How to Build a Candidate Funnel for Recruiting and Hiring


Candidate pipeline. Recruiting funnel. Talent funnel. We call building a pipeline of job seekers a lot of different things. Unless your industry 0r division is recruiting or hiring right now as part of the holiday shopping season, you are probably knee deep in 2014 staffing and planning. And there’s likely discussion about how to build a candidate funnel for your talent pipeline.

How to Manage Candidate & Hiring Manager Expectations

The challenge I’ve found in recruiting is that the 2014 staffing numbers are probably unknown. Maybe they fluctuate by week or by day. Depending on your 2014 staffing goals, it’s not uncommon to have 150 new positions or more to add at the beginning of your fiscal year especially if you are mass hiring or have a new location opening. You, as the recruiter or head of HR are not sure what the final staffing numbers will be, so you prepare like mad having your team planning, plotting, scheming and cold calling building a pipeline of interested job seekers and potential employees.

I spent a lot of time on the phone calling leads, sourcing and searching for potential job candidates for positions that might fit the bill if and when the staffing number flood gates open. Because the numbers and time to fill expectations were never in line with the recruitment reality.

The key with a candidate pipeline is to find the largest number of qualified candidates working to qualify and engage them through various steps of the hiring and selection process with the goal of interviewing and offering only the very  best. It’s a true balance act keeping prospective candidates engaged and comfortable with waiting while also managing your hiring manager and their expectations like a carrot on a stick for all parties.

How to Build a Candidate and Hiring Pipeline

Earlier this year, I hosted a webinar where we specifically discussed building your candidate pipeline. The process and procedure is hard to explain and describe which is why I choose to use pictures to showcase the hiring and candidate recruitment funnel process.



Applicants Enter Through the Funnel. Either from a job posting, referral opening, job seekers enter through the the top of the recruitment funnel.

Points of Engagement. The key to great recruitment and candidate experience culture is through engagement points that not only provide information but also opportunities to engage while also provide resources to your active pipeline of job seekers.

Fresh Data. Candidates flow in and out of engagement and the hiring process. For speciality positions, the recruitment conversation and relationship between job seekers and recruiter can take months and years. This is where the benefit of fresh data comes in where candidates share with recruiters new experiences, projects and jobs they have had during their time within the candidate pipeline.

Targeted Candidates. As candidates travel down the talent funnel, the number of candidates recruiters and hiring managers are considering are less and less. Recruiters who have engaged and been selective in building the relationships through the funnel, will have a higher conversion rate and lower employee turnover once a job offer is made and accepted.

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


Pin It on Pinterest