The Truth About Your Candidate Funnel

The Truth About Your Candidate Funnel


No doubt, the recruiting practice has made tremendous strides when it comes to thinking and acting like marketers. We can all agree there has been a concentrated importance placed on taking these same “marketing” principles and applying them to how employers interact with prospective candidates (and employees) much like their counterparts do on the consumer side. Add to that all the hype around candidate experience and we start to see the foundation solidifying as a valuable metric within the talent management strategies that companies are putting in place.

More importantly, we are now witnessing CEOs wanting visibility into these talent management metrics reports a Harvard Business Review study. They are realizing that candidate experience, like customer experiences, have a direct correlation to their business and profitability margin—and thankfully, they are beginning to carve out and approve a budget for these initiatives. Take Virgin Media for example, a recent article in Forbes suggests that their recruiting budget for the year, could have been funded and paid for if they had made only slight modifications to candidate experience outcomes. The percentages may be low at first glance, but the impact turned out to be eye-opening to the bottom line by millions and millions of dollars.

The mindset of talent acquisition leaders has changed rapidly as companies wake up to the reality that, in many cases, candidates are also your customers (or potential customers, or at the very least influencers of potential customers). Just as a business needs to understand the full lifetime value of a customer, so too does your HR/recruitment operation.

Marketing has for years been focused on conversion rate optimizing its websites to improve how people flow through a brand experience in order to increase the ROI. This has morphed into the HR world as “Candidate Journey [Experience] Mapping” which is essentially the same thing.  Read how Home Depot put the practice into motion. This exercise allows organizations to create an experience that will not only keep candidates (customers) interested in a brand, but one that lures new customers in as well. The talent (customer) pool is already there – however, the smart companies will realize more needs to be done to engage and excite prospective candidates from initial contact.


If we take all that into consideration, how talent engagement is measured is still a bit behind the times of our fellow marketers. The technology that we have in place today, in most cases, to develop content, personalize interactions, support brand connectedness, measure results, doesn’t start at the top. More than likely it starts somewhere in the middle, and more often, at the end of the entire recruitment lifecycle. We still have little visibility of what is truly happening at the top of that candidate funnel, and why they are falling off. We’ve been focused on research that measures the overall experience through the entire hiring (or often not-hiring) process. While I believe that is a tremendous advancement, most HR teams aren’t aware they have a problem at the top of their candidate funnel, as they don’t really have direct insight into what that really means or what’s impacting it.

As an organization, do you have the stats for these questions if your CEO asked?

  • How many prospective candidates come to your site and search jobs and leave?
  • Where do they leave on your career site and why?
  • How many start an application process and abandon it, and where does this happen?
  • Do you have these specifics as it relates to individual jobs or classifications of jobs? Do entry level candidates leave more often than experienced engineering talent for example?
  • Do you have a mechanism in place to see (a recording of sorts) what they experienced during that visit to cause frustration or abandonment?
  • What percentage of your career site traffic converts?
  • What value or score would they give your process after just completing it?

Imagine if you were shopping in a store, went up to the cash register, hands full of merchandise, dropped the goods on the counter, and for whatever reason just walked away. This is how I view the top of the candidate funnel. It is a vast number in comparison to those in the middle or the end of your conversion path, the place where we are presently putting most of the value on candidate experience. I believe it should be much earlier.

Think about the numbers for a moment. A multi-year study by Appcast analyzed the click-to-apply ratio for 500,000 mobile and desktop applications across every major applicant tracking system in 16 major industries. With only 8 out of every 100 people who visit your career site will complete the application process (drops to under 2 on mobile), that is literally thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of opportunities missed.

Shawna Berthold
Co-founder and EVP of Marketing & Operations

Talentegy Try it for Free