How to DIY Your Recruiting: #4 Work the Funnel

To my surprise when I was getting started as an executive recruiter, marketing and recruiting move prospects through a similar funnel model to achieve a final outcome.  In the case of marketing, the goal is a loyal and engaged customer; for recruiting it is a loyal and engaged employee.  In this fourth installment of the DIY Recruiting series, we look at the funnel model and how strategically work through each stage to attract and hire the best talent.

At this stage, you’ll need to have done the pre-work to know your audience, differentiate your offering and tell your story, so check out the first three installments in this series if you need to catch up.

What’s the Funnel?

In marketing, the funnel is the customer journey from awareness, to consideration, to preference and, ideally, to purchase.  Some models go further to loyalty and evangelism, but for now we’ll stick to purchase as the final goal.  For this article, we will consider the recruiting funnel for a specific open position, though the principles can also apply if you are trying to build your overall recruiting pipeline or attract people to your talent community.

When attracting and hiring amazing talent, we can map the recruiting funnel to the marketing funnel.  Note, I’m going old-school on the marketing funnel because it is the simplest to understand.  Google “marketing funnel” if you want to see other versions and adaptations.

In both cases, we need to map each stage of the journey and create differentiated touchpoints to move the ideal prospects forward.  The goal is not to indiscriminately move everyone from top to bottom, but rather to qualify and sort along the way, ensuring that we are zeroing in on the ideal profile.


Generating Awareness

We’ve already talked quite a bit in Tell your Story about content marketing.  This tends to be “top of funnel” strategy – creating awareness of your employer brand with your target audience on a on a broad scale.  Here you are casting a broad net, making sure that your audience is aware of the company and the role.  At this stage, you are marrying your general employer branding with creating awareness around a specific job posting.  In this case, think about where you want to post the job outside of your own career page.  What is your ideal candidate profile and where is the best place to find this person?  It may be niche job boards, local career newsletters or broad-based sites like Linked or Indeed.


Creating Consideration

At the next stage in the funnel – often defined as Consideration in the marketing funnel – you are starting to whittle down your audience to those interested in and aligned with your job posting.  The prospective candidate is considering whether they want to apply for your job posting.  Or perhaps you have reached out to a targeted passive candidate, and they are considering whether they are open to making a change.  In either case, think about whether you have provided the right information for these prospective candidates to understand the role, connect with your employer brand, determine whether this opportunity is right for them and apply for the role.  Are there follow up touchpoints needed at this stage to provide additional information, further engage passive candidates or provide closure if the candidate is not the right fit?


Preference is a Process

In the marketing funnel, a prospect moves to Preference when they are preferring one option over the others but have not yet made a purchase.  In the case of hiring for an open job, we are moving candidates into preference as they enter the interview process.  At this stage, it is important to think about the touchpoints involved in your interview process and how they serve the needs of the candidate, as well as the organization.  At a high level, you need to ensure that there is a enough process, information and communication for both sides to assess the risk/reward of this potential match, but not so much process that candidates get fatigued with multiple rounds of interviews, repeating the same information and answering the same questions.  How to structure an interview process is a topic for another day, but the point is that at the preference stage, the candidate experience is critical and communication is key.


Buying In

The final stage in the marketing funnel – for purposes of this blog – is purchase.  This is the offer stage in the candidate journey.  At this stage, the candidate has gone from the top of the funnel, should have all of the information they need to determine if they are ready to “buy,” and accepts the offer.  Everyone celebrates, onboarding is smooth, and the candidate become successful and engaged.  Hooray!

But what about the other candidates that made it to the Preference stage?  They might not have been your first choice, but both they and you have spent a lot of time getting to know each other, learning about the company and building a relationship.  They might not be the right fit today, but their experience is still important.  Make sure that they end the process with a positive experience: be up-front, clear and timely about your decision to choose another candidate.  And think about how you might keep in touch with them moving forward.  They may have a place in your organization as your company grows, so maintain the relationship and encourage them to do the same.


You did it!   You’ve gone from defining your ideal candidate profile in installment 1 Know Your Audience, to defining your employer brand in installment 2 Differentiate Your Offering.  You built out your content marketing in installment 3 Tell Your Story and come full circle to hiring your ideal candidate here.  Congrats.

But what if you are an HR department of one, or a high growth company with no HR department?  While these best practices might sound great, they also sound like a lot of work, needing a lot of time that you don’t have.  That’s where marketing principle #5 comes in – Hire an Expert.  Stay tuned for the last installment of this series where we discuss when it makes sense to work with a third party.


Interested in learning more?  Check out my post 3 Ways Recruiting is Like Marketing.  And 3 Ways it’s Not.

Click here for more details on my training, Steal These 5 Marketing Fundamentals to Make the Best Hire