what is a talent funnel partner and why should you have one?


By Chris Andrews – Managing Director

We’re different from other recruitment agencies out there

For us, it’s not about filling roles and hitting numbers.

We give our clients the tools to succeed in hiring great people, long after working with us. We help them break bad recruitment habits, lower overall recruitment costs, and secure the right talent in any market. Here’s a fictional, (but very common scenario) to help paint a picture. Introducing Janet, General Manager.

Specialist agencies give hiring managers what they WANT

Case study – Janet’s hiring challenge  

Janet is a hiring manager with a sudden gap in her team. 

She is consequently overworked, stressed and time-poor.  

Her professional horizon has shrunk to days and weeks, given the circumstances.  

Now, in addition, she needs to run a full recruitment process to fill this role!  

So, when, exactly, does she fit that workload in?  

What would you do in Janet’s shoes? 

Janet turns to a quick fix – a niche agency who ‘gets her’ and her role.  

It is a logical step – the agency claims to have immediately available candidates who can ‘hit the ground running’, do not need training, and who can take some of her workload asap. Bingo! 

Candidates whose resumes are dripping with buzzwords and have been around the industry a while. This is exactly what Janet wanted. 

One interview and offered – problem solved!

Where is the problem in this?

This may be the happy end of Janet’s tale, but sadly it often is not. Fault lines are possibly already in place, ready to appear down the track. Hiring rapidly for functional skills can come at the cost of hiring the right soft skills, traits and drivers for sustained high-performance. Janet has possibly overlooked some key factors, not through laziness or disinterest, but only because she lacks the tools, time and training to align her hiring with strategic goals. The new employee may soon look for another role paying more money, or they may be a poor team fit, or they are too ambitious/not ambitious enough. Maybe they are lacking decision making skills or some other competency that is key to the role, or simply do not feel that the culture is what they were led to believe. In our example Janet’s new employee leaves withing the first 8 months at short notice and she returns to square one, just with a more disillusioned team and a question mark over her judgement/ability.      

What went wrong for Janet? 

Several things may had gone wrong for Janet some while before she needed to hire:  

  • She did not have a framework for planning the competencies she needed for long-term success or aligning these with the company goals.   
  • She was not supported in mapping the market and competition regularly. 
  • Her company had not developed a strong, positive, or relevant employer brand. 
  • She was not supported in searching for the right competencies by a professional, dedicated search team with the appropriate tech stack. 
  • She was not advised on how to sell the role properly or on best-practice process.  
  • She had no coaching or training on how to identify/filter out the wrong competencies.  

Now extrapolate Janet’s issues across an entire organisation of hiring managers, and you start to appreciate the cost and damage to culture and performance (i.e., profit) caused by a decentralised, sub-optimal hiring approach.  

The vicious circle

Ross Clennett, a respected voice in the recruitment industry, wrote a very insightful article (in 2017!) highlighting this issue. Janet’s challenge is a vicious circle whereby the lack of upstream support, training and planning leaves her reliant on a short-term fix, time and again. The mainstream agencies are only happy to oblige. They did not create this scenario but who can blame them from making a tidy profit from it?  

Talent Funnel partnering gives hiring managers what they NEED

How can you fix the underlying problem? 

We need a different approach. In Ross’ words,The opportunity for other recruitment agencies is to develop a methodology that can help the hiring manager make a better job analysis, and match that with the creation of an accurate, high-performer profile.  

This level of capability is not easily attained because it is a fundamentally different client service model requiring a significant investment of resources to build, deliver and improve. 

The sophistication of this approach, compared to current recruitment agency business models, is unlikely to appeal to many agency owners, however the opportunity remains tantalisingly available.’ *

Taking this one step further – build a funnel

Ross rightly alludes to addressing how managers can improve hiring though better analysis of jobs and matching. This means applying a better filter to the process. This, however, is still only fixing one step in a whole suite of stages that need to both align and improve for continuous high-performance hiring.  

The stages are planning, branding, mapping, searching, selling & filtering.  

In addition, each stage must work effectively, or it holds the others back. For that reason we believe the entire talent funnel needs to be viewed as a single entity and that is the key to sustained hiring success.  

The funnel replaces a vicious circle with a virtuous one

Once an organisation is operating within the framework of a talent funnel, the six stages begin to improve and high performance hiring in line with strategic goals becomes a default, rather than the exception. A strong employer brand, for example, helps managers to sell the company story, as well as increasing application levels of the right kind of people. Planning improves understanding of training needs and competencies, reducing the need for short-term decision making, and so on.  

Outsource the heavy lifting, retain the control 

Creating a strong Talent funnel is not a complicated ordeal, for several reasons. The first is that the Funnel Partner does most of the heavy lifting, so your hiring managers have more time, not less (plus their stress levels are reduced once they see the issues explained and are supported at every step). The second reason is that the process can be introduced in stages, in a logical, organic sequence, process so there is no shock to the hiring system, reducing the impact of change. Lastly, advanced reporting tools give the client elevated levels of control and KPI visibility, letting you focus on the key issues and direct effort appropriately.    

How do I find out more about Talent Funnels?

Stone is one of the only organisations that builds end-to-end Talent Funnels for clients. Our service provides both on-funnel and in-funnel support, so we help you hire while we teach you how to hire. Our expertise across each area of the funnel goes beyond mainstream recruitment and aligns our clients’ hiring capability with their strategic goals. We work as an extension of HR teams, supporting them while allowing them to focus on core HR issues knowing that recruitment will run smoothly.   

We offer a complimentary, obligation-free Talent Acquisition Capability (TAC) Review, in which we look at an organisation’s goals and how well aligned their hiring processes are to these goals.

So, if you identify with Janet in any way, don’t hesitate to get in touch, or call Chris on 0430 160 709