Inbound Recruiting: Are You Building a Pipeline of Qualified Candidates?

Are you building an inbound pipeline of strategic talent to grow your firm? You should be, because about 80% of job seekers are finding opportunities from their own searches, rather than recruiters (Talent Board 2014) or responding to employment promotions. Just as inbound marketing helps you attract highly-targeted client-prospects, inbound recruiting can a monster to replace the Monster.
Side note: LinkedIn clearly replaced Monster a while ago, but it sounds better as a nice pun. (LinkedIn 2x Revenues of

What are Recruiters Really Good For?

Recruiting firms can be effective resources at helping you zero-in on strategic talent. Skilled recruiters excel at opening doors with your competitor’s best employees. These rare prospects are positive contributors – passive job seekers. They’re not on the market and they rarely consider other opportunities. These are the employees that help build stable businesses and the risks and costs of making a bad hire are tremendous. According to Forbes, the costs for turning over a bad hire in a professional or technical role is 75% to 150% of an employees annual salary. Thus the ability to hire well and build a strong pipeline of candidates who know you and value your culture and opportunities could provide a strategic advantage.

Should you Pay a Recruiting Retainer?

A good recruiter might be worth a 20% to 30% retainer to help you land that needle-in-a-haystack talent. They have the skills to get a foot in the door and then build trusted relationships to sell your firm. To do so, they create targeted books of potential candidates and and a campaign to pitch your opportunity. A campaign might include a prospect list of 500 passive candidates. Remember that passive candidates aren’t looking for a job, so they don’t have active profiles at and they’re unlikely to respond to ads or other promotional offers. To reach them, a recruiter has to engage them directly with email and or cold-calling. Some recruiting firms even aknowledge inherent conflicts of interest (HirePerfect) in negotiating with candidates and the costs for coordinating meetings and other administrative activities, better served by your internal HR team.

Do Passive Candidates Respond to Outbound Offers?

The process of promoting job offers to candidates is no different from decades-old outbound marketing and direct-sales. How many sales calls do you respond to? It’s no different from casting a wide to see how many fish you can catch. Instead of building relationships and a pipeline of engaged candidates, you’re paying for the small percentage of respondents. Even recruiters @human_capital admit that they wouldn’t rehire 39% of their most recent hires.

4 Building Blocks of Your Inbound Recruiting Engine

Instead of relying on an entirely outbound talent-acquisition process, consider that the same underlying principles and strategies of an aligned inbound marketing program can be just as useful attracting top talent. Inbound marketing generates 54% more opportunities than traditional paid marketing and 2x less cost-per-lead (HubSpot).
Just as buyers are in charge of the purchasing process, so are candidates. They are actively searching for solutions to their problems, and they follow similar journeys that buyers do. If you can attract the same, highly-targeted candidates before they are actively looking for jobs, or educate them about your firm’s culture and opportunities, your firm can benefit from a pipeline of engaged candidate prospects, and then empower your in-house human resource experts to vet candidates for your culture and your unique challenges, instead of paying retained search fees for a single candidate.

1. Clarify Your Objectives and Select Your KPIs

If you’re just getting started with your inbound recruiting program, you’ll need to specify the roles, and relationship stages, and then match metrics to each stage of the prospect’s journey. Goals are always important, but if you’re just getting started, you’ll want to make sure that you also focus on collecting data for 90-days to 6-months to understand how prospects are interacting with your content and which channels help engage them.

2. Understand Your Candidate’s Career Goals and Obstacles

Your strategy starts with research to guide the development of candidate personas, fictional stories about your ideal recruits. Your research starts with your existing employees who can provide direct insights about their optimum career paths and pain-points. You need this information to determine Just as personas serve as a filter to guide all of your inbound marketing strategies, and you can use the same templates to define the unique problems that your target candidates face at each stage of their career journeys.

3. Develop Strategies for Candidate Behavior

You’ll need to align the key functional compoments of your inbound recruiting campaign: content, landing pages, calls-to-action, nurturing emails, etc.. and for each persona, you’ll need to identify the unique conversion-paths. Conversion paths are the behavioral roadmaps of your prospect’s journey as navigate your hiring funnel.

Insights You Can Glean from Candidate Personas

Career paths: You’ll identify the roadmap that your candidate follows along their career journeys. These pathways provide clues about both their education a professional (knowledge and skills) development as well as a relationship development (peer connections) stages that are essential in building a career. You might find opportunities to land talented interns which you can develop, or mid-career professionals looking for new opportunities.
Professional Development Resources: Career paths can help you understand what kinds of content you should be creating. What kinds of resources help provide the building blocks between each career stage?
Search Signals: Career personas will provide insights about the keywords, topics, and communities that your candidate participates in.
Cultural Values: You can determine preferences for management styles, collaboration, and conflict resolution characteristics from your candidate interviews. This valuable insight helps you create content and shape your business culture to attract your most desired candidates.

4. Developing Educational Resources Based on Research Stages

Awareness Stage Problems

Status: You are unknown to your candidate-persona and they find your company through organic search, social referrals, articles or targeted advertising to bring them back to your site or social portal’s informational content. Your goal is for them to find you.
Awareness stage problems are the problems that your candidate faces in their everyday lives. Through your research, you’ll be able to define the demographic characteristics to really zero-in on the interests and challenges that your candidate faces in day-to-day life. You’ll also identify out the keywords and communities that can drive them to you.
Consider that your prospective candidate needs solutions to problems that are not about your company and your employment opportunities. The subject-matter of awareness stage content is linked to your prospect’s interests.

Research Stage Problems

Status: Your candidate may or may not be connected with your brand, as s/he understands her own challenges, she increases the search radius to include additional sources of information. S/he is activly looking for solutions to professional development questions, career path questions. Your goal is to be identified as a resource and to connect by subscribing, following, or downloading content from any of your channels.
Candidates are interested in skills training or information that enhances their opportunities or insights about career development paths, or participating in communities of peers. Your research stage recruiting toolbox provides informative and educational resources which are about “them.” Your awareness stage content offers and engagement initiatives are most important because these are the earliest opportunities to connect with prospective candidates.

Tip: If your candidates are part of a profession that supports regional or national conferences, you can check the topics of breakout sessions for career-path educational topics. These are the topics that your candidates need to help them maintain knowledge, qualifications, certifications or to advance their careers.

Evaluation Stage Problems

Status: You are most-likely connected with your candidate, because your candidate has repeatedly engaged with your brand, by consuming content (reading articles, participating in webinars, reviewing email newsletters, been a contributing resource, appreciating (liking), advocating (sharing), or taking other actions to opt-in to your hiring funnel.
Your candidates have a better understanding of their professional goals and have established a set of criteria. Does your company offer the professional opportunities or cultural fit that make sense for them? They are also comparing other firms to understand their offerings. Your employees can be valuable resources for advocating for your firm and building professional connections.

Putting it all Together

Developing a strategy, based on insights about your candidate personas helps you attract them at the earliest stages of their reserach, before a candidate is even considering new career opportunities. Understanding where candidates are in their can be determined by the kinds of content they are consuming and interacting with. Are they reviewing your values and career opportunities pages? Have they shifted their interest from consuming information to help them in their current situation to content related to their future opportunties? This inbound strategic framework, with the combination of powerful automation solutions like HubSpot, enable you to score and automate the process of nurturing your candidates through the entire hiring funnel, from awareness to active applicants.

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