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,Quality or quantity?

Some people say recruitment is a numbers game. If you just get in touch with enough people you will eventually make a placement. Most recruiters, at some point in their career, will have been told about the 10% rule.

In order to hire 1 person, you need to interview 10 people. And in order to get 10 interviews you need to contact 100 people.

100 – 10 – 1.


I’m not a great believer in the 10% rule.


Hunting for web devlopers

A little while back I started the hunt for another developer to join our web team at Bonnier Broadcasting. The web team use a lot of react and are in charge of our GraphQL implementation across all clients. So, as I always do, I went to meetup.com as my first port of call. I located 18 people who were members of both Stockholm ReactJS Meetup AND GraphQL Stockholm. My thought is that the likelihood these people are intrested in working with these techniques is pretty high. Whether their LinkedIn profile says “react” or “graphQL” on them is irrelevant.

Out of these 18 people, I managed to find the e-mail adress to 14 of them.


My outreach

I put together my campaign, crafted a personalised inital message to begin each campaign and pressed send. Within 24 hours I had 4 interviews booked – 3 onsite and one telephone. All in all, 8 out of the 14 people I contacted replied, that’s a ~57% reply rate.

My average response rate is a lot higher than 57%, so why I’m I telling you about this particular one?

Becuase of the quality.


A small comparison

A year or so ago, when I still hadn’t gotten round to hyperpersonalising my message, I was looking for a web developer for the very same team as mentioned above. I used a template, a good one, and contacted 62 candidates in total. 52 of them replied. Thats an ~81% response rate. Pretty good even if I do say so myself.

However, it’s the quality of the replies and are intresting. Out of those 52 replies, only 6 came for an interview, and only 1 was hired at the very end.


Reply rates – what do they really tell you?

In all honesty, a high response rate does not tell you anything about the quality of your candidates. It will tell you that you have some skills in making people reply to you, which is a good thing, because it enables you to build a relationship with the candidates for the future. If they have replied to you once, they’re more likely to do so later on as well. Hey, they might even remeber you if your messages as truly personalised and not just lumped together with all other recruiters saying “I came across your profile on LinkedIn blah blah blah”. But again, it’s says nothing about the quality.


The four candidates who repied

Anyway, back to my story. So, I had four candidates willing to speak to me. What happend to them?

  • The one wanting a telephone conversation first decided we were not a match.
  • The second one came for an onsite interview but felt we were too big a company for him, and he prefers working with smaller companies. Fair enough.
  • The third ones starts working for us in a couple of months.
  • The fourth one started with us about a week ago.

Looking at my two campaigns above, what does that tell us about the different approaches?
Well, the both obviously work. We did end up hiring some great developers. However, in order to hire 2 people I only had to contact 14 potential candidates. I don’t belive that’s only down to me writing truly personalised messages, but also due to the quality of the candidates. I chose to contact 14 people I believed would be intrested in the job I had on offer, not because a few keywords matches on their LinkedIn profile.

The previous campaign, done a year earlier, targeting 62 potential candidates was focusing much less on quality.



So, I set out to hire 1 candidate but ended up with 2. According to the 10% rule, that would require me to contact two hundred candidates. I did not contact 200 candidates, I contacted fourteen.

Is recruitment then really a numbers game? Is it about quantity or is it about quality?

I’ll leave that for you to decide.

Sofia Broberger

Sofia Broberger

Sourcing Trainer

My name is Sofia Broberger and I’m a freelance sourcing and recruitment consultant focusing on IT/Tech recruitment.

I have a background in teaching and really enjoy combining my experience as a teacher with my love for sourcing. I’m available to give tailor-made workshops and lectures/talks on sourcing, tech recruitment and employer branding.