Your Guide to Perfecting Your Recruitment Funnel

How’s your recruitment process? Is it cost-effective? Is it efficient? Is it helping you make the best decisions?

To figure this out, it helps to see your hiring efforts from a sales or marketing perspective.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss recruitment funnels – what they are and how you can improve yours to increase your number of applications and convert more leads into hires.

Conversion Funnel: You Already Have One

Digital Marketer co-founder Richard Lindner defines the conversion funnel as a multi-step, multi-modality process that “seamlessly and subtly leads a prospect toward a desired action.”

He notes that:

  • It’s multi-step because it’s made up of stages, each one designed to lead the prospect deeper into it.
  • It’s a process because each stage involves a number of tasks, elements, and events. 
  • It’s seamless and subtle because it’s designed to remove the obstacles and objections that prevent prospects from taking action.

If this sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because you likely already have a conversion funnel in place. Your sourcing strategies and your methods for converting leads into hires – your recruiting process, essentially – are what make up your recruitment funnel.

Why Use The Conversion Funnel Framework

If you haven’t looked at your recruitment process through the conversion funnel framework yet, here’s why you should consider it.

Picturing your process as a funnel will help you break down the goal of improving the recruiting process into concrete and achievable tasks.

Seeing it through a marketing lens can also help you discover opportunities to increase engagement and improve the candidate experience.

Recruitment Funnel Stages

Sales funnels are essentially made up of the following 4 stages:

  1. Awareness
  2. Interest
  3. Decision
  4. Action

Recruiting professionals have adapted the framework above to suit their specific needs. 

In this blog post, we’ll look at conversion funnel stages as seen by recruiters, and suggest ways you might improve each one.

1. Awareness

The awareness stage is where a potential candidate first learns about a company or product, or, in marketing terms, it’s when they enter the conversion funnel.

Without knowing your company, a potential applicant isn’t likely to visit your company’s website or social media pages, but they might learn about you through other means, such as:

a) Events your company hosts or sponsors;

b) News and stories about your company in the media and in industry publications;

c) Mentions of your company by industry leaders and other companies.

Questions to ask at this stage:

  • What events – online and offline – would make sense for my company to organize? Check out these 11 recruiting event ideas for inspiration.
  • What opportunities are there for getting press about my company? Consider hiring a PR professional or firm to help you identify and take advantage of these opportunities. 

2. Interest

In recruiting, the interest or attraction stage is when a lead takes a step to learn more about a company. That might mean subscribing to a monthly newsletter, downloading an ebook, signing up for a webinar or following the company on social media.

To increase conversions here, it helps to:

a. Identify the knowledge and information your company possesses that can be shared through blog articles, social media posts, ebooks and more. This content isn’t about your product or service per se, but more about the problem it solves. 

b. Have a clearly defined employee value proposition or EVP. An EVP is an overview of the benefits, perks and opportunities available to current and future employees.

Questions to ask at this stage:

  • Does my company have a clearly defined employer brand? Does every member of the team have ownership of the brand? Consider educating the entire team about your brand values and how employer branding is everyone’s job
  • How can my company provide value to people not familiar with our products and services? What knowledge can we share? Learn about inbound marketing as a method for increasing awareness of your brand
  • How’s our social media presence? How engaged is our audience? Consider developing an effective social media strategy to showcase your company culture and your EVP, as described in example 1 of 11 Examples of Amazingly Creative Recruitment Ideas. Make a point of highlighting employee stories.

3. Application

This is the stage when candidates apply for a job.

Increasing conversion rates here is linked to effective design and communications, so make sure you recruit team members from these departments to offer their insight into how you can make things better.

Questions to ask at this stage:

  • Am I creating custom job descriptions for every new job opening? How are my job postings performing? Consider making job descriptions more inclusive – see step 1 in 9 Steps to Master Diversity Recruiting – and using AI to choose words more likely to appeal to your target audience.
  • Is my company career site informative and compelling? Consider adding employee-generated content that paints a clear picture of what job seekers can expect about working for your organization. Check out Careers at Airbnb and Pinterest Careers for inspiration. 
  • What reputation does my company have? How much exposure? Consider monitoring employer review websites such as Glassdoor, Indeed, Comparably and Careerbliss; creating Google alerts for your company; and using a tool such as Hootsuite for social listening
  • What is our application completion/abandonment rate? Your recruiting efforts might be going to waste if your application process isn’t effective, as explained in this article about recruiting metrics. If your application process isn’t optimized for mobile, make that a top priority.
  • What are my sources of hire? Various Job boards? Employee referrals?
    Which one(s) deliver the best results? Consider adding source of hire as to the list of recruiting metrics you should be watching.

4. Selection

This is the stage in which candidates participate in tests and interviews.

Ways to improve this stage of the recruitment funnel include communicating clearly and transparently; taking measures to prevent bias; finding ways of making the process more engaging and less taxing on candidates.

Questions to ask at this stage:

  • Am I assessing the right skills and traits? Consider doing standardized interviews to ensure the process is fair for everyone
  • Am I setting accurate expectations? Be clear and transparent when providing information about salaries, benefits and career paths?
  • Are there ways to make the process more efficient? More interesting? Less biased? Consider using technology to speed up the hiring process, make it more engaging, and remove unconscious bias
  • How am I rejecting candidates? Being honest and respectful will leave a positive impression and help your company maintain a good reputation.

5. Job Offer

This is where the recruiter and/or hiring manager chooses a candidate and sends them an offer.

Here, it helps to have listened to the candidate throughout the process to understand what it is they value and what their specific needs are.

It’s also important to set clear expectations by providing detailed information about the job.

Questions to ask at this stage:

  • Based on what the candidate has told me, what is the most enticing offer I can make? In previous stages, consider asking them what would make them leave their current job, or how they wish their current job was different – that is, if they are employed. If they mentioned having trouble finding work-life balance, consider highlighting this as an advantage in the position you’re offering.
  • What salary and benefits can we offer? What training and advancement opportunities are there? Refer to your Employee Value Proposition for details.
  • Is my message generic? Consider including your offer in a thoughtful, personalized email. 


Approaching the recruiting process from a marketing perspective can better equip you to find top talent. Spend time thinking about each stage of your recruitment funnel and how you might be able to improve it. In time, you’ll see your efforts pay off in improved recruitment metrics, including a shorter time to hire, increased quality of hire and increased rate of offers accepted.