How Many Phone-Sourced Names Do I Need to Make a Hire?

Jun 4, 2014

The short answer: It depends.

The long answer: It depends on a lot of things but the biggest qualifiers are what and where the job is.

If the job is one in which there is a plentiful supply of talent in the local market (relocation still being a big issue in recruiting today — most of my customers prefer not to do it!) and the job itself is one in which there is a healthy employee turnover rate (four to five years), usually between 35 and 50 telephone sourced names will effect one immediate hire.

Why do I put those words in italics?

I say usually because there is no magic bullet in recruiting, and several factors play into this formula:

  • The skill of the recruiter in contacting and “selling” a job to a person who really isn’t looking for a job in the first place and can truly be considered the “passive” candidate.
  • If we’re looking in some of the very challenging arenas — like oral and written communication skills in the IT space (the most in-demand IT skill!), biotech, pharma and military-clearance-required defense sector jobs — three and four and five times my stated estimate may be required! In those cases sometimes it’s best to ask your phone sourcer to do the project in phases to keep your costs contained and order more as you need them. Understand, though that there are more costs to the phone sourcer each time he restarts your jobs so there may be additional costs (and longer time to your project) added for those expenses.
  • If the compensation (including benefits) doesn’t coincide with industry averages, usually no amount of recruiter skill or company reputation is sufficient to overcome this fly-in-the-ointment that spoils the effort.
  • If the target companies from which the candidates are sourced aren’t chosen carefully for both competitive and culture match to the hiring company’s fit, that 35-50 estimate will very well skew off the graph. However, if the target companies are chosen carefully and correctly the caliber of candidates that emerges is usually so high that the “first draft” of candidate elimination necessary in so many applicant-tracking systems is unnecessary. This is the great benefit in being the chooser and not the chosen in recruiting.
  • If the opportunity is a lateral or an “up” move impacts the number of names you’ll need. A skilled recruiter understands the variables on both and can make sense of lateral moves many times when a less-seasoned recruiter may miss the opportunity.

Surprisingly, this formula for phone-sourced names has remained pretty much unchanged over the years even as the shiny new balls have come and gone, losing their lusters along the way.

Sure, I could up the number here for a particular type of quality manager and down the number there for a sales representative selling windows. But overall, 35-50 phone-sourced names will get your job filled within 30-60 days if you start calling the names immediately once we send them to you.

Notice I keep saying phone-sourced names. Phone-sourced names are likely to be unique; they’re not likely to have been called repeatedly before by recruiters; they’re not likely to be residing on the Internet in a manner that tags them to the jobs they’re doing (of course this depends on the industry — every recruiter in the world is on LinkedIn!). And, in general, they are receptive to a recruiter’s call and find them refreshing, never (usually) having been called by one before!

They’re not likely to have shown up on an Internet-culled “list” that was handed from Internet sourcer to recruiter with a next step that probably resulted in an email (or an InMail) or, in a very few instances, a left-on-the-doorstep-after-6 p.m. one-stop hurried-through canned voice message with a “Call me back about this great job opportunity!” that never got enough listening time to make it to the “Call me back” part of the message.

There’s something else wonderful about phone-sourced names: they don’t wear out. If you “pipeline” them — put them into your database and make friends with them; get to know them and communicate (remember that most sought-after skill above?) with them when they too reach that “healthy employee turnover term” (four or five years) — chances are you may even hire some of them!

I’m sure I haven’t covered all the variables above and if you have any to offer I invite you to do just that in the comments below. If you agree (or, better yet, disagree) with what I’ve just said I invite you to do that too!

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