When your funnel needs to be flipped


This candidate wouldn’t fit with our team” says the hiring manager. “With whom would your team fit best?” asks the intern.

Talent acquisition and retention are constant struggles for, both, managers and companies. There’s work to be done, customers to satisfy, (financial) goals to meet and then… you have this seat to fill. Because an experienced employee just told you “I quit”.

To help yourself out, you line up job ads in different publications, job boards and social networks. So you can pile up different online, over the phone or in-person interviews in your agenda. Hoping that, proceeding by a process of elimination, you’ll find the “right candidate” for your team.

In a recent study, more than half of UK companies said they turned down candidates because they didn’t have the right soft skills and personality for their team. [1] For any of those companies, working through such a turnover translates in a lot of time and money. Resources  that could be put elsewhere, on any other top HR priorities they have.


To lower your own “candidates turnover” and increase your chances of finding that one special person (with the right skills and relevant work experiences), you look for ways to broaden your media reach. Adding Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to all those other communication channels or media platforms you’re already using.

After some thought, “Maybe it’s our ads’ wording that sucks, that isn’t clear enough”. Instead of going with the formatted job description canvass you’re used to fill with basic (not to say generic) statements, you say “What the heck? I’ll give them details”. So much so that “Now, if they don’t find our ad attractive… they’re just not meant to work for us”.


If you simply change the context in which all those efforts are made – from recruiting employees to recruiting customers – this “attracting as many people as possible so we can reject who we don’t want to work with, along the way” has many similarities with a sales funnel. As the more prospects (e.g. potential employees) you have, higher are your chances of ending your selection process with one that will fit your ideal new hire’s profile. [If you’re not familiar with the sales funnel concept, Seth Godin (read here) and MaRS (read here) explain it in a simple way.]

So you try to make your offer (ad) as appealing as possible to the greater number possible. You share the message through as many channels as possible. Whatever the position to fill. “Because you never know”.


Thing is, that kind of ad or job description tend to be too diluted. First, to stand out from the crowd (e.g. the other job ads out there, whatever the channel used). More importantly, for letting job seekers know what your company is really about and how a person could really help your team do what it does best for its customers. Key insights LinkedIn was able to get, earlier this year, when it surveyed job seekers from different countries on two (2) topics: what are the biggest roadblocks you face when changing job, and what do you want to know most about a company when you’re actually looking for a new work opportunity. [4]

One reason why some hiring managers or companies go as big as possible – in terms of number of channels used and how many people could read their ad – is they’re afraid to miss out. They’re afraid to run empty (of resumes to read, interviews to make) before being seen by the “one person”. The one they had in mind when they wrote that job description and who will fit with their team. By creating such a big resumes funnel, though, they end up attracting many “wrong fit”.

Having to go through that pile of “wrong fit” brings its own set of challenges, pains and depressing moments. The worst is that, at some point, it somehow leads many people to believe “I’m not efficient enough. I can’t see things through and have no tangibles results to show for all my hard work.”


An effective solution is going for definition instead of dilution.

Definition in the sense of taking the time to identify what makes your team what it is. Let it be in terms of personality traits, habits, and group dynamics. All in different situations. How people interact with each other at the start of a workday? How they react + what they do when a work process needs to be changed? Etc.. So once the broad strokes of your team’s persona are known, it becomes way easier to say what this team is about, what it stands for, and how someone new could help that team get better at what it does. Even more practical, it provides you with the clarity you need to identify four (4) things: the soft skills, hard skills, personal values and work experiences someone should have to fit in well with the rest of the team.

When you take a step back, hiring managers and HR teams already discriminate when they sort resumes through, or interview candidates. Usually, they’ll do it spontaneously. Out of pure practical knowledge or past interactions with the team that needs some extra manpower. “From what I know about _______, this candidate wouldn’t work well with her”, “When you look at what we specifically need, these experiences aren’t really relevant”.

They ask for as many resumes first, and then they define who’s a possible fit. The usual resumes funnel, with its process of elimination. You know what it leads to. What if you flip the script (or funnel) instead? Define first, and then ask.

In the end, how much time or money are you willing to keep on spending (per day) to sort through “wrong fit” because what you really have to offer – as a work opportunity – hasn’t been made clear right from the star? At least, to those it matters the most; job seekers with a profile really complementary to your team’s own?

Signature PF