Smart employers borrow key concepts from sales teams and leverage recruitment software to create talent funnels.


Photo credit: Inflexion Point blog at

Photo credit: Inflexion Point blog at

Talk to any sales person at your company and ask about the sales funnel. They’ll know exactly what you’re talking about. Sales organizations use “the funnel” to gain more control over their sales processes as they move prospective customers from an initial level of interest to the point where they are qualified leads and then converted into customers. It’s a tried and true process that is designed for efficiency, transparency and accountability. No sales team these days is successful without technology to help automate stage-specific tasks and to track potential new business through the funnel.

Undoubtedly you made a business case to use recruitment software at your company because of the efficiencies it brings to the hiring process. Recruiting leaders can leverage management’s familiarity with the sales funnel to emphasize the importance of a repeatable hiring process, since sales and recruiting share so many similarities, noted a recent post at Entrepreneur. In fact, if you are having trouble convincing management that you need an applicant tracking system (or a better one), remind the powers at be that they wouldn’t go to market without the sales team having the right tools. Is hiring less important than sales? That’s not what CEOs are saying according to this survey by PWC.

At the start of the process, a sales funnel will use content (phone calls, emails, marketing ads) that will attract the attention prospective customers. This is similar to when you use recruitment software to post job advertisements designed to appeal to specific people with the right skills and experience. At the top of the funnel, there may be a significant number of potential applicants (think of this as your inventory of leads). Their ranks will thin as the recruiting team processes and moves people deeper down the funnel.

At the next level of the funnel, the sales team engages prospects more discretely. Prospective customers are also taking time to explore a company’s website, but are given access to the most valuable information only after they provide the company with something in return, such as their contact information or commitment to participate in a product demonstration. The same principle applies to recruiting, as you will require candidates to demonstrate interest by filling out an online employment application or submitting a resume. Just as with a sales funnel, at this stage, you are filtering out people who are just browsing and who don’t qualify for the positions you’ve advertised.

Pro Tip: Be weary of recruitment software that claims to score, rank and filter candidates for you. These tools, even when set up with the best intentions, create more risk than benefit. Real people (that’ s you) still have the best heuristics engines to screen job applicants. Plus, filtering tools often introduce compliance risks. Furthermore, do you think your sales team would want to have a questionable filter on their leads?

As your sales team converts leads that were qualified through marketing into sales- qualified leads, you can do a similar process with the right applicant tracking system as you identify the most promising candidates and move them through the next steps of your recruiting process. This counterpart to customer qualification involves phone and on-site interviews. At the very end of the funnel, both sales and recruiting teams are transacting (closing) on prospects that have made it through the process.

Pro Tip: Would your sales team send a prospective customer a form to fill out before a sales meeting? Would they require a prospect to video themselves answering questions before the first phone call? Does the sales team make prospects take a test before the first meeting? Probably not. If you’re going to create extra steps in the talent funnel (not advisable), be very thoughtful about where you include these steps as these extra steps often gum up the recruiting engine and lead to low candidate throughput.

When you start looking at the recruitment process in terms of a funnel, it’s easier to focus your energy and time on what matters most. It’s also a great way to substantiate upgrading your recruitment software to a system that naturally is designed to create a talent funnel. And, perhaps, most importantly, considering the concept of a sales funnel as applied to recruiting will remind us that the more stages and complexity we add to the funnel, the less likely we are to have the opportunity to close top candidates quickly.

Interested in a flexible applicant tracking system that naturally acts as a talent funnel? Contact a Newton applicant tracking system specialist today. Newton is designed by recruiting and sales professionals who have worked together to design an intuitive product that works like recruiting works from day one without having to change the ways you and your teams work.


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