How to Get the Best Candidates in (and out) of Your Recruiting Funnel

Between LinkedIn’s Social RecruitIn staffing event in London, Talent Connect Anaheim and an HR Technology conference I attended, I have spoken with over 1000 recruiters, vendors and talent leaders over just this past month.

I was most surprised to hear about some amazing new ways to get more candidates than ever into your recruiting funnel. However, getting the best ones in and out still seems to be the challenge.

Below are some ways you can start tackling this “best in and out” problem.

First, you need a quality of hire metric that defines “best”

From a hiring standpoint, I suggest something like this Performance-based Hiring Job Fit Index as a means to measure pre-hire candidate quality. The cumulative score on all of the factors shown in the graphic below is a direct measure of candidate quality.

  • get candidates in recruiting funnel

5 ways get top talent in and out of your recruiting funnel

  1. Build talent branded microsites. Forget individual job postings - focus on creating compelling and easy-to-find job hubs. From there, you can drive people to individual jobs as they open up.
  2. Define the job, not the person taking the job. The best people are not interested in lateral transfers, so your jobs need to define the challenges and growth opportunities, instead of listing the skills required.
  3. Seek out prequalified referrals. Every study since 1982 identifies highly regarded referrals as the best source of talent. That’s why every recruiter needs to spend at least 60% of his/her time getting these referrals.
  4. Add a warm-up session  into your sourcing process. The  best passive candidates  are willing to discuss future career opportunities, but are not interested in being pushed.
  5. Measure the quality of your candidate pool. Use an A vs. B vs. C test to sample the pool. One way is to compare the referred candidates to those who are following your company and those who have applied. Use these measures to get a rough sense of quality: Track record, companies, recognition and promotions, turnover and years of experience vs. job level.

Be sure to measure and maximize throughout your recruiting process

  1. Convert strangers into acquaintances by mentioning a mutual connection and track the number of people who call you back. You’ll discover that just mentioning the referrer’s name increases your call back percentage by 50-100%.
  2. Narrow your focus to identify and recruit the “best” talent. I suggest recruiters spend most of their time contacting high quality referred prospects . Since these people are pre-qualified and they’ll call you back, all you need to do is recruit them.
  3. Implement a consultative recruiting process. Tell your prospects the definition of a career move is a 30% non-monetary increase  consisting of job stretch, job growth and a richer mix of more satisfying work. Then use the subsequent discussion to figure out if you can get there.
  4. Get the hiring manager involved early. You’ll increase your end-to-end yield if you add an exploratory call  with the hiring manager early in your process. As part of this, have the hiring manager invite the prospect onsite if the call goes well.
  5. Track best talent opt-in rates. The purpose of real time feedback metrics  is to ensure your processes are working properly. If you’ve tagged your best candidates at the top of the funnel by source, you’ll be able to see what percent emerge as finalists.

Close and hire the best talent on career growth, not compensation 

If you do all of the above and track it in real time, you will have better finalists. But, you’re not done yet. You still need to complete the assessment process and negotiate an offer.

While I could write a book on how to do this, the focus of this process is on offering the 30% non-monetary increase mentioned above. This is represented by these two factors in the Performance-based Hiring Job Fit Index: Maximizing the candidate’s intrinsic motivators and ensuring the job represents a true career move.

This is where recruiters and hiring managers need to work together as partners. It requires some give and take to ensure you’re offering the right job to the right person at the right time. If the candidate doesn’t fully appreciate this job as a career move, it doesn’t matter how qualified the person is or how much you pay the person. In the end, they will underperform.

That’s why you must define the job in the beginning and find candidates who are fully qualified and highly motivated to do it. Then track your performance every step of the way. That’s how you maximize quality of hire.

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