Data-Driven RecruitingSourcing & Outreach

Top 5 Game-Changing Statistics from Gem's 2023 Recruiting Benchmarks Report


Melissa Suzuno

HR Insights Writer

Posted on

December 12, 2023

As a talent acquisition professional, you likely live and breathe numbers. Whether you’re looking at your hiring goals for the year and how you’re tracking towards them, running weekly reports on your activities, or calculating the return on investment of different sourcing strategies, numbers can give you a sense of purpose and direction and show you what needs your immediate attention. 

But simply looking at your own numbers or those of your team gives you a limited view. How can you figure out how you measure up in your industry, city, or region? That’s where Gem comes in. We recently released the Winter 2023 Recruiting Benchmarks Report. The data is drawn from our database of 3.2 million email outreach sequences sent between June 1, 2022 and August 31, 2023, and 27.8 million candidates who entered our customers’ hiring funnels during that same time period. 

Our goal with the report is to help talent leadership gauge the success of their teams’ sourcing and outreach efforts and the health of their recruiting funnels by comparing them to industry averages. 

The report is a goldmine of data on all things related to recruiting, outreach, and talent pipelines, but you might not have time to sift through it all. Don’t worry, you can keep your prospector’s hat in your costume closet—we’ve selected a few of the most significant statistics:

  • Outreach by demographic reveals inequity

  • Outreach response rates highlight the importance of personalization

  • The ups and downs of sourcing candidates

  • Time-to-hire lags for sourced candidates

  • Offer-accept rates hint at broader economic uncertainty

In addition to some high-level trends, we’ll also offer a few suggestions on what these numbers tell us about what’s happening in the market and what it means for you. 

Without further delay, let’s dig in!

  1. Outreach by demographic reveals inequity

The very high-level observation here is that not all candidates receive the same amount of outreach, and these disparities are particularly clear across gender and race/ethnicity. 

What the numbers say: Men receive way more outreach in almost every field than women. Across the board, Asian talent receives 1.2x more outreach than White talent does, 4.7x more outreach than Hispanic/Latinx talent does, and 5x more outreach than Black/African American talent does. And there is not a single role for which Black/African American talent or Hispanic/Latinx talent receives more outreach than Asian or White talent does. 

What this means for you: The story this tells is that unconscious bias has the strongest impact on the gender and race/ethnicity gap in the stages before talent has the opportunity to demonstrate their proficiencies. Companies that care about diversity should spend more time nurturing diverse talent pools at the top of the funnel. 

How might you achieve this? At the very top of the funnel, the most valuable thing you can do is put recruiters through unconscious bias training. Unconscious bias exists among everyone—even underrepresented minority and female-identified recruiters. Helping your recruiters become aware of their own assumptions might change the way they relate to female, non-binary, and underrepresented profiles when they show up in searches.

To take it a step further, if you’ve already tried unconscious bias training and are still experiencing this problem, you might benefit from working with an external DE&I expert. Consider bringing in a DE&I consultant or agency to help you source candidates from different candidate pools to ensure you’re getting a better mix at the top of your funnel.  

  1. Outreach response rates highlight the importance of personalization

Candidates are getting overwhelmed by outreach messages, but you can still catch their attention with personalized messaging. 

What the numbers say: The average open rate for a three-stage email sequence is 81%, but reply rates are down overall. 

What this means for you: It’s time to dig deeper into crafting emails that don’t just get opened, but get replied to. It’s worth mentioning that open rates are up across the board from 18 months ago; it’s reply rates that are down. So your message content is critical. 

Our data at Gem shows that highly personalized outreach delivers the best ROI. Stage 1 messages that use a {{reason}} token have an overall reply rate 23.7% greater than those without one. Deep personalization—explaining to hard-to-attract talent why you’re reaching out to them specifically—may be well worth your time. Get a few more specific ideas of how to craft a personalized outreach message here.

  1. The ups and downs of sourcing candidates

For many employers out there, sourcing is a critical part of building the talent pipeline, especially if you have diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) goals you’re trying to meet. But our data shows that sourced candidates can present some specific challenges.

What the numbers say: Sourced candidates are 4–5x more likely to be hired, but they also take longer to hire and are 7% less likely to accept your offers.

What this means for you: It makes logical sense that sourced candidates are more likely to be hired than inbound candidates. Your team vets passive talent before they even enter your hiring funnel. You reached out to them because their experience and skill sets aligned with exactly what your hiring manager was looking for and you suspected they’d share your values and add to your culture. From a strategic perspective, this means that any solid talent acquisition strategy should include an element of passive talent sourcing—no matter how strong your inbound game is.

The fact that sourced talent is less likely to accept your job offers than inbound candidates also makes sense. Passive talent didn’t go looking for you; you went looking for them. Yet something about your org piqued their interest enough for them to engage. If this trend is occurring at your company, too, it’s worth uncovering why sourced talent is rejecting their offers at higher rates than their inbound counterparts are. Survey your sourced candidates—not just at the end of the process, but at every stage—to find out what’s resonating with them and what isn’t. Adjust your messaging and your candidate experience accordingly. 

  1. Time-to-hire lags for sourced candidates

In addition to the mixed results for sourced candidates we covered in the previous section, we’re also seeing a significant impact on time-to-hire.

What the numbers say: The overall average for median time to hire is 36 days while the median time-to-hire is 8 days longer for a sourced candidate. 

What this means for you: We suspect there are a few reasons for this: Sometimes recruiters create applications for sourced candidates in their ATS before talent has even responded. Sometimes when sourced candidates respond, there’s less urgency on their side to start interviewing immediately. And when a sourced candidate rejects your job offer—which as we covered earlier, they’re more likely to do than an inbound candidate—time-to-hire is prolonged while you extend another offer to the next-best candidate. TA teams that can get their outbound offer-accept rates on par with their inbound offer-accept rates may see that time-to-hire decrease. 

  1. Offer-accept rates hint at broader economic uncertainty

Just a few years ago, in 2021, we observed a trend where the smallest companies saw the highest offer-accept rates, which we attribute to a combination of factors like talent reconsidering work that was more aligned with their values, seeking opportunities that would give them more visibility and impact, and taking advantage of remote work to leave expensive major metropolitan areas. But at the moment, that trend is now reversed. 

What the numbers say: The biggest companies are now seeing the highest offer-accept rates. 

What this means for you: Our best guess about offer-accepts favoring larger companies again sits within the context of our current macroeconomic uncertainty: smaller companies are simply perceived as higher-risk, and candidates are looking for safe places to weather the economic storm. 

If you’re recruiting for a smaller organization, that just means it’s a good idea to build your employer brand and lead your conversations with data points on company stability (assuming, of course, your company is stable). What’s your runway? What do your financials look like? How is your customer base growing? How is your product/service poised for growth? And so on. 

To improve your offer-accept rate, we also recommend a combination of candidate surveys and data on your current pipeline to determine where in the journey you could be serving talent better. 

Finally, it’s worth considering your employee value proposition: What contribution can you make to employees’ lives—beyond compensation—for a fulfilling human experience? Your answer to this question will be especially important if withdrawal data suggests you’re losing candidates to competitors. Pay attention to what candidates are telling you they want to know. What do they ask about during interviews? What do industry surveys say they’re prioritizing? Use this data to guide what else you lead with in your messaging.

Final thoughts and next steps

Take a moment to think through which of these metrics feels most pressing for your company and team to focus on. If your company is doubling down on DE&I efforts, you’ll likely want to look at our top-of-funnel sourcing efforts, for example. Or if you’re finding it hard to get candidates to respond to outreach, it may be worth investing more effort in creating those personalized messages that are proven to generate more replies and responses. 

We’ve shared a few suggestions here about steps you can take to move the needle on each of these metrics, but if you’re really looking for detailed guidance, make sure you check out our full Recruiting Benchmarks Report. You’ll be able to dig into each data point across demographics and industries, and get tips that are tailored to your specific circumstances and concerns.


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