Creating TA Funnels to Increase Applicants

Andrew LevyBy Andrew Levy
October 10th, 2022 • 5 Minutes

Finding the right talent and building strong teams isn’t easy in today’s incredibly competitive and candidate-driven job market. Recent data suggests that the traditional, unscalable and siloed mechanisms of recruitment are partially to blame. That’s why many leading companies are evolving their recruitment process to create talent acquisition funnels, which are similar to sales and marketing funnels. 

This guide will show you how to implement a TA funnel and orient you to some of the most important metrics.

What Is a TA Funnel?

Think like a customer shopping for a new car.  What are all of the touchpoints and steps that you follow throughout the buyer’s journey to learn about the product, evaluate all of your potential opportunities and make your decision? That process represents a typical marketing funnel and a talent acquisition funnel functions in a similar way.

Stages of a TA Funnel

The exact makeup of your TA funnel may depend on your unique company or industry, but generally, you can expect a funnel to move from the top – down to the hiring phase at the funnel’s end. This encompasses the following stages:

  • Awareness stage: The prospective applicant gets to know your company
  • Consideration stage: The prospective applicant considers joining your company
  • Interest stage: The prospective applicant searches for an opening
  • Application stage: The applicant submits interest in a specific position
  • Selection stage: The company and applicant determine whether they’re a good fit
  • Hiring: The applicant becomes a new hire
  • Preboarding stage: Engaging with the applicant after they accept an offer
  • Onboarding stage: Day one through day ~90

Note: The actual application happens relatively late in the overall process. Again, this is different from traditional approaches that start with an application. But, the funnel doesn’t end when the application is completed. As a talent marketer, your strategy should drive candidates to show up for day one and thrive early in their role.

A funnel will give your company a chance to showcase its unique brand, ensuring that you attract a broader range of talent and find the right fit.

How Is a TA Funnel Different From HR?

HR teams usually approach the talent acquisition process by first starting with a job description and then screen applicants who match the job requirements.

The TA funnel takes more of a marketing approach to the entire process. Depending on your company or industry, implementing this approach may feel a bit more like selling yourself to your applicants rather than simply waiting for the right talent to seek you out. 

In some cases, this actually means creating paid advertisements in the same way that you conduct a social media campaign. Once again, this is a different tactic than simply posting on traditional career-building websites without a comprehensive TA strategy. In other cases, interactions with your company’s product and current employees can influence the process.

What you’re effectively doing is creating a recruitment pipeline and inviting applicants to walk through various stages of the process with the end goal being employment.

What Are the Most Important Metrics in the Talent Acquisition Process?

Naturally, you’ll need to find specific touch points throughout the process. Along the way, employers will have to evaluate the process according to specific metrics. But what are the most important metrics, and what do these metrics tell you?

Overall, your metrics can tell you the return on investment of your recruiting process. 

Here are two crucial metrics to pay attention to along the way.

Application Conversion Rates

Conversion rates measure the ability of your marketing efforts to attract applicants. 

If your current efforts aren’t working, you may need to work harder to communicate your employer brand and/or optimize your marketing spend across channels. 

Remember, in a funnel, you’ll be relying on a multi-pronged approach rather than one tactic in particular.

Paid Channels vs. Traditional (Organic) Channels

More tellingly, it may help to compare conversion rates of paid channels vs. traditional recruitment channels. That means looking at two key questions:

  • What percentage of applicants make it from the paid site to an on-site interview?
  • What percentage of applicants come from a career site to an on-site interview?

You can compare these two metrics against one another to determine whether your paid channels are yielding a different ratio of prospective candidates than traditional sites like Indeed or LinkedIn. Ideally, you want your paid ratios to be close to your free ratios — if not better.

What Metrics Should I Evaluate at Each Stage of the Funnel?

The above metrics are helpful for evaluating the entire process, but it can also be helpful to slow down and look at certain metrics associated with each stage. Here are some things to examine during each phase of your TA funnel.

  • Awareness stage: Clicks, click-through rate (CTR), new visitors per page
  • Consideration stage: Likes, comments, shares, bounce rate, returning visitors
  • Interest stage: Page views of specific openings or email inquiries
  • Application stage: Number of applications started vs. applications submitted, number of views to your jobs vs. applications submitted
  • Selection stage: Email open rate, feedback from non-selected candidates

The great thing about this approach is that all of these metrics are readily available through your company’s website dashboard, applicant tracking system, social media marketing platform or other digital services. 

An Example Trial

How might you go about creating your own TA funnel? Here’s what the process might look like when you’re designing a trial.

1. Select Your Roles

For most companies, the end goal will be to obtain new hires. Start by selecting some potential roles from within your organization and use those to test out some paid channels and try to drive paid traffic toward them.

2. Set Your Goals

Understand more about the current state of the recruitment landscape for the roles you’re planning to market. What should`t be improved? Is the issue awareness? Are you having trouble selling the opportunity once they apply? Understanding the issues in the funnel should inform what channels you select in your marketing plan.

3. Select Your Paid Channels

There are plenty of channels that you can leverage for recruitment advertising, but it’s best to use media that you can adjust based on the results that you see in the funnel such as performance-based advertising. These can be viewed as two main groups (though you may not have the budget to start with all of them at once).

It is highly efficient to use job programmatic advertising to automate and distribute your jobs across a large network of job sites based on down funnel results. 

There are also options for performance-based ads that you can use that do not depend on the job posting but offer more creative campaigning through other channels such as Google, display ads and social media.

Remember, your goal at this point will be to drive users to these roles and see if they enter the funnel and move toward the actual hiring/selection phase.

4. Advertise on Free Sites

At the same time, you’ll also need to post these positions on traditional recruitment websites such as Indeed and Google for Jobs. This way, you’ll be able to compare raw numbers between your traditional hiring process and your PPC channels.

5. Compare Data

Soon enough, you’ll have data that compares the success rate of your PPC efforts with your free traffic. Ideally, your paid traffic should be equal to or greater than your free traffic. This will help you calculate a cost-per-hire for the roles you’ve selected.

6. Create a Budget

Equipped with these numbers, you’ll be able to craft a plan. This may require your organization to repurpose money from elsewhere to augment HR functions, but in the end, you’ll benefit from a streamlined TA process.

Do Funnel Metrics Bring Success?

I have had great success leveraging these metrics. In the past, I’ve encountered startups with no money set aside for recruitment marketing. But, after using this method with less than $50,000 for a trial, one company soon began designating $10 million each year to manage its rapid growth after starting the trial. Keep at it! Using data and showing your impact to leaders is feasible at every company.

A New Perspective on Hiring

At the end of the day, TA funnels can help make your recruitment efforts more successful and also more scalable. Leveraging a TA funnel helps you bring the right people through the door at just the right time. Having the data for the TA funnel allows you to tell the story to all stakeholders, where investment is needed and the results of that investment in a consistent, predictable and scalable way.

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