Artificial Intelligence (AI) is making rapid strides in improving the ability to identify the best Inbound candidates. By Inbound, I mean people in your resume database, those who applied to your job posting, or responded to your email. But this same AI is less effective when it comes to identifying potential candidates who have not applied to your posting–either because they didn’t see it or didn’t think the job was worthy of consideration. Finding and hiring these people requires an Outbound hiring process.
The Outbound process is far more complicated given two decision-makers – the candidate and the hiring manager – who each have different objectives. For hiring managers, it’s finding someone who can do the job for the salary range being offered. For the prospect, it’s deciding to look or not, evaluating the various opportunities presented, and then choosing the best among competing offers. Solving this challenge is where HI (Human Intelligence) wins over AI.
How HI is the key to effective Outbound recruiting
Here’s how HI facilitates an effective Outbound process: First, the recruiter must source a group of talented people who are not looking for a new job and get the hiring manager to agree to meet with them on an exploratory basis. Then, if the candidate is interested, the recruiter must conduct a respectful, in-depth interview that also demonstrates the job is a worthy career move. Next, the recruiter and hiring manager will need to negotiate an offer that will be accepted – which will likely be outside of the salary range initially established for the job.
Getting the hiring manager to even agree in principle to this approach needs to be the first order of business. Beyond that, it's important to keep the following HI-based (aka “commonsense”) things in mind when building your outbound strategy:
- To attract and hire the best people, offer the best job, not a laundry list of “must-have” skills and experiences. One way to do this is to define the job as a series of 4-5 challenges and look for people who have done comparable work.
- Recognize that the best people will always have multiple opportunities, so excellent recruiting and negotiating skills are essential. Part of this is taking a series of small exploratory steps to gain more insight rather than selling the job with an either/or mindset.
- Make sure the hiring manager knows how to conduct a two-way interview to assess both ability and fit and also to demonstrate that the job is a career move.
- Convert strangers into acquaintances. It takes more time, but is essential. When comparing jobs, the best talent always considers the people as important as the career growth opportunity.
One way to convince hiring managers of the merits of this approach is to name some people your company has hired in the past who were highly referred or promoted internally. You’ll discover the process described above is likely how they were hired. In fact, most companies use a similar approach when trying to fill any critical role.
The biggest difference between the Inbound and Outbound hiring process is that job expectations are clarified early on in the Outbound. Also, Outbound assessments put more emphasis on a person’s potential and track record of past performance doing comparable work. Lastly, it’s important to build your pipeline of candidates before you need them. An Outbound hiring strategy is much easier to execute with people who aren’t complete strangers.
Of course, all of these tactics require a human touch. AI in its current form cannot handle this type of complex decision-making process. Maybe AI will be capable someday, but for now HI and a lot of effort are what matter when it comes to hiring outstanding people for critical roles.