• Tim Meehan

Time to Ditch the Recruiting Funnel

In normal times it's quite common for 1,000 people to view a job, and 100 apply, to yield 1 hire. This is so prevalent that ratios are set, and funnels defined, to forecast that yield of one. ATS and CRM systems automate it, recruiting managers measure it, and regulators even enforce it.


But none ask "why do we have recruiting funnels?" If we still built cars the way we recruit, they'd arrive late and leak oil the day we bought them. I think at least three factors, from a bygone era, got us here:

  1. The great depression: with an unemployment rate of 25%, employers had to adapt their processes to manage far more applicants than they had jobs.

  2. The shift from an agrarian to industrial economy: This created the need to "screen for skills". The first ratio was born!

  3. The rise of the manager: Or, disconnecting those accountable for hiring from those responsible for doing it.

Sadly, these combined events now make humans the cattle in an employment assembly line.


So, what am I suggesting? Well, I am not suggesting that tomorrow you go into the office and delete your recruiting database and wing it. But I am suggesting that there are at least three major problems with how we recruit today:

  1. Most recruiting professionals, be it temp or perm, continue to operate on a funnel assumption that has outlived it time and purpose. The problem isn't the funnel, it's that they don't know that the funnel is the problem.

  2. Technology is attacking the funnel from every possible angle. Improving quality and speed at every step. It is also attacking the steps in the process itself. The funnel is no longer shaped like a funnel.

  3. Recruiting is not typically where top technical talent goes for a career. But the changes ahead will transform recruiting from a people oriented career to a technical one. Recruitment skills need to change.

These three factors will combine into a tipping point disruption. You see, the fatal flaw in all of this was when we disconnected those accountable for hiring (managers) from those responsible for hiring (recruiters). This was necessary in the last century but will be a forgotten reality in this next one. Soon, if not already, systems and process will emerge to enable highly efficient and effective direct candidate-to-hiring manager interactions. Managers will (in effect) return to the farm and hire their own help*.


Don't believe me? You need only look at the explosive growth of platforms like UPWORK and HIRED to know it's possible.


Thanks for reading. To learn more about me and my thoughts:

*Caveat to recruiters: I'm not suggesting recruiting work will go away or be diminished. In fact, the opposite. What I am suggesting is that like in the auto plant - your role will transform into a highly skilled technical role, with much greater quality and job satisfaction outcomes.

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