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November 1, 2022
The Swarm

The Guide to Network Recruiting

Network recruiting is a new way of organizing your recruitment efforts that draws on the network of people around you, rather than relying on traditional Outbound or Inbound recruiting.

“Network recruiting really uncovers the hidden gems [in your combined network], whether through software or through a diligent process that allows you to uncover people you probably weren’t thinking about.” — Melanie Tantincgo, Former VP of Talent Acquisition at Vise.

Here at The Swarm, we’re building the first Network recruiting platform that lets you combine the individual connections of your teams, advisors, and investors into a single company network, allowing you to quickly surface, vet, and contact potential talent from this shared pool.

In this playbook, we’ll show you how Network recruiting works, how it compares to more traditional recruiting methods, and what your company can gain from it. Let’s start with the basics.

What is Network recruiting?

Network recruiting is built on the idea that real, human networks are a company’s most valuable resource when it comes to hiring new talent. Existing outbound and inbound approaches to recruitment are both impersonal and inefficient — their success depends on connecting with a vast number of people in the hope that a handful will be a good fit.

Network recruiting does the opposite, trading quantity in for quality in the search for new talent. The Swarm, the first Network Relationship Management (NRM) platform, brings together the individual connections of a company’s employees, investors, and advisors and turns them into a single, intelligent, collective network.

A network-based approach means you don’t have to invest huge amounts of time and resources into reaching as many candidates as humanly possible. Instead, you can leverage your collective networks to reach the talent that’s already in your orbit.

“The way I think about it is similar to raising capital from investors. You want to build a relationship over time, so that they invest on a line, not just on a point. So if you can be doing that 12 to 18 months ahead with the best talent — showing them the story of how you're building, how the team's growing, showing them that momentum and getting them excited — they're way more likely to then be able to convert into a hire versus if you start 18 months from now.” — David Connors, co-founder and CEO of The Swarm.

How Network recruiting compares to traditional approaches

Network recruiting can serve as either a complement or a replacement to traditional Inbound and Outbound recruiting.

Inbound recruiting

Most inbound recruiting technology is focused on creating large, comprehensive job boards and listing opportunities for job seekers. Candidates can then browse through listings and submit their applications through websites like LinkedIn, Indeed, and AngelList.

Inbound recruiting can be extremely helpful for companies, allowing them to reach candidates at a scale they might not be able to achieve otherwise. But the inbound approach also has its downsides. For example, you might spend $500 to list a job for a week, then spend a month reviewing 1200 applications, only to have a mere 25 applicants move to the final stage.

Sifting through thousands of applications from all over the country or even the world — a great deal of which are entirely unsuitable for the job — demands enormous time commitments from companies. Inbound recruiting works for talent acquisition, but it’s not exactly efficient.

Outbound recruiting

As an alternative to Inbound recruiting, many companies have focused on Outbound recruiting. Tools like Gem, Seekout, Findem, and more offer an alternative way of online hiring, with recruiters and companies actively reaching out to people who may (or may not) be interested in a new job.

Outbound recruiting tools draw on a range of technologies like email marketing and automation to bring headhunting into the digital space. It’s a more proactive, aggressive approach to online recruiting, and in many cases, it works to add initially passive candidates to a pipeline.

However, Outbound recruiting also has drawbacks. While not as brutally time-consuming as Inbound recruiting, it still takes time. Recruiters have to spend a lot of their day researching and reaching out to potential candidates, many of whom may not be interested in the job or be unsuitable for it.

Research by Gerry Crispin and Chris Hoyt from CareerXroads found that employers spend a vastly disproportionate amount of their budget on recruiters who chase passive candidates. Meanwhile, on average, companies fill only 11% of positions with individually targeted people.

There is space for a new approach: Network recruiting.

Network recruiting

Network recruiting was born from a more familiar recruitment approach: the use of referrals. Many companies have already implemented employee referral programs, drawing on the power of their employees’ networks to fill strategic roles.

Referrals are popular for good reason:

  • They’re 85x more likely to be hired than job board candidates
  • They’re 55% faster to hire
  • They stay 70% longer than non-referrals

Traditional referral programs, however, rely on employees, investors, and advisors to do the heavy lifting of sharing roles, identifying good fits in their network, and reaching out. The Swarm, on the other hand, allows companies to consolidate individuals’ network into an intelligent and enriched collective network.

“Referrals have a bunch of benefits, but they basically win, win, win. The thesis is that good people know good people and smart, driven, talented people know other smart, driven, talented people.” — Ozzie Osman, co-founder and head of engineering at Monarch Money

The benefits of network recruiting

  • It uses referrals from people you know. A key feature of Network recruiting is that it relies on recommendations from people in your network — people you know and trust. This means the candidates referred to you are often much better suited to the company. In a way, it’s taking the best of the referral process without the labor-intensive part: having to repeatedly (and awkwardly) ask your employees, advisors, and personal network for referrals.
  • It results in high-quality leads. Using your company’s network to recruit results in higher-quality, better-qualified candidates that are more likely to convert and have better retention rates when you do hire them.
  • It saves money. Relying on your network can be an extremely cost-effective way to connect with candidates, and can be done much cheaper than posting ads on job boards, hiring a recruiting agency, or reaching out to thousands of passive candidates.
  • It’s more human. Traditional inbound and outbound recruitment strategies are impersonal, often relying on a large quantity of connections over quality. Network recruiting, on the other hand, focuses on more personal and human connections, which tend to result in more productive and long-lasting relationships with candidates.
  • It’s more inclusive. If your organization is aiming to be more diverse, inclusive, and equitable, global Network recruiting is a great way to get there. Unlike inbound and outbound recruiting, which tend to automatically focus on specific demographics, with Network recruiting you can consciously expand your hiring into more diverse networks. If you make the effort to hire diverse people, you will access diverse networks. (The opposite is also possible here, however — and the risk of hiring a homogenous workforce if you don’t seek diverse candidates initially is real.)

Get your entire team on board

In an ideal situation, your People Ops team shouldn’t be the only employees recruiting people to your organization. Everyone should be involved.

“[Recruiting] is every employee’s responsibility. I’ve recruited people listening to their conversations at Starbucks, and it’s not because I’m a recruiter. It’s because I’m so excited about the company that I’m working for.” — Melanie Tantincgo, Former VP of Talent Acquisition at Vise

The larger your network, the more successful your company will be at Network recruiting — which means involving your employees early on. Here’s how we suggest doing just that:

Introduce and explain network recruiting

Not everyone will be familiar with how Network recruiting works, and you want to ensure employees understand exactly how their networks will be used. For instance, many companies that use Network recruiting will make sure to get employees’ permission before they reach out to anyone in their network. This creates a foundation of trust with employees.

Reward employees’ connections

For some employees who might not want to invest time into referrals, using an extra incentive — like a referral bonus — can help seal the deal to get them involved in Network recruiting. For others, getting recognition from leadership for their referrals can be helpful.

Get curious if employees don’t take part

Even if you follow the steps above, you might still find that some employees do not want to share their networks or refer connections to the company.

In that case, it’s time to get curious.

“Every person at the company, if they’ve bought into the mission and the vision of the company and they get along with their team, then they should be trying to bring their friends to come and work at the same company. If that's not happening, then there's all of a sudden structural issues that need to be identified and need to be resolved immediately.” — David Connors, co-founder and CEO of The Swarm

The importance of the right tools

Network recruiting brings together the collective networks of your team, investors, and advisors, letting you spark amazing referrals at scale. It’s much more efficient than traditional inbound and outbound recruiting, saving an organization time and effort as they trade in large numbers of candidates for a select few that have been hand-picked for the perfect fit.

However, for the entire process to be effective, you need to use the right recruiting platform. That’s where The Swarm comes in, letting you manage your company network’s connections, request referrals, and rank candidates for different roles.

Harness the power of networks to make your recruiting more efficient. Start free at theswarm.com