“Recognizing where funnel management goes wrong, offers the opportunity to figure out where things go right”

Nurture Recruitment, Don’t Micromanage It

The science behind recruitment funnels feels a bit like meteorology. We talk about them regularly, almost ad nauseam, despite not always understanding how they operate. At the same time, recruitment funnels, like the weather forecast, feel highly personal, unique to every organization, and subject to change at any time. Preparing to build one takes data and analytics to model the possibilities, only to see the entire thing fall apart the second a variable enters into the picture. Even so, there’s something about recruitment funnels, like those beloved television weather personalities (shout out, Al Roker), that the industry just can’t quit. 

Understand the Problem

None of this is to say that funnels can’t work, when in fact, most of the time, they do. The problem is a collective obsession with somehow perfecting recruitment through the funnel. The same goes for recruitment technology point solutions. That’s entirely too much pressure to put on any one strategy or program. Relying on one funnel to do all of the heavy lifting will cause it to collapse in on itself (which isn’t that crazy when you think about the shape in question – basic geometry). 

Recruitment funnels are one way to approach recruiting, not the only way. Recognizing where funnel management goes wrong, offers the opportunity to figure out where things go right. And having analyzed thousands over the years, the answer is: in the visualization. That’s right. Recruitment funnels are best used to visualize the process, from end to end, and looking at them as a tool, organizations benefit from a clear cut understanding of priorities, responsibilities, timelines, and deliverables. Trying to rely on funnel building to micromanage recruiting, is where hiring teams get themselves into trouble. Because at its core, recruitment remains a human function and like any living organism, needs fuel and care to optimize performance.

Conduct New Research

By backing off the recruitment funnel and taking a moment to see the bigger picture, it’s possible to redirect that extra energy into lead nurturing. Let the funnel run on autopilot, serving more like a support system while spending some time engaging your target audience. Chances are, the models and personas used to create the funnel are evolving, and now is the perfect opportunity to get reacquainted with today’s candidates. Who they are and what they want changes almost every day, and by focusing too much on the internal and not enough on the external, you risk losing touch – a factor that’s become increasingly important in the current market. 

In addition to job seekers, talk to people in similar roles at different organizations to learn what’s working in their world, go on social media and join the ongoing conversations taking place via #RecruiterTwitter and related hashtags, there’s a whole big world out there beyond the edge of your funnel. Explore it. Meet with other members of your team, whether that’s sourcers, other recruiters, or even hiring managers. Reflect on conversations, with candidates and colleagues, to determine their engagement level. Apply the findings in different scenarios to see which tactics keep them interested.  

Find a Solution

Going back to the weather, it’s important to note that recruiters don’t have the luxury of making the wrong hire over and over again. Even if the forecast isn’t 100 percent on the nose, it needs to be passable. That’s why it’s near impossible for the funnel to manage the process from start to finish. A lack of human involvement, reviewing and rewriting the narrative as candidates move from stage to stage, outcomes derail, and progress falls entirely off course. Intervention, early and often, ensures that friendly face appears from time to time, making sure that everyone involved has what they need when they need it. 

There’s ample research to back all of this up, from the Talent Board Candidate Experience Awards program to the SmashFly Recruitment Marketing Benchmarks Report. Candidates demand communication from potential employers – automated or not. Sure, some funnels accomplish this, but whether or not those rank highly among the applicants they interact with remains to be seen. By taking that part of the process out of the funnel and putting it back into the hands of hiring teams, organizations regain control of recruitment management. Free from the constraints of the framework mentioned above, recruiters become better able to pivot and adjust as needs dictate, supporting improved outcomes along the way. 

This article is, of course, just scratching the surface on what it takes to move away from aggressive funnel rule to a more freeform, nurture-based recruitment strategy. Remember that right now, folks are cursing their weather person and wondering why it’s raining when the forecast predicted sunshine. But seriously, as we scurry toward 2020, take stock of those 2019 accomplishments, and think long and hard about what success might look like next year – funnel or not. 

Check out our upcoming webinar on this topic featuring Shally Steckerl:

Funnel & Lead Management For Sourcers, Recruiters, and Hiring Managers

Ryan Leary

Ryan Leary helps create the processes, ideas and innovation that drives RecruitingDaily. He’s our in-house expert for anything related to sourcing, tools or technology. A lead generation and brand buzz building machine, he has built superior funnel systems for some of the industries top HR Tech and Recruitment brands. He is a veteran to the online community and a partner here at RecruitingDaily.