Think about this. The average (decent) recruiter “places” one job seeker per month, meaning they get them a job successfully. But in order to get that one person a job, they need to reach out to hundreds of people, send a lot of resumes, coordinate dozens of interviews, and negotiate offers. They need to do this not only for one job, but for multiple jobs they are trying to fill.

Let me illustrate.

In recruitment there are performance metrics that we use to measure quality and output. I’ll simplify the lingo so it’s a bit easier to understand for non-recruiters.

The pitch to “buy in” means the number of people you “pitch” a job opportunity to that actually say “yes, please send my resume.” A recruiter, especially a spammy one, can reach out to a 50 people and only get a handful of 5–6 buy-ins.

Another metric is the resume “send out” to interview ratio — how many resumes do you need to send for one option position in order to get one interview. A great recruiter can have a 50–70% send out to interview hit rate — meaning that more than 1 out of every 2 resumes they send result in an interview. More often than not, though, send out to interview ratios are closer to 20–30% at best. That means that the recruiter will need to send at least four resumes to get one interview.

The other metric is interview to offer ratio — how many people do you need interviewing in order to get one offer? This varies greatly across industry, recruiter, and circumstance. A really good interview to offer hit rate is 20% — that means out of five people who get an interview one of them will get an offer. You could be one of those five. However, the reality for most recruiters is much worse, especially with new recruiters that are “throwing spaghetti at the wall. It’s not just the recruiter’s skill level, though, and often times hiring managers don’t have a good grasp of what they are hiring for and end up interviewing countless candidates and never hiring one.

Here are some imaginary ratios for John the Headhunter.

  • Reach out to buy-in ratio: 10%= 1 out of every 10 people apply for the job
  • Send out to interview ratio: 20% = 1 out of every 5 people get an interview
  • Interview to offer ratio: 10% = 1 out of 10 people interviewing get the job

On average, how many people does John need to reach out to in order to make one placement?

Translating these percentages into real action, this is what it’d look like in reality…

John reaches out to 200 people on Linkedin. Out of those, 20 people decide to apply to the job (10%). Out of those 20 people, 5 of them get an interview (20%). Out of those 5 people…zero get the job (since only one out of 10 people get the job).

Ok let’s try again.

John spends two full days spamming you and everyone in your company. He reaches out to 500 people on LinkedIn. Out of those, 50 people decide to apply to the job (10%). Out of those 50 people, 10 of them get an interview (20%). Out of those 10 people…one person gets the job! Ding ding ding!

Unfortunately, when John’s candidate does get an offer, he decides not to take it and takes a competing offer at Google instead.

Ah, we forgot to consider the offer-to-acceptance ratio, and John’s is less than 100%. After all that effort, there’s no guarantee that the candidate will even accept the offer.


Now you see why they say recruitment is the “job of rejection,” because recruiters face rejection every single day from job seekers and clients. It’s the norm, and recruiters don’t care if you don’t respond to their one message on LinkedIn — although, you never know, it might be the opportunity of a life time 🙂

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