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Optimizing Your Recruitment Funnel in 4 Simple Steps

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A well-built recruitment funnel isn’t just helpful for talent teams who want to be more productive in their day-to-day and better communicate and collaborate with key stakeholders.

It’s also essential to bolster one’s pipeline with high-quality candidates who are well-suited for open and future roles and can be interviewed and hired in a quick and efficient fashion.

And yet, as Wharton School Center for Human Resources Director Peter Cappelli wrote for Harvard Business Review, for too many companies today, “the main effort to improve hiring — virtually always aimed at making it faster and cheaper — has been to [simply] shovel more applicants into the funnel,” irrespective of quality or relevance.

Add on dated recruiting practices that remain prevalent among many TA teams — from nurturing prospects manually to tracking candidates’ statuses in disparate tools — and it’s clear it’s time for these talent orgs to optimize their recruitment funnels.

How to improve your team’s recruitment funnel effectiveness (and core hiring metrics) in four steps

Here’s how we’ve seen Lever customers, small and large, enhance their recruitment funnel structure and processes and, in turn, transform how they recruit and hire with LeverTRM.

Step #1: Evaluate your high-level recruitment funnel and full-cycle recruiting process.

Improvement is an ongoing process. No talent strategy is perfect.

Continual evaluation in terms of how you get candidates and move them from one stage of the recruitment process to the next is the only way to boost performance.

Some questions we tell LeverTRM users to ask regularly to elevate their hiring efforts include:

  • Is our pipeline healthy (i.e., do we have a group of strong job candidates with whom we can engage?)
  • Are we meeting our target goals for core metrics (e.g., time to hire, cost per hire, conversion rate)?
  • Is our employer branding ‘infused’ in our recruitment marketing (e.g., career site, job descriptions)?
  • Do we make the application process easy/straightforward for candidates who apply/want to apply?
  • Are we moving qualified candidates of interest swiftly through the recruitment funnel? If not, why?
  • What bottlenecks are there in our recruitment process that have been and/or need to be addressed?
  • How many interviews/interview stages does it take to go from initial prospect engagement to hiring?
  • What percent of new employees are deemed ‘quality hires’ by hiring managers and human resources?

These are obviously just some high-level Qs to ask yourself. The point is the only way to strengthen your recruitment model is to revisit the state of your funnel often (e.g., biweekly, monthly) and take action on the insights gleaned from examining your TA efforts.

For instance, if you notice candidates at large or certain subsets of prospects (e.g., those who are being courted for certain positions or teams) are ‘stagnant’ in your recruitment funnel (i.e., sitting in one stage for several days or even weeks), that’s a problem in your hiring process worth resolving ASAP to prevent them from withdrawing.

recruitment funnel effectiveness

Step #2: Closely review your candidate experience and performance metrics as well.

The above questions focus on high-level, qualitative components of your recruiting program. It’s vital to remember there are quantitative metrics — two tiers, to be more specific — associated with your recruitment funnel your team must also monitor to grow:

  • Candidate experience metrics: The time prospects remain in each recruitment funnel stage, how long it takes to go from the final interview to offer stage, the candidate Net Promoter Score (based on a CX survey sent after the interview process), abandonment and completion rate (i.e., number/percentage of potential candidates who did and didn’t finish the application process)
  • Recruiting performance metrics: Quality of candidates added to the talent pipeline (based on how well they align with specs in requisitions/job descriptions), quality of hires (based on hiring manager feedback in the weeks and months following onboarding), time to fill/hire (by role, team, department, and/or location), quality of origin/source of hire, job offer acceptance rate

Meeting specific KPIs related to sourcing and hiring quotas that are set by talent leaders (and possibly even the executive team) is certainly priority number one for your team today.

That means constantly assessing how to improve crucial tasks tied to your recruitment funnel (e.g., prospect outreach through personalized nurtures) is your path to better performance.

That said, you still need to focus on delivering a world-class candidate experience while making the requisite adjustments to your recruiting efforts to make progress with key hiring metrics.

“Think about how you can show up authentically,” Lever Director of Recruiting Caitlyn Metteer told HR Morning. “If you lead [your recruiting process] with empathy, you can’t go wrong.”

recruitment funnel

Step #3: Develop an action plan based on this data to make big and small changes.

This analysis won’t do you and your team any good if you don’t use the info and data to rectify inadequacies in your recruitment process: both substantial alterations and minor upgrades.

Some examples of large-scale changes you can make to your recruitment funnel:

  • Determine if your ‘ideal candidate profile’ needs a refresh (e.g., do you still want to solely engage candidates with college degrees, or are you willing to speak with non-graduate prospects?).
  • See if any changes need to be made to recruiters’ ‘niches’ (i.e., the specific roles they tend to fill and/or the teams to which they’re ‘assigned’) to ensure each talent specialist is set up for success.
  • Where applicable, build workflows that streamline and speed up certain elements of your recruiting efforts to more quickly advance job seekers through your interview and offer processes.

On the flip side, there are some instances of ‘low-lift’ alterations you can make too:

  • Assess each interview stage, and add, modify, and/or eliminate them as you see fit (e.g., if one stage takes too long to complete and leads to funnel abandonment, revamp or remove them).
  • Adjust the brand messaging on your career page, social media presence, and job boards to make it clear the types of employees you’re looking for and, ideally, improve the quality of applicants.
  • Test the copy, cadence, and schedule of your nurture campaigns to improve engagement (Tip: Identify your best-performing nurture and replicate its ‘structure’ for other targeted nurtures).

Of course, your talent acquisition efforts are unique to your business. That means there are certainly other areas of your recruiting you should inspect regularly and ameliorate as needed.

But these facets of your TA strategy are worth revisiting often to streamline your funnel.

Step #4: Analyze your optimizations in the weeks and months after implementation.

Data clarifies the path to talent only if it drives decisions and actions,” Gartner’s Jackie Wiles recently wrote. And it’s true: Data is only useful when it’s — well — used appropriately.

Once you’ve ‘repaired’ problem areas with your recruiting, it’s critical to use your talent analytics to evaluate whether your TA metrics and overall performance progress or regress.

Some of the must-measure elements of your recruitment funnel include:

  • How and where your team sources new talent: Ditch sources that lead to low-quality hires and double-down on the ones that lead to employees who contribute considerably to growth
  • Each recruiter’s nurture approach: The level of candidate engagement with nurtures will vary from one recruiter to another, but each TA specialist can learn from others’ campaigns, not just their own
  • The effectiveness of your interview process: Track interview panelists’ parts in your interviews (e.g., how long it takes them to provide feedback) along with time in stage for each job seeker
  • The velocity and efficiency of the offer process: At the end of the day, speed is the name of the game. You need to discern if you’re moving prospects from screening to the offer stage as quickly as possible (without sacrificing the quality of the candidate experience)

Again, what you and your TA team consider the most important recruiting metrics for your business will differ from other organizations. But these are aspects of your overall talent acquisition efforts you can’t afford to not analyze daily and take action on.

Looking to optimize your recruitment funnel and improve your hiring process? Download our structured hiring eBook to learn how you can improve your talent acquisition efficiency.

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