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What is a Recruiting Funnel?
A recruitment funnel is a method of telling your recruiting and hiring story. The recruitment funnel organizes your process from start to finish so you can break it down step by step and articulate what it takes to get a hire for your organization.
Like an actual funnel, the widest part of the recruitment funnel is at the top and funnels down to the narrowest part at the bottom. Organizing your process in this way helps define how many people it takes to yield a hire, and you can begin to forecast and anticipate hiring needs. This allows you to bring valuable information to your organization.
Why It’s Important to Build and Understand Your Recruiting Funnels
Get Your Data Organized
Gathering organized data creates the platform from which you can become strategic in your approach to recruiting rather than being reactive. Without data, you have no way of understanding where you are in your recruitment process or how soon you may be able to hire someone. Data is a powerful resource and with it, you have the opportunity to make a profound impact on the business goals of your organization. Without it you may struggle to effectively drive business outcomes.
Using the highly organized data in your funnel, you can answer the important questions your key stakeholders have and the questions you want answers to. These questions could include:
- How long will it take to fill this role?
- How much will we need to spend on marketing and advertising this role?
- How many candidates need to apply to fill this role?
- How many passive candidates will we need to reach out to to fill this role?
- If there are difficulties in filling this role, what are the steps to break it down? This is an important question to answer. Instead of giving your hiring manager excuses for why a role is taking longer than expected to fill, point to the exact pain point in the process. For example, if your applicants are not passing their final interview, you can pinpoint the discrepancy or disconnect between the hiring manager and the professional who is conducting the final interview. From there, you can schedule a meeting between them to understand the disconnection. Getting them recalibrated will help you fill this role. If the breakdown is in the application stage, you will have to increase your proactive outreach to passive talent. You can bring this information to a hiring manager and team up with them as they may have referrals to reach out to. You could also send them a short list of the top passive talent you have reached out to and they can send a followup message to get them interested.
- How difficult is this role to fill?
- Are we offering the right compensation? This must be answered by using data. There are two stages to effectively determine if your compensation is in the right range. First, evaluate your initial recruiter screen and second, your offer accepted stages. If candidates are turning you down at the initial screen phase or getting through the process and then rejecting your offer, you can track these reasons to determine if it is based on compensation.
Once you have data and have formulated intelligent insights, you are ready to take a seat with the decision makers and provide them with information to help plan their hiring needs. For example, if you need to hire an additional software engineer, you can set the expectation for how long it will take by pointing to the data of the last software engineer you hired. You could say you needed 120 applications to get to one hire and anticipate putting a dozen of them through to the hiring manager who will pass along six to the leadership team for final interview. With your data, you can help them understand that 85% of your extended offers are accepted so you will want to bring in 1-2 candidates you are comfortable extending an offer to. If you have the process laid out with the steps of a recruitment funnel, you can track how long that process will take.
There are two ways you can help leadership set proper expectations on filling important roles within your organization:
- Time to fill. This measures how long it takes to fill a role. This measurement starts when leadership decides they need to hire a role and concludes when the new employee starts with your organization.
- Time to hire. This measures the length of time someone is in the interview process, or how long your interview process takes. This measurement spans an applicant entering the process through receiving an offer. This data helps you determine how quickly you need to get people into your interview process.
Stages in the Recruiting Funnel
Organizing your recruitment process into a funnel empowers you to become a strategic business partner and elevates you to a value-adding strategic member of the organization. There is more than one way to organize the steps of a recruitment funnel, but this example to give you a starting point. Feel free to organize your recruitment funnel in the way that makes the most sense for your process and organization. Remember to organize your recruitment funnel in a way that helps you tell your story.
Stage 1: Outreach
This step is similar to applications because it is at the top of the funnel. It differs however because outreach means you are proactively reaching out to potential applicants.
Stage 2: Applications
This step is second in the funnel because it measures official candidates you are considering. The application step is the first phase of your vetting process. To measure this accurately, measure both incoming applications and every person you reached out to that is interested in going through the interview process.
Keep in mind not all candidates at this stage will move to the next step. Some or many applicants are not going to be the right fit. Ideally, individuals at this stage from a proactive outreach should move on to an initial screen because you chose to reach out to them in the first place.
Stage 3: Initial Recruiter Screen
Begin the interview process with a conversation with your recruiter. You can design this in many different ways, but the ideal outcome is to identify applicants who are the right fit for your role. Depending on the role, this may be an in-depth, technical interview or it may be a high-level initial conversation.
Stage 4: Hiring Manager Interview
From your initial recruiter screen, you have identified applicants who are the right fit for your role.Now you set them up to meet your hiring manager. However this meeting occurs or is structured, the goal is for your hiring manager to vet applicants further for both technical fit for a role and their cultural fit and ability to add to company culture.
Stage 5: Final Interview
Once your hiring manager has determined an applicant can meet the requirements of the role and add to company culture, an applicant should meet with additional leadership in your organization. These leaders could be higher up within that department or a department that partners closely with this role, or both.
Stage 6: Offer
The next step in the recruitment funnel is the offer stage. Measure the percentage of applicants that do a final interview with the number your organization extends an offer to. Understanding the conversion rate between final interview to offer tells you how in sync you and your hiring manager are with organizational leadership. If your candidates are passing their final interview, you can determine that you are in line with the expectations of your organization. If your candidates are not passing the final interview, you have an opportunity to meet with senior leaders to uncover where you are misaligned.
Stage 7: Offer Accepted
This is an incredibly important step to track in your recruitment funnel. Nothing is more frustrating than getting a candidate through the interview process well just to have them not accept your offer. Not all candidates who get a job offer will accept the offer. You must set clear expectations for the percent of applicants who get an offer and accept it. If this number is low, you can gain insight into where your organization needs to adjust or update your process to increase the percentage of accepted offers.
Stage 8: Start
Once you’re celebrating an accepted offer, don’t make the mistake of immediately moving on to the next role to fill before your new employee starts. Track of the people who accept an offer who actually start. This number should be very high. If it is not, partner with different teams within your organization to improve your process so that this number is very high.
Best Practices for Building a Recruiting Funnel
Recruiting is not easy and building a recruitment funnel is your tool to communicate that effort. Recruiting is a function that those who are not familiar with often assume is easy. You know recruiting is not easy. Your funnel will help you tell the data story of just how difficult recruiting is and help your organization appreciate the value you bring.
1. Build a Pipeline
At the beginning, you may not know how many people you will need to go through your process to net a hire. The first time you fill a role will be your benchmark. Once you make your first hire for a given role, you can use that benchmark to determine where to focus your efforts to get a hire and decrease your time to fill.
To determine how large of an applicant pipeline ants you need to fill a role, walk backward through your funnel. If you are hiring an accountant and last time it took 20 applications to yield a hire, figure out where you need to place your effort. If it took 20 applications to get to a hire last time and you currently only have three applications in your applicant tracking system (ATS), you know you need to proactively reach out to passive talent to get the additional seventeen applicants. If it took 10 outreach messages to get one applicant, you know you need to send out 170 unique outreach messages to get the additional applicants to get your hire. Depending on the market, you can determine how long it will take to send those 170 messages and you can have an accurate time-to-fill forecast.
2. Over Communicate
Use the data in your recruitment funnel to gain insights. Share those insights with your hiring manager and key stakeholders. Communicating with leaders is one of the most effective ways to become a trusted business partner.
One of the biggest advantages of a recruitment funnel is its ability to provide insight into how to get better. Learn from the data and make adjustments accordingly. If it’s taking you longer than expected to fill a role, don’t complain about how difficult the market is. Pinpoint the exact place in your funnel where you see the gap and partner with your leadership team to develop strategies to overcome that hurdle. If you can’t get enough applications, partner with your leaders to develop strategies to get more applications. If your applicants are failing their final interview, meet with that leader or leaders who are conducting the final interview to determine where you are not aligned.
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Tyler empowers Talent Acquisition professionals, HR business leaders, and key stake holders to develop and execute talent management strategies. He is igniting the talent acquisition process through: team building, accurate time to fill forecasting, driving creative talent sourcing, and fine-tuning recruiting team effectiveness.
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