Your recruiting funnel is upside down. Five Ways CEOs Can Change This Right Now.


  • Do you remember the last time you were at a party or social gathering and someone asked you what you do for a living? (With Covid, it seems like a lifetime ago, but think back.)
  • Do you remember describing your work and observing that they were losing interest?
  • What if you could identify and measure when their attention was waning?
  • Would you talk about your job differently? The good news: you can do it with recruiting.
  • This article is part of CEOWORLD magazine’s ongoing series on Agenda of the C-Suite.
  • Visit the CEOWORLD magazine homepage for more articles.

Universum manages the world’s largest career preference survey. As a result, we connect with over 1.7 million respondents in over 60 countries and many of the world’s biggest brands. Sometimes we run into this problem with companies: they have a strong consumer brand with well-known positive associations of their applicants but cannot convert that interest into applications.

Ideally, it would be best to have a talent pool filled with candidates who understand your brand and business and who are increasingly interested in working for you as they learn more about what you do. However, greater awareness is not always ideal. Sometimes the more time and money companies spend on applicants, the less interested they are in applying. Often times, it’s because their communications focus on the wrong things. Rather than becoming a more attractive employer, these companies become less attractive to candidates who are deeper in their pipeline. Their recruiting funnel is “upside down”.

This funnel represents the pipeline of candidates for a well-known consumer goods company with high brand awareness, so it has a large pool of candidates to tap into. Consumers frequently associate this company with innovation and exciting products and services. Candidates enter this company’s pipeline with a positive image. They associate the company with a strong consumer brand and believe that employment there will provide an experience aligned with these positive associations (courtesy Consumer Branding Team). At this stage, 99% of the talents targeted by the company know the employer. Now enter the recruiter …

The reality is that recruiters at this company, like most, have their own list of requirements. Without access to data and market research on what motivates their candidates, and perhaps in large part due to a lack of resources or a lack of marketing or communications support, recruiters focus on vacancies with qualified candidates and talk about aspects of the career that they believe will be most important to these candidates. If the business is early on on the employer branding journey, it will likely focus on internal things like people and culture because that’s what it knows best. While recruiters at this company are in a good position to describe these elements, the reality is that every recruiter at every company is also well placed to describe these same attributes. Rather than differentiating themselves from their competition when it comes to recruiting as a unique and compelling employment opportunity, recruiters focused on filling vacancies end up painting a vague picture of their organization that is vague and looks like nothing. any other employer.

As seen in their recruiting funnel, while recruiters got 20% of the candidates they were targeting to consider working for them, 75% of those who considered them “jumped ship” after learning more. Without a data-driven approach, the bottom line is that the more time, energy and money that company spends per candidate, the less compelling and differentiating it becomes as an employer. Only 5% of those who considered this employer then identified them as an ideal or “preferred” employer. Unfortunately, this problem is much more common than you might think.

So what do we do about it?

These are essentially the basics of employer branding, so the solution is heavily influenced by context and a range of factors. Here are some basic things to consider that most people in recruiting and recruiting marketing should have at least some influence on:

  1. Get data. Understand what your targeted candidates want and what they think of you. If you can’t get influence or budget for the research, let your organization know that you’re forced to guess to help set appropriate expectations.
  2. Correct misconceptions. With the start of virtual career fairs, you only have seconds to get it right. Identify negative perceptions that need to be corrected.
  3. Focus your content, recruiters, LinkedIn page, career page, job descriptions, conversations, and whatever else you have an influence on the aspects of the career that your candidates believe are most important to them in their career decisions.
  4. Perfect your elevator pitch. Use data about your candidate’s preferences to understand what stories to tell. You only have about 30 seconds to convince the ideal candidate to apply. Practice your elevator pitch and line your team up around it like a rallying cry.
  5. Don’t dilute your message. Don’t be everything for everyone. The more you try to represent in your employer brand, the less convincing it will be. Use the data to determine which aspects of your employer brand are helping and harming you. Focus on what works and work to take that position in the talent market.

Awareness is important, but the fact that your candidates know you for the wrong reasons only makes it worse.

The first step in effective recruiting marketing and employer branding is knowing what to say. Focus your communications on career attributes that are internally true, compelling, and differentiating for your targeted candidates. Incorporating the right data into your recruiting conversations will ensure you don’t risk annoying your candidates. The most important factor is to put your funnel in the right direction so that your recruiting marketing investments produce a better return on your investment and you have a better chance of filling those vacancies.

Written by Jason Kipps, CHRL.

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