What 40 Million Career Site Visitors Told Us About Inbound Candidates
Outbound recruiting—cold calls, LinkedIn InMails, job board ads, career fairs—it’s the art of finding candidates when there aren’t already enough good ones in the pipeline. Some of today’s top recruiters are, in fact, exceptional at converting strangers into applicants, but the reality is outbound recruiting as a strategy has been losing utility for years.
Where outbound is becoming less powerful, inbound recruiting has been picking up steam. Inbound recruiting refers to strategies and tactics aimed at pulling visitors in, rather than conventional outbound approaches that require getting candidates’ attention. Visitors are organically pulled in through channels like Google search, social, and so on.
There’s one major difference in an inbound candidate versus an outbound one: intention. When someone organically comes to your site, they are showing intention to do something—learn about your employer brand or apply.
We believe intention is a driver of higher conversions, and we wanted to put that theory to the test. So we took a sample of 40 million career site visits from a variety of our clients—some of the world’s biggest employer brands—to see which channels convert at a higher rate.
Inbound Channels and Candidate Conversions
Career site traffic can come from many different places. Below, we’ve split the origins of visitors for this study into six different buckets:
- Paid: Visitors from job boards and other forms of paid advertising
- Direct: Visitors who come directly to the site (and also within this bucket could be people visiting in privacy mode)
- Social: Visitors coming from LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, etc.
- Search: Visitors from services like Google, Bing, and Yahoo! search
- Email: Visitors who may be subscribed to job alerts or your talent network
- Other: All other traffic which may be unclassifiable because of visitors using privacy mode
As shown below, visitors coming from email, social, and search converted into applicants at a considerably higher rate than paid search: 10-13% versus 7.5%.
If you take a step back and think about why a job seeker may come from a search engine, social media, or email to your career site, these higher conversion rates make sense.
In the case of search, we’ve become used to typing very targeted queries into Google. One may input “sales executive jobs nyc software.” What’s expected is a list of search results with information about sales executives jobs in New York within the software industry. The high conversion rate comes from the intentions behind clicking on that result.
For social media, a candidate may come directly from a company’s Twitter or LinkedIn profile page to the career site. This indicates either a prior social relationship with the employer or possibly that there was just an engaging social share that caught the candidate’s attention. In either scenario, the candidate is showing intention and interest in learning about the company and opportunities by going to the career site.
Finally, email is a classic form of nurture recruitment marketing. Many employers now use job alerts or talent networks to connect with candidates who aren’t ready to apply but want to hear about future opportunities. By subscribing to the email and then clicking a link to a personally relevant job requisition when they’re ready, they’re showing intent to apply.
You’re Likely Already Benefiting from Inbound Recruiting
Many companies are aware of how important inbound is to the future of recruiting, but have yet to shift resources from outbound to inbound channels. What’s interesting is that despite resistance or hesitation with regard to inbound recruiting, candidates are increasingly using inbound channels as a means to discover and apply to opportunities anyway.
In other words, you may not be actively investing in inbound channels, but your sub-par LinkedIn company page could still be driving candidate conversions on your site.
The Talent Board’s 2015 Candidate Experience Research and Awards revealed two interesting data points. First, 76% of candidates conducted their own job search and research without the help of recruiters. And second, the top research channels were virtually all inbound-oriented: career sites, LinkedIn pages, online groups, and more.
Make More of an Impact With Your Recruiting Budget
Why companies aren’t actively pursuing inbound recruiting strategies is most typically related to focus on immediate business needs.
Recruiting has a tendency to be reactive in nature. Typical scenario: a hiring manager may come to a recruiting leader today needing a new sales person “yesterday,” and then the recruiting process begins. Starting this process from scratch every time requires outbound recruiting.
This approach is transaction-based and shows very little strategic foresight. Your cost per hire will be virtually the same over time, and other than fulfilling your duty to source and hire a candidate, you’re not gaining anything additional in the long run. The next time you will start from scratch again.
In contrast, investing in these inbound recruiting channels—social, SEO, email, etc.—and presenting a compelling reason to apply once on your career site is something that builds upon itself over time.
If you have a LinkedIn company page people love to follow because you put out engaging content about your company and employer brand, when you do need to hire someone, they’re more likely to come to you. The same can be said if you have a careers newsletter or job alerts candidates get value from in exchange for subscribing.
When candidates come to you, cost per hire, quality of hire, time to fill and lots of other performance indicators all benefit.
The problem is, building up a talent network or a following on social media takes resources. Changing up your career site so it’s optimized for search engines and set up to convert does, too. But the value of inbound candidates and the power of intent cannot be overlooked.