6 External Recruitment Methods and Their Pros and Cons

Recruitment plan written in a notebook

Recruiting the best candidates is critical to helping organisations reach their full potential. There are many recruitment strategies that you can use to identify top talent, and while it’s true that internal recruitment can be extremely effective in boosting company culture and allowing existing talent to shine, it can also be extremely restrictive and limit the generation of fresh and creative ideas.

External recruitment offers many options, and it is usually the preferred option for most organisations when attempting to find quality candidates. Below are some of the pros and cons of external recruitment, as well as a closer look at the best methods to use.

The pros of hiring from the outside

To assess candidates that come from outside the company, hiring managers employ a number of methods. Some of these are very creative, while others are relatively simple, but whatever process you choose, there are clearly numerous advantages to external recruitment. For instance:

1. There’s a bigger pool of candidates to choose from

Perhaps the biggest advantage of external recruitment is that it gives you more options. Internal recruiting strategies restrict you to your existing personnel or – if you have an employee referral programme in place – your employees’ networks. This means that you won’t have a big pool of candidates to choose from, which can significantly limit your options.

External recruitment, on the other hand, opens you to almost anyone who’s looking for a job. You could have hundreds of CVs to review, which can increase your chances of finding a candidate that matches your exact criteria.

2. It attracts new skills and ideas

One of the greatest perks of hiring beyond your own four walls is that it can expose your company to new and creative ideas. By injecting fresh blood, you can ensure that the business will benefit from the differing experiences and thought processes that your new hire will have.

Besides, if you want your company to grow, it’s important to hire employees with a diverse mix of expertise and skills. If you are only promoting or transferring people internally, there’s a good chance that the company will never get the chance to gain exposure to new and better ways of doing things.

3. It helps to avoid internal problems

Although you shouldn’t allow internal politics to dictate your strategy, it’s still worth mentioning that recruiting externally can potentially save you a boatload of office drama. While promotions and transfers are important for employee motivation and retention, they can also create tension between staff and management, particularly if the role is a highly desirable one.

From refusing to work under a new boss that was yesterday a peer to feeling that the promotion was not fair, there are a lot of things that can go wrong with internal recruitment strategies.

The cons of hiring an outsider

Of course, on the flipside, there are disadvantages to external recruitment as well. For example:

1. It’s time-consuming

One of the biggest issues with external recruitment is that it can be extremely time-consuming. From ensuring that you have written an engaging job description to finding the best place to advertise it, it can take up a lot of time to prepare everything for the selection process.

Once you start receiving applications, you’ll have to sift through and shortlist candidates, too, not to mention interview them all. If you don’t have a robust applicant tracking system or a dedicated HR team to manage the process, then you’ll quickly find that your day-to-day work is getting pushed back while you trawl through a never-ending raft of CVs and résumés.

2. It’s a bigger risk

Even though, as mentioned, hiring someone new means opening the door to new and different ideas, there are also several risks that you need to consider. Hiring an external candidate means they’ll have a limited understanding of the company and its culture, and this will inevitably prevent them from adjusting quickly. In a worst-case scenario, they might not adjust at all; there are no guarantees that a talented hire will fit in, after all.

You also run the risk of alienating and demotivating your existing staff, especially if you have an employee who feels that they would be a good fit for the role you’re advertising. They might even see your oversight as a snub and decide to move on, meaning that you could potentially lose good employees in the long run.

3. It’s costly

Advertising a job vacancy can be very expensive, especially if you are trying to gain maximum exposure on major job boards. To reduce costs and improve results, you can always target niche boards but, ultimately, the longer your advert runs, the more the costs are going to rack up – with no guarantee of a return at the end, too.

Methods of external recruitment

One of the best tips for recruiters is to identify the best hiring process for each vacancy. Not all positions can be filled by deploying the same strategy, so approach each one on its own individual merits.

The higher-ranking a position is, for example, the more effort you’ll need to put into the hiring process, while an entry-level position will be relatively easy to market and fill.

1. Newspapers and other offline methods

Online recruitment is becoming increasingly popular, but that doesn’t mean that offline methods are redundant yet. It could be argued that newspaper recruitment is the most effective method if you are trying to hire someone locally, for instance. It can be more flexible, too, as it allows you to address various niches and reach out to a different audience. It’s also a more formal method of recruiting, so you might want to consider it when hiring for senior positions.

2. Job boards

Job boards are probably the most popular and effective method of external recruitment, as they allow hiring managers to reach a wider audience. What’s more, as job boards make it easier to actually apply for the position, they can also help speed up the hiring process.

Millennials tend to conduct their job searches on job boards, so if you are looking to attract younger talent, you should bear this in mind. Many job boards now also have CV databases, too, which allow you to filter through candidate profiles based on your chosen criteria.

3. Social media

Nearly everybody uses some form of social media, so it makes sense to run job campaigns on the likes of Facebook, too. You can tweak your posting, as well, so that it utilises the platform’s algorithms to closely target certain locations and other demographics.

Apart from posting vacancies on the company’s accounts, it’s also important to include sponsored posts in your campaign, because you can use these platforms to target passive candidates and poach talented professionals.

4. Job fairs

Although not as popular as they once used to be, job fairs continue to help hiring managers to gain access to a large number of candidates, especially graduate applicants.

What’s also great about them is that they allow you to meet the candidate and talk to them in person, rather than just reading their CV. Given the importance of body language, it can be a great way to get a strong first impression of someone.

5. Events

Apart from job fairs, there are many other events you can attend to meet potential candidates. From networking events to gatherings that your target audience might attend (such as seminars and conferences), you get a chance to meet some truly talented candidates, while also raising brand awareness by being physically present at industry-related events.

6. Recruitment agencies

Recruitment agencies continue to have the best results when identifying talent, simply because they are focused on delivering their clients with the most suitable candidates. If they take charge of the hiring process, it can be less time-consuming for you, while, given their knowledge of the job market, they’ll also be able to help you deal with additional details such as the kind of salary and benefits package you should be offering.

Depending on the size of your organisation – and how often you need to fill positions – you may want to consider using both internal and external recruitment strategies together; in unison, they can help ensure that you’ll find the best candidate for each position. Just remember that while external recruitment generally means opening your doors to creativity and new ideas, you should also consider the risks as detailed above.

Do you prefer to hire in-house or spread your search further afield? What tips would you give? Let us know in the comments section below.

This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 28 March 2017.