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2024 Survey Report Insights: Relationships Matter More Than Ever

Michelle Han-Taylor
3 min read

Recruiting cold calls. AI pitfalls.
When it comes to finding the best talent, leveraging relationships comes out on top.

For all its brilliance, there remains one incalculable challenge AI’s yet to master in recruiting. That hand-shaking, nice-to-meet-you, let-me-introduce-you-to type of genuine connection that cuts through the noise. But in the bid to land the very best talent who can come in and drive real impact, a real relationship and trusted introduction is often what it takes.

In both business and life, relationships matter more than ever, with some of the most promising opportunities coming down to who you know and the quality of your connections.

To further validate this sentiment, Hunt Club conducted a market survey, polling over 600 job seekers and 300 corporate professionals ranging from directors to C-level executives across the US to compare the efficacy of traditional recruitment firms with the power of relationships and personal connections in securing a new job and attracting top talent, respectively.

Our 2024 Talent Survey Report investigates hiring managers’ and job seekers’ frustrations with traditional recruitment, the widening gap between them, and why relationships matter more than ever for effective recruitment.


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Traditional Search is Broken

Many hiring managers and job seekers alike are fed up with traditional recruiting firms and the broken process. In fact, 77% of hiring managers and 89% of job seekers would NOT recommend using a traditional recruitment firm based on their latest experiences, citing several reasons why they miss the mark. For example: 

  • Pushy recruiters are focused on placement over customer experience.
  • Impersonal, mass outreach with AI-generated messaging.
  • The overall time commitment.
  • Lack of transparency and mismatched expectations.
  • Recruiters don’t understand the organization’s needs and culture.
  • And much more.

These reasons ultimately point to a glaring opportunity to fix an antiquated industry, improve broken processes, and find a solution to AI-generated outreach that consistently falls flat. To further illustrate, both hiring managers and job seekers say today's traditional recruitment industry is too quick to treat them like numbers: 

a green call-out text bubble with a quote from a hiring manager talking about how they didn't feel like they got treated as a person by a traditional recruiter

an orange call-out text bubble with a quote from a job seeker talking about how they didn't feel like they got treated as a person by a traditional recruiter


A Collective Cry For Change: Hiring managers’ sentiments about traditional recruitment firms based on their latest experience


a bar graph with the values being different negative emotions and emojis, with percentages of hiring managers' responses on how they feel about traditional recruiting

Today’s diverse founders and hiring managers aren’t happy with the traditional talent search experience, and the industry at large finds itself at a crossroads, desperately needing to find a solution that addresses such frustrating challenges. 


Referred Candidates = Better Outcomes

When this is the case — when even the most advanced AI-generated, mass outreach can’t fix the problems with traditional recruitment such as limited pools, and delayed timelines — we have to consider other avenues and solutions to reach the right talent.

Hiring through trusted networks and relationships prove to yield better long-term outcomes for organizations, including faster recruitment processes, improved performance, and longer employee retention. 

At a glance:

  • Personal connections and referrals offer hiring managers a level of vetting and endorsement that impacts the overall time-to-hire, while job seekers who are introduced similarly benefit from a prioritized candidacy. 

  • The majority of hiring managers experience firsthand how candidates who have been personally referred outshine those non-referred in terms of performance and integration into the company.

  • Similarly, hiring managers report that employees stay longer at a company than employees who were acquired through traditional sourcing methods, such as cold outreach, sourcing on LinkedIn, or posting on jobs.

The path forward is paved with trusted relationships, and every company should grasp the idea that a trusted network can be the difference between an average team, and one that propels an organization forward for the long haul.

Do employees who have been personally referred perform better than candidates who have not been referred?

68% of hiring managers experience firsthand how candidates who have been personally referred outshine those non-referred.

bubble graph with 3 different sized circles  (1 large with "yes 68%", "about the same 22%%" and "no 10%" laying next to each other

Relationships Cut Through the Noise

85% of jobs are attained through a personal connection. As hiring managers and talent acquisition professionals, we have to evolve our sourcing and recruiting strategies to leverage the power of relationships. We have to give our teams the best shot at succeeding by moving beyond transactional interactions and re-embracing the humanity in hiring.

While AI and automation help us with some time-consuming tasks and reach people en masse, it can’t always compute what it means to meet and get to know someone. Buy them a coffee or hold the door open. AI and cold, automated emails can’t build a strong, trusted relationship.

When the best people you need for a job are entrenched in their day-to-day and balancing a list of priorities where entertaining an automated, cold email recruitment pitch for a mis-fit role sits at the very bottom, relationships matter more than ever.

Read the full report to learn more about:

  • The frustrations and inefficiencies of traditional recruitment practices.
  • Why mass cold outreach to candidates is missing the mark.
  • Why both hiring managers and job seekers can attest to the effectiveness of tapping personal connections to achieve better outcomes.

Hunt Club branded banner that reads "Download the Report" and overlay images that previews our newest report

Download the Report


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