Tracking the Hiring Funnel

At a board meeting yesterday, a management team was talking about their hiring needs and some of the challenges they're having hiring great people.  This conversation seems to take place at nearly every growing company in just about every board meeting... over and over again.  It's clearly one of the most important things a company can do--yet companies don't ever get as organized around it, with dedicated resources, until much later in their lives.

Here's a simple tip: track hiring analytics and assign them to someone.  The reason?   If you're not interviewing enough people, you're not going to be able to hire someone--simple as that.  Hiring is a funnel with inputs and outputs--just like a normal sales process, except you're selling your company and the opportunity to work for it.  Potential candidates and leads go in the top, hired employees come out the bottom.  You have trackable metrics for sales, site conversions, traffic, etc., so why not for hiring?

On top of just tracking, actually assigning someone responsibility for it is a surefire way to actually improve the numbers.  Who goes to sleep at night worrying about whether you've interviewed enough people this week?  Recruiting isn't hard work--it just takes bandwidth--a dedicated effort.  You can't hire the top salespeople unless someone makes a valiant effort at creating a list of the 25 top salespeople in your area.  Any trained LinkedIn monkey can do that through a combo of searches, tapping their own networks and that of the company, etc., but not everyone has the time--especially if it's not their primary responsibility.

In fact, I'm not sure an in-house recruiter is a necessary option here.  How about just a tenacious project manager who organizes the effort, can communicate well to reach out (or at least craft the writing to help others reach out), and help schedule everyone?  Might not even need to be fulltime.  Their job could be to hand every engineer in your company a weekly list of 5 other engineers to e-mail, with some copy and an opportunity for personized notes on the person in an effort to get them to a phone interview.

When I think about the funnel, I think about the following steps:

Impressions - How many times does your company get its name out there--and you could specifically tailor it to impressions related to hiring if you want.  In here, I'd count the number of times employees spoke at conferences, meetups, wrote blog posts, got press, etc. that included the mention that they were hiring.   If no one knows about you, it's tough to get a lot of inbound.

Names - This is just the unvetted target list.  This is what you create when you hear that a certain company can't get financing, is winding down, or when you make your list of 25 top people in the market at a certain position.  When you host a developer Meetup, anyone who attended is a name--a potential recruiting target.  Names are what you pull off of LinkedIn.  An intern can get you names, because they don't need to vet them other than very basic criteria like, "Find me every developer who has been at Google in NYC for over 4 years."

Leads - Leads are qualified.  You've learned something about them and they've also done something to indicate interest in you or at least in new offers.  It could be something so simple as checking a box when you host a meetup that says "Yes, I'm willing to be contacted about employment opportunities."  You have a very short window with leads.  Typically, people don't actively stay "in market" for new opportunities for very long, so make sure someone is attending to real leads quickly.

Interviews - You don't want to tie up your staff in constant interviews all day, but everyone should realize they're going to have to jump on the phone for 20 minutes with someone maybe as often as once a day.  If you're a 5 person dev team going to 10, it's not too much to ask for 25 minutes a day from everyone to do a 20 min call with 5 minutes to share notes with the team after and make a recommendation.  Key decision makers should be easily accessable for qualified phone interviews that make it to the next cut.  It might even be worth blocking out some time for it.  If you know your team is doing 3-5 phone interviews a day, have a half hour or an hour blocked out each afternoon or right after work as the CTO that can be booked by others for interviews.  This way, your team can raise the flag on a good candidate and be comfortable saying, "Hey, if you'd be willing to come in at 6, our CTO would love to meet you."  Strike while the iron is hot, but make sure you know where you keep your iron and have a constant flame going, even if its on low. 

Offers - Create a standard offer for certain levels of experience and certain positions--and make sure the person hiring knows exactly who needs to approve a hire.  Keep it to a small number of people.  Be quick to hire, and quick to fire.  I've heard that you can tell whether or not an employee is going to work out within the first week. 

Hires - Touchdown!  Keep in mind, though, that retention is just as important.  If you keep hiring people and they leave within three weeks, you have an entirely different problem on your hands.

When you actually track these metrics, you can zero in on how to improve overall conversion, and reverse engineer problems.  Are you having trouble moving your offers to hires?   Do you interview a ton but never pull the trigger--maybe not willing to take enough risk? 

Whatever the case, unless you measure the situation, there's no way you're going to improve it.