Talent Acquisition

What is the Difference Between Outbound and Inbound Recruiting?

When it comes to recruiting, some may argue that it doesn’t matter whether it’s inbound or outbound – as long as the result is the same. But others would say there is a vast difference and benefits to both types of recruiting.

This week our panel of experts tells us what they think the difference between the two is and why they’re not the same.

Joe Shaker

Outbound recruiting is how you push the message out or where you deploy your message.  For instance, job postings, advertising, social media, etc.  You want to ensure you’re targeting your outbound recruiting efforts so the right candidates are seeing your message.

Inbound recruiting is aggressively sourcing candidates, so you’re bringing potential candidates in to consider and approach.

Joe Shaker is the President of Shaker Recruitment Marketing.

Maren Hogan

Outbound is what old-school (and very talented, that stuff is NOT easy) recruiters have been doing for so long. Things like cold-calling or aggressive poaching are some of the behaviors that characterize outbound recruiting. Inbound on the other hand creates as much opportunity for the prospect or candidate to find you. Things like creating an interviewing guide for software engineers or sending out a weekly update for retail managers with information and educational opportunities characterize inbound recruiting. Tl;dr — one is you pursuing the candidates, the other is getting the candidates to come to you.

Maren Hogan is CEO and Founder of Red Branch Media.

Jared Nypen

Inbound recruiting happens when candidates come to you, while outbound recruiting is the art of searching for job candidates.



Jared Nypen is the Vice-President of talent at Great Clips inc.

Lisa Jones

Its often the difference between the more traditional approaches to marketing (email marketing / events) and digital (social / web).  It’s all about whether you’re interrupting someone’s day with your messages or whether they initiate the contact.  The key to successful marketing, whether it be in or out bound, is that the client feels that they are the initiator – where actually the marketer has stealthily exposed the client’s need.

Lisa Jones is the Founder and Director of Barclay Jones.

Mark Cavanagh

Outbound recruiting is the fight for talent; searching, marketing or approaching candidates by this means gives you the opportunity to expose candidates to your organisation or the company you are representing, from which they may not have otherwise heard of, or considered as a potential employer. Inbound is the end of this road, where your brand either employer or corporate is perceived as a desirable addition to anyone’s career roadmap, you will still need to advertise your roles in the right places, but volumes of applicants will not be an issue, your challenge now becomes filtering the good, the bad and the incredible.

Mark Cavanagh is the Marketing Manager at The One Group.

Charlotte Jone

Outbound recruiting represents traditional talent acquisition approaches such as posting jobs to a job board or simply posting jobs to your career website with the absence of developing relationships and creating optimal candidate experience.   With Inbound recruiting, enters recruitment marketing and candidate engagement, engaging and fostering relationships with talent communities, social media engagement and email marketing campaigns.

Charlotte Jones is the Recruitment Marketing Manager at Lockheed Martin.

Phil Strazzulla

Outbound is what we think of as traditional recruiting where we’re using email/Inmail/vmail to reach out cold to candidates. Inbound recruiting is more the marketing side of the spectrum where we’re using content, events, webinars, etc to drive awareness for people to come to us. It’s the difference between spear fishing and using a net lined with bait.

Phil Strazzulla is the Founder of NextWave Hire.

Shelby Burghardt

Outbound recruiting is when recruiters and sourcers search for and reach out to candidates who may be a good fit for the organization and encourage them to apply to a specific position. Inbound recruiting is when you have a consistent flow of people who have expressed interest in joining your organization by applying for you job on a board, joining your talent network, signing up for job alerts, following you on social media, etc.

Shelby Burghardt is the Global Talent Brand Manager at Thomson Reuters.

Rebecca Drew

Inbound recruiting is a method of creating targeted, branded content specifically aimed at increasing employer brand recognition and engagement with candidates. This could include job advertisements, careers pages, building social media channels and recruitment centres. Instead of ‘chasing down’ the right candidates when a new position opens, inbound recruiting will continuously drive interest in your company and builds a pool of high quality job candidates.

Outbound recruiting, on the other hand, refers to a direct interaction from a company to a candidate – this could be a phone call, LinkedIn message or even a real life approach at a conference. Outbound recruiting is also a powerful way to find and connect with passive candidates who aren’t actively looking for roles but could be open to opportunities, using tools like LinkedIn’s Recruiter.

Rebecca Drew is a Manager at LinkedIn Talent Solutions.

Bennett Sung

Inbound recruiting leverages content at every stage of the hiring journey to attract candidates to apply to specific jobs and or be part of a company’s talent network. Candidates engage with organizations through channels like search engines, job postings, employment blogs and social media. Through the practice of e-mail nurturing, candidates are engaged across their career journey with relevant and helpful content. Outbound recruiting is the direct outreach to candidates through channels like the phone, texting and social messaging. Effective sourcing and recruiting is a hybrid model, with the end goal being the perfect intersection of candidates’ fit and interest.

Bennett Sung is the Head of Marketing at Allyo.

By Ushma Mistry

Editor & Content Strategist at Link Humans, download our new eBook now: Measuring Employer Brand: The Ultimate Guide and check out our latest product The Employer Brand Index.