Recruitment is a complex process, but essentially it is marketing – if you want to convert your candidates to hires, the same way marketers look to convert leads to sales, you have to ensure that your recruitment funnel is as solid as it can be. It has to be personal, you have to remain in constant contact and you have to build relationships.
Essentially, the recruitment funnel enables you to break down the complex recruitment process into various stages, and then further break down each stage into goals and tasks. The recruitment funnel usually starts with creating awareness about you as an employer and (ideally) ends with the onboarding of a new hire.
Make no mistake though, the recruitment funnel isn’t a cut and dry process, it has multiple stages, all of which can contain multiple obstacles. For example, if it takes too long to get through one stage, you might lose candidates. Or maybe you’re attracting applicants that don’t fit your roles and waste valuable time screening applications as a result.
So how do you build and manage a solid recruitment funnel?
Check out tips for various recruitment funnel stages:
What is a recruitment funnel?
A recruitment funnel is a framework for you to follow that takes you through the entire recruitment process from start to finish, narrowing down the candidate pool until you are left with a desired number of hires. The recruitment funnel aims to keep prospects interested and candidates engaged throughout.
The recruitment funnel can be broken down into 7 stages:
- Awareness – where you create awareness around your brand to get your ideal candidate’s attention.
- Attraction – where you put your best recruitment marketing strategies to use to make your job opening as attractive as possible.
- Interest – where you should be prepared to field questions from interested candidates.
- Application – where interested candidates apply for your job.
- Pre-selection – where you assess candidates by targeting specific skill sets.
- Interview – where you meet and have conversation with each shortlisted candidate in person, via phone and/or video.
- Hiring – where you commit to a candidate and make them an offer.
Tips for building and managing an effective recruitment funnel
If you want to build and manage an effective recruitment funnel, break down each stage into smaller steps. These manageable chunks can be defined as goals (to be achieved) and tasks (to be allocated). By doing this, nothing slips through the cracks, and what can be a daunting process becomes a manageable one.
1. Focus on employer branding. According to a survey by Glassdoor, 76% of job hunters want to know what makes a company a compelling place to work, prior to applying for a job there. So figure out what makes your company great, ensure it is clearly defined and promote this messaging consistently throughout all of your communications, both external and internal.
2. Build a social media presence. Social media is a great place to share job openings and to communicate and demonstrate your company culture. A Pew Research Center study showed that 35% of job seekers used social media to check out a company, prior to applying to work there. Encourage followers to engage with you by asking questions or potentially running competitions.
3. Write a compelling job description. It all starts with the job description, one of the first things every potential candidate sees. Perfecting this piece of work is crucial to snaring the right kind of candidates – you want to convey enough information about the job opening and your brand to whet prospective appetites, without overwhelming anyone.
4. Advertise at places where your ideal candidates are. Don’t use the scattergun approach to advertising and share your job advert far and wide, you’ll only be inundated with unsuitable candidates. Instead, review your recruitment channels and take a targeted approach to advertising and only place your job ad where your ideal candidates are likely to be looking. For example on targeted online job sites, in trade publications, on social networking sites, or even in your local newspaper.
At the same time, specialist job boards bring a healthy volume of qualified candidates, so they can be especially helpful in your sourcing.
5. Use programmatic job advertising. Use analytics and machine learning to target your specific audience. Programmatic advertising employs algorithms to only show your job advert to people who fit your ideal candidate profile, thereby reducing the number of unsuitable applications you receive, saving you time and money.
6. Perfect your career site. Ensure the career page of your website provides as much information about the company and the job possible, such as what the benefits of working at your company are, what the work-life balance is like, your approach to flexible working, what career development opportunities exist and if possible include employee testimonials.
7. Show employee stories. Make short videos or conduct interviews where current employees talk about who they are, what they do, what they enjoy about working for your company and what the perks are.
8. Be prepared to answer questions from potential applicants. Interested candidates are likely to get in touch before committing to filling out an application form, so have someone available to field their questions or put into place a system for responding to candidates’ communications. Consider including an FAQ section to your career page to answer common queries.
9. Think about employing a chatbot. Recruitment tech doesn’t have to solely be used during the CV sifting process. Consider employing a chatbot to respond to candidates thereby freeing you up to focus on more pressing tasks. A chatbot can answer questions at any time of the day or night and if the chatbot can’t help, it can forward the candidate’s request through to someone who can.
10. Pay attention to your employer reviews. We live in a world of open communication, and if you have a disgruntled employee, chances are they’ve not kept their grievances to themselves. So pay attention to employer reviewers and keep an eye out on sites that allow employees to review their employer, such as Glassdoor, Indeed, Comparably and Careerbliss. These sites can be useful if the reviews are positive (or negative) – if you see any points you deem relevant, action them.
Not managing your employer reviews can discourage a lot of potential candidates from applying.
11. Reach out to previous applicants. Every candidate who has ever applied to your company should be stored in your ATS. Typically only one person is hired for each job opening, but that doesn’t mean every other candidate who made the shortlist isn’t worth reconnecting with. Use candidate rediscovery technology to create a list of suitable potential candidates from your existing pool of talent and reach out to them.
12. Make your application process easy. According to a survey by CareerBuilder, 60% of candidates will abandon a job application, despite the job really appealing to them, because the application process was too long and convoluted.
13. Optimize the application for mobile. Desktop applications have had their time, now, 66% of candidates would apply for a job via their mobile phone. To ensure you don’t lose any of these candidates by making them wait to fill in the application at a later date, optimize the application for mobile phones.
14. Send confirmation emails. Don’t leave candidates in the dark about where they stand on their application. Send an auto-response for every application received thanking the candidate for applying and letting them know the next steps and your anticipated timeline. Include in the email a way for the candidate to get in touch should they have any queries in the meantime. You could also request that should the candidate find alternative employment in the meantime they do you the courtesy of letting you know so that a) you don’t waste time considering them, or b) they might be a preferred candidate in which case you could consider making a counteroffer.
…and yet, 84% of candidates expect a personal email response. Neglecting candidate communication from the start doesn’t give a great impression of you as an employer.
15. Assess candidates for the right skills and traits. This is where you whittle down the applicants to a select group of potential hires. Analyze predictors of job performance for each role; those should be the characteristics you evaluate your candidates on. Common assessments include cognitive ability testing, personality questionnaire, culture fit assessment, and more. Depending on the number of applications you receive for each job advertisement, aim to bring about 10-15% in for interview.
16. Make the pre-selection process engaging. When the average time to hire is 24 days, you want to make the entire application process as engaging as possible. This includes the pre-selection process. Consider creating an assessment experience that is unique to your company. You can include company videos with realistic job previews, a gamified assessment or situational judgement tests.
70% of companies that use pre-hire assessments do so at the start of the application process or after the initial resume screening.
18. Assemble diverse interview panels. To eliminate the potential for bias during interview, make sure you have a diverse selection of interviewers on the panel, all of whom are looking for and value different qualities in a candidate.
19. Consider peer interviewing. You won’t necessarily be working alongside the candidate you’re interviewing, so why not let one of their potential peers interview them instead. Not only do candidates tend to relax more if they’re not around authority figures, but by having an existing employee conduct the interview, they will know what the job entails and will be able to tell, from personal experience, if the candidate has the potential and the skills to carry out the job.
20. Evaluate soft skills. Just because a candidate may be lacking in some hard skills doesn’t mean you should discount them. Hard skills specific to the job can always be taught; teaching someone to play well with others, to communicate, to be on time and to be a team player can not, these are soft skills and they should not be overlooked.
If you want your company to grow successfully, you need to hire employees with relevant soft skills.
21. Standardize interviews. Don’t let interviewers run with their own line of questioning. For a fair interview, ensure that each candidate is asked the same questions, and don’t allow interviewers to deviate too far from these questions.
22. Use interview scorecards. Rather than relying on one person’s opinion, ask all interviewers to score candidates on previously established criteria and then rank candidates based on the total score or their average score.
23. Prepare a tailored offer for the chosen candidate. Modern candidates care about more than just what their remittance will be. So find out what matters to your chosen candidate and include it in your offer. Chances are if your chosen candidate is the pick of the crop, they’ll be in demand and could be receiving offers from elsewhere. So make your offer the most compelling. Think about including your flextime policy, health benefits, or insurance, for example.
More general tips for your recruitment funnel
24. Track conversion rates between stages and from top to bottom and compare them against the benchmarks. You will be able to see where the issues lie in your recruitment process and prepare to optimize them.
25. Visualize your funnel to get a better idea of who your candidates are and how they move from one stage of the process to another and to identify where the leaks are.
26. Build a powerful recruitment tech stack. Choose software that matches your needs. There is so much available tech to help you recruit, narrowing down your digital options can feel overwhelming. While there is no one recruitment tech stack to help you throughout your recruitment funnel, you can assemble your own from various technologies that match your needs. So take time getting to know what tech is available to you, how it works, how it can help solve your problems and challenges and how it can improve your company’s recruiting efforts.
Analyzing your needs will help you select the right recruiting software.
27. Use metrics to establish what works. How will you know what steps of your recruitment funnel are working for you if you don’t track metrics such as time to hire, cost per hire, quality of hire, for example? By tracking these metrics you can test and adjust, constantly improving your recruitment process.
28. Track your time to hire – total and per stage.
Building a recruitment funnel that is efficient and leak-free is no easy feat but you can start implementing some of our practical tips immediately and improve your recruitment process. You will have engaged, qualified candidates to make the shortlist from, your interviews will be better, time to hire will decrease and the quality of hire will increase.