The Future belongs to Outbound Recruiters

In the collections of the British Museum, there is a decree signed by Julius Caesar in 55 B.C., promising a reward of 300 sestertii to any soldier who brought another to join the Roman army. This could very well be the first official recruiting program that history can relate to.

In the post AD era, a recruiter began to be defined as a person whose job is to enlist or enrol people as employees, in the armed forces, or as members of an organization per Oxford Dictionary. The importance and prominence of recruiters today often goes unnoticed – they very well have the ability to change people’s career graphs, touch lives and impact how organizations perform and scale. A quick look at Google Books Ngram Viewer shows the number of times the word recruiter has been mentioned in books right from 1800 all the way up to 2008.

 

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The recruiting profession has seen exponential growth. Question today is – will this chart continue to see rapid growth and advancement like in the chart between 1960 and 2008? Or is it at a point of inflection where recruiting’s tryst with outbound begins to commence and outbound recruiters are ones that will disrupt current best practices and redefine the hiring mantra in this age of artificial intelligence and candidate delight?

Business needs today are evolving rapidly. Disruptive business models in the form of the subscription economy, Uberization and hyper markets are a clear example. Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods for a whopping USD 13.7 Billion and Walmart’s acquisition of Flipkart for a massive USD 16 Billion gives you a quick reality check in terms of how business models are transforming overnight.

Quality of talent is turning top priority. Firms no longer are focussing on headcount based growth – but they’re actually thinking about being agile and lean. From Sheryl Sandberg to Eric Reis, from business transformation to six sigma implementation – agile and lean are what the enterprise is today moving towards. Talent Maps are being redrawn – increasing demand for niche skills, the market shifting from a employer driven market to a candidate driven market and availability of emerging and in-demand skills are increasingly adding to the complexity of defining and executing a strong, scalable and bankable talent strategy today. Since recruiters are front and centre in ensuring their firms embrace and attract top talent, their abilities, mind-sets and approach need to now ship to a way of recruiting that works today – outbound.

Outbound hiring fundamentally flips the inbound recruiting funnel. Instead of waiting for the best talent to wander in, outbound recruiters proactively engage the right people at the very start by using social talent data and predictive analytics. Businesses save hundreds of recruiting hours that are otherwise wasted on marketing, filtering and screening unqualified candidates. And because outbound hiring delivers a personalized candidate experience at every stage, recruiters and hiring managers see far higher engagement and join rates from candidates.

What outbound hiring boils down to is a targeted, candidate-focused approach that coordinates personalized talent acquisition and business efforts to hire people who succeed in your company. Which brings me to the heart of this article where it is important that we understand the kind of mind-set, skills and persona will be needed for recruiters to transform themselves into stellar outbound recruiters.

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The way I see the outbound recruiter persona evolving is recruiters developing base knowledge and building blocks of skills, including: 

- understanding the art of selling,
- embracing the hunter's mindset and story-telling,
- developing the ability to do primary and secondary research,
- backing the research up with data and analytics
- weaving compelling stories and narratives to strike a chord with their target segment of candidates
- having the ability to zoom in and focus on the details while at the same time pan out and look at the big picture along, with
- deep listening skills backed with stellar observation

With this basic skills, they should be able to build lasting relationships in the marketplace that will elevate them from competition and score hires at scale.

The next layer of skills that outbound recruiters need to embrace is that of building a strong talent marketing and branding foundation for themselves and their firms. This is where recruiters need to think and embrace technology in terms of how they themselves and their firms can communicate with candidates in real time using artificial intelligence to optimize time and prioritise their work loads at the same time ensuring that they render candidate delight at every step of the hiring process by leveraging personalisation.

To achieve and execute this, recruiters will need to have a strong understanding of hiring funnel metrics in terms of what works for them and their firms. The ability to forecast hires just like great sales teams forecast revenue along with ensuring a steady supply of talent at the top, middle and bottom of the funnel becomes critical. If recruiters are able to achieve this along with intelligence from the market in the form of talent maps that helps them plot their hiring strategy along with vehicles and channels that they will use to discover, engage and onboard talent in quick time, they can in conjunction use their / their firms thought leadership content to ensure that these prospects remain engaged and therefore increase their offer to join ratios.

The last leg of the outbound recruiter persona framework is recruiters either choosing a single channel outbound hiring play or an omni channel basis their hiring strategy and demand. Some can choose to farm great candidates, for instance engage with top data science talent on a community like Kaggle while others might choose to validate Python skills in real time by engaging with talent on Github. Some might hack public relations as a channel to place top tier content in leading business dailies through which they can reach targeted segments and then use retargeting as an approach to qualify leads while others might look at a pure play events based strategy to attract prime talent.

Whatever channel they choose, they’ll need to beef up their outbound recruiting skills on two levels – one having the base knowledge in place to ensure they’re able to discover and engage top talent. And second, build a solid layer of talent marketing and branding foundation to ensure that the targeted talent now converts into actionable hires in quick time.

Exciting times in the world of recruiting. Have you looked at what your current recruiting persona looks like?

This article was first published at the Newsroom of The Economic Times

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