Regardless of the job market, it’s critical for a TA organization to understand how it attracts and converts talent. In a candidate-driven market, speed without sacrificing quality is critical. In a candidate-rich marketplace, understanding how to dial down volume while maintaining your employment brand becomes important.
Recruiting and hiring is a mega-process containing multiple paths and interrelated sub-processes. And within each process, individual tasks and steps.
This part is key. Without it, you cannot possibly draw a picture of how you hire. Most hiring organizations don’t fully understand the big picture. A good analogy is the Indian fable “the blind men and the elephant”:
The key is to understand every step, from how your target market gains awareness of your employment brand, to application and hiring. It includes how your organization identifies hiring needs, and internal approvals. It goes in lots of directions.
For one example, most organizations find it useful to break their sourcing traffic into channels. What percentage of candidates were direct-sourced vs employee referrals vs direct-applies, etc.
Once you’ve mapped it all, is where you optimize by looking for inefficiencies, potential innovations, problems, etc. Adapt as necessary. Then: map it and create a funnel.
Bear in mind: this isn’t your full process map. That will likely look like a Shoots-and-Ladders board by the time you’re done with it. It may even incorporate the game Go - become three-dimensional. That said, it is a good way to communicate with your teams, hiring authorities, etc. And it’s a useful tool to watch for potential problems. If you see a “leak” in your sourcing funnel, you can then look at the various sourcing channels.
There are lots of opinions about “standard funnels” out there in recruitment blogs, but what it boils down to is: you have to do what’s best for you. Thankfully, there’s a well mapped process you can use to guide you as you adapt your funnel to match what you need, versus what some guru told you. There may be good reasons why you don’t really look at different stages/ organize them differently.
Recruiting professionals and hiring managers have a lot of different decision-making criteria to apply when hiring so they can build the most effective workforce. A properly utilized, and adapted, hiring funnel organizes the hiring process into easily understood and communicated steps to keep hiring teams on top of their strategy.
There are (roughly) seven stages of hiring that comprise the recruitment funnel.
The process starts wide and narrows down as you qualify candidates from your talent pool, and/ or they self-select out.
Ideally, a properly utilized hiring funnel organizes the hiring process into easily understood and implemented steps to keep recruiting teams on top of their hiring strategy.
It’s not enough to post jobs and interview candidates. You have to look at the entirety of your recruiting strategy and make sure it is operating at optimal levels to build a qualified talent pool that supports your organization’s hiring needs.
This can be intimidating - for good reason. That said it is critical to your success. In addition, once the hiring process is optimized, your entire team (yourself included) should reap numerous benefits, from less time on repetitive tasks to a greater ability to focus on strategic priorities. We recommend finding help. Most large organizations have internal resources for process mapping, but they tend to not deliver on optimization (understandably - it’s a specialized knowledge-set). There are external consultants who specialize in recruiting process and optimization, and it’s well worth the investment to consider them. Odds are they’ll help find enough savings in your current process to pay for themselves.
What happens when there are problems with the recruiting funnel? You lose good candidates and reduce the quality of your hiring process. You also lose recruiting dollars, because recruiting is expensive and problems waste money. It’s important to understand your recruiting funnel and keep tabs on each part of it to quickly fix problems and safeguard your recruiting budget.
Each stage will have sub-sections you should be able to look at, and compare easily (your system should be able to report on this for you). IE, within Sourcing you'll have your channels tracked individually. If the stage is struggling, look to see if any of the individual channels are struggling. That's the first place you look, and from there you can start to diagnose what's driving the issue. IE, if referrals are low, it could be an internal marketing problem, tech issue, or is there a deeper signal of employee resentment you should let your HR partner be aware of?
When it comes to quality, it's possible to tie that to a source. Each hire will over time get performance reviews, raises, promotions, etc. When you are not getting the quality candidates you need, look at each part of your funnel and make adjustments where necessary. Starting at the beginning, make sure your employer brand is strong and applicants know what your organization does and what it values. Check all your social media channels to make sure they are reaching the candidates you want. Ensure your brand reflects your company’s style and voice.
Go through each part of your recruitment funnel and examine it for gaps or inconsistencies. Look at your candidate pool and evaluate how to enlarge it to expand your funnel at the top and increase the number of job seekers available to build your workforce. If you’re not getting direct applications, check your job descriptions and job postings and make them more engaging and attractive to the top talent you need. And, look at where you are advertising - do you know which places perform better than others (ie, Indeed versus SMS campaigns vs consumer-focused advertising?) Ideally, you can also get a rough idea which channel was generating your top performing hires.
Look at each part of your funnel and evaluate it when it’s not functioning the way you need it to. Things like losing candidates after interviews and getting ghosted after offers need corrective action. It’s important to regularly evaluate your recruitment funnel and make improvements and adjustments.
You may know you have problems with your recruitment process, but to thoroughly understand how to fix them, you need to measure effectiveness. With regular evaluation and adjustments, your recruitment funnel will operate efficiently for successful hires. Measuring each process or step in your strategy allows you to optimize your entire program.
Crucial recruiting metrics include quality of hire, time to hire, time to fill, cost per hire, acceptance rate, candidates per opening, and turnover rate. Recruiting expert Lou Adler believes the most important recruiting metric is quality of hire and recommends measuring it in every part of your recruiting funnel. He believes that other metrics are secondary to quality of hire, which is the true end goal of the hiring process. While quality of hire is critical, it can be challenging to measure and starts with defining quality hires for your organization.
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports that while quality of hire metrics are critical, they are also challenging to understand and implement. A focus on efficiency and controlling cost tends to be the focus of many organizations, but experts say this is a mistake. Efficiency metrics are a starting point but will not produce the most impact. Typical quality of hire measures look at how fast new hires become highly productive, sales and revenue deliverables, retention rates, employee satisfaction surveys, and hiring manager input.
Recruiting professionals like say quality of hire metrics must include pre-and post-hire data around performance. Pre-hire quality of hire includes candidate quality, new-hire attrition, candidate assessments, and time-to-fill. Adler recommends looking at hires by recruiter and hiring manager, sourcing channels, and referrals, and says benchmark data is important to show gaps and improvements.
Post-hire quality includes looking at productivity, peer ranking, cultural fit, and engagement scores. When quality of hire measurements are the focus of the recruitment funnel metrics, the whole process is pointed to hiring success.
If your recruiting funnel isn’t working, you need to take action. Make sure you have the data needed to see accurately what is going on. When you look at the data, look for low numbers in different steps of your recruiting process, such as low applicants or losing qualified candidates after the interview. Review what competitors are doing and investigate whether adding other strategies is needed in your process.
When evaluating your recruiting funnel, everyone in your recruiting process should have insight and input. HR, recruiters, and hiring managers all have stakes in the recruitment funnel and a part in evaluating and improving it. Diverse opinions and viewpoints can generate innovative fixes and develop new strategies.