Imagine a funnel, wide at the top and narrow at the bottom, used for guiding large amounts of something into a small opening. To do this, the funnel sifts out and deciphers what is of quality and worth keeping through the process. The same kind of funnel that can be used for transferring jam into a jar can also be used in the recruitment process. Just as the funnel helps filter out the preserves for the production of a jar of jam and keeps the quality aspects, in the same way, it helps to filter out and maintain the most qualified candidates in the recruiting process.
This recruiting funnel ensures that the process is easy to track, showing exactly where each candidate is filtered out. The point of recruiting is to filter the top-quality people you desire for your company, and the funnel allows you to see where each of them lies. While there is no universal rule that constitutes the aspects of a recruitment funnel, it typically follows the same sort of progression.
Recently, there has been a shift to treating recruiting strategies as equivalent to marketing. Having people know what your company does and stands for can be pivotal to your hiring efforts, so companies want to heavily advertise their organization in order to retain the best candidates. This stage, being the first and largest opening of the funnel, relies on you to promote that your company is an ideal place to work.
To do this, effort should be placed toward building a strong and positive employer brand. You want people to understand the objective of your organization simply by recognition. Google is consistently placed at the top of the list of companies with excellent employer branding strategies. It highlights an exceptional social media profile and following, as well as an enticing careers page and employer value proposition.
This serves great importance because it highlights the company’s culture and values, as well as draws applicants toward working there. When people are aware of your organization, they are more inclined to apply; as a result, you have more candidates to filter through the subsequent stages of the funnel.
Because not everyone who is simply aware of your company will apply for a job with you, it is important to have specific points of attraction that entice them. Here, you can capitalize on strategic job descriptions and referral bonuses for current employees, for example. The job description is often the first point of contact for job seekers, so it needs to be captivating.
Here is an example of a captivating job post from LinkedIn:
- It effectively contains…
- Specific job title
- Job summary
- Clearly defined responsibilities and duties
- Qualifications and skills
Additionally, referral bonuses are enticing and encouraging to current employees when looking at hiring quality candidates. Salesforce, for example, holds Recruitment Happy Hours where employees are able to invite anyone who they want to refer. This is a great example of how a company can take steps to expand its network and talent pool.
It is also beneficial to advertise at places where your ideal candidates are positioned. This way, you know that you are targeting and attracting the right audience for your line of work. Your company will benefit from attracting this group, as you can then have an even more narrowed-down list of ideal candidates later in the funnel.
Reaching the application stage of the recruitment funnel is an achievement, as all of your efforts to build awareness and attraction have led potential candidates to actually apply. Though reaching this stage is a big accomplishment, it is also where 60% of applicants drop out of the process altogether often because of complex or tedious application processes. These dropout rates pose the concern of losing strong potential candidates, which can be detrimental to a company. An easy solution to avoiding such dropout rates is to ensure that your company’s application process is smooth and approachable.
Another key aspect of this stage is keeping candidates informed by engaging in consistent communication along the way: send them confirmation emails, thank them for their time, provide them with information regarding next steps and timelines, etc. This sort of communication will set your company up for a positive candidate experience and keep top applicants invested in their process with you.
It is at this stage where candidates are heavily filtered through the funnel, so the ones with top priority make it through. This phase includes screening candidates, conducting background checks, and interviewing. Screening is often done through applicant tracking systems, using platforms to narrow down candidates rather than humans, often for the sake of both time and energy. Because this stage of the funnel is very narrow, it is top candidates who are the ones to make it to the various stages of selection. Many companies even have several stages of such phases to further decipher the most ideal candidates.
It is extremely important, especially with the prevalence that modern society places on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, to be aware of potential biases during the selection stage. Oftentimes, these biases can be implicit or outright, so it is important to be cognizant of them and make active efforts to mitigate them. Otherwise, candidates who you view as ideal and desirable might not feel comfortable working with you.
Reaching the hiring stage means that candidates have successfully filtered through each stage of the recruitment funnel. These are the leading and outstanding applicants you fought for in the filtering process who have made it through every obstacle; now, it is in their power to decide whether or not to accept your job offer.
Companies choose candidates because they are top notch and of high quality, meaning they most likely have competing offers. So, the delivery of your offer is important to them and should make your company stand out – learn what matters most to them and include it in your offer.
Candidates can take a sigh of relief at this stage because they have made it to the hiring stage, but this is where companies worry the most. They have endured the process to select the ideal candidate and it is no longer in their hands; now, the candidate is able to decide to accept, negotiate, or reject the offer. Once, and if, the candidate has accepted their offer, they should be led straight into the onboarding process where they finally begin their new career with the company that has provided them a meaningful interview experience.
Final Funnel Stages
Each stage in the funnel is a dropoff point for candidates as it continues to remove ones who are not dubbed “the best.” They continue to be removed from the process until they reach the final stage. Even then, it is not really over. Up until that moment, the fate of the job seeker is in the hands of the company; however, once the final mark of hiring is approached, the candidate is given the power of deciding whether or not to accept the offer. They hold such power now because they are the ones who proved their strength by making it all the way down the funnel.
Thus, as the funnel progresses, so does the power of the process – it drastically changes from being the possession of the employer to the employee. The further down the funnel you get, the more effort recruiters have to put in to close the deal and win the candidate over; so focus heavily on each phase of the funnel and don’t lose sight of the end result: hiring top candidates.
Just as it is when putting jam into a jar, the funnel in the hiring process is there to assist. It is a structure that companies should embrace when looking to hire the candidates they deem to be the best.