The Recruiting Funnel: What it is and How to Use it

The Symphony Talent Team
November 1 ․ 9 min read

Symphony Talent Recruiting Funnel

One term we use a lot when speaking about Symphony Talent and our capabilities is the Recruiting Funnel. Our colleagues in marketing have been thinking in terms of sales funnels for quite some time; however, the funnel concept in recruitment marketing is still somewhat new. So to make sure we’re all on the same page, here’s a quick overview of exactly what a Recruiting Funnel is – and how you can leverage it to your advantage.  

From a practical standpoint all funnels represent a process for narrowing down a wide audience, where each step is measured and optimized. On the consumer side it helps prospects stay interested and eventually become customers. In our space the funnels helps keep candidates engaged and eventually  become valuable employees.

Is it the same as the candidate journey?

Well, sort of. Both the Recruiting Funnel and the candidate journey are about engagement, and there are many points where they intersect.

At Symphony Talent, we define a candidate journey as the set of experiences – and touchpoints – a potential candidate goes through on the route to exploring a career opportunity. In contrast, a typical Recruiting Funnel consists of five levels that help companies narrow down a large talent pool and attract, assess and hire the best possible candidates for a specific role. You could say the funnel “flips” the scenario to the recruiter’s perspective. Candidates might be very aware of their own “journey” but not recognize it as being part of a funneling process.

Let’s go through the funnel level by level and look at what goes into building a full-funnel recruiting stack that creates a seamless candidate experience, drives adoption and improves the experience for both candidates and recruiters.

Level One – the Career Website

The top of the Recruiting Funnel is really all about creating awareness of your employer brand – irrespective of whether a potential candidate is a good fit for a role. At this stage, visitors are introduced to your organization, its mission and your Employee Value Proposition (EVP). It’s not enough to simply post a job; you also need to include enough information about your company to help candidates see you're a great choice as an employer. You also want to capture enough basic information (such as an email) to drive engagement to the next level.

Level Two - the Apply Process

If you’re using a programmatic media platform the candidate information you captured at the top of the Recruiting Funnel can now be used to place ads on the best-fit job boards and other media channels your candidates visit frequently. This mirrors the experience consumers have when they visit a site such as and receive updates and additional information about purchase they’re considering – as well as suggestions about similar items in which they may also be interested.  

Today’s candidates are no longer open to a lengthy, drawn out experience. Best in class organizations streamline the process as much as possible and use AI and machine learning platforms to deliver an immersive, omnichannel experience that’s highly targeted, personalized and engaging.

At this stage about 36% of those who initially express some interest in the role move forward with an application. A great way to increase this rate is by making your application process mobile and “checkout style,” much like a shopping cart on a retail consumer site.  

Level Three – the Interview

At this level, you should be using AI and machine learning to nurture the candidates you plan to interview and keep them interested in your company and the opportunity. Aside from the actual face-to-face, you should be supplying them with additional specifics about the role and the environment they’ll be working in.

By now you should also have enough information about your candidate to conduct an interview that shows you really “know” their needs and aspirations - and follow up with messaging (perhaps in the form of an email drip campaign) that contains more details about how to move forward.

Level Four – the Offer

By now, you should expect that your candidate has done due diligence researching not only your own organization, but also what your competitors are providing in terms of compensation, work/life balance and benefits for similar opportunities. This is where you could leverage employee stories and testimonials to further reinforce what make you the best choice.

Congratulations – and good work! At this point you can expect about 90% of your candidates to accept your offer.

Level 5 – the Hire

Welcome aboard! And remember, your newest hires are also your newest employee advocates – and great ambassadors for your employer brand. Leverage a talent advocacy platform to get their message out there on social media to continue building awareness and fill your talent pipeline.

Talent acquisition is complex with many moving parts, and I hope this gives you a general idea of how a Recruiting Funnel works and some of the strategies and technologies you should consider using to attract quality talent.

Want to know the top 5 HR technology trends on the horizon for 2020? View our free webinar on demand featuring Madeline Laurano, Founder of Aptitude Research, Susan Russell, Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition at Nestlé Waters North America, and Symphony Talent's Shannon Seery - Download now.

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Craving more info on how to build your talent pipeline and recruiting funnel? Our partners at the Chad & Cheese Podcast dive into this with industry experts.