Optimizing Your Recruitment Funnel: Strategic Tips for CEOs

May 3, 2024 - Mark MacLeod

Optimizing Your Recruitment Funnel: A Strategic Guide for CEOs

recruiting funnel

Everything comes down to people. Every issue. Every opportunity.

Unless you have a factory producing widgets, your people are your company.

Your company is only as strong as your people.

Building the strongest team that you can is one of the three core jobs of the CEO.

I am sure the internet is full of detailed advice on recruiting funnels. Since I am not an HR person, I won’t try and replicate those posts.

Instead, here are some non-obvious tips for optimizing your recruitment funnel. Tips that are the correct, strategic altitude for a CEO.

As Jim Collins wrote in his book Good to Great, the first step is to get the right people on the bus. Here’s how.

How CEOs Can Optimize Their Recruitment Funnel

 hiring funnel

Learn from your marketing funnel

As CEO you likely spend a lot of time digging into your marketing funnel.

You study the buyer journey. You have content and programs for every stage of the journey.

You have detailed measurement systems in place. You have attribution, retargeting, etc.

You look at a dashboard, analyze results, and optimize.

What if you took the same approach with your recruitment funnel?

What if your recruitment funnel had as much planning and thought as your marketing funnel? As much content? As much measurement?

I am guessing it would improve significantly.

What about getting your marketing team to create content and programs to attract candidates?

Your people are as important an audience as your customers. This is a worthwhile investment.

Also, let’s face it, HR people probably suck at marketing. And vice versa.

If it matters, measure it

We touched on this briefly above, but if something matters we should measure it.

Your recruitment funnel needs its own dashboard.

Some metrics to track:

– New candidates this week

– Conversion rate at each stage (application to first interview, to second, etc through to close)

– Time to fill each role

– Referrals/employee

– What source each hire comes from (attribution)

– Cost to hire

– Applicants per role by source

Get scientific about your recruitment funnel the same way you do about your marketing funnel. Test. Iterate and optimize.

Hire talent magnets

My friend Farhan is VP and head of Engineering at Shopify. His superpower is recruiting.  He is a recruiting machine.

A few years ago he took out this billboard on a major highway in Toronto.

recruiting funnel

How many of your VPs do this?

Recruiting is not something for HR to do alone. Not something to fit in when you have some spare time. It should be a core focus for you and your leaders.

Hire leaders who truly love to recruit.

Those same leaders should be talent magnets.

What I mean by this is that people naturally follow them.

People who worked for that leader before should want to work with her again.

If you don’t see people following your leader to your company, that is a flag in my books. That is cause for concern.

Meet on recruiting weekly

If your company is in growth mode why not make recruiting part of the weekly exec team agenda?

Bring up that dashboard you have built. Look at the metrics. Ask about activities. Get commitments from HR and from your leaders.

Leaders need hires in order to complete key projects. Getting those hires is a key project.

Make it part of your ongoing exec team agenda.

Build a rocket ship

This is a bit of chicken and egg since you need people to create this.

The single biggest thing you can do to attract talent is unlock the growth in your business.

That is the magnet.

Great, ambitious talent wants to be part of a rocket ship. That is where they will grow the most. That is where their career will move the fastest.

That’s also where they are most likely to make money on their stock options.

That growth is also the magnet that attracts investors and customers.

Those investors and customers then give you money, which you use to hire more great staff.

On and on goes the virtuous flywheel.

As CEO, you should be maniacally focused on removing every growth obstacle. Every bit of friction. Every unnecessary meeting. Every B or lower player in your company.

Build your own personal brand

When you read about great companies, the author always writes about the CEO. Mark did this at Meta. Tobi did this at Shopify…

Despite having thousands of employees, the spotlight is always on the CEO.

Why not take control of this and build your own brand?

Many CEOs I know are on LinkedIn daily. Posting content. Sharing their point of view. Their philosophy.

They share things about their personal lives.

Over time, you start to attract followers.  Those followers become fans. Some of those fans will want to work for you.

They will be pre-sold. Drinking the Kool-aid. Great potential hires!

Nick Mehta, CEO of Gainsight does a great job of this.

With 92,000 followers on Linkedin at the time I write this, he is building his own brand.

It is important to note, Gainsight is creating its own category. Nick’s personal brand is a key asset in that fight to create a category.

I definitely don’t share his love for Taylor Swift. But I absolutely love that he shares that love with the world.

Now he’s not some impersonal CEO. He is an interesting, quirky human.

That’s intriguing to us.

Make people a priority in every part of your company

This final point is obvious but most companies don’t do it.

They talk the talk. They say that people are their top priority. But they don’t walk the walk.

When I was CFO at FreshBooks, then-CEO Mike McDerment had a saying:

“Take care of the staff. Then the staff will take care of the customers. Then the customers will take care of the business”.

Such a simple, yet powerful business philosophy.

Are You Ready to Optimize Your Recruiting Funnel?

Your company is only as strong as its people, so you need to focus on hiring the best

Give these practices a go in your company and you will attract a roster of A players.

Your journey is never done

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