Recruiter must be able to sell

    Recruiting today uses many channels to search and attract candidates. When searching for highly qualified specialists, one of the main problems is the high competition of employers for each worthy candidate. Therefore, for a modern recruiter, valuable skills are the ability to attract the attention of candidates, quickly evaluate the candidate's skills and conduct it through the selection process as quickly as possible. You can learn all this from sales - sales specialists.

    In this article, I share my vision of a hiring funnel and offer my recommendations for more effective hiring.

    About myself

    My name is Igor Sheludko.

    I am an entrepreneur in the field of software development and sales since 2000. I have a higher technical education. I started my career as a programmer, also led small teams, was engaged in both product and custom development. I have repeatedly hired IT professionals for my development teams. About a year and a half ago, I engaged in the commercial recruitment of IT specialists - that is, not only for myself and my projects, but in favor of outside companies. During this time, I submitted several hundred candidates for consideration by employers and received feedback on them. Since I understand software development and programming in several languages, for many companies I also conducted an initial examination of candidates 'qualifications in order to supplement the candidates' CVs with reliable evidence of their qualifications.

    Hiring funnel

    I think it’s hard now to meet a person who does not understand what a sales funnel is. The hiring funnel is about the same, only instead of buyers we process candidates. Let's see what a hiring funnel looks like (in my opinion).

    Hiring funnel - search and selection

    As you can see in the figure, the funnel narrows from top to bottom and consists of stages, each of which is a trapezoid. This means that there are more candidates coming in from above at each stage than coming out from below. The ratio between those who leave and those who enter is called the conversion of the funnel or stage. The conversion takes values ​​from "0" to "1". “0” means that no one has exited at this stage. “1” means that everyone who logged in successfully logged out. The conversion of "0.5" means that every second candidate who entered this stage moved on to the next selection stage.

    Where do the candidates disappear when the conversion of the stage is less than “1”? Either they lose interest in you and cease to communicate with you, or you consider them “unworthy” and refuse them the transition to the next stage. Each recruiter dreams that the candidates themselves “do not fall off” and the conversion depended only on the wishes of the employer. On the measures that you can take to improve the conversion and reduce the number of independently "falling off" candidates, I write further.

    In the figure above the large funnel are two small ones. I will call these small funnels the search funnels, and the large funnel located below the search funnels the selection funnel. Search funnels are funnel search channels for candidates. There can be much more than two. I drew two, because there are 2 main, different from each other, scenarios for searching and attracting candidates - active search and placement of vacancies.

    So, from above we have a funnel of search channels that form a stream of resumes of interested candidates. That is, those candidates who are already familiar with your vacancy are interested and are ready to continue to communicate with you. Next, the selection process begins, which consists of a number of stages. In different companies, the selection is different, so I depicted a generalized selection scheme. The main thing is to understand that selection is a series of successive stages, after each of which there are fewer candidates. Either you refuse them, or they refuse you. You can improve the conversion at the selection stages without losing the quality of the candidates if you reduce the number of those who refuse you. Further I will talk a lot about how this can be achieved.

    A bit of math and logic

    The overall funnel conversion is the product of the conversions of the funnel stages. This is obvious, but not everyone understands this right away.

    For simplicity, let’s say that in the selection funnel there are 3 stages - studying the skills of the candidates indicated in the resume, an interview and a test task. Suppose that 10 candidates entered the funnel. At the first stage (study of the resume) two refused and 8 candidates remained. The conversion of the stage is 0.8 (8/10). Then at the second stage (interview) out of 8 candidates, 4 remained, the conversion of the stage was 0.5 (4/8). At the third stage (test task), out of 4 candidates, only 1 remained, the conversion of the stage was 0.25 (1/4).
    The total conversion of the funnel is 1/10 = 0.1.
    Multiply the conversion stages 0.8 * 0.5 * 0.25 = 0.1.
    If we need to increase the number of hired specialists from one to two, then we can either submit more candidates to enter the selection funnel, or improve the conversion of the selection stages. Consider both options.

    An increase in the number of candidates at the inlet of the selection funnel is almost always an additional cost in the search for candidates. To find 20 candidates instead of 10 and submit them to the entrance of the selection funnel, you will have to work at least 2 times or have to increase the budget for posting vacancies. It will also take more time to search for twice as many candidates. This path is longer and more expensive. But this is not the only problem. More importantly, it is not always possible to solve the problem with additional costs. Sometimes it happens that there are simply no more needed candidates in the market and additional search costs will not help you. In this case, only hiring funnel optimization will help you.

    Improving the conversion of stages is the work with existing candidates aimed at eliminating the independent outflow of candidates from the selection funnel. Ideally, we need to ensure that only those candidates whom we rejected “fall off”. This path is difficult because it requires self-improvement and changes in the selection processes of the employer.

    Work on yourself is always difficult and sometimes even painful. But this is how you achieve hiring efficiency — reduce the cost of finding candidates and increase the speed of hiring. You find, attract and hire good specialists faster and cheaper. And this effect is long-term - once introduced, useful changes in work processes are useful in the future.

    There is such a rule in sales - they start optimizing the funnel from the lower (last) stages. To understand the logic of this rule, let us return to our example.
    According to legend, we were going to conduct 8 interviews and as a result we selected four candidates who were offered to do a test task. The finished task was well completed by one candidate, and they made an offer, which he accepted. I did not mention above, but suppose that out of the four candidates, only two sent the finished test task. Thus, two more candidates “fell off”. Perhaps they simply did not find enough time to complete the test task. Or maybe the test task seemed to them too big or uninteresting. If we change the test task - make it less capacious, more interesting, or give several options for tasks to choose a candidate, then for sure we will achieve more tasks and will be able to choose more than one candidate. By changing the content of the step, we can double or triple the conversion.
    If we go up a step higher - for an interview, then here we also have opportunities for optimization. Of the eight invited for an interview, we selected four people. However, suppose that we did not conduct eight interviews, but fewer, because some of the candidates could not come to the office. If we offer a remote interview option, for example, via Skype, the number of successful interviews will increase, say from 4 to 6. However, unlike the optimization of the lower stage, we will have to conduct more meetings and conversations. That is, for a better result, you will have to make more efforts and resources. And if you do not optimize the lower stage, then six candidates who have been given a difficult and long test task are not at all obliged to convert into two hired specialists.
    I believe that it is not necessary to strictly adhere to this rule. More appropriate, I consider the priority optimization of those stages where the lowest conversion. In our example, this still turns out to be the lower stage (test task).

    I hope I convinced you that you need to work on increasing the conversion of the hiring funnel. If I have not convinced you, and you think that you first of all need to continue to search for new channels for finding candidates, then you can not read further.

    Search Funnels

    The recruiter has some budget for finding and attracting candidates. Depending on the budget, the recruiter uses a number of channels. Channels are paid and free. Free channels - this, for example, ask your friends, write a post on your page in social networks, etc. Paid channels are when you pay to place your vacancy somewhere or buy access to the database of resumes and contacts of potential candidates. Paid channels are therefore paid because they have much greater capacity and it is almost guaranteed that you can find someone suitable. If there were no suitable candidates, no one would pay. Engaging a recruitment agency in the search process is also a paid channel. Paid channels usually allow you to quickly find a certain number of candidates, but in addition to money, you most likely also need to devote your time to the search process.

    No matter what channels and in what quantity you use, in the end they will give you a summary of interested candidates. That is, such candidates who are already familiar with your vacancy and are ready to continue to communicate with you.

    The main tool that affects any search funnel is the text describing your vacancy, which you publish or send along with the job offer. Consider an example.
    Suppose you paid for access to a resume database (for example, hh) and found 100 resumes of candidates suitable for you. To attract them to participate in further selection, you need to send them suggestions or call with an offer to consider your vacancy. Personally, I never call right away. I usually send offers to the e-mail indicated in the resume and then, the next day, I call those candidates who did not respond to the e-mail. In the conversation, I introduce myself, I report that I sent an offer by e-mail and wondered if the candidate had seen my message. If the candidate is busy and is not ready to talk on the phone now, then the conversation ends. If the candidate is ready to communicate further, then we will deal with the situation, why he didn’t see my message, is he interested in my proposal when he is ready to phone for 15-20 minutes to clarify the information in the resume, what methods of confirmation of skills are convenient for him. Thus, the first thing a candidate contacts is your job description text. This is the first tool on which the conversion of the search funnel and the entire hiring funnel depends.
    Your search funnel conversion is also affected by your persistence in trying to contact the candidate and your communication culture. If you sent an e-mail, called, but did not receive a response, you can try to contact the candidate in other ways. You can send SMS or find a candidate by phone number in WhatsApp, Telegram, Viber, ICQ, etc. For these communication channels it is worth using short texts describing the vacancy. The culture of communication is manifested in the fact that not to be intrusive. If you conveyed to the candidate a message about the essence of your vacancy, made sure that he received your message, but then he does not answer you, then you should not pester him with calls and messages. Most likely, the candidate was not interested in your vacancy, and your excessive perseverance can lead to a deterioration in the reputation of your company as an employer.

    Funnel selection

    Let us look at the figure depicting the stages of the selection funnel. Each stage is a contact with the candidate and some time passes between the stages. During this time, the candidate does not wait, but communicates with other employers. If another employer has a shorter funnel and the candidate moves faster, then they will come to the offer faster. The one who is the first to make a good offer to the candidate is more likely to get him on his team. Therefore, the first thing to do to increase the conversion of the selection funnel is to think hard and reduce the number of selection stages.

    Funnel selection

    A common practice is to combine the stages of clarifying information and the initial assessment of competencies, the implementation of this combined stage in a remote mode (without a personal meeting). Chat with a person by phone or Skype, you can ask him to fill out a questionnaire. To do this is much easier than pulling it out for a personal meeting. If you insist on a personal meeting in your office, then be sure - you are guaranteed to lose a number of good candidates and worsen your selection.

    The second direction for optimization is to reduce the number of interviews and implement them in a remote format. It often happens that company regulations involve 2-3 interviews with various specialists. For example, to test technical skills and spoken foreign language. In such cases, you can try to arrange these two interviews at an adjacent time so that the candidate comes to your office once. Or conduct one of the interviews remotely.

    Test assignments are one of my favorite topics. I am convinced that in the selection process there is no more harmful practice than a test task before the interview. Many old-fashioned companies try to give test items almost immediately, almost in the job description. At the same time, they get a conversion of 10% or less and do not see a problem in this. From the point of view of modern recruiting, such an approach is extremely flawed. For the candidate to want to do your test task, he needs to talk with a professional from your company, get answers to his questions about projects, technologies, tools and work processes, and see your interest in him. After this, the candidate is much more motivated to do the test task. But even in this case, one must understand that the candidate spends his personal time on a test task, which he could spend on rest, communication with family and friends, sports, etc. It should be understood that, on average, candidates can devote no more than 2-3 hours a day to your test task. Therefore, I recommend choosing such a volume and complexity of the test task so that the average specialist suitable for you can do it in 2-3 hours. In my experience, a tendency to abandon test tasks is now developing. Already now, about 30-40% of companies do not practice test tasks, replacing them with examining a candidate's portfolio before an interview and a deeper interview. In my experience, a tendency to abandon test tasks is now developing. Already, about 30-40% of companies do not practice test tasks, replacing them with examining a candidate's portfolio before an interview and a deeper interview. In my experience, a tendency to abandon test tasks is now developing. Already now, about 30-40% of companies do not practice test tasks, replacing them with examining a candidate's portfolio before an interview and a deeper interview.

    There is such a prevailing opinion among employers - it is better to let candidates do test tasks and fall off than we will allocate time for our responsible employees to conduct interviews with unpromising candidates. I consider this position to be incorrect, because it deliberately puts candidates below the employer. This is not good both from the point of view of ethics and from the point of view of the funnel of hiring. In order not to waste time interviewing unpromising candidates, it is possible to strengthen the initial stage of competency assessment. About the methods of such an assessment, I will write and publish a separate article in the near future. Tests and questionnaires do an excellent job of filtering out unpromising candidates and do not take a lot of time from candidates and evaluating specialists of the employer. As an example, I usually give an examination for a driver’s license. This is a good example of building a skills assessment system with a huge stream of passing candidates. First, a theoretical knowledge test is carried out - 20 questions in 20 minutes. Then practical driving, the analogue of which for us is a detailed and in-depth interview.

    The final interview is usually conducted to get acquainted with the top manager of the company. Often salary expectations are discussed at this stage. Personally, I consider it more ethical to discuss salaries at the very beginning, because from the point of view of the candidate, it makes no sense to spend time going through the selection stages if the company is not ready to pay as much as the candidate wants to receive. Accordingly, an invitation to an interview means the consent of the employer with the claims of the candidate. Many IT companies (more than 50%) no longer practice this stage of selection.

    At the offer stage, candidates fall off mainly for three reasons.

    1. The employer offered the conditions worse than the candidate expected - this happens when at the very beginning you misled the candidate regarding the working conditions (for example, the possibility of remote work was initially discussed, and work was prescribed in the offer in the office).
    2. The candidate went to quit his current job and was offered an improvement in conditions so that he would not quit. It makes sense to say this situation at the very beginning of communication with the candidate. If a candidate allows such an outcome, then you should not consider him the main candidate, despite all his advantages. It makes sense to stock up on reserve candidates.
    3. You have prescribed a long enough period of reflection in the offer, as a result of which the candidate went with your offer to other employers in order to fill his price. This situation can be easily corrected - indicate in the offer that your offer is valid for a period of not more than three days. This will spur the final decision of the candidate. You may have other fallback candidates. What is the point of waiting a long time for one candidate, if you can manage to make the offer different?

    Sometimes (very rarely) it happens that the candidate “falls off” after he accepted the offer. The most common reason is that he received a more interesting offer in the interval between accepting an offer and going to work. Perhaps nothing can be done about this.

    Also, sometimes there are situations when a candidate refuses to work during the first few working days. A common reason for this is a mismatch between the expectations of the candidate and the real world. To eliminate this situation through the fault of the employer, it is worth being honest with the candidates from the very beginning and not mislead them.

    Summary and Conclusions

    So, if you already have a certain flow of candidates, but you cannot select and hire the specialist you need, then you have two main ways. Firstly, you can increase the budget for the selection and connect more search channels. And secondly, you can review the hiring funnel and optimize its stages in order to reduce the number of candidates who refuse you. In essence, you need to become more loyal to the interests and convenience of candidates. Personally, I am a supporter of the second approach, as it improves your selection processes and this gives a long-term effect, it works not only for the current vacancy. In addition, this usually leads to saving time and resources spent on selection.

    Only registered users can participate in the survey. Please come in.

    What do you think is the most effective way to quickly test skills?

    • 17.6% Studying a candidate's portfolio (including code in repositories) 6
    • 14.7% Questionnaires with open-ended questions (tell us about your experience with ...) 5
    • 17.6% Short time limited tests (such as 20 questions in 20 minutes) 6
    • 17.6% Small test task (for 1-2 hours) 6
    • 20.5% Express interview for 30 min by phone / skype 7
    • 8.8% Live Doing (let's solve the problems in the sandbox, share your screen) 3
    • 2.9% Study diplomas, certificates of ext. training and testing 1
    • 0% Another option, I will tell in the comment 0

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