiting for potential candidates to approach the company.

Outbound Recruiting Diagram

Searching for candidates is often done by placing advertisements on job boards to elicit responses from talent, however, outbound recruiting also involves contacting people by phone, email, and even social media platforms. This practice can reap many benefits because it involves actively searching for the best talent based on the organization’s needs, and then communicating in a way that entices people to put in an application. When trying to attract the best talent, organizations may want to explore outbound recruiting and how can it help them reach their hiring goals.

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When Outbound Recruiting Is Used

Outbound recruiting is used when there is an urgent need to fill a position. Recruiters may not always have enough vetted candidates in their pipeline for certain openings, so they must take a proactive approach to look for applicants. Since they already know what qualifications they’re looking for, recruiters can use these criteria as a roadmap for their outbound recruitment efforts. 

Why Is Outbound Recruiting So Important?

Outbound recruiting is so important because sometimes organizations need to fill positions quickly and recruiters don’t have time to wait for talent to approach them. But it’s also important for recruiters to use multiple outbound recruiting approaches to address their needs.

Posting job ads can be an effective way to fill positions quickly, but this form of outbound recruiting can be hit or miss. There’s a chance that people who apply for positions through ads are qualified, but there’s also a chance people will apply for any openings they find, whether they’re a good fit or not. This is what makes different outbound recruiting strategies a must: Recruiters put the power into their own hands to source the exact type of candidates they want and take the initiative to start conversations with them. As a result, outbound recruiting can help companies find talent quickly, as well as scale their efforts up or down depending on how many open positions there are.

Inbound Versus Outbound Recruiting

While outbound recruiting empowers organizations to find the talent they need when they need it, inbound recruiting is more of a slow burn. This technique relies on people approaching a company because the employer brand resonates with them and they want to work for the organization as a result. To get this type of positive response from talent, companies dedicate time to inbound recruiting methods such as using blogs and social media to put messages out about their workplace, as well as engaging in activities that generate goodwill within the community, like volunteer work and charitable donations. While inbound recruiting can be an effective approach to attract quality talent, it takes time to build an employer brand that gets people’s attention.

Inbound and outbound recruiting techniques can both be useful, but there are differences recruiters should keep in mind:


When it comes to filling a position, time is of the essence and as a result, recruiters choose a technique with hiring time frames in mind. Inbound recruiting can bring in qualified candidates, however, it can take months for them to start trickling into a company's hiring funnel because they’re the ones taking the initiative to contact the organization. On the other hand, when there’s a crunch for hiring time, it makes more sense for recruiters to actively look for the candidates they need to fill open positions.


Outbound recruiting can get candidates in the hiring funnel quickly, but it can also be costly. If recruiters are posting a lot of job ads in order to attract talent, this cost can add up quickly. On the other hand, outbound recruiting can also take up a lot of time as recruiters search for potential candidates through different avenues like LinkedIn, social media sites, and online talent communities where people post resumes and portfolios. Inbound recruiting may not cost a lot of money upfront, but it can also be extremely time-consuming as recruiters create and post blogs and social media content to get their employer brand in front of as many qualified people as possible.


The urgency of hiring is part of what determines whether outbound or inbound recruiting tactics make sense. If there isn't an immediate need to fill a position, recruiters have the luxury of relying on their inbound recruiting to bring candidates to them. However, if there’s an opening that needs to be filled in the moment, outbound recruiting is the best way to get people into the hiring funnel in a timely manner.


When recruiters approach people during their outbound recruiting campaigns, they need to personalize the communication to get people's attention. No one wants to feel like they've received a form letter from a stranger, so recruiters need to mention personal details about the talent they're trying to woo for this technique to be effective. With inbound recruiting, companies aren't speaking to a specific person, but they are speaking to the type of person they want to hire. Even though it’s more generalized than a personal e-mail, this communication still needs to be crafted in a way that makes people interested in working for the organization.


Where recruiters place their effort can be different when they use inbound versus outbound recruiting. If they’re using inbound recruiting techniques, they will put their effort into vetting candidates after they’ve received unsolicited resumes from talent. Conversely, if recruiters are cold e-mailing candidates as part of an outbound recruiting campaign, they will review the qualifications of candidates before they contact them.

Employer brand

Both inbound and outbound recruiting rely on having a positive employer brand to attract candidates. The only difference is when potential hires get exposed to that employer brand. With inbound recruiting, people are aware of a company's employer brand, and that knowledge made them interested in working there. On the other hand, with outbound recruiting, recruiters sell their employer brand when they contact talent, and the person they're interested in hiring may not even be aware of the company before that contact. In both cases, the employer brand plays a role, it's just a matter of when it gets introduced into the conversation.

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Outbound Recruiting Best Practices

There are several best practices recruiters can use to plan and implement successful outbound recruiting campaigns.

Assess hiring needs  

As with any other recruiting initiative, companies need to assess where they are to figure out where they need to go. With an outbound recruiting plan, recruiters don’t only look at the open roles that need to be filled, they also consider organizational objectives that need to be met, as well as the resources needed to successfully meet them. 

For example, if a company is concerned about meeting the goals of its diversity recruitment plan, recruiters keep that in mind as they search for talent to fill current open roles. Also, they may examine the tools they're using, like a diversity recruiting platform, to ensure their hiring goals are met.

Research potential candidates

Generally, when recruiters implement an outbound recruitment plan, they don’t have time to deal with mistakes, so they really put in the effort to thoroughly research candidates’ experience and skills to ensure they’ll be a good fit for a role. The more time recruiters spend on sourcing the right candidates, the less likely they’ll deal with issues related to talent dropping out of the hiring funnel early or being the wrong fit if they’re hired. 

Cold e-mail and call talent 

Recruiters may choose to put out advertisements to attract candidates for a certain position, however, they can also integrate cold e-mailing and calling into their outbound recruitment process. Instead of waiting for the right candidates to come to them, recruiters can take the initiative to reach out to the people they want in their hiring funnel.

Sell employer brand 

When doing outbound recruiting, it’s incumbent on companies to make a good impression on the talent they source. Recruiters not only discuss job openings when they cold e-mail or call talent, they also need to sell the organization to get people interested in applying for a job. From health care benefits to diversity initiatives to opportunities for advancement, recruiters have to present a strong case and employer brand for outbound recruitment to be successful.

Follow up 

Nurturing talent can be a huge part of what makes an outbound campaign successful, so recruiters should keep in touch with the people they contact, even if they're not interested in a specific position at that time. Although they don't want to risk becoming a nuisance, it's important for recruiters to keep in touch with those who are open to contact, so candidates can eventually apply for a role that’s the right fit for them.

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